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Volume 24 No. 179

Media

Thursday's announcement that Disney will purchase several properties of 21st Century Fox is "likely to raise thorny regulatory concerns at a time when the Justice Department has been putting media mergers under the microscope," according to James & Peltz of the L.A. TIMES. Disney, which owns ESPN, "would take over" 22 RSNs under the deal. The merger "would not include Fox’s FS1 and FS2 sports channels, but the deal still could give Disney greater leverage with cable and satellite distributors." Antitrust lawyer and former FTC Policy Dir David Balto: "Any increase in Disney sports programming will be extremely problematic and will get intense scrutiny." CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amobi indicated that regulators are "sure to focus on how the Disney and Fox cable sports divisions would meld." However, Amobi added that likely will not "'be a deal killer' because ESPN is largely a national sports network and the Fox networks are regional with exclusive rights to hometown teams." Antitrust lawyer Scott Martin: "I’m not sure putting ESPN with the regional sports networks really harms consumer welfare." He did note that it is "not clear the government would feel the same way" (L.A. TIMES, 12/15).

REGIONAL NETS CAUSE FOR CONCERN? CNBC's David Faber said the inclusion of the RSNs in the deal is "one area where there is some concern" regarding regulatory concerns. Faber: "The question is will they be so dominant in sports that perhaps it will be non-competitive" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 12/14). In N.Y. James Stewart writes there are "more serious antitrust issues" about Fox’ RSNs, given ESPN’s "dominance of cable sports." If that market is "measured by cable sports revenue, the Disney-owned ESPN is so dominant that nearly any acquisition of another cable sports provider," even Fox’ relatively small RSNs, "would trigger antitrust review." The Disney-Fox deal is "shaping up as another litmus test" for U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim, who is "already under fire for taking AT&T and Time Warner to court." New York Univ. School of Law professor Scott Hemphill said of the deal, "From a horizontal perspective, sports is the main issue" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15). MoffettNathanson estimates that Fox is "parting with a portfolio" of RSNs that bring in annual Ebitda of $2.3B (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/15). 

POSSIBLE LEVERAGE IN NEGOTIATIONS: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Flint & Kendall note ESPN and local sports channels are among the "most expensive for pay-TV distributors to carry," and analysts warn that a company "owning both will have a lot of leverage in negotiations." Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures co-Founder & CEO Chris Bevilacqua: "There is no question combining ESPN’s national sports rights portfolio with arguably the biggest regional sports operator is a potent combination." The high cost of ESPN to distributors -- roughly $8 per subscriber a month -- along with local sports channels, ABC’s television stations and entertainment cable networks including Disney Channel and Fox’ FX "could have cable and satellite operators raising objections." Others say that Disney may be able to "make the argument that between Comcast and AT&T, which own sports channels, and new players in sports such as Amazon and Facebook, there will be plenty of competition." Flint & Kendall note Disney and Fox "may be betting they can make a case that upheaval in the media world should change the lens through which regulators view this deal" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/15). CNBC's Jim Lebenthal said, "What does the future for you look like? The answer is there's going to be a heck of a lot more consolidation in this industry" ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 12/14).

