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Volume 24 No. 155

Media

Dish said that CBS All Access -- the broadcaster’s direct-to-consumer offering -- is "playing a significant role in the standoff threatening to deprive" viewers of CBS' Thanksgiving Day broadcast of Chargers-Cowboys, according to Alex Silverman of CABLEFAX DAILY. Amid the carriage dispute between the two, Dish Exec VP/Marketing, Programming & Media Sales Warren Schlichting said the satellite provider “would like to sell All Access” to its customers. But such an arrangement is a "non-starter for CBS." Silverman writes it is an "interesting contention given that only a few scripted shows, such as 'Star Trek: Discovery,' are exclusive to All Access, while all of CBS’ sporting events and primetime shows are available on the broadcast net." Still, it "raises questions about whether direct-to-consumer offerings are going to add another wrinkle" to carriage talks going forward. Both parties in the dispute are "encouraging consumers to sign up for All Access as an alternative way to maintain access to CBS content, including Thursday’s Cowboys-Chargers game" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 11/22).

BREAKING IT DOWN: In L.A., Meg James writes the companies' previous carriage contract expired on Tuesday at 2:00am ET, "leaving Dish without authorization to retransmit the signals of CBS stations." The two sides had been "trying to hammer out a new contract since January with little progress." Schlichting said, "We thought we were making good progress. But then late (Monday) night, CBS stopped talking and wouldn’t accept our offer for an extension." Dish "immediately struck back, offering to install an over-the-air antenna for most customers affected by the outage so they could continue to receive CBS." The satellite TV provider also "promised to reduce subscribers’ bills by $10 per month if they agreed to drop the local TV stations from their lineup" (L.A. TIMES, 11/22). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes it is "not uncommon for cable, satellite and other pay-TV providers to try to hold the line on retransmission fees in negotiations with the broadcasters and networks whose content they distribute." Increased costs are "passed on to subscribers to preserve margins and may factor in consumer pushback." But the networks "counter that top-flight college and pro sports, drama, comedy, talk and news cost money to produce" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/22).

NBC Sports Regional Networks President David Preschlack said that recent job eliminations at NBC Sports Chicago "weren’t about cutting costs" and contends that the RSN "must reinvent itself and is in the midst of doing so," according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Cubs reporter Patrick Mooney and White Sox reporter Dan Hayes were "among channel staffers whose jobs were eliminated last week," while Blackhawks writer Tracey Myers "resigned to become a Chicago-based regional writer for NHL.com." But Preschlack "insists the channel’s website isn’t being downgraded." He added that it "cannot afford to be just a television channel or an app and not just a website for sports news and highlights." Preschlack said that "much of this evolution may not be evident for months." But he "wasn’t keen on sharing many details." Preschlack: “We’re actually making investment in Chicago and every one of our businesses. ... We are dedicating more resources to these businesses, not less.” His goal is for NBC Sports Chicago to "be part of the fans’ day from when they wake up and grab their mobile phone to shut off the alarm, with audio during their commute, snippets through the workday and then on TV at night." Changes coming to NBCSportsChicago.com "should make it less reactive and duplicative of what’s available elsewhere from itself and others" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/22).

The ’17 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series averaged 4.07 million viewers across Fox Sports and NBC Sports, down 9% from 4.47 million viewers last season, and down 15% from two years ago, when the top level averaged 4.81 million viewers. Sunday’s race from Homestead-Miami Speedway also may be the least-viewed Cup finale from South Florida on record. NBC averaged 4.66 million viewers for the race, which saw Martin Truex Jr. take home his first Cup title and Dale Earnhardt Jr. run his last Cup race. That is down 21% from 5.923 million viewers last year, when the final ran 30 minutes later into primetime.

BIG HITTERS: The LPGA saw its best figure in years for the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday on ABC. The telecast from 1:00-4:18pm ET averaged 699,000 viewers up against NFL action as Thai golfer Ariya Jutanugarn held off two Americans -- Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson -- by one stroke for the win. That figure is up 37% from last year, when British golfer Charley Hull won by two strokes. The ’15 tourney, which American Cristie Kerr won, averaged 539,000 viewers. The final round aired on Golf Channel in ’14, averaging 252,000 viewers for the win by New Zealand’s Lydia Ko.

SECRET FORMULA: NBC Sports is heading into Sunday’s F1 finale likely to see its best viewership for the racing circuit since the net acquired rights prior to the ’13 season. Races across NBC, CNBC and NBCSN this season have averaged 540,000 viewers, up 14% from 475,000 at the same point last season. This season’s average jumps to 558,000 viewers for total audience delivery (TV+streaming). A big increase for the U.S. Grand Prix has helped figures, as NBC saw a 44% gain for the race from Circuit of the Americas. Also helping the gains was a big jump for the Canadian Grand Prix, which aired on NBC this year, but was moved to NBCSN last year as coverage was preempted by news of the Orlando mass shooting. For NBCSN alone, the net is averaging 426,000 viewers in ‘17, which puts it on pace to have the best F1 average for a cable net in over 20 years. Next year, F1 races move over to ABC/ESPN. 

EN FUEGO! NBA games continued to perform well to start the season. Across NBA TV, ESPN and TNT, game telecasts are averaging 1.47 million viewers, up 23% from 1.19 million at the same point last season.

