CBS on Saturday night drew a 2.1 rating for the debut of the Alliance of American Football. The telecast was regionalized with San Diego Fleet-San Antonio Commanders and Atlanta Legends-Orlando Apollos. That figure was even with Thunder-Rockets in the same window on ABC, but below ESPN’s Duke-Virginia telecast. From now through the title game (on CBS), only TNT (two games all season), CBSSN (at least one game per week) and NFL Net (two games per week) will carry games on linear TV. The AAF app will also carry games that are not airing on CBSSN, while B/R Live will also stream one game per week. Back in ’01, NBC drew a 10.3 for the inaugural XFL game, but would never again come close to that figure, with Week 2 drawing a 5.1 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Jon Lafayette noted a playoff game and the championship game for the AAF will be "broadcast by CBS" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 2/11).
POTENTIAL IS THERE: In Phoenix, Bill Goodykoontz wrote he "checked into" the AAF on Saturday and Sunday, "choosing a few different viewing options -- broadcast television, streaming online and by way of an iPhone app -- and as a TV experience it was just fine." The football was "entertaining and the technological innovations, particularly watching and listening to a replay official think out loud while deciding whether to overturn a call, were interesting" (AZCENTRAL.com, 2/10). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes the AAF's mobile app, which "tracks all the players on the field -- even for the coin toss -- was nifty." This "potential precursor to a future which bettors might be able to wager on what would occur next on a play-by-play basis was handicapped by the lag between real time and the TV broadcast." However, the app could eventually be "on time and then the AAF truly might have something" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/11).
UNDER THE HOOD: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Michael David Smith wrote the first games provided "something we’ve never seen before: An inside look at the instant replay decision-making process." During Commanders-Fleet, a pass was "ruled complete by the officials on the field" but then "went to replay review." TV cameras and microphones then "showed the viewing audience the replay official discussing the play with the referee on the field." The call was "overturned, and we got to hear exactly what the replay official has to say." That kind of transparency is "great for fans, and it would be great to see the NFL adopt the same level of transparency." But "not everything has gone smoothly on the officiating front." The AAF "made a big deal about its real-time replay official, known as SkyJudge, but when the officials on the field made an obvious mistake, SkyJudge failed to correct it" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 2/9). NFL Net's Shaun O'Hara also pointed out how the league was "able to bring the fans into the huddle and let them hear the play call." O'Hara: "That transparency is great" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 2/11).
An NBC spokesperson in a statement said the network was "very disappointed" in Bob Costas' interview with ESPN in which he chose to "mischaracterize and share" private interactions with NBC execs, according to Mark Fainaru-Wada of ESPN.com. Costas in '17 also appeared on CNN to discuss issues surrounding the NFL, including concussions, saying, "I've been saying these things for the better part of a decade, and often on NBC, in front of the biggest audience not just in all of sports, but in all of television -- 'Sunday Night Football.' And I think NBC Sports deserves credit for this." Within an hour of his interview, Costas said that he "received a text" from NBC Exec Producer Sam Flood. Costas: "I think the words were, 'You've crossed the line.'" The NBC statement continued, "We have historically given our commentators a lot of leeway to speak on our air about issues and controversies, and Bob has benefited most from this policy" (ESPN.com, 2/10). Costas said of his discussions with NBC execs, "I remember reminding them of things going back to the '90s, of what I had done, what credibility I would have to comment about these things. Their reaction to that was, ‘You're right, but this puts us in a position that's untenable for us so you can't do the Super Bowl.’” Costas called '17 one of the "most newsworthy years in the history" of the NFL and said he pitched a Super Bowl pregame interview with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Costas: "They made the request to Roger Goodell directly and Goodell declined" ("E:60," ESPN2, 2/10).