HITTING CLOSE TO HOME
: In N.Y., Zach Schonbrun notes "no one has ever controlled such a vast swath of the sports broadcasting landscape at one time." However, the portfolio will "not necessarily make other sports media moguls envious." The 22 RSNs are valued at about $20B but experts said that their "long-term viability is questionable given consumers’ rapidly changing viewing habits and the ongoing disruption in the pay-television market." Disney "might also complete" a $15B acquisition of Sky, and its international sports offerings, of which Fox currently owns a 39.1% stake. Sky’s "signature property is soccer’s Premier League." in recent years Fox Sports execs "grew frustrated" that the RSNs complex contracts "prevented them from putting more live games on the company’s national cable network," FS1. Games from the RSNs could eventually appear on Disney's upcoming streaming service, ESPN Plus, if contracts "can be amended and fees can be agreed upon, reducing the network’s reliance on cable in local markets." But it is "unclear how soon those offerings could take effect" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15). VARIETY's Cynthia Littleton wrote the Disney-Fox deal is all about "building up its direct-to-consumer streaming capabilities." Disney has said that it "expects to realize" $2B in "cost savings within two years of the deal's closing" (VARIETY.com, 12/14). RECODE's Peter Kafka wrote ESPN's proposed solution to their problem of expensive sports media rights deals is a "surprising one: It is going to put itself on the hook for even more expensive sports deals." There are some "compelling arguments" for the move. For instance, buying up the RSNs means those local deals "won’t end up in the hands of someone else." Another "decent argument: Scale." However, Kafka wrote, "If [Fox Exec Chair] Rupert Murdoch is selling, I’d think very, very carefully about what I’m buying" (RECODE.net, 12/14). Meanwhile, sources said the RSNs could "provide Disney with additional leverage in it negotiations with future MVPDs, particularly with a Verizon carriage agreement" expiring in '18 (MULTICHANNEL.com, 12/14).

LOOKING AHEAD
: In N.Y., Richard Morgan writes the Disney-Fox deal could provide a "shot in the arm" for ESPN. According to Fox, the RSNs have "61 million subscribers." A Nielsen survey last year revealed pay-TV subscribers "consider RSNs the fifth-most important channels in their packages." Their acquisition by Disney "demonstrates an abiding faith in sports programming, despite well-documented problems at ESPN." The RSNs will be "rebranded as ESPN properties ... with streaming rights most likely pursued by Disney whenever an RSN contract expires" (N.Y. POST, 12/15). N.Y.-based research firm GBH Insights Chief Strategy Officer Daniel Ives said, "I wouldn’t expect any change there in terms of content. Those (RSNs) are the golden goose so the last thing they want to do is tinker with it" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 12/15). Former NBA Commissioner David Stern said the deal is "very good" for the RSNs, as ESPN "has a lot of programming." Stern: "You're going to wind up getting that programming more exposure on the regional sports networks" ("Closing Bell," CNBC, 12/14). In Oklahoma City, Jeff Patterson notes Disney's acquisition of the RSNs means "the end" of FS Oklahoma and asks, "Are you ready for ESPN Oklahoma?" (OKLAHOMAN, 12/15).

With 21st Century Fox' sale of several properties and assets to Disney, Fox Exec Chair Rupert Murdoch is "making a calculation about changing winds in the media industry, while doubling down on news and sports," according to Rabil & Flint of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The deal with Disney "leaves the remaining Fox company with assets including the Fox News and Fox Business cable news networks, the FS1 cable sports channel, the Big Ten Network and a television broadcasting business that consists of 28 local TV stations and the Fox broadcast network, which carries college and professional football as well as baseball games." Murdoch: "I know a lot of you are wondering, ‘Why are the Murdochs making such a momentous decision? Are we retreating?’ Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a pivotal moment." Fox co-Chair Lachlan Murdoch said, "While the merged business (with Disney) is about scale, the new Fox is about returning to our roots as a lean, aggressive challenger brand, focused at the beginning on must-watch news and live sports." Rabil & Flint note the company, for now being "referred to as new 'Fox' as it sheds the Twentieth Century Fox studio from which it derived its name, will have" about $9B in debt, $10B in annual revenue and $2.8B of Ebitda (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/15). Rupert Murdoch said, "We're pivoting back to our first love, which is news and sports -- things that happen in real time" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/15).

