Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The NFL Flies At Midnight

The power of the NFL as a TV draw was as evident as ever this past weekend. And it wasn't only because of having an attraction such as Denver at Dallas as a doubleheader game contributing to record ratings.

There was also the stadium conflict in Oakland which forced the NFL to move the Raiders game against San Diego from its original late afternoon slot to late night. Of course, it was probably a positive break for the NFL that fans throughout California were able to also see the Denver vs. Dallas game instead of the much less appealing Raiders vs. Chargers matchup.

Since NBC has the exclusive window on Sunday nights, the NFL moved the Raiders game to an 8:35 PM kickoff, and was forced to move the telecast from CBS to its NFL Network, using the originally scheduled CBS announcing team in the process. Thus, this late night telecast, only made public a few days before, came after fans had a total of THREE complete NFL games shown around the country, beginning literally 10 1/2 hours before the kickoff.

With all of those odds stacked against the Raiders vs. Chargers telecast, the ratings were enough to finish ahead of the lowest rated NFL telecasts of the past 15 years. The ratings for this late night matchup trailed the other matchups of the day by far, and this is understandable.

I can't help but wonder how this would have played out had an attractive east coast NFL team been playing in Oakland this past Sunday (10/6) and how much protesting there would have been. But the fact that an NFL telecast, which began at 11:30 PM ET on a Sunday night, could still generate enough of an audience to not be a complete failure is nothing short of amazing.

On the college side, CBS will televise an SEC doubleheader on October 19th, with Georgia vs. Vanderbilt at Noon ET followed by Auburn vs. Texas A & M.

With the NBA season less than three weeks from opening, and with NBA-TV showing a larger number of exhibition games than ever before, ESPN/ABC has added former Sixers (and others) coach Doug Collins as a studio analyst. Although Collins, who has served for several seasons as a color commentator on TNT telecasts, is still one of the best analysts in the business, the problem is that Collins merely adds to the overflow of studio analysts ESPN/ABC already offer. It seems that Magic Johnson, Jalen Rose, and Bill Simmons will all be returning to the NBA pre-game, half-time, and post-game studio show.

However, there is still no announcement of a true broadcaster to serve as host, even after the disasters of last season when all we saw were analysts struggling for air time and no one to ride herd on the show. Unfortunately, it appears that ESPN/ABC viewers will be stuck with another season of comments on how the televised teams are playing, and little to nothing about other games, upcoming telecasts, and actual news content from around the NBA.

LOS ANGELES: ESPN Radio KSPN 710 has gone ahead and extended its radio deal with the Lakers through the 2019-20 season, and is also keeping the broadcast team the same. John Ireland and Mychal Thompson continue with play-by-play and analysis, while both continue their respective co-host roles on the two midday shows which air on KSPN Monday through Friday.

LONG ISLAND NY: Although college radio station WRHU 88.7 has just begun its fourth season as the flagship station for the N.Y. Islanders, the team has added another Long Island station which will increase the coverage area for the team's broadcasts. WRCN 103.9 now airs all of the games, providing coverage from Islip to Montauk (Suffolk County). Chris King continues on play-by-play, and Hofstra University students will continue to participate within the broadcasts.

DALLAS: The Ticket 1310 is now "ticketed" for a new FM location. Starting October 21, The Ticket will also air on 96.7, which will soon become KTCK-FM, and adds coverage of the station to the northwest portion of the Dallas Metroplex. This simulcast will replace what had been the simulcast of WBAP 820.

Over at ESPN 103.3, afternoon drive will be changing with the news that Randy Galloway has ended his 3 PM to 6 PM talk show as of this week after more than 25 years on Dallas area radio. The 70-year old Galloway had originally intended to retire from the show toward the end of 2013, but did so ahead of schedule with Cumulus Media taking over the marketing of the station from ESPN/Disney this month.

BOSTON: Congrats to Red Sox radio voice Joe Castiglione, who is also waiting to learn whether or not he will enter the Baseball Hall of Fame as a broadcaster next July. Castiglione is coming back for at least the next two seasons under a just signed extension.

CHICAGO: A nice move by the DePaul University online radio station by adding another "channel" which will dedicated to school sports coverage. The school has completed a new studio and announced expanded plans to broadcast everything from soccer to softball to volleyball and mmore.

The second channel enables the students and the University to provide this coverage without disruption of the "regular" online station schedule. This does create the opportunity for students to get experience in the live coverage of sports events, and that is a good thing. It will be at: radio.depaul.edu/sports

RATINGS: More from the radio ratings for August into September. Three more markets are clearly being dominated by one sports station ahead of the others. While Indianapolis' WFNI The Fan 1070 showed a slight increase in overall audience, WNDE 1260 and WXNT 1430 combined for less than one-half of a ratings point.

In Nashville, WGFX The Zone showed more than a 20% overall increase over the previous month ratings to finish with a very respectable 5.2 rating. That is now more than five times the total audience of WPRT-FM, even with an increase there.

Similar story across the state in Memphis, where WMFS finished at #15 overall. Yet, WHBQ, WPGF, and WMC combined for less than a 1 rating, with two of those three stations showing an overall decrease.

The disaster continues for CBS Radio Sports as well. WXNT Indianapolis, which barely showed with its .01 rating, is a CBS Radio Sports station. Over in Jefferson City MO, the CBS Sports affiliation was just removed from KBBM 100.1 and, at least for now, stuck on the lesser signal at 104.1. The kicker is that, and I'm not making this up, KMBB 100.1 already switched to Christmas music.

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