PEELING BACK THE LAYERS: Costas said it crossed his mind "many times" that he might have to stop sharing his views on concussions with him being the face of the NFL on NBC. Costas' tenure with NBC ended earlier this year, and he was not part of the net's Super Bowl LII coverage last year. After the premiere of the movie "Concussion," Costas said he wanted to address the concussion issue. Costas: “I proposed a very carefully crafted halftime essay that would give the NFL full credit for the steps it had taken, perhaps belatedly, to try to cope with the crisis.” Costas said he toned down the essay. Costas: "They said, 'This is a very well written piece. We wouldn't change a comma, but we can't air it. We are in negotiations with the NFL for 'Thursday Night Football.''" After NBC decided to not air the essay, Costas said he was in an “untenable situation.” Costas: “Did it make me think that the people for whom I worked and with whom I worked were not good people, not talented people, not people I liked, appreciated, and respected? No, but they had different concerns than I had. … The networks, all of them dance to the NFL's tune. Everyone walks on egg shells around the NFL" ("E:60," ESPN2, 2/10).
Warriors G Stephen Curry's content production company, Unanimous Media, has signed a deal with Facebook to deliver a six-episode, original docuseries to air on Facebook Watch. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. "Stephen vs. The Game," directed by Gotham Chopra, will provide a look into the life of Curry and will premiere later this spring exclusively on Facebook Watch. Curry's docuseries marks the second installment in Facebook's "Vs On Watch" series. In '18, Facebook Watch aired the the first installment, "Tom vs. Time," which was also directed by Chopra, and chronicled Tom Brady's quest to outlast time as a 40 year-old QB. The Curry series will look at what drives him on and off the court, including his family, faith, personal passions and his work ethic during the '18-19 NBA season. The doc will also include never-before-seen childhood footage of Curry and behind-the-scenes footage from the Warriors' '17-18 NBA championship run.
A review of metered market ratings from CBS’ Super Bowl LIII shows that beyond the historically sharp drop for New Orleans (-51%), a total of 16 markets had double-digit percentage declines from ’18 for Patriots-Rams, including 11 NFL markets. With the Eagles not returning to the Super Bowl, Philadelphia was down 22%. That was second-sharpest drop among all markets. While Boston did see a gain, Providence (RI), a normal ratings stronghold for the Patriots, was down 14%. L.A. also saw a gain with a local team in the game for the first time in decades, but the Rams' former home, St. Louis, had its lowest Super Bowl rating since ’06. Fans in K.C. also were not happy that their team missed out on Super Bowl LIII, with the local rating there down 11%.
SHARPEST DROPS FOR LOCAL RATINGS FOR SUPER BOWL LIII
SOME POSITIVE NOTES: There were 14 markets that saw ratings gains for Patriots-Rams, including both participating markets and the game’s host market, Atlanta. L.A had the biggest gain, up 9%, followed by San Diego (+7%). While Providence was down even with the Patriots in the game, Hartford was up. Among the 14 markets seeing gains, eight were NFL markets.
BIGGEST MARKET RATING GAINS FOR SUPER BOWL LIII
Salt Lake City
GOING STRONG IN BOSTON: There was no Patriots fatigue in the Boston market, as Patriots-Rams delivered the best rating in the market since a 61.0 for the team’s comeback win over the Seahawks in ’15. The 57.1 local rating this year also is the second-best figure in Boston for any Patriots appearance in the Super Bowl during the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick era.
RATING IN BOSTON FOR SUPER BOWLS DURING BRADY-BELICHICK ERA
TOP & BOTTOM: Boston regained the mantle this year as the top market for the Super Bowl. Last year the market was No. 3 behind Buffalo and Philadelphia, respectively. Buffalo fell to No. 3 this year. Two years ago, Boston was No. 8 overall. Meanwhile, New Orleans was easily the lowest-rated market, as the 26.1 in the Crescent City was the lowest on record for a Super Bowl. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, host to next year’s Super Bowl, was next-to-last for ratings for Patriots-Rams.
TOP/BOTTOM LOCAL RATINGS FOR SUPER BOWL LIII ON CBS
Salt Lake City
NOTE: Super Bowl LIII figures for the Albuquerque-Santa Fe market were unavailable.