The NFL is responding to the increase in its audience ratings from the past season in a positive way for the fans. By making even more NFL action available.
Many fans attending games at NFL stadiums will have the ability to see the NFL Red Zone including highlights and updated statistics from other games. The league reportedly wants to get the Red Zone into each stadium, and to this point the Patriots, Ravens, and Bears are among the teams confirming their part in making this happen. This looks to be an especially valuable service to fans coming to see games which are doubleheader games, enabling them to track the progress of division and possible playoff rivals late in their games while waiting the in-person kickoff.
Personally, this is a great response to my comments over the years about how fans attending NFL games get the least amount of what I call "in-game benefits" of any sport. The other pro sports generally offer more replays and more information about other games and teams in the league than is generally seen at NFL games. Adding the Red Zone at the stadiums puts the NFL up there with the other sports in this regard.
The Tribune Company has stepped up with the NFL and secured the local package of the NFL Thursday night regular season games for the local markets served by Tribune owned TV stations.
The full schedule includes Chicago (WGN) at Miami (WSFL) on Nov. 18; Cincinnati at the New York Jets (WPIX) on Nov. 25; Houston (KIAH) at Philadelphia (WPHL) on Dec. 2; Indianapolis (WXIN) at Tennessee on Dec. 9; San Francisco at San Diego (KSWB) on Dec. 16; and Dallas (KDAF) at Arizona on Dec. 25.
In addition, these Tribune stations will also provide additional local pre and post-game programming in support. However, the games on WGN-TV and WPIX will only be available in the local markets, and not on WGN America or outside markets served by WPIX.
On the NHL side, NBC enjoyed the best 2-game combined ratings for Stanley Cup Final telecasts from its Game 1 and Game 2 telecasts on Memorial Day weekend since 1999. Even more interesting is that among the Top 10 markets for audience ratings those two nights (Saturday May 29 and Monday 31) were Indianapolis at #4, Seattle at #7 and Ft. Myers at #9. None of those 3 markets has an NHL team.
By the way, can anyone explain why it is officially shown as the "Stanley Cup Final" and the "NBA Finals"?
Meanwhile, baseball analyst Steve Phillips now has some TV work lined up. The former ESPN analyst will be a part of "The Real Score" a syndicated Sunday morning TV sports show which will debut September 12th. Jennifer Gilbert of WBFF Baltimore will be the primary host. The show is signed up in 30 markets and will air each Sunday prior to NFL programming. Jerry Rice and Vince Dooley are among the football contributors, while former NBA General Managers Pat Williams and Stan Kasten will help with basketball features. Strong lineup for a new show. Might be worth keeping an eye on.
HOUSTON: Rice University football and basketball games will continue on KFNC 97.5 for the coming seasons.
PITTSBURGH: Another sports station moves from AM to FM. KSEK ESPN will be moving from 1340 AM to 99.1 FM. In this instance, it will be for a better signal and more area coverage. They will have some additional local flavor. Very local. The station will carry Fort Scott Community College football and basketball, noting that they have an "exclusive" agreement for those broadcasts. I hadn't heard that any other stations were interested in carrying a community college's games.
FT. MYERS: Fox Sports 1200 gave up the local fight during afternoon drive, canceling "The Red Zone" (the local name, not the NFL Network), leaving hosts Clayton Ferraro and Adam Mendelson to each continue with their positions at WINK-TV. The syndicated "Hartman and Friends" replaces it. Therefore, ESPN 770 and its Miller & Moulton" show is now the only local sports show each afternoon. While I normally don't like to see a local show get taken off, given that Ft. Myers/Naples is heavy with sports "transplants", this is one time when a national show just might make sense as competition.
ALBANY: While WOFX 980 and WTMM The Team 104.5 compete for the local sports audience, neither station finished in the upper half of the overall ratings for the market, although The Team has a much stronger audience than WOFX. Probably a victim of no pro teams in the market, and the off-season for college hoops or football. Not a lot to debate.
GOLF: Golfers and pro golf tour fans continue to get more options for listening via internet. The Fan 97.1 Columbus now podcasts its weekly golf show at:
Niche shows such as that one which are still fresh make sense to be available online, helping to serve a niche audience as part of what a sports station has to offer.
In addition, the Metro Golf Show on WVOX 1460 from New Rochelle NY will have Anikka Sorenstam as a guest this Saturday (June 5) at 8 AM ET, and has Tom Watson scheduled for the following Saturday. That show streams on wvox.com.
Pitcher Stephen Stasburg becomes the most televised rookie pitcher in recent memory. After Versus stepped to the plate and televised his minor league start on Thursday (June 3) live (followed by a prime time replay), MLB Network is scheduled to air his big league debut on Tuesday (June 8) when the Washington Nationals host Pittsburgh. Even though it will be on Tuesday, the Network will originate the telecast with Bob Costas on play-by-play.
Speaking of Versus, the network will televise the NHL's second outdoor hockey game of next season. Next Feb. 20th, Versus will show the Calgary Flames hosting Montreal from McMahon Stadium, which is the home stadium of the CFL's Calgary Stampeders. NBC-TV continues its New Year's Day telecasts of the Winter Classic on January 1st with the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting Washington in the stadium used by the Steelers.
ESPN and ABC have announced some selections for Big 12 Conference football telecasts next fall:
ESPN & Big 12 football:
Sat, Sep 11 3:30 p.m. No. 16 Florida State at No. 12 Oklahoma ** ABC and ESPN2
Sat, Sep 18 8 p.m. No. 4 Texas at Texas Tech ** ABC and ESPN2
Sat, Sep 25 3:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. UCLA at No. 4 Texas ABC
Fri, Nov 26 3:30 p.m. Colorado at No. 7 Nebraska ABC
Sat, Nov 27 3:30 p.m. or 8 p.m. No. 12 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State ABC
Sat, Dec 4 8 p.m. Big 12 Championship (from Cowboys Stadium) ABC
In addition, Kansas and Kansas State have moved their scheduled game from October 16th ahead to Thursday night Oct. 14. That game will be shown on Fox Sports Net.