Thursday, November 3, 2016

Big Week For TV Sports Ratings

With so much media attention, understandably, focused on the exciting conclusion of the World Series, there has not been enough coverage of a lawsuit filed on Wednesday (11/2) which could have an impact on the high cost of watching sports events on cable TV.

This lawsuit also has a couple of very ironic elements to it. It seems that U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles which accuses DirecTV of illegal conduct by working with other large cable/satellite providers in Southern California against carrying SportsNet LA which televises the Dodgers games. The suit alleges that DirecTV has worked with Charter Communications, Cox Communications, and AT&T to all not carry the channel and collectively limit the options of consumers frustrated by not being able to receive Dodgers telecasts.

One ironic element is that the Justice Department is actually suing AT&T, which now owns DirectTV, with this coming shortly after AT&T has a multi-billion dollar bid under federal review in its attempt to purchase Time Warner Cable. TWC owns the company which produces SportsNet LA, which is currently available to less than 30% of the Los Angeles area TV market.

Of course, the other ironic element is that this is happening after the retirement of Vin Scully, which potentially makes Dodgers telecasts less attractive for some consumers starting next season.
Although SportsNet LA is a local channel, this situation could potentially impact the Time Warner purchase deal, as well as the potential for federal intervention regarding sports and other pay TV services for consumers.

Speaking of the World Series, Fox Sports hit a ratings bonanza. Game 7 in Cleveland drew a bigger local audience than NBA Finals Game 7 in June in which the Cavaliers won their first ever championship completing a comeback from being down three games to one to defeat Golden State.
Game 5 on Sunday (10/30) outdrew Sunday Night Football on NBC after SNF was the bigger head to head draw during the prior two years.

While Fox has reason to be delighted over this, we can't help but wonder what their ratings would have been had they aired both the NLCS instead of hiding it from potentially millions more viewers on Fox Sports 1.

Sure, Fox promoted FS1 to a large audience. However, after rare ratings success for FS1 during those two weeks of post-season baseball, it is back to reality. For last week, which included regular Fox Sports having the World Series while ESPN and TNT had NBA doubleheaders to start the season, FS1 finished in 60th place during prime time among all cable networks. After having been in first place the very week before. If you don't think content is king, keep in mind that NFL Network had more viewers last week than FS1.

The new NBA season starts out with healthy ratings even with the highly rated World Series taking place. Even NBA-TV's total viewership for the month of October (which included pre-season telecasts) was up more than 20% over last year. ESPN should have solid ratings on Friday (11/4) when it has the Knicks and Bulls in its early telecast, featuring Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah returning to Chicago to play against the Bulls for the first time in the careers of both players.

Over at ESPN, there should be concern over the Monday Night Football ratings this week. The shocking Bears upset of the Vikings (on 10/31) earlier this week was actually down roughly 18% from the same week last year. Last season's game was Indianapolis vs. Carolina, which are smaller markets than both Chicago and the Twin Cities.

DALLAS: It looks as though the Rangers want Dave Raymond to become their primary TV play-by-play voice starting in 2017. Although nothing is official (as of press time), the Rangers have confirmed that Steve Busby's contract will not be renewed. Raymond, who has filled in on Rangers telecasts, will have Tom Grieve as his analyst.

CHICAGO: WFLD-TV had a ratings feast as the local station showing the World Series, but it seems not everyone at the station was ready. On Tuesday night during the game telecast, a local station break featured a promo for the station's local morning show. Included in that promo was "And you will get complete coverage from Game 5 of