One NFL trend is on track for the young 2010 season. TV viewing is already at maximum levels, and the cold weather season has yet to attack the northern states.
CBS-TV is already up about 12% for its Sunday afternoon telecasts compared with last season after these two weeks, while NBC again won the prime-time ratings on Sunday night (9/19) with the Giants vs. Colts game, even though it was not close during the second half.
This really is media "news" as the fans are speaking up that they plan to enjoy this football season.
However, not everything related to the NFL on television is really "news". I cannot believe the number of stories devoted to whether or not certain NFL games sell out and whether or not they will be on TV in local markets. Where a game is televised does not impact my interest in a game as a fan, nor does it have any impact on the outcome, betting lines, or fantasy.
I'm sure the NFL likes these stories plastered all over the media on Thursdays and Fridays - even when games don't sell out. From a marketing standpoint, it hypes the NFL game in the sense that it is "news" when a game is not a complete sellout. But unless there is a betting line somewhere for football fans about certain games selling out or not or an over/under on the number of sellouts each week, there is no reason for this.
What irks me even more is some of the reporters now calling for changes in the NFL's blackout policy, as if this is a crisis because more and more games are not selling out.
More than any other pro sport, the NFL has successfully sold "out of town" games. Maybe too well for their own good in certain NFL markets. When the local NFL team is doing poorly, NOT buying the tickets has become a positive for local NFL fans. Instead of being saddled with a miserable home team performance late in the season, fans instead get to see a matchup with playoff implications, and get to see more meaningful (if not more exciting) games instead.
I, for one, can tell that I have never watched (or not watched) an NFL game because it was or wasn't on in another market. It is not "news" in the sense that some of media continue to make it out to be.
This is not only because of seeing "better" games. These same reporters continue to overlook the cost of these games for NFL fans who do not attend any games in person. They overlook that we are stuck paying inflated cable or satellite bills each month to help pay for the NFL (and other sports) packages. Worse this year is they are now gearing the score and stats boxes on the screen to HD viewers, leaving those still watching in Low Def to struggle to read the scores and information as it appears on the screen.
With higher costs to watch the games, interactive media to help follow, and now for HD TV's and the like, the budget has to come from somewhere. With it really costing this much to watch the NFL (and other leagues) on TV, it's no wonder that people won't spend $200 plus to attend an NFL game in person, and then not have nearly the same amount of information (let alone the personal comfort level) available to them.
It is not news when certain games don't sell out.
On the baseball side, MLB Network emphasizes the Yankees vs. Tampa Bay series during the early part of the week, showing every game it can through Thursday (9/23) when it originates with Bob Costas on the call.
TBS has named Ernie Johnson Jr. as the lead voice for its Division Series and ALCS coverage, working with Ron Darling and John Smoltz. The number-2 crew will feature Red Sox TV voice Don Orsillo along with Buck Martinez.
Additional crews for the Division Series will be Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly, as well as Brian Anderson and Joe Simpson.
TBS will also have its usual cast of thousands in the studio. I might be the only one who finds fault with the "A" team this season. Why are there 2 pitchers on that crew but no "hitters" to comment from the game site? Are they expecting a string of 1 - 0 games?
The AAA Baseball National Championship Game will air on Versus on Tuesday (9/21) night from Oklahoma City in the first of a multi-year deal for Versus to show this.
Versus has already shown a minor league game live this season, when it showed the professional debut of Stephen Strasburg during the Buffalo vs. Syracuse game on June 3rd.
Mike Capps, who just completed his 11th season as the voice of the AAA Round Rock Express, will call the game, while Charlotte Knights Manager (and former Yankees post-season hero) Chris Chambliss will provide analysis.
BOSTON: The Sports Hub 98.5 has come a long way after just one year on the air. The most recent ratings show The Sports Hub finishing ahead of rival WEEI in 25-54 men during both morning and afternoon drive. WEEI won during the 7 to Midnight period, bolstered by Red Sox broadcasts while the team was still in contention.
CHICAGO: The musical chairs game of local TV sportscasters continues. Jill Carlson, whose contract was recently not renewed at WFLD-TV, has emerged as a once per week fill in at WGN Radio, handling Thursday mornings to relieve Northwestern football and basketball voice Dave Eanet. And now filling in on a freelance basis on WFLD-TV is Kerry Sayers. She recently joined The Score 670 for morning updates and also appears on the Big Ten Network after having worked at Comcast SportsNet Chicago.
