Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Play-By-Play Draws The Viewers and Listeners

The sports fans' collective hunger for live play-by-play continues, even providing the NHL with reasons to be pleased. Coming off a seemingly forgotten lockout which threatened the entire season, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have become a plus for NBC as well as NBC Sports Network. And there are still two rounds to be played.

On Saturday (5/25), the NBC telecast of the Detroit at Chicago Game 5 drew significantly higher ratings than Fox Sports' MLB prime time telecast at the same time. Fox can't even use the excuse that this was its first prime-time telecast of the season, since this was also NBC's first Saturday prime-time telecast of the year as well.

Home markets are another way to measure. Another example was on Monday (5/27) night in Chicago when Game 6 of the Chicago vs. Detroit series doubled the audience of the local baseball telecasts of the White Sox vs. Cubs "City Classic" game. Granted, the hockey game was a potential clinching game compared with the baseball being the opening game of a 4-game series. Chicago ratings records have been set throughout this past regular season as well, especially with the Blackhawks having begun the shortened season with a record non-beaten streak.

On the radio side, baseball and basketball each continue to do well for most local stations which are flagship stations. Recent research via Arbitron reveals that Cincinnati and Milwaukee continue to be strong baseball on radio markets, with sports stations in San Francisco and Detroit (as mentioned here previously) showed increased overall audiences in the recent ratings period which included the baseball season opening week.

In Los Angeles, the Lakers broadcasts helped KSPN Radio, as the Lakers showed much better in cumes than the Clippers even though the Clippers had a much better regular season. New York's teams, the Knicks and Nets, also helped to increase the numbers for their flagship stations. Perhaps the best testimony to this is the increase that came to WTAM Cleveland despite another poor regular season by the Cavaliers.

It does, however, appear that KEX Portland needs to do more promotion of its Blazers broadcasts for next season. The station took over the play-by-play prior to this season, but showed only approximately half of the audience from when the games aired on KXTG The Game.

Not being one to ignore radio, ESPN has quietly (for them) worked a deal for radio rights to the five NFL teams without some form of regional or national distribution for their radio broadcasts. Many would joke that ESPN would have only wanted most of these teams even if more were available.

ESPN Radio can air certain games of the NY Giants, NY Jets, and New England Patriots. They can also air some Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins games. These broadcasts can only air on ESPN stations in NFL markets if and when not opposed by the local team's game. For example, if the Patriots have a 4:00 game, the New England stations could only air an available 1:00 game.

Elsewhere, I continue to hope that the TV networks spending all those millions for the rights to show the games will finally speak up and complain to the pro sports leagues about the "special" uniforms they force the players to wear. This came to light again on Memorial Day for baseball fans. Even though we all knew it was Memorial Day and it has significance, it doesn't mean that all of the teams need to wear special uniforms which render it difficult to impossible to read the numbers when watching on TV or at the game. And then to have umpires wear special camoflage caps?

Teams have their own colors for many reasons, one of which is so that they can be readily identified. When you tune in a baseball game and cannot tell which teams are playing, let alone who the players are because you can't read the number or name, it has gone too far. I would like to think that the networks paying all those millions (as well as the fans that are being gouged in the wallet by having to pay their cable/satellite provider whether they watch or not) should be able to demand continuity.

There should be only two uniforms per pro team. Home and road. Stop the madness.

Speaking of stopping the madness, how can NBC Sports Network continue to show reruns of Dan Patrick Show segments on holidays? It makes no sense for a network looking to draw viewers away from the likes of ESPN and the regional networks (some of which are owned by NBC and had regular staffing that morning). Once again, on Memorial Day morning, fans were asked to watch reruns of segments with Patrick instead of being able to hear and talk about all of the big sports news of the day. They might as well have posted a "We don't care" graphic in between commercials and saved money instead of editing the rerun package.

AUSTIN: KVET The Zone 1300 has reduced its Austin based local programming to afternoon drive on weekdays. The station has picked up (or been forced to add, since it is the same ownership) two hours of the Mike Taylor morning show from nearby KTKR 760 The Ticket from San Antonio to air before KVET goes to its midday syndicated lineup. At least they picked up from the next market over, so a good portion of the "local" programming will be relevant.

DES MOINES: Sorry to learn of the passing of Iowa radio legend Jim Zabel at the age of 91. Zabel handled play-by-play for more than 6,000 sports events (if you include the Drake Relays, bowling, and the like) over the past 60+ years. Just to put this in the proper light, the Sports Director of WHO Radio before Hanley took over was none other than Ronald Reagan.

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