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Volume 25 No. 212

Media

Packers-Seahawks is likely to deliver Fox its best Thursday night telecast in at least five years
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Seahawks’ 27-24 win over the Packers on “Thursday Night Football” drew an 11.9 overnight rating on Fox and NFL Net, marking the best figure for “TNF” game in almost two years. The Seahawks’ come-from-behind win was the best Thursday night game since Cowboys-Vikings drew a 14.1 in Week 13 in ’16. That game remains the top “TNF” audience on record. Packers-Seahawks is also likely to deliver Fox its best Thursday night telecast in at least five years. The net easily won primetime on Thursday, with its 11.1 rating in primetime (8:00-11:00pm ET) up 118% over No. 2 CBS (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

FIELD & STREAM: VARIETY's Todd Spangler noted outside of the U.S., Mexico has "represented the largest streaming audience" for "TNF" on Amazon Prime so far this season, "followed by Canada." Meanwhile, Prime Video members in California have "streamed 'TNF' more than any other state," followed by Washington and Texas. On a per-capita basis, viewers in North Dakota have "streamed more hours of 'TNF' on Prime Video than any other state." Patriots QB Tom Brady was the "most-viewed player" on the X-Ray feature for Fire TV "TNF" experience, followed by Vikings QB Kirk Cousins (VARIETY.com, 11/15).

CLASH OF THE TITANS: In Nashville, Mike Organ noted Patriots-Titans last Sunday "earned the highest local television ratings for the franchise for a Sunday noon game in five years." WTVF-CBS Programming & Research Dir Mark Binda said that the game posted a 26.0 local rating. Organ noted Titans-Cowboys in Week 9 on "MNF" drew a 27.3 rating on WKRN-ABC (TENNESSEAN.com, 11/15).

MLB's deal with DAZN will create a weeknight whiparound show similar to NFL RedZone
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

MLB's new three-year U.S. streaming deal with Perform Group-owned DAZN is worth $300M, according to sources. The pact will create a weeknight whiparound show featuring live look-ins and highlights, somewhat similar to the NFL RedZone channel. The show will be co-produced with MLB Network and is designed as a youth-leaning effort that in part will target fans without a traditional cable subscription. "This is really going to be intended for a younger audience," said DAZN Exec Chair John Skipper (Eric Fisher, THE DAILY). Skipper said DAZN's new partnership will allow them to "start to innovate" with MLB. Skipper: "DAZN may be new to some of you, and that's because DAZN is actually a pretty new company. Baseball is one of the original companies we've been doing business with for the two years of our existence, and in those two years we have established DAZN as the world's leading over the top streaming service" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 11/16). In N.Y., Andrew Marchand writes MLB's deal with DAZN is "torn out of the NFL's playbook, as MLB is reselling inventory." The full games are "available elsewhere, having been sold to regional sports networks and also on a paid basis from MLB.com, so they will get to know DAZN a little better for the future," while also pocketing $100M per season (N.Y. POST, 11/16).

HISTORY WILL BE MADE: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes the "mark for most World Series in a TV booth" is 24, held by Tim McCarver. Joe Buck's contract with Fox runs through '22 and "barring unforeseen circumstances," he would pass McCarver during his final year. But Buck is "taking a wait-and-see approach with any plans" beyond '22. Buck: "There's a lot of time between now and 2023. That said, I'm thrilled for Fox. And for MLB. It's been a great partnership and glad to see it is continuing. We have been good for each other in my opinion" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/16).

HISTORY OF FOX-MLB MEDIA-RIGHTS DEALS
SEASONS
AVERAGE ANNUAL VALUE
'96-'00
$115M
'01-06
$416.7M
'07-13
$257.1M
'14-21
$525M
'22-28
$728.6M
Download the
History of Fox MLB Deals

ON THE HORIZON: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said he expects renewals for live, in-market streaming in time for the '19 season. Many of the current deals with major providers such as Fox Sports and NBC Sports are currently up. Manfred: "When everybody has the same appreciation that authenticated streaming is worthwhile, you have the fundamentals to get to a deal" (Eric Fisher, THE DAILY).

Parkey last week missed four field goals in the Bears' win over the Lions at Soldier Field
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Bears "squelched coverage" by WLS-ABC and WGN after the TV stations "dispatched helicopters" over Soldier Field while K Cody Parkey practiced, according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Parkey was at the outdoor site to "better acclimate" to outdoor conditions ahead of Sunday night's Vikings-Bears game following "four botched kicks" last week at home against the Lions. WGN managed to "air a live shot of Parkey working on the turf with a long snapper and holder as part of a prime-time special featuring its morning news team before the Bears intervened." Invoking its restrictions on practice video, the team "effectively prohibited the stations from sharing their aerial coverage on the air or online, including via social media." A Bears spokesperson said the team acted "after calls (Wednesday) night from competing local media complaining that we were not enforcing" the policy on practice coverage. The spokesperson "declined to identify the rival outlet -- or or outlets -- that objected." It is "not clear what strategic advantage an NFL opponent could gain through seeing Parkey practice" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/16).

