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Volume 25 No. 110

Media

CBS and ESPN cited the tourney's move to May as one of the main drawing cards to doing the deal
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The PGA Championship will leave TNT after next year’s event, ending a 29-year relationship with Turner Sports, which has carried the golf major on TBS and TNT since ‘91. PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said he called Turner President David Levy over the weekend to tell him that ESPN would pick up the tournament’s cable rights that had been held by Turner as part of a new deal to be announced this afternoon. The tournament’s other long-time media partner, CBS, was able to renew its deal to carry afternoon coverage on the weekend. The 11-year agreement runs through ’30. Financial terms were not disclosed, though execs described the rights fee increase as “healthy.” The deal sets CBS and ESPN as partners for the first two major tournaments on golf’s calendar -- the PGA is moving to May from August next year, while CBS and ESPN have partnered on The Masters since '08. CBS will produce the PGA, even when it is on ESPN. “We like the idea of having the same team do the first two majors of the year,” Waugh said. Both CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus and ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Scheduling Burke Magnus cited the move to May as one of the main drawing cards to doing a deal for the PGA. McManus: “Having the first two golf majors on CBS made it really attractive for us.” Magnus agreed, saying, "That was one of the lead factors that got us excited. ... It really caught our attention as an opportunity.”

TWO YEARS OF TALKS: The deal is the culmination of two years of talks that involved many traditional media companies, including NBC Sports Group, which was believed to gain an edge over the summer when it hired Pete Bevacqua as President. Bevacqua had spent six years as PGA of America CEO until moving to NBC in September. He handled the early negotiations for the PGA of America, and recused himself from the negotiating table when he started working with NBC. The agreement is the first deal under Waugh, who took over for Bevacqua last month. PGA of America Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Price was involved in the talks, as was Evolution Media Capital partner and Head of Sports Media Alan Gold, who the PGA of America retained to help with the deal. McManus and CBS Sports President David Berson led negotiations for CBS Sports. Magnus was the point man for ESPN.

FIRST DEAL FOR NEW CBS BOSS: The deal is a significant one for CBS, marking its first big sports rights deal since Joe Ianniello replaced Les Moonves as the head of CBS last month. McManus said that Ianniello never wavered from renewing this deal. “This was the first deal done with new management here at CBS,” McManus said. “Joe was very supportive of the deal from the beginning. The overall strategy for CBS has not changed. It is still centered on the value of sports.” Ianniello said, “Premium content such as the PGA represents the past, present and future of CBS. There is nothing like live sports programming to attract a mass audience and drive our business.” In negotiating to renew its deal, CBS execs emphasized their relationship with the PGA of America -- it also has carried the PGA since ’91. CBS will get expanded highlight and digital rights that it will use on CBSSports.com, CBS All Access and its mobile apps, while CBS Sports Network will produce shows on site. “The overall relationship we had with the PGA of America was critical to getting this deal done,” McManus said. “It quickly became clear that our partnership was important to the PGA of America.” Waugh added, “We’re about relationships and loyalty. Incumbents will always have the pole position with us.”

MORE CONTENT FOR ESPN+: ESPN’s strategy has been to invest more heavily in championship events like the PGA, which was last carried on the net in ’90. “If they hand out a trophy at the end of it, we’re interest in carrying it,” Magnus said. But ESPN also is looking for content to convince people to subscribe to its ESPN+ streaming service. “We’re building a new business in ESPN+. It was ideal for us to have a golf major available for acquisition.” Starting with the ’20 event at Harding Park in S.F., CBS and ESPN will have wall-to-wall coverage (more than 175 hours) during the tournament. CBS will carry weekend afternoon coverage, while ESPN and ESPN+ will carry the Thursday and Friday rounds exclusively. It also will carry weekend rounds before CBS goes on air. Interestingly, while CBS is on air on the weekend, ESPN+ will have live coverage from featured holes and featured groups. ESPN will have in-progress highlight rights and post-round highlight rights for ESPN+, ESPN.com and the ESPN App. ESPN+ also will carry practice rounds before the tournament, press conferences and driving range interviews. ESPN will produce “SportsCenter” from the event. Other aspects of the deal: ESPN will carry the PGA Jr. League Championship starting in Oct. ’20. “That could become a different version of the Little League World Series,” Waugh said. Plus, the PGA of America retains the rights to PGA.com.