DRASTIC DOWNSIZE: In L.A., Meg James notes Murdoch is "drastically downsizing his empire and charting a far different path forward" than what Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger is pursuing. Sources said that Murdoch "simply lacked confidence that Fox in the future could be as dominant as it has been in the past." Murdoch plans to "build a scrappier company that is expected to take advantage of consumers’ increased appetite for news and live sports, including NFL games and the World Series." Such live programming is "particularly attractive to advertisers because viewers don’t skip the commercials" (L.A. TIMES, 12/15). Also in L.A., Stephen Battaglio notes this deal means Fox will be the "only broadcast network without a studio to supply its scripted shows." That has current and former Fox execs and their competitors "wondering what the network will look like -- and whether it can have long-term viability." Even without scripted programs, Fox’ stations and affiliates "will be able to command subscriber fees because of its rights" to the NFL’s Sunday games. Many of the events Fox has the rights for on FS1, such as MLB, college football, World Cup soccer and NASCAR, are "likely to get more prime-time exposure on the broadcast network." Former Fox media consultant Preston Beckman: “As long as they have their NFL package and baseball they are OK." But in the long term, a dependence on sports programming means Fox has "less control over its destiny" (L.A. TIMES, 12/15).

KING LEAR? In N.Y., Amy Chozick notes Murdoch's news properties will "allow him to maintain the political influence that he has cultivated." People close to Murdoch do "not envision a scenario" in which either of his sons "thrives long-term at the top of a company that doesn't have their father's stamp on the door" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15). CNBC.com's Erick Jackson wrote under the header, "The 5 Biggest Misconceptions About The Disney-Fox Deal." One of the "biggest mistaken conclusions" about Fox' deal with Disney is that Murdoch "is retreating" (CNBC.com, 12/14).

In N.Y., Brooks Barnes in a front-page piece writes Disney's acquisition of Fox assets would make the company a "colossus unlike anything Hollywood has ever seen" and is the "biggest counterattack from a traditional media company against the tech giants that have aggressively moved into the entertainment business." Analysts said that the acquisition would "likely prompt other entertainment companies to join forces as a competitive maneuver." Speculation "immediately surrounded Viacom and CBS, which share common ownership; Lionsgate, which owns Starz; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which controls rights to the James Bond franchise; and Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has struggled with low box office market share" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15). Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger said that the deal is "bad news for the sector -- in particular Viacom -- if a giant like Disney viewed itself 'too small'" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 12/14). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's McClintock, O'Connell & Kit wrote potential industry "winners" from the deal "are the independent production houses" like Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 12/14).

HITTING THE TARGET? The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Elizabeth Winkler noted Disney "remains a quintessentially American company." Following the deal, Disney will be "much more a citizen of the world." Sources said that talks surrounding the deal were "initially sparked by Disney's interest" in U.K.-based TV provider Sky (WSJ.com, 12/14). ADWEEK's Jason Lynch noted buyers are "intrigued by Disney’s markedly improved portfolio, and are optimistic the merger could accelerate some of the audience targeting innovations the industry has been clamoring for" (ADWEEK.com, 12/14).

PRESIDENTIAL BLESSING: CNN MONEY's Tom Kludt noted the deal has "earned the blessing" of President Trump. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "This could be a great thing for jobs." Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin added that "job cuts are inevitable in the short term as the two companies work to consolidate their holdings." Martin: "(The combined company) won't need a lot of the corporate overheard, or two distribution arms in Italy" (MONEY.CNN.com, 12/14).

NOTES: DEADLINE's Dade Hayes takes a "brief walk down media memory lane," detailing valuations and outcomes of the "biggest all-time deals" in media (DEADLINE.com, 12/14)....Kelly Newman Ventures CEO Mike Kelly said, "He who has the most content wins. From Disney's point of view, you've got to get bigger and you've got to own more content" (L.A. TIMES, 12/15)....The deal could "also bring diversity to Disney, where every business division is run by a man." Fox has a "sizable roster of female executives" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/15)....Disney Chair & CEO Bob Iger "could receive as much" as $142M worth of stock under a new agreement he signed along with his company's deal to acquire Fox assets (WSJ.com, 12/14)....Disney will pay $2.5B if the transaction is blocked by regulators as part of a "termination fee outlined in the deal" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 12/14).