DETROIT: While the area's pro teams all continue to struggle, it seems to be the talk of the town. 97.1 The Ticket has turned up at number one in the market in the recently released July-August ratings for the 2nd straight month.
WASHINGTON D.C.: WTNT 570 turned all sports as of this week with the focus being on airing ESPN's national lineup.
PHILADELPHIA: With WPHT 1210 airing the Phillies game this coming Saturday (9/25), the Temple vs. Penn State game will be moved to WIP 610. And WIP plans to take advantage, scheduling Rob Charry and Hugh Douglas to do a studio pre-game show starting at 2:00 (for the 3:30 kickoff) before Harry Donahue and Steve Joachim call the game as usual. WIP is also planning an expanded post-game show.
MIAMI: An interesting change of pace was scheduled on Monday (9/20) for the Marlins local broadcast of their late afternoon game vs. the Cardinals. As of press time, 3 of the middle innings were scheduled to have been called by The Ticket 790 afternoon team of Dan LeBatard and Jon Wiener, along with Marlins President David Samson.
Normally, station promotional gimmicks such as this can be annoying to the hardcore fans. In this instance, the addition of the team President is the attraction. After all, we are now into the final two weeks of a failed season for the team.
The LeBatard and Wiener team just beat out WQAM's Sid Rosenberg in men 25-54 in the latest ratings after Rosenberg had finished ahead of them in the 3 prior head-to-head matchups.
St. LOUIS: The wonderful welcome that the Cardinals broadcasts will get for going back to KMOX for next season will create some conflicts. KMOX will continue to carry the NHL Blues and University of Missouri football. The early word is that KMOX will utilize the other CBS Group stations to handle the overflow with KMOX giving priority on a case-by-case basis.
The NFL Rams and St. Louis University basketball remain on WXOS 101.1.
COLUMBUS: This doesn't seem to bother the Blue Jackets, but I continue to believe that these scattered radio arrangements drive the fans nuts. Blue Jacket fans will have to check both the radio and TV listings to find their team's games for the coming season.
97.1 WBNS-FM The Fan will air many of the games. At some point. You see, some of the pre-season contests and then the season opener (against San Jose from Stockholm) will air on WBNS-AM 1460 instead. WWCD 102.5 will carry a couple of pre-season and regular season Saturday broadcasts early on due to conflicts with Ohio State football. George Matthews and Bob McElligott return as the broadcast team for the 10th season (the duration of the team). However, including the pre-season and first week of the regular season, 97.1's first Blue Jackets broadcast won't be until October 15th. "Blue Jackets Sunday Morning Skate" will air on Sundays from 10 to 11 AM on 97.1.
Ft. MYERS/NAPLES: Sister stations WMYR 1410 (Ft. Myers) and WCNZ 1660 (Naples) are serving the transplanted Chicagoans by carrying Chicago Bears broadcasts this season, making these the only stations more than 200 miles away from Chicago to air the Bears Radio Network. These will be in addition to an NFL "Game of the Week" broadcasts and Miami Hurricanes football on Saturdays.
The stations will also air Florida Everblades hockey for the upcoming season, the team's third radio outlet in 3 seasons.
CINCINNATI: WKRC-TV 12 has announced Zach Wells as its new weekend sports anchor and reporter. Wells had a similar position with WXIX-TV until July. He replaces Tara Pachmayer.
HOUSTON: As the NBA Rockets season approaches, it turns out that KTXH-TV 20 will air only 6 regular season games, with Fox Sports Houston carrying as many as 75 games.
The latest radio ratings show KILT taking the lead among men 25-54 passing up KFNC 97.5, but it is a very close race. KFNC retains a slight lead in morning drive, with middays and afternoons being a tight race.
RENO: 94.5 made its debut last week (9/13) with mostly ESPN Radio programming and play-by-play. The station is also carrying Oakland Raiders football this season.
On the schedule side, the SEC television packages get into full swing for this coming Saturday (9/25):
SEC Network, 12:15 ET, UAB at Tennessee
CBS, 3:30 ET, Alabama at Arkansas
ESPNU, 7:00 ET, Kentucky at Florida
FSN, 7:00 ET, Georgia at Miss. State
CSS, 7:30 ET, Fresno State at Ole Miss
ESPN, 7:45 ET, South Carolina at Auburn
ESPN2, 9:00 ET, West Virginia at LSU