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Volume 24 No. 216

Media

ESPN last night earned a 7.2 rating for the Falcons' 34-31 win over the Seahawks, marking the lowest-rated Week 11 "MNF" matchup since Titans-Broncos drew a 7.2 overnight in '07. Last night's rating is also down 11% from an 8.1 overnight in Week 11 last year, which featured Texans-Raiders from Mexico City. The Week 11 matchup in '15 -- Bills-Patriots -- drew a 10.0 overnight. Falcons-Seahawks peaked with an 8.2 rating between 9:45-10:15pm ET. The game drew a 39.4 local rating in Seattle (15.3 on ESPN, 24.1 on KIRO-CBS) and a 21.1 in Atlanta (8.8 on ESPN, 12.3 on WSB-ABC). New Orleans (13.2), Portland (12.0) and San Diego (10.7) rounded out the top five. Season to date, "MNF" is averaging a 7.5 overnight rating on ESPN, down from a 7.6 through Week 11 last year (Josh Carpenter, Assistant Editor).

LOSING INTEREST: In San Diego, Tod Leonard notes Sunday's Bills-Chargers game earned a 10.4 local rating, setting a "new record" for the lowest local rating by the team in San Diego. Earlier this season, the team posted its lowest rating "since at least" '98 against the Dolphins, with a 12.3. The average rating "through 10 games this season is 14.4." From '04-16, the average season rating for local Chargers telecasts "ranged between" 24.4 in '16 and 31.6 in '10. Sunday's telecast was "impacted by competition from a game on another network, in this case Patriots-Raiders on CBS, which posted an 8.3 rating" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 11/21).

NO EXCUSES: In N.Y. Peter Botte writes Pro Football HOFer Lawrence Taylor is the "last person NBC should be using to promote" its Thanksgiving night Giants-Redskins game because he is a "registered sex offender." That "didn't stop NBC from unfathomably running a promo during Sunday night's Eagles-Cowboys game of Taylor yukking it up" with former NFLer Joe Theismann while "seated together for a Thanksgiving meal to push Thursday night's matchup." Saturday "marked the anniversary of the Taylor breaking Theismann's leg and essentially ending his playing career." Including Taylor in "any sort of promotional activity is beyond inappropriate considering his history of drug abuse and criminal behavior" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/21). AWFUL ANNOUNCING’s Jay Rigdon wrote the ad “just feels weird, as if the executive who greenlit the spot had been in a coma for 32 years and didn’t bother checking Wikipedia before saying yes” (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 11/19).

CHIPPING AWAY: In Philadelphia, Rob Tornoe wrote Chip Kelly’s tenure as an analyst at ESPN "might end up being shorter than his stint" as 49ers coach -- just one season. Kelly was "surprised to be greeted" with a Univ. of Florida graphic on the set of "SportsCenter" on Sunday morning, referencing his possible interest in the UF football coaching job. Kelly jokingly said, "Is this your way of firing me?" Kelly then began "downplaying" any interest he had in the job. However, Kelly "did indeed meet" with UF AD Scott Stricklin, and he is "also believed to be UCLA's top target" to replace recently fired coach Jim Mora (PHILLY.com, 11/20).

The Eagles will remain on WIP-FM with a new seven-year deal signed with Entercom, whose recent merger with CBS Radio gave it 225 stations nationwide. Eagles games have been on WIP for the past 25 years. Entercom Sports President Mike Dee said that the new deal will have a bigger focus on ancillary programming and local streaming, via the Eagles’ app. With Entercom based just outside of Philadelphia, Dee said the Eagles “were kind of a must for us.’’ Dee’s previous jobs with the Padres, Red Sox and Dolphins meant that he knew both Eagles President Don Smolenski and Senior VP/Business Ari Roitman, offering “a comfort level, which helped us get things done quickly,’’ he said (Terry Lefton, Staff Writer). In Philadelphia, Rob Tornoe notes the agreement "means fan favorites" Merrill Reese and Mike Quick will continue to call the Eagles’ games for WIP "and 11 other stations that carry the Eagles Radio Network." Longtime WIP host Howard Eskin will also "continue his role as Eagles sideline reporter." Reese has been the voice of the Eagles since '77, and is the "longest-tenured play-by-play announcer in the NFL." The Eagles' new deal comes after Philadelphia-based WPEN-FM in September announced a new multiyear deal to broadcast all 76ers games, and that station "also owns the broadcast rights to Flyers games." WIP "signed a new deal with the Phillies before last season" (PHILLY.com, 11/21).

