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Volume 25 No. 151

Media

NFL Week 1 was hovering near flat in viewership heading into “MNF,” but a 7% drop for ESPN’s doubleheader will likely land the opening weekend in the red compared to ’17. That drop comes despite Week 1 last year being impacted by Hurricane Irma in several markets. The afternoon windows in Week 1 this year actually performed well, but it was the NFL primetime windows that dragged down the average. Fox’ national window on Sunday, which featured Cowboys-Panthers, averaged 23.3 million viewers, up 2% from last year, when Seahawks-Packers was featured on Fox. The net also saw an 11% jump for its regional window. Fox earned a 64% gain on its streaming platforms for NFL regional and national windows (average minute audience: of 216,000 viewers). Meanwhile, CBS drew 17.08 million viewers for its singleheader window on Sunday, marking the net’s most watched Week 1 singleheader since it re-acquired NFL rights ahead of the ’98 season. After the gains for the Sunday afternoon windows, things fell off in primetime. NBC averaged 22.18 million viewers for Bears-Packers on “SNF,” the lowest Week 1 Sunday night game since the same matchup in ’09 (21.1 million viewers). Last year, Giants-Cowboys averaged 24.37 million viewers on the Week 1 “SNF” telecast, despite that window lacking many Florida markets due to the hurricane. "SNF" nonetheless delivered a primetime win for NBC among all telecasts on Sunday -- and for the week ending Sept. 9. "SNF" was almost 12 million viewers higher than the closest non-sports program in primetime last week ("America's Got Talent" at 10.7 million viewers). On Monday night, ESPN averaged 9.96 million viewers for the “MNF” doubleheader, down 7% from last year. The figure this year goes to 10.1 million viewers when Spanish simulcasts are included from ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. Despite the drop, "MNF" also delivered ESPN a primetime win among all nets -- broadcast or cable -- on Monday (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

INITIAL THOUGHTS: In N.Y., Andrew Marchand writes ESPN needs to "recognize that putting a third game analyst in a vehicle that goes nearly 30 mph nearly 10 feet off the sideline is a mistake." The gimmick is "kind of a shame," because the new booth of Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten and Booger McFarland had some "really good moments in their debut" during Rams-Raiders on Monday. But the "BoogMobile" is "not worth the hassle or the extra expense, especially since not one more viewer will watch because of it." All it does is "stunt conversation among the trio, while adding little substance" (NYPOST.com, 9/11). SI.com's Jacob Feldman wrote McFarland's "contraption isn't a distraction, which is good, but it's also not totally evident why it's needed at all." Meanwhile, Witten "improved over the preseason, but still has a ways to go before his performances feel natural." Tessitore "kept traffic clear" in his regular season debut, "directing questions and comments to Boog or Witt, but the dialogue rarely reached the level of banter" (SI.com, 9/11). In San Jose, Chuck Barney wrote Witten was "less-than-sizzling." He came across as "stiff, awkward -- and even kind of quiet." There were times that it felt like he "wasn't even present." Meanwhile, McFarland brought the "Gruden-like energy and charismatic oomph" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 9/11). 

ON THE RADIO: In San Jose, Jon Becker wrote Raiders radio play-by-play man Brent Musburger "avoided any real disaster in his first official game." But like the preseason, he still "left his listeners yearning for more," as in "wanting more game details and timelier information, and the sense he knows the team inside and out, the staples of any high-level announcer on the radio." For example, Musburger was heard "mispronouncing Raiders players' names." When the team "changed personnel, Musburger at times failed to mention who was coming in." He has "improved a lot at interjecting the crucial information such as down-and-distances, but he did at times mislead the listener on how well a play was developing." On the plus side, the chemistry between Musburger and his in-booth analyst Lincoln Kennedy "seems strong." The two seem to "enjoy working with one another," and Musburger "seemed to know" just when to call on Kennedy for an opinion (MERCURYNEWS.com, 9/11).

