Two games on national TV on competing networks on Tuesday (10/27) night, and two screw-ups to report. Obviously, the Fox Sports mishap with the power outage in their production truck during Game 1 of the World Series tops the list. That wasn't their fault, but it was ironic that it happened during one of the few times they had a big audience and didn't bury a post-season telecast on FS1.
They had an audience indeed. The overnight rating was 31% higher than last year's Game 1, and the highest Game 1 since 2009 which had New York (Yankees) playing Philadelphia. While NYC had a nice 26.2 rating and 43 share, Kansas City went bonkers, with an astounding 57.3 rating and a 78 audience share.
In Texas, where both the Rangers and Astros were long gone from this post-season, the overnight numbers showed at Austin actually had higher viewership than Dallas (for Game 1) while the Houston's audience came in as only the 54th highest rated market.
Over at TNT, about an hour after the Fox truck power loss, the network was showing its NBA season opening game from Chicago against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, which was a tight game going into the final minute of the 4th quarter and Chicago barely holding on to its lead. A basket by the Cavs, which was from near the three-point circle but a two-point basket, actually made the score now 97-95 in favor of Chicago.
Yet, the on screen score changed to 98-95. Seconds later, it changed to 100-92. As play continued with Chicago in possession, the score then changed to 98-95. Play-by-play voice Kevin Harlan (fresh off the Sunday NFL webcast from London) admitted the confusion about the actual score. Finally, the score was changed to the correct 97-95. Good thing it did. That wound up being the final score of the game.
Then, in the usual hurry to sign off right after the game (without an instant interview even though the game ended before the bottom of the hour and in plenty of time for the Golden State game telecast to begin), there was not even an apology or acknowledgement of the graphics mishap.
One other things both Fox and TNT had in common that night. They both insist on having a cast of thousands in the studio for analysis. By the time they introduce their studio cast and joke around during the studio segments, each analyst only gets a few seconds to chime in about each topic. Too many cooks, and not nearly enough food.
The latest radio ratings, these for the September/October 2015 period, show just how sports crazed the Boston area is with amazing ratings for both of the rival sports talk stations. Even the biggest of sports fans couldn't have dreamed that two of the top four stations (and this is overall audience, not just males 25-54) in the marketplace.
WBZ-FM Sports Hub jumped to a 7.1 rating (from a 4.9 just two ratings books earlier) and placed at #2 overall in the market. Yet, rival WEEI-FM showed a similar rise, going from a 4.6 to the now 6.3 rating this month, coming in at #4 in the market. That is nothing short of amazing, representing high points for both stations.
This helps to prove my point that content makes the difference for sports stations ahead of specific hosts and shows.
New York City also shows this trend, with WFAN 660 showing a one-half point rating increase over the previous month during the Yankees run to the post-season. (This was The Fan's first season as Yankees radio flagship.) WEPN ESPN 98.7 also increased, by .4 and had its best showing since May 2015. While WOR 710 is not sports talk, the Amazin' Mets made a huge difference. During this year 2015, WOR has more than doubled its overall audience, now riding its tenth consecutive ratings book with either an increase or holding steady.
In Chicago, WBBM 780 has ratings gold with the Cubs (1st year as flagship station) in the post-season throughout the ratings period and the always popular Bears football broadcasts. In fact, on Oct. 7th when the Cubs played Pittsburgh in the National League Wild Card playoff, the radio overnights showed 28.5% of radio listeners tuned to the game, combining the local WBBM broadcast with ESPN 1000 airing the national feed. This helped WBBM tie for #1 overall, with well over double the total audience of both WSCR 670 The Score and WMVP ESPN 1000. It will be interesting to see how WSCR and WMVP do over the next couple of rating periods, as each station is ahead of the other in key dayparts and demographics, while WMVP begins its final season as flagship for the Chicago Bulls.
This ratings book was also good for a few other large markets. In San Francisco, KNBR came in at #2 overall, still with more than three times the total audience of KGMZ-FM The Game, even though The Game was up slightly.
In Dallas, KRLD-FM rides those Cowboys to #8 overall in the market, its highest rating ever. The significance here is that KRLD-FM did not take away from its competitors. KTCK The Ticket and KESN ESPN both showed audience increases of at least 10% over the previous month. Philadelphia's WIP-FM rose .8 of a ratings point to finish #7 overall in that market.