A pair of lawsuits between former Roanoke Times Virginia Tech football beat reporter Andy Bitter and the newspaper's parent company, BH Media Group, have "ended with the two sides agreeing to drop their claims," according to Michael Phillips of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. BH Media sued Bitter after he left for The Athletic, where he "continued to report on Virginia Tech football," contending that the Twitter account Bitter used to provide updates "should have remained with the paper, citing that it was given to Bitter by a previous reporter" at the Roanoke Times. BH Media estimated that it "would take $150,000 and seven years (the length of time Bitter was with the paper) to hire someone to create a similar list of potential customers via a Twitter account." In a countersuit, Bitter "alleged libel by the paper in its reporting on the lawsuit." Bitter will "retain access to the account, which uses the handle @AndyBitterVT, but posted a short statement Thursday that directed people" to the Roanoke Times' new account (RICHMOND.com, 11/15).

STILL A LEGAL GRAY AREA: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Sean Keeley writes it is hard to "blame local outlets for wanting to hold on to whatever they can in the fight to remain relevant and in business." Retaining intellectual property was "at the heart of a lawsuit filed by BH Media." The decision of this case was supposed to "echo through the halls of media companies across the nation," but in the end "cooler heads prevailed and it looks like that murky grey legal area between social media, reporters, and their media companies will remain just that for the foreseeable future" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 11/16).

IMSA becomes the third motosports property whose media rights are fully or partially owned by NBC Sports
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

NBC Sports will air more than 100 hours of IMSA programming this upcoming season as part of its new six-year media-rights deal, including 12 races across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and NBC’s digital channels. NBC will kick off coverage of the sports car series' 50th anniversary season with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on NBCSN. The channel will also air a one-hour ’19 season preview the Thursday before the Rolex race on Jan. 26. IMSA joins NASCAR and IndyCar as motorsports properties whose media rights are now fully or partially owned by NBC Sports. Monster Energy Supercross is also a top candidate to join NBC Sports after it decided not to renew its deal with Fox Sports after the deal expires at the end of ’18.

Alzugaray (c) spoke often and critically of the Dolphins, but the team had nothing to do with his firing
Photo: ORLANDO ALZUGARAY

In Miami, Barry Jackson cited sources as saying that WQAM, the Dolphins' flagship radio station, fired longtime host Orlando Alzugaray, who "spoke often and critically" about the team. The station and Alzugaray "declined to divulge the reason for his firing, but he was informed of the decision moments after leaving the air for the final time Tuesday." The Dolphins had "nothing to do with Alzugaray’s firing," and the team had "never tried to force his ouster even as he repeatedly criticized management" and QB Ryan Tannehill (MIAMI HERALD, 11/15).

LOCAL APPROVAL: In Boston, Shirley Leung writes Entercom made the "right call" by taking "one of its biggest stars," Kirk Minihane, off of WEEI-AM, one of its most prominent radio stations. During his five years on WEEI, Minihane has "been suspended or abruptly went on vacation several times after making rude or otherwise unacceptable comments." It is a "risky move all around," but listeners and advertisers "who are tired of the vile commentary will thank the broadcasting behemoth for cleaning up the airwaves" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/16).

TOP OF HER GAME: TIME's Seam Gregory profiles ESPN's Doris Burke, who is the "rare broadcaster" that has "earned respect and admiration from players, coaches and fans alike." She stands out for "dropping insightful factoids and sharing her passion sans shtick." Her style has "earned Burke a cult following." She was the "first female broadcaster to receive" the Basketball HOF’s Curt Gowdy Media Award. Burke said of the honor, “My imagination could not have dreamed this up” (TIME, 11/26 issue).

NO LANGUAGE BARRIERS: In Oklahoma City, Joe Mussatto noted Oklahoma football last Saturday was "broadcast on Spanish radio" for the first time in OKC (KRXO-FM) and Tulsa (KIZS-FM). OU games this season are "being carried in Spanish for the second year, but the first on local stations." Enrique Vasquez and Luis Rendon are the "voices of Los Sooners." Rendon wants to be a "bridge between OU football and the state’s Hispanic community." Vasquez said that they "have support" from OU AD Joe Castiglione and the athletic department. The Spanish radio crew has been to "every game this season besides the trip to Texas Tech" (OKLAHOMAN, 11/15).

In Dallas, Brad Townsend notes KTCK-FM on Thursday became the first local media outlet to "extensively question" Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban "about the seven-month investigation into sexual harassment allegations on the franchise's business side." KTCK hosts George Dunham, Craig Miller and Gordon Keith deserve credit for "asking all the hard questions," and so does Cuban for "answering those questions." However, after being questioned, Cuban said, "I came in to talk basketball. If I would have known we would have gone there, I wouldn't have shown up. Seriously. Because that's behind us" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/16).

TAKING OFF: In Houston, David Barron writes few things are "more indicative of the Astros' improved status in the Houston sports pecking order than the announcement this week that their night games will air next season" on KTRH-AM in addition to flagship station KBME-AM, which "will air the complete Astros schedule." iHeartMedia Houston in '13 "requested to change the Astros' flagship station from 50,000-watt KTRH to 5,000-watt KBME, which has signal issues north of the city." During summertime months, the move "will be a significant boost for the Astros' audience, particularly in areas outside the beltway" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/16).

RAW DEAL: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins writes the "travesty of the Pac-12’s television contract has never been more evident" than it is now. Stanford-Cal on Saturday night "will be shown only" on Pac-12 Networks, thus shutting out thousands of fans who subscribe to DirecTV because it offers the most thorough sports coverage." At the "worst possible time," Pac-12 Nets is "showing more games than at any point this year." Another question is why ESPN would "choose Miami-Virginia Tech over a game with the tradition and coolness factor of the Big Game rivalry" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 11/16).