TURNER SAYS GOODBYE: Turner released a statement this morning acknowledging that its 29-year association with the PGA Championship is coming to an end. Turner said, “We’ve had a successful partnership with the PGA of America for many years, including continuous innovations throughout our portfolio that have greatly enhanced the experience for golf fans. We wish them all the best in their future pursuits.”
 

 
Buzz surrounding the undefeated Chiefs and Mahomes helped land the "SNF" game
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The 49ers are being "pushed out of prime time partly due to the allure of the NFL’s next big thing," as QB Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' game against the Bengals on Oct. 21 has been flexed into "SNF," according to Eric Branch of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Rams-49ers had been the scheduled "SNF" game for that date and will now be played at 1:25pm PT at Levi’s Stadium on CBS. The 49ers will "unveil statues of Dwight Clark and Joe Montana depicting 'The Catch' outside the stadium the same day" and will wear their '94 throwback uniforms (S.F. CHRONICLE, 10/10). USA TODAY's Nate Davis notes beginning Monday night against the Packers, the 49ers were about to be "featured in prime time four of the next five weeks -- and that would have been fine" if QB Jimmy Garoppolo did not suffer a season-ending injury in Week 3. The upcoming Monday night game, a Thursday game in Week 9 against the Raiders and "MNF" in Week 10 against the Giants are "not eligible to be flexed because they're not Sunday games" (USA TODAY, 10/10). In L.A., Sam Farmer writes it "wasn’t just that Rams-49ers was less attractive, but that both the Chiefs and Bengals have played their way into prime time, especially with the buzz surrounding" Mahomes (L.A. TIMES, 10/10). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Joe Lucia noted this is the "earliest time in a season the NFL has flexed a game" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 10/9).

SKY NOT FALLING: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour notes NFL ratings prior to this season had "seen a decline," but so had "pretty much everything else on TV." The NFL is "still king." NFL games "accounted for the three most-watched telecasts" in '17, and "six of the top 10." There are people who "turned off the NFL" when Colin Kaepernick began protesting in '16, and some of them "haven’t returned." But those numbers were "never as substantial" as some tried to claim. Armour: "The NFL isn't dying and its TV ratings aren't plummeting. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Even the president" (USA TODAY, 10/10). YAHOO SPORTS' Charles Robinson wrote it is "amazing that it took a detailed media study to understand the popularity of the league is more driven by the product than by political schisms." That should "sting for a group of owners that have an unyielding belief they are always right." In hindsight, the "arrogance in decision-making and reactive nature of the league office only fanned the flames of a fire that wasn’t damaging the bottom line" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/9). Bruin Sports Capital Founder & CEO George Pyne said the rise in NFL ratings this season can partly be attributed to the "focus on the production on the field." The league has "four young quarterbacks that are dynamic" and has had “overtime games.” Pyne: "Last year, 72 of the top 100 programs on TV were NFL games and they’re off to a strong start. It’s good for the NFL, but it’s also good for sports because the NFL is such a big part of the sports ecosystem in the United States"(“Power Lunch,” CNBC, 10/9).

MOVING THE NEEDLE: In Nashville, Mike Organ notes ratings for Titans games are "slightly up this season" with the team sitting at 3-2 and the top of the AFC South. The Titans are averaging a 21.3 local rating, up from a 21.1 last season through five games (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 10/10).

Carey said the OTT service rolled out by F1 has been beset by some glitches
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

F1 CEO & Exec Chair Chase Carey acknowledged that the racing circuit’s digital efforts have been "less spectacular than the sport’s technologically advanced vehicles," according to Dawn Chmielewski of DEADLINE.com. Speaking at Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit, Carey said the OTT service rolled out by Liberty Media-controlled F1 has been beset by "more glitches than we hoped for." A relaunch of F1's mobile app has also been "met with snafus." Chmielewski noted in general, the road to a digital future has been "rocky." It was enough to prompt Carey to call '18 the "beta year" for digital forays. He said that F1 will need to "stabilize the platform and define the experience before marketing it to fans" (DEADLINE.com, 10/9).