Baltimore's WJZ-FM also rose .8 for the month, and came in at #6 overall, while Denver's KKFN The Fan rose more than a full ratings point. While at #13 overall in the market, the Broncos' start helped them to this impressive jump.
A couple of markets that usually don't make a splash came up positive for their sports stations as well. In Atlanta, which has not exactly been a force in sports talk over the years, WZGC-FM The Game has risen to #15 overall, increasing by a full ratings point over the past two months. And in Minneapolis - St. Paul, KFXN The Fan went up an astounding TWO ratings points over the previous month, showing up at #4 overall. The station now has six times the audience size of KSTP, which held steady. KTWN the music station which is the flagship for the Twins (who finished their improved season during this rating book) dropped .3 overall.
While most L.A. Dodgers fans still have nothing further in terms of being able to watch the local telecasts in 2016, the fallout from the Time Warner Cable mess is growing again. Now the L.A. Times reports that Time Warner Sports President David Rone will be gone by the end of 2015, adding that TWC "has no plans for a replacement". The Dodgers Channel is reportedly losing another $100 million just for 2015 alone, while its Lakers channel is suffering as the team sinks slowly in the west.
Speaking of fallout, the fantasy sports controversy continues to extend to the media. Over the past few days, the NCAA has officially notified the major networks that it has "banned all sponsorship/advertising activity in televised college sports championships" for DraftKings and FanDuel. The "request" also seeks to have these services stop offering fantasy contests based on college sports.
By the way, the new college football playoff system for this coming December-January is NOT overseen by the NCAA.
ESPN has not commented on its position for those playoffs, but did report that FanDuel has issued a legal response that it has no plans to change its offerings.
Of course, ESPN also has its ties to the NFL and advertising revenue for those games as well. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was quoted as defending his investment in DraftKings, which is a personal investment, since NFL teams are "not allowed" to invest in fantasy sports companies. Yet, The Kraft Group, comprised of the Kraft family (and others) which own the New England Patriots, also owns a stake in one of the major fantasy sports companies. Jonathan Kraft went as far as to appear on WBZ-FM Sports Hub last week to comment about how the fantasy sports industry remains unregulated.
BOSTON: While fans mourn the loss of Don Orsillo from the NESN TV booth, there will be more changes for next season along with Dave O'Brien moving over from radio to handle the play-by-play. The phasing out of Jerry Remy is starting, in a move which will also not go over well with the fans. Remy will now work "about 100 games", which is a reduced work load (about 30 to 50 games less) from this past season. NESN is adding Dennis Eckersley and Steve Lyons as regular game analysts as scheduled, including a few games in which there will be three in the booth.
CHICAGO: WMVP ESPN 1000 needs to listen to Bristol (ESPN headquarters), which is certainly "talking". The station is forced to air the World Series radio coverage (which is not a priority in Chicago where Cubs fans lost interest after the Mets swept them out of the playoffs) in place of up to three Bulls regular season broadcasts.
Even though this is the final season as Bulls flagship, the conflicting broadcasts are being moved to WLS 890, which takes over in 2016-17 as Bulls flagship. During the same week this was dictated, ESPN announced that John Cravens, who had been with WMVP for more than 10 years, is no longer with the station, with no talk of a direct replacement.
The station also re-upped to air 15 games (out of a 30 game schedule) of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) basketball team. They have aired some to all of these games since 1997 (with the exception of one season). Jonathan Hood takes over as play-by-play voice for these broadcasts, replacing Dave Juday who left the station earlier this year.
Comcast SportsNet Chicago has added Leila Rahimi to its anchor and reporter staff starting this week. Rahimi is making the CSN rounds, having most recently held similar duties for CSN Philadelphia, and before that with CSN Houston going back to 2012.
MONTANA: Still no reason known for the sudden and unexpected "parting of the ways" between Mike Holien and the University of Montana football and basketball play-by-play position he held for the past 22 years. All we know for sure is that it has nothing to do with the entire broadcast crew, since Greg Sundberg continues as analyst and Adam Painter remains as sideline reporter.
U. of Montana games continue to be streamed (in addition to the large statewide radio network) at GoGriz.com.