The chart below lists final audience figures from select recent sports telecasts.

TELECAST
DATE
NET
TIME (ET)
RAT.
VIEWERS
(000)
"SNF": Eagles-Cowboys
11/19
NBC
8:31-11:17pm
11.9
21,059
NFL national window:
Patriots-Raiders (86%) (Mexico)
11/19
CBS
4:27-7:30pm
10.9
19,026
NFL: (singleheader)
11/19
Fox
1:03-4:05pm
9.4
15,708
"TNF": Titans-Steelers
11/16
NBC/
NFL Net
8:28-11:30pm
8.2
13,518
NFL: (regional)
11/19
CBS
1:03-4:05pm
6.5
10,709
"Football Night in America"
11/19
NBC
7:30-8:15pm
5.5
9,459
"MNF": Dolphins-Panthers
11/13
ESPN
8:15-11:40pm
5.4
8,758
College football:
Michigan-Wisconsin
11/18
Fox
12:06-3:30pm
3.3
5,226
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Series: Ford EcoBoost 400
(Homestead-Miami)
11/19
NBC
3:19-6:45pm
2.8
4,662
College football: UCLA-USC
11/18
ABC
8:07pm-12:00am
2.5
4,048
"CFP Rankings Show"
11/14
ESPN
9:23-9:54pm
2.3
3,785
College football:
Kentucky-Georgia
11/18
CBS
3:38-7:00pm
2.1
3,397
College football: Virginia-Miami
11/18
ABC
12:01-3:34pm
2.1
3,339
College football:
Navy-Notre Dame
11/18
NBC
3:42-7:00pm
2.0
3,203
College football:
Illinois-Ohio State
11/18
ABC
3:34-7:00pm
1.9
3,093
NBA: Warriors-Celtics
11/16
TNT
8:13-10:45pm
1.8
3,000
College basketball:
Duke-Michigan State
11/14
ESPN
7:00-9:23pm
1.8
2,967
College football: LSU-Tennessee
11/18
ESPN
7:11-10:22pm
1.6
2,946
College basketball:
Kansas-Kentucky
11/14
ESPN
9:54pm-12:06am
1.7
2,661
NBA: Cavaliers-Hornets
11/15
ESPN
10:35pm-1:00am
n/a
2,135
NBA: 76ers-Lakers
11/15
ESPN
8:00-10:35pm
n/a
2,045
College football:
Maryland-Michigan State
11/18
Fox
4:12-7:30pm
1.3
2,035
"College GameDay"
11/18
ESPN
9:00am-12:00pm
n/a
1,911
NBA: Thunder-Spurs
11/17
ESPN
8:01-10:34pm
n/a
1,700
College football:
Mississippi State-Arkansas
11/18
CBS
12:00-3:45pm
1.1
1,678
College football: Stanford-Cal
11/18
Fox
8:16-11:18pm
0.9
1,598
Liga MX: Monterrey-Tigres UANL
11/18
Univision
7:55-10:01pm
0.6
943
EPL: Newcastle-Manchester United
11/18
NBC
12:30-2:30pm
0.6
837
LPGA: CME Group
Tour Championship: Final Round
11/19
ABC
1:00-4:18pm
0.5
699
"World of X Games:
World Surf League"
11/19
ABC
12:00-1:00pm
0.5
654

In Boston, Michael Levenson in a front-page piece reports Celtics ratings have "soared" on NBC Sports Boston as the team rides a 16-game winning streak, the "fourth-longest" in Celtics history. The Celtics sport the NBA's best record and added several high-profile players over the offseason, including G Kyrie Irving. Viewership was up 139% "over the first 10 games of the season, compared to the same span last season." The network’s live streams of Celtics broadcasts are also "drawing an unprecedented audience." Meanwhile, Ace Ticket CEO Jim Holzman said that Celtics prices have "shot up" 20-50% over the last five weeks (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/22).

COMING INTO FOCUS: Sean Salisbury said that he will leave his local radio show on Houston-based KFNC-FM to "focus on his national show for Gow Media’s SB Nation Radio Network." In Houston, David Barron notes Salisbury "currently hosts two shows per day, a local show with John Granato" from 11:00-1:00pm CT on KFNC and a network show from 3:00-7:00 that is simulcast on beIN Sports. Gow Media Chair & CEO David Gow said that dropping the local duties will allow Salisbury to "focus on growing the national show" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/22).

ON YOUR AIRWAVES: SI.com's Alex Prewitt writes Coyotes radio broadcaster Paul Bissonnette, a former player, is the "most famous color commentator on NHL regional broadcast radio." Coyotes Radio play-by-play man Bob Heethuis "sets up Bissonnette's tongue-and-cheek deadpan humor." Bissonnette "always figured he would end up in media upon retirement." He said, "This is just a stepping stone. I hope it can lead me to other places" (SI.com, 11/22).

BLAZING A PATH?
NBC Sports Regional Networks President David Preschlack said it is "too early to tell" if Blazers Pass becomes the template for what NBC Sports will look to do with its other RSNs. Preschlack: "Markets are different and rights deals are different, so I don't think that we're wedded to kind of any one approach going forward." He added, "We're not living in an environment where one size fits all" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 11/27 issue).