ESPN is "under scrutiny for a sexual harassment and retaliation complaint filed this summer with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities," and some current and former employees "say the problems for women run deep," according to a front-page piece by Jenn Abelson of the BOSTON GLOBE. ESPN has "tried to jettison its frat-boy reputation with new training and policies, including requiring employees to disclose personal relationships with each other to the company." However, former on-air talent Adrienne Lawrence, who filed the complaint, said, "ESPN has failed to address its deeply ingrained culture of sexism and hostile treatment of women." Lawrence joined ESPN in '15 as part of a "fellowship designed to increase racial diversity at the sports network," but was not retained after it concluded. Lawrence in the complaint "describes a toxic environment" at ESPN HQ where men make "unwanted sexual and romantic advances under the guise of networking or mentoring, and 'mark' women as their own by spreading false rumors about sexual relationships with female employees." She also accused "SportsCenter" host John Buccigross of "sending unsolicited shirtless photographs of himself and calling her 'dollface,' '#dreamgirl,' and '#longlegs' in messages" from '16. Buccigross in a statement said, "I considered Adrienne to be a friend. I'm sorry if anything I did or said offended Adrienne. It certainly wasn't my intent." ESPN VP/Corporate Communications Katina Arnold said, "We work hard to maintain a respectful and inclusive culture at ESPN. It is always a work in progress, but we're proud of the significant progress we've made in developing and placing women in key roles at the company in the boardroom, in leadership positions throughout ESPN, and on air" (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/15). Another statement from Arnold reads, "We conducted a thorough investigation and found these claims to be entirely without merit. Lawrence was hired into a two-year talent development program and was told that her contract would not be renewed at the conclusion of the training program. At that same time, ESPN also told 100 other talent with substantially more experience, that their contracts would not be renewed" (ESPN).

PROVIDING MORE CONTEXT: THE BIG LEAD's Ryan Glasspiegel noted ESPN on Thursday "published these texts between Buccigross and Lawrence ... with a statement that 'it’s clear that they had a consensual, personal friendship that spanned months.'” Some texts, "including the shirtless photo, are omitted" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 12/14). Uproxx' Andy Isaac tweeted, "These definitely don't look like 'unsolicited' texts." Sports media consultant Jason Barrett: "ESPN is fighting back. If Lawrence has other evidence it’ll be needed." Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith: "ESPN did not publish the shirtless picture Buccigross sent Lawrence, which seems to be the biggest point of contention" (TWITTER.com, 12/15).

Friday marks the final day of Mike Francesa's 30-year career at WFAN, which saw the longtime N.Y.-based sports talk host "grow a durable radio genre that WFAN essentially invented" in '87, according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. No station had been "crazy enough" to put sports on-air for 24 hours a day, and no "one did it the way" Francesa and Chris "Mad Dog" Russo did starting in '89, with Francesa continuing on alone since '08. Bob Costas said, "WFAN was the first 24/7 sports talk, and he and Mad Dog were the stars of it. He’s a very, very significant figure. In a sense, ‘Mike and the Mag Dog’ invented sports talk radio." Best noted the growth of the internet has propelled Francesa "to levels of visibility that dwarf even his 'Mike and the Mad Dog' days, with fans who call themselves Mongo Nation and an annual festival in his honor called Francesacon." SNY analyst Ron Darling said, “He holds so much power in this town that if he likes you from 1 to 6 (p.m.), you have a chance." NBC Olympics President of Production & Programming Jim Bell: "He’s as authoritative a figure as there’s been in sports, ever. ... He’s on the Mount Rushmore, for my money." Francesa said, "It’s been unbelievable. It’s been a great run. It really has. It’s been wonderful. I’ve loved every second of it. I’ve had the best job in the world" (NEWSDAY, 12/10).

LEAVING ON HIS OWN TERMS: Francesa reflected on his career and said, "To be successful at what I do, you have to have personality and presence. And I have both." He added N.Y. listeners "cared very much about what my take was on sports." Francesa: "It became very important for this city to hear my take on whatever the story of the moment was in this city in sports. And that's been my greatest blessing is that that has never changed, that has never wavered." He noted it was important for him to leave the show "on top." He said, "I always thought what made DiMaggio so special was that he left on top. He was one of the few guys, who they never saw him hit .210. I never wanted to hit .210" (NYPOST.com, 12/14). Francesa said of his show’s ratings in the N.Y. market, “Right now, we’re in first place. We can’t finish worst than second, we’re probably going to finish first, and that’s very important to me to finish at the top. But, I’ll tell you this, if I had fallen dramatically, I would’ve left a long time ago. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with that" ("SI Media Podcast," SI.com, 12/7).