Laney Austin (@MNSuperBowl2018) joined the Minnesota Super Bowl Committee as Digital Media Coordinator after working in crisis communications. It is an experience that may prove beneficial because of all of the elements involved with the Super Bowl. She said, “With the Super Bowl, we know a lot of things are going to happen and we can plan around it. Having that background in crisis communications and knowing that things are going to come up that you are not expecting teaches you a different way to approach things and to do your best to plan for what could go right and the expectation that something may go wrong.” Austin said that she communicates with the NFL regularly and the league, for the most part, has given over control of its @SuperBowl account. That is a long way from when she joined the committee in ’15. Austin said, “On the second day I was here, I secured all of the channels under probably fifty different names -- anything people might try to copy. The first thing we launched was our Facebook page.”

SOCIAL SNAPSHOT
Must-follow: P.J. Fleck is a great Twitter follow. He speaks his mind in a really interesting way.
Favorite app: Twitter because I’m a news junkie.
Average time per day on social media: Probably at least 10 hours.

Ramping up content as Super Bowl approaches:
Starting from right before San Francisco, it’s been a different experience because we didn’t have a lot to put out there. For the last two years we’ve been building that initial audience. The first year, we waited until right after Houston to push stuff. It’s been activating channels, building audience and lately we’ve been ramping up our content in terms of appealing to locals in Minnesota and also out-of-state visitors.

Focus without knowing teams playing in game
:
My digital team and I are very focused on following the trends. I have never been as engaged as I am this year on how the teams are doing. We follow the power rankings and all of the NFL-produced rankings. We try to the best of our abilities to lean on the teams that are doing well. We might be focused on engaging content for people in Philadelphia who might be planning a trip to Minnesota. Besides the football aspect, we lean on the events that will be going on.

Learning from past Super Bowl hosts
:
The Houston host committee has been super great. My counterpart really showed me how they set up their social media command center and there were big takeaways on how we could do a similar commend center, but with our own spin on it.

What will be unveiled
:
Our big initiative will be the social media command center at the Super Bowl festival. It will start Jan. 26 and wrap up Feb. 5. That’s going to be the main hub for social and digital interaction. We are working with a great company from Minneapolis, the Social Lights, and we are partnering with them to give really the first interactive experience.

Activating the social platforms
:
We launched everything progressively, and they all strike a different balance. Our Instagram channel is a great example of what we wanted to focus on. It’s all about sharing beautiful images and really great captivating content. As much as I enjoy looking at sports photography, this platform is great at showing how beautiful different parts of Minnesota are, and we dedicated that platform to local photographers.

Spreading the word
:
Two years out, there’s not a whole lot of interest in your Super Bowl. We really focused on local communities. We’ve been giving speeches to rotaries, chambers around the state, and in every one we made sure to include our social channels. It’s been a lot of relying on relationships we have and people who have helped us along the way.

Laying foundation or driving on the road
:
I sense that we are getting closer. Having been on the team for a while, I never really thought we’d get to this point and now that we are here it’s full-steam ahead.


If you know anyone who should be featured for their use of social media, send their name to us at jperez@sportsbusinessdaily.com

SPORTING NEWS' Michael McCarthy cited sources as saying that ESPN is "poised to slash" an estimated $80M in salaries and other costs in the coming weeks. The third round of layoffs in two years at the Disney-owned sports network is "expected to come down after Thanksgiving and before Christmas." Previously, ESPN "laid off 100 mostly on-air anchors/reporters/hosts this April" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/20).

GO BIG OR GO HOME: The BIG3 and Fox Sports yesterday announced coverage plans for the league's second season, with live coverage on tap for the entire 10-week '18 slate. The games will air on Friday nights starting June 22, with six windows on FS1 and four windows on Fox. Each week, the league will play four games back-to-back, three of which will be broadcast live by Fox Sports and streamed concurrently on Fox Sports Go. The championship game will air Aug. 24 (Fox Sports).

TAKING A NEW PATH? In Pittsburgh, Tim Benz noted free agent 2B Neil Walker "has his eyes on broadcasting in his post-MLB playing life." Walker "provided the football color commentary" on AT&T SportsNet for the WPIAL high school championship game. Walker before the broadcast said, "This is definitely something I'd be interested in when my career is done" (TRIBLIVE.com, 11/19).

KILLING THE CLUTTER: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote at halftime of Thursday night’s Rocket-Suns game on TNT, the “Inside the NBA” crew "devoted a five-minute segment to shameless advertising for American Express and something called 'Shop Small,'" with Shaquille O’Neal "bestowing gifts" upon fellow co-hosts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson. The crew thinks it can "get away with anything (festive eating is always in play), when in fact their audience is recoiling in disdain." People should "try watching ESPN’s weekday show, 'The Jump.'" It has the "same brand of high-quality analysis without the clutter" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/20).