Golovkin was irked that HBO seemed unsupportive of his plan to fight a replacement opponent in May
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Gennady Golovkin's fight on Saturday night against Canelo Alvarez will mark the final bout in Golovkin's alliance with HBO, and it will be "compelling to see" if he "turns away from a network that is increasingly turning its back on boxing," according to Lance Pugmire of the L.A. TIMES. Golovkin was "irked that HBO seemed unsupportive of his plan to fight a replacement opponent in May after Alvarez was suspended for six months for submitting two positive tests for clenbuterol." It "rubbed Golovkin as preferential treatment by the premium network toward Mexico’s popular Alvarez." But HBO noted that since his '12 debut, "no other fighter has been on the premium network more than Golovkin, with 14 appearances" (L.A. TIMES, 9/12).

NBC will "broadcast the final round" of the inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur (ANWA) set to take place April 3-6, according to John Boyette of the AUGUSTA CHRONICLE. Golf Channel will air "highlights, live reports and news coverage throughout the event," including an on-site presence "during the first two competitive rounds," which are held at the Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta. Golf Channel's "Live From the Masters" telecast will begin on April 5, and include Saturday's final-round coverage at Augusta National Golf Club. Golf Channel on Sunday is airing the Drive, Chip & Putt National Finals from ANGC. Meanwhile, the ANWA has signed "five presenting sponsors" for the tournament -- AT&T, Bank of America, IBM, Mercedes-Benz and Rolex (AUGUSTACHRONICLE.com, 9/12). AT&T, IBM Mercedes-Benz and Rolex are existing sponsors of The Masters (THE DAILY). GOLFWEEK's Beth Ann Nichols notes the move by NBC, which has never had rights to The Masters, to air live coverage from the ANWA, marks a "significant boost for the women's game" (GOLFWEEK.com, 9/12). Golf Channel's Ryan Lavner tweeted, "Can't wait to cover it -- could be a game-changer" (TWITTER.com, 9/12).

GREAT MOVE FOR THE SPORT: NBC's Mike Tirico, who will be part of the team covering the ANWA, said the event could "be a boost for not just women's golf but golf as a whole.” He noted there is a "good path to follow" for how the tournament could grow based on what the Drive, Chip & Putt Finals "has done for junior golf." He said, "It inspires junior golfers at most every club around the country that has a junior program. If Augusta National can do that for junior golf around the country, think what this will do for women's amateur golf." Tirico said Augusta National Chair Fred Ridley was "right on the money when he said women's golf is an important segment of the sport." Tirico: "There will be lots of young ladies starting to play golf who will have this as a destination when they're practicing those early mornings and late evenings” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 9/12).

Naomi Osaka’s win over Serena Williams at the U.S. Open on Saturday afternoon averaged 3.1 million viewers, marking ESPN’s best women’s championship match since it began airing the final at the U.S. Open in ’15. CBS in its last year with the event drew 4.5 million viewers for Williams’ win over Caroline Wozniacki. Meanwhile, ESPN on Sunday afternoon against the NFL Week 1 national window drew 2.07 million viewers for Novak Djokovic’s straight sets win over Juan Martin del Potro, which is the best for the event since ESPN first aired the U.S. Open final in ’15 (Djokovic-Roger Federer, 3.15 million viewers in primetime after a three-hour delay). For the entire U.S. Open, ESPN had its best audience since its first year with the whole tourney in '15. The net averaged 1.04 million viewers for all linear TV matches, up 9% from 949,000 viewers last year. The '15 event averaged 1.27 million viewers. West Palm Beach was the top market for ESPN (1.9 local rating), followed by DC (1.6) and Richmond (1.4).

HARD KNOCK LIFE: HBO averaged 629,000 viewers for the five premiere episodes of "Hard Knocks" featuring the Browns this summer. That is the show's best figure since 874,000 viewers when the Texans were featured in '15. Last year, the Buccaneers-focused show averaged 578,000 viewers, while in '16, the Rams averaged 580,000.