STILL A POLARIZING FIGURE
: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote Francesa "cast his own spell over" the N.Y. sports scene. Raissman: "Like him, love him, or loathe him, he provided something for everybody, which translated into him being an afternoon-drive ratings powerhouse in sports talk." His style "forged a commonality between those who loved him and those who detested him." No matter "how they felt, and there was never a middle ground with Francesa, they all tuned in to hear what he had to say." He had a "one-of-a-kind ability to constantly inspire the following words: 'Did you hear what Francesa said?'" Raissman: "That’s why we all tuned in" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 12/9). In Hartford, Mike Anthony writes Francesa is leaving "as a radio legend, not just as the unofficial statesman on the New York sports scene, but as a social media sensation who entertained, informed and infuriated listeners." Anthony: "People seem to love or hate Francesa. Yet both camps listen, with 1:05 p.m. becoming appointment radio over the years" (HARTFORD COURANT, 12/15). SI.com's Jimmy Traina writes there is "no national radio figure that gets as much attention" as Francesa, and he is a "living legend" in N.Y. Traina: "No matter how you feel about the man nicknamed The Sports Pope, you can't do anything but respect the longevity, the results and the popularity" (SI.com, 12/15). However, in Newark, Steve Politi wrote he "won't miss" Francesa. He could be "entertaining at times, but those hilarious 15-minute rants couldn't offset the tedious lectures and condescending attitude that made up the majority of his hours on the air." Politi: "With Francesa signing off for good, I'll be far more likely to listen" (NJ.com, 12/13).

FRIENDS 'TIL THE END
: NEWSDAY's Best noted Francesa and Russo "share personal and professional history that is not easily forgotten, along with a chemistry that has been evident in several joint appearances in recent years." As “Mike and the Mad Dog” from '89-'08, they "helped make each other’s careers." Russo, who has been with SiriusXM since '08, said, "Mike taught me a lot about sports. I didn’t think anybody could do that, and Mike did, just the way he thinks about it." Russo added, "He learned things from me, a little differently, maybe more the radio technique. But Mike taught me a lot more about sports than I taught him." Russo credits Francesa "with mostly maintaining the ratings success they forged together." Russo: "I left, not the other way around. There was a lot more pressure for him than there was for me. ... Mike has still been a major factor in the ratings for the last nine years, and he had a lot of pressure to do that. If he (failed), he would’ve gotten slandered, killed, and I would have gotten all the credit. He doesn’t get enough credit for that, and he should" (NEWSDAY.com, 12/9).

TWITTER TRIBUTES: WFAN's Chris Carlin, who along with Bart Scott and Maggie Gray will take over Francesa's time slot, wrote, "You know who you HAD to hear from after big sports news? That's Mike Francesa for 30 yrs. He had the ultimate connection to the fan. I learned a lot from Mike. Even though we're getting the chance of a lifetime in his time slot, I'm sad today, like every other fan." ESPN.com's Ian O'Connor tweeted, "Like Howard Cosell, Mike Francesa was wrong about so much. Like Cosell, Francesa thought he was bigger than most stars he interviewed. Like Cosell, Francesa turned out to be right on that one." Barstool Sports' Julie Stewart-Binks: "Congratulations to Mike Francesa on a legendary career. Enjoy this final show, which I'm sure won't be your last." Horse Racing Radio Network's Anthony Stabile: "If you are involved with sports-talk radio ... you are heavily indebted to #Francesa. In his 30 years @WFAN660, he carried a genre through some lean times & made it most popular format in radio." Internet radio outlet WBLZ's Doug Rush: "He was the best, and he was #1 in his profession for a reason." SI's official feed: "What a ride it's been."