MISSING OUT: AUTOWEEK's Christian Sylt cited sources close to NBC as saying that the net had agreed to pay $40M to continue broadcasting F1 for seven years, beginning in '18, but "put the brakes on the offer when the sport announced its plan to stream races online." NBCSN began carrying F1 in '13 and initially signed a "four-year contract." A source said, "At the beginning of the fourth year we began having conversations about a five-year extension which would have seen a significant uptick in the fees we were paying." Sylt noted NBC was paying $4M annually to broadcast F1. The source said, "We had basically come to a handshake on this deal." The source added that the deal "stalled when F1 was sold by the private equity firm CVC to Liberty Media" in September '16. NBCSN extended for one year on "similar terms to its original contract." The source said, "The long and short of it is that we still commenced conversations with Chase and [F1 Managing Dir of Commercial Operations Sean Bratches], and they basically wanted the same deal that we had put on the table but they also wanted to be able to create their own app which they would run at the same time that we were on the air." Sylt noted ESPN, which began broadcasting F1 this season, is "not paying F1 an annual fee," so not only has it lost the $40M from NBC, but it also has "not recouped it from its replacement" (AUTOWEEK.com, 10/9).

The return of the annual Texas-Oklahoma game to broadcast TV was a boon for the game’s noon ET audience. Fox, airing the matchup for the first time, drew 5.61 million viewers, marking the Red River Rivalry’s best audience since ABC drew 6.53 million viewers in ’11. Last year, ESPN in the 3:30pm window drew 3.62 million viewers. FS1 aired the game at noon in ’16, drawing 2.79 million viewers for the matchup, which was also the first time the game had been off ABC in 18 years. Texas-Oklahoma is Fox’ best CFB game this season to date. Fox Sports Go had an average minute audience of 86,765 viewers, which is the streaming platform’s best CFB game this season and best Big 12 game on record. It also is Fox Sports Go’s third-best CFB stream all-time, behind only last season’s Penn State-Ohio State and Ohio State-Michigan games.

RED RIVER RIVALRY AUDIENCE TREND
YEAR
NET
START (ET)
VIEWERS (000)
'18
Fox
12:00pm
5,608
'17
ESPN
3:30pm
3,619
'16
FS1
11:58am
2,788
'15
ABC
12:00pm
4,992
'14
ABC
12:01pm
4,236
'13
ABC
12:00pm
4,713
'12
ABC
12:00pm
5,400
'11
ABC
12:00pm
6,533
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Red River Rivalry audience trend

PIGGYBACK RIDES: Following Red Sox-Yankees Game 1 on Friday night, TBS averaged around 700,000 viewers for ELeague coverage, marking the most-viewed esports program on cable TV to date. The telecast featuring the game “Counter Strike: Global Offensive” aired from 11:37pm-12:38am ET. ELeague now occupies the top three spots on cable TV all-time for esports telecasts. Meanwhile, leading into Saturday night’s UFC 229 on PPV, which featured Khabib Nurmagomedov-Conor McGregor, FS1 averaged 1.31 million viewers for prelim fights. That figure is up from 653,000 viewers on FX on the same weekend last year for the prelims of UFC 216, and marks the biggest UFC prelims audience in nearly two years. Saturday also marks FS1’s 10th best UFC prelims on record. FS1 on Thursday also drew 403,000 viewers for “Lock It In,” marking the sports gambling show’s best figure yet for a first-run episode on the net. On Sunday, on the heels of CBS’ NFL singleheader weekend, PBR had its best viewership of the ’18 season on CBS from 5:00-6:00pm. The event from Milwaukee averaged 2.13 million viewers.

NOTES: The NBA said that the Mavericks-76ers game in Shanghai on Oct. 5 drew 42.7 million unique viewers on CCTV5, the most-viewed NBA game in China since '14.

