It was 'Game Time' of a different sort for the decision makers at NBA-TV on Wednesday (12/3) based on its move to highlight what is essentially a negative statistic.
Since ESPN, even with the multi-millions spent for NBA telecast rights, only doing its Friday night doubleheaders when it feels like it, they were spared from making the very decision that NBA-TV did. If the Philadelphia 76ers lose to Minnesota tonight (with our press time being a few hours before tipoff), the Sixers would tie the all-time NBA record for most consecutive losses at the start of a season.
NBA-TV plans a doubleheader for this Friday night (12/5), having had the Denver vs. Washington matchup as its first game telecast all along, until today (12/3). (It remains to seen whether or not the network would switch back to the Washington game, since it merely picks up the local telecasts, if Philly were to win vs. Minnesota.) As of press time, the network switched its schedule to include the Philadelphia vs. Oklahoma City telecast for Friday, prior to its Indiana at Sacramento telecast.
If the Sixers lose to Minnesota, their game vs. OKC would be a possible record setter if Philly were to lose again and be 0-19 for the first time ever in league history. Not the most positive statistic, of course, but the point is that this could be league history. The fact that a league run entity would go ahead and, in effect, promote a negative statistic, speaks volumes. They are not trying to bury this, even though the ideal setting for the league would be to have every team within a few games of each other all season long.
Few would have questioned the NBA for not making this telecast so prominent and bringing such a negative statistic to light. Of course, the TV folks know the value of showing the game that would potentially attract a bigger audience, and a game with the potential for league history would do that, no matter what the history. Of course, it doesn't hurt that Kevin Durant has just returned to the OKC lineup, and most fans around the country have not had the chance to see him play yet this season.
Still, I wonder what ESPN would, or wouldn't, have done if it had the doubleheader this week. In their case, it involves sending an entire crew to produce the telecast. Changing within the three days leading into the game might not have been the easiest logistical move. My hunch is that ESPN would have gone ahead with their originally scheduled telecast and made the Philly game a "spotlight" game with live look-ins from the local telecast.
Either way, it is wonderful to see NBA-TV's decision makers changing on the fly on behalf of its fans and providing (potentially) the game of most interest.
Over at CBS, they have reason to be pleased with their fortune of maintaining last Sunday's (11/30) Patriots vs. Packers NFL telecast. The game turned out to be most watched Sunday afternoon regular season game on CBS (or Fox for that matter) since 2007. It was also the highest rated NFL telecast of the 2014 season thus far, and the highest rated regular season telecast for CBS (in metered rating markets) in three years. CBS is certainly thanking its lucky stars that it did not lose this game to Sunday Night Football on NBC.
To that point, NBC is retaining, and understandably so, its Dec. 13th originally scheduled telecast between Philadelphia and Dallas in a quick rematch of Philly's Thanksgiving victory. The NFL has announced some flexing for earlier that day (12/13), moving its Minnesota vs. Detroit telecast to a 4:25 ET start and the earlier Cinci vs. Cleveland telecast from CBS to Fox. Not sure that the demand is there for the Vikings to be moved to doubleheader game action, but the Lions possible playoff berth is the big story there.
The NFL also announced that its Dec. 20th Saturday doubleheader will be Philly vs. Washington at 4:30 ET on NFL Network, with San Diego vs. San Francisco to follow at 8:25 PM ET on NFL Network and CBS. The later game is technically a replacement game for the final Thursday Night Football telecast moved up instead of Christmas night.
Speaking of Thanksgiving, I can't prove this, but several of my friends heard what I heard on the CBS-TV pre-game show prior to the Chicago at Detroit matchup. It sure sounded as if Bill Cowher, when speaking about running back Shane Vereen, referred to him as "Ben Vereen", who was a movie actor years ago. Either no one on the crew caught it, or they prefer it be swept under the table.
Meanwhile, a few more radio ratings thoughts from the October into November (most recent) ratings period which were revealed after press time last week....
Cleveland listeners provided some rather curious results. While it doesn't shock anyone that sports WKRK-FM has risen by .7 of a ratings point over the past three months as the Browns flagship (along with sister station WNCX which has risen by .2 during the same time), it does shock us that WTAM has dropped by more than one and one-half rating points overall during that same time. You see, WTAM is the flagship station for the Cavaliers. As the TV ratings for the Cavs have been way up around the country since the return of LeBron James to the Cavs, a noticeable drop on the radio side is stunning.
Almost as amazing are results from Pittsburgh, where KDKA-FM The Fan had its overall Nielsen rating dip from a 6.7 to a 4.4 in just one month, coinciding with the end of the Pirates' run, meaning that Steelers talk was not a major factor.
Nashville listeners are engulfed with Titans coverage, as WGFX has risen to #2 overall in the market. And in Sacramento, KCTC ESPN 1320 continues its overtaking of KHTK back in September by increasing its lead over KCTC to more than one-half of a ratings point this go round.
Fox Sports has announced some of its title game telecast announcers. The Pac 12 championship telecast will be handled by Tim Brando and Joel Klatt, while the Big Ten Championship game will feature Gus Johnson and Charles Davis.
MLB Network has added Carlos Pena to its roster of studio analysts after his 14 season playing career. He is scheduled to debut this Thursday (12/4), just prior to the network's planned extended coverage of the MLB winter meetings next week.
An embarrassing moment for Mountain West Network last Saturday when play-by-play voice Robert Kekaula (the voice of Hawaii football since 2011) thought the Network had signed off at the end of its telecast of the University of Hawaii game at Fresno State. Kekaula saying "Good night from the armpit of America!" went out over the air. Fresno State University officials received an apology from Kekaula, while Oceanic Sports (the telecast originators) said there would be no further action taken since Kekaula issued a full apology. Got to wonder how many more Hawaii road game telecasts he will be assigned to, however.
PITTSBURGH: KDKA-FM 93.7 has announced that Colin Dunlap will still be on weekdays from 6 until 10. But with a major difference. Dunlap is moving from 6 to 10 PM to the morning show around the first of the year. Dunlap, who has only had his own show for less than two years, replaces Gregg Gianotti, who moves on to mornings at CBS Sports Radio. Dunlap has filled in occasion for Gianotti on the morning show over the past few months.
BOSTON: While the sports radio stations continue to fight it out for listeners, the market has one less familiar sports voice as of this week. Walt Perkins, who took over as morning sports anchor just over five years ago when Gil Santos retired, is no longer with WBZ 1030. This is one of those "no one is saying" endings, but Perkins being among those to point out his sportscasts were often limited to just 90 seconds is some indication.
From here in The Broadcast Booth, this is a bad move by WBZ. Both not having Perkins and the recent reduction in sportscast time during its drive time programming. Taking the "there are two major sports radio stations and plenty of TV sports networks to cover the sports, so we won't bother" approach is really telling listeners to go elsewhere for what WBZ has consistently delivered for more than 50 years. It would be one thing if the station was changing to a different format, but it isn't.