NBC and NFL Network combined to earn a 7.4 overnight rating for the Broncos’ 25-13 win over the Colts on Thursday night, marking a season-low for a “TNF” game airing on a broadcast network. The Week 9 Bills-Jets “TNF” contest aired exclusively on NFL Network. Broncos-Colts, featuring a pair of teams with a combined 7-19 record, is also down 27% from a 10.1 overnight in Week 15 last year, when the Seahawks beat the Rams 24-3. While down year-over-year, Thursday’s game projects to win the night in primetime. Broncos-Colts peaked at an 8.0 overnight between 9:30-10:00pm ET. Denver led all local markets with a 27.6 rating, followed by Indianapolis (20.6), Albuquerque (13.7), New Orleans (13.3) and San Diego (10.3).

VARIETY's Brian Steinberg reported MSNBC's Joe Scarborough will host a new series exploring the "history, tradition and rivalries" in the EPL. The show, titled "This is Football," will debut on Dec. 26 on NBCSN. Scarborough in the first episode looks at the "heady competition between Manchester United and Manchester City, while examining the city of Manchester and its history and traditions." Scarborough said that three episodes "are planned at present ... with one slated for Super Bowl weekend" (VARIETY.com, 12/13).

PSYCHO'S BACK: In Boston, Chad Finn notes Steve Lyons has "resumed his role" as a NESN analyst and was "reporting from the winter meetings this week" for the net. He will "again serve as a studio analyst and occasionally as a color analyst" during Red Sox game broadcasts during the '18 season. Lyons "disappeared from NESN airwaves" after being charged with domestic battery, but those charges were dropped in August (BOSTON GLOBE, 12/15).

POSITION OF POWER: SI's Mark Bechtel profiles ESPN's Doris Burke, who as the "first woman to be a network analyst for NBA games" has earned "much respect from viewers, coaches and players." Burke has "worked her way up" the broadcast ranks, from "doing women's games on TV, to the occasional men's NCAA game, to the WNBA, to NBA sideline assignments." However, she "doesn't like the word 'trailblazer' because she feels like there were women before her who faced much harsher circumstances" (SI, 12/18 issue).

NOTES: The Cubs have signed a multiyear extension with radio analyst Ron Coomer. He joined WGN-AM's broadcast team prior to the '14 season (Cubs)....Alex Corddry "won't be back" for Rays broadcasts this season on FS Sun. Corddry "completed a one-year contract" in which she served as the pre-, post- and in-game reporter (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/14).

NBC Sports Group may have had lower numbers for the PGA Tour in ’17, but its LPGA coverage was the company’s best in years. NBC and Golf Channel this past season had the best LPGA average viewership since ’11 (tied with ’13). The average of 221,000 viewers was up 24% from last season. A big boost for NBC was the final round of the Ricoh British Women’s Open, which at 1.1 million viewers was the most-viewed women’s golf round of the year -- a first for the event.

MILITARY ACTION: CBS on Saturday afternoon finished with 8.4 million viewers for the Army-Navy game in the snow at Lincoln Financial Field. That figure is the best for the matchup since ABC drew 8.4 million viewers in ’92. Army-Navy has now seen its audience rise in each of the last three seasons. The audience this year also puts Army-Navy as the seventh most-viewed college football game of the ’17 season season.

UPS & DOWNS: The Heisman Trophy ceremony on ESPN last Saturday once again drew record-low viewership. Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield was the heavy favorite and that led to decreased drama for the event. The 2.2 million viewers for the telecast is down from last year’s record-low figure of 2.6 million viewers, when Louisville QB Lamar Jackson won. Two years ago, ESPN drew 3.1 million viewers for Alabama RB Derrick Henry’s win. But while the Heisman was down, the telecast led into a Top Rank Boxing telecast, which ended up being the second-best boxing card on all of cable TV for ’17. ESPN drew 1.7 million viewers for a card featuring Vasyl Lomachenko’s win over Guillermo Rigondeaux. The boxing telecast even beat the Heisman telecast among males 18-34 and 18-49.