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

TELECAST
DATE
NET
TIME (ET)
RATING
VIEWERS
(000)
NFL: Vikings-Eagles (82%)
10/7
Fox
4:25-7:00pm
12.2
21,044
"SNF": Cowboys-Texans
10/7
NBC
8:23-11:48pm
10.7
18,588
NFL: (regional)
10/7
Fox
1:00-4:15pm
8.2
13,655
"MNF": Chiefs-Broncos
10/1
ESPN
8:16-11:23pm
7.9
13,535
NFL: (singleheader)
10/7
CBS
1:00-4:05pm
8.0
13,330
"TNF": Colts-Patriots
10/4
Fox/
NFL Net
8:23-11:04pm
8.0
13,273
"Football Night in America"
10/7
NBC
7:30-8:14pm
4.0
6,734
NL Wild Card: Rockies-Cubs
10/2
ESPN
8:00pm-1:10am
3.8
6,462
AL Wild Card: Yankees-A's
10/3
TBS
8:00-11:47pm
3.8
6,194
College football: Texas-Oklahoma
10/6
Fox
12:00-3:45pm
3.5
5,608
ALDS: Red Sox-Yankees: Game 1
10/5
TBS
7:24-11:18pm
3.4
5,571
ALDS: Red Sox-Yankees: Game 2
10/6
TBS
7:57-11:53pm
3.0
5,059
College football: LSU-Florida
10/6
CBS
3:30-7:15pm
2.9
4,703
"Fox NFL Sunday"
10/7
Fox
12:00-1:00pm
3.0
4,515
College football: Notre Dame-Virginia Tech
10/6
ABC
8:07-11:47pm
2.7
4,473
College football: Indiana-Ohio State
10/6
Fox
3:30-7:00pm
2.5
3,988
NLDS: Dodgers-Braves: Game 3
10/7
FS1
8:00-11:48pm
1.8
3,022
"The NFL Today"
10/7
CBS
12:00-1:00pm
2.0
3,005
College football: Florida State-Miami
10/6
ABC
4:29-7:45pm
1.8
2,810
NL West tiebreaker: Rockies-Dodgers
10/1
ESPN
4:16-7:33pm
n/a
2,688
College football: Kentucky-Texas A&M
10/6
ESPN
7:00-10:36pm
1.4
2,547
NL Central tiebreaker: Brewers-Cubs
10/1
ESPN
1:00-4:16pm
n/a
2,532
ALDS: Astros-Indians: Game 2
10/6
TBS
4:30-7:57pm
1.6
2,497
College football: Maryland-Michigan
10/6
ABC
12:00-12:15pm;
1:00-4:30pm
1.5
2,329
PBR: Ariat Invitational (Milwaukee)
10/7
CBS
5:00-6:00pm
1.4
2,126
College football: Washington-UCLA
10/6
Fox
7:54-10:55pm
1.3
2,027
"Fox NFL Kickoff"
10/7
Fox
11:00am-12:00pm
0.8
1,176
Liga MX: UNAM Pumas-Chivas
10/6
Univision
10:11pm-12:16am
0.6
1,089
Liga MX: Club America-Tigres UANL
10/6
Univision
7:55-10:11pm
0.5
983
EPL: Newcastle-Manchester United
10/6
NBC
12:30-2:30pm
0.5
789
Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Keeneland
10/7
NBC
4:30-6:00pm
0.5
712
Breeders' Cup Challenge Series: Keeneland
10/6
NBC
4:30-6:00pm
0.5
711
Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series (taped)
10/6
CBS
1:30-2:30pm
0.5
620
"World of X Games"
10/7
ABC
4:00-5:00pm
0.3
366
Premiership Rugby: Saracens-Harlequins
10/6
NBC
2:30-4:30pm
0.3
359
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Audience Analysis

Turner Sports has reached an agreement with WNBA L.A. Sparks F Candace Parker to serve as an analyst and commentator for "NBA on TNT" and NBA TV throughout the season. She will join the "Players Only" studio team and will also provide analysis for NBA TV's "GameTime." Parker, who will remain an active WNBA player, also will provide commentary for Turner and CBS' coverage of the NCAA Tournament (NBA). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes, "Women on men's sports telecasts aren't yet so commonplace that the addition of another fails to be noteworthy" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 10/10).

END OF THE ROAD: Tigers broadcasters Mario Impemba and Rod Allen will not return to FS Detroit in ’19 after getting into a physical altercation after a game in early September. In Detroit, Lynn Henning in a front-page piece notes Impemba's contract, which ran through the '18 season and is "estimated to have paid him more than $500,000 annually, will not be renewed." Sources said that Allen also had a “one-year deal, with a salary pegged at about $350,000.” He had a network option for '19 that attorneys are "working to settle." The Impemba-Allen team was the "second-longest Tigers TV duo ever, behind George Kell and Al Kaline (21 years)" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/10).

SIGNING OFF: AT&T SportsNet Southwest host Bart Enis said that his contract with the RSN was "not renewed." Enis, who hosted pre- and post-game shows and served as a field reporter for Astros and Rockets games, said that his "final day with the network was Sept. 30" (CHRON.com, 10/8).

SILENT NO MORE: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock noted former longtime Hurricanes radio play-by-play man Chuck Kaiton has a "new outlet for his thoughts: a podcast with friend and financial planner 'Coach Pete' D’Arruda." Kaiton was unable to agree to a new deal with the NHL team this offseason, and his new "Live Happy Show" focuses on things like "wine, cigars and sports." Kaiton: "It’s something temporary for me. I do want to get back in the NHL, but I want to pick a good spot. I’m not just going to go anywhere. Whether that materializes or not is out of my hands" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 10/9).