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

TELECAST
DATE
NET
TIME (ET)
RATING
VIEWERS
(000)
NFL: Cowboys-Panthers (80%)
9/9
Fox
4:15-7:40pm
13.1
23,303
"SNF": Bears-Packers
9/9
NBC
8:23-11:31pm
12.5
22,117
NFL Kickoff: Falcons-Eagles
9/6
NBC
9:00pm-12:04am
11.3
19,028
NFL: (single)
9/9
CBS
1:00-4:05pm
9.7
17,082
NFL: (regional)
9/9
Fox
1:00-4:15pm
7.4
12,538
"Football Night in America"
9/9
NBC
7:30-8:14pm
4.3
7,369
College football: Virginia Tech-Florida State
9/3
ESPN
7:58-11:09pm
3.4
5,576
"Fox NFL Sunday"
9/9
Fox
12:00-1:00pm
3.2
4,835
College football: Clemson-Texas A&M
9/8
ESPN
7:00-10:41pm
2.6
4,486
"The NFL Today"
9/9
CBS
12:00-1:00pm
2.4
3,758
College football: Georgia-South Carolina
9/8
CBS
3:30-6:00pm
2.3
3,747
College football: Colorado-Nebraska
9/8
ABC
3:33-7:24pm
2.1
3,394
College football: Penn State-Pitt
9/8
ABC
8:07-11:46pm
2.0
3,286
U.S. Open: Women's Final:
Naomi Osaka-Serena Williams
9/8
ESPN
4:00-6:53pm
1.9
3,101
College football: (regional)
9/8
ABC
12:01-3:42pm
1.7
2,539
College football: Ball State-Notre Dame
9/8
NBC
3:30-7:00pm
1.6
2,453
PGA Tour: BMW Championship: Third Round
9/8
NBC
12:00-3:30pm
1.7
2,433
College football: Michigan State-Arizona State
9/8
ESPN
10:45pm-2:20am
1.5
2,297
College football: USC-Stanford
9/8
Fox
8:45-11:59pm
1.4
2,290
U.S. Open: Men's Final:
Novak Djokovic-Juan Martin del Potro
9/9
ESPN
4:02-8:00pm
1.3
2,065
PBR: PFIWestern.com Invitational
9/9
CBS
5:00-6:00pm
1.3
2,043
College football: Iowa State-Iowa
9/8
Fox
3:30-7:00pm
1.2
2,017
Soccer friendly: Mexico-Uruguay
9/7
Univision
10:03pm-12:07am
0.9
1,855
College football: Mississippi State-Kansas State
9/8
ESPN
12:01-3:22pm
1.1
1,800
U.S. Open: Men's/Women's quarterfinals
9/4
ESPN
7:00pm-2:13am
n/a
1,680
"College GameDay"
9/8
ESPN
9:00am-12:01pm
n/a
1,667
College football: Arkansas State-Alabama
9/8
ESPN2
3:41-7:07pm
1.0
1,663
MLB: Astros-Red Sox
9/9
ESPN
8:00-11:48pm
1.0
1,480
Soccer friendly: Brazil-U.S.
9/7
Univision
7:30-10:03pm
0.7
1,389
College football: UCLA-Oklahoma
9/8
Fox
12:00-3:30pm
1.8
1,182
"Fox NFL Kickoff"
9/9
Fox
11:00am-12:00pm
0.8
1,168
Track & Field: New Balance 5th Avenue Mile
9/9
NBC
12:00-1:00pm
0.5
693
WNBA Finals: Mystics-Storm: Game 2
9/9
ABC
3:30-6:00pm
0.4
546
WSL: Surf Ranch Pro (taped)
9/8
CBS
2:00-3:00pm
0.4
527
"World of X Games"
9/9
ABC
2:30-3:30pm
0.3
373

NOTE: Final round of BMW Championship was rained out on NBC on Sunday. Aired on Golf Channel on Monday.

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Audience Analysis