PLAY IT AGAIN: MLS Cup returned to ESPN this year after airing on Fox last season, and the result was a much lower audience for the Toronto FC-Sounders rematch. ESPN on Saturday afternoon drew 803,000 viewers for the game, down 43% from 1.4 million viewers last year, when it aired in primetime. Two years ago, ESPN drew 668,000 viewers for Timbers-Crew matchup, which aired on a Sunday afternoon up against NFL action. Despite the drop for the finale, the MLS playoffs on ESPN/ESPN2 saw the league’s best average since ’14.

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

TELECAST
DATE
NET
TIME (ET)
RAT.
VIEWERS
(000)
NFL national window:
Eagles-Rams (90%)
12/10
Fox
4:25-8:03pm
13.7
23,784
"SNF": Ravens-Steelers
12/10
NBC
8:31-11:32pm
10.1
17,200
NFL: (regional)
12/10
Fox
1:03-4:41pm
9.1
15,543
"TNF": Saints-Falcons
12/7
NBC/
NFL Net
8:27-11:27pm
8.9
14,606
NFL: (singleheader)
12/10
CBS
1:03-4:22pm
8.1
13,886
"MNF": Steelers-Bengals
12/4
ESPN
8:15pm-12:01am
6.7
10,907
College football: Army-Navy
12/9
CBS
3:00-6:30pm
5.2
8,419
"Football Night in America"
12/10
NBC
7:30-8:22pm
3.3
5,432
"Fox NFL Sunday"
12/10
Fox
12:00-1:03pm
3.2
4,854
"The NFL Today"
12/10
CBS
12:00-1:00pm
2.0
2,961
Liga MX: Apertura final:
Tigres UANL-Chivas: Leg 2
12/10
Univision
6:30-9:21pm
1.2
2,375
Liga MX: Apertura final:
Tigres UANL-Chivas: Leg 1
12/7
Univision
8:50-11:15pm
1.1
2,318
Heisman Award ceremony
12/9
ESPN
8:00-9:07pm
n/a
2,175
NBA: Celtics-Spurs
12/8
ESPN
9:35-11:55pm
n/a
2,076
Top Rank Boxing: Vasyl Lomachenko
d. Guillermo Rigondeaux
12/9
ESPN
9:07-11:40pm
1.0
1,730
NBA: Warriors-Pistons
12/8
ESPN
7:00-9:35pm
n/a
1,610
NBA: Warriors-Hornets
12/6
ESPN
8:01-10:35pm
n/a
1,558
College basketball: UCLA-Michigan
12/9
CBS
12:00-2:30pm
1.0
1,527
"Monday Night Countdown"
12/4
ESPN
6:00-8:15pm
n/a
1,501
"Fox NFL Kickoff"
12/10
Fox
11:00am-12:00pm
1.0
1,406
College basketball:
Duke-Boston College
12/9
ESPN
12:00-2:06pm
0.9
1,378
College basketball: Indiana-Louisville
12/9
ESPN
2:06-4:05pm
0.9
1,332
NBA: Lakers-76ers
12/7
TNT
8:13-10:41pm
n/a
1,267
ISU Grand Prix of
Figure Skating (taped)
12/10
NBC
4:04-6:00pm
0.9
1,234
Swimming: U.S. Short
Course Nationals (taped)
12/10
NBC
12:00-1:00pm
0.6
829
Golf: QBE Shootout: Final Round
12/10
NBC
2:00-4:04pm
0.6
815
EPL: Newcastle-Leicester City
12/9
NBC
12:30-2:30pm
0.6
776
"World of X Games: Real Ski"
12/9
ABC
2:00-3:00pm
0.4
530
"The Herbie Awards"
12/9
ABC
4:00-5:00pm
0.4
505
"Championship Drive:
Playoff Preview"
12/9
ABC
3:00-4:00pm
0.4
496
College basketball: VCU-Seton Hall
12/9
Fox
3:04-5:15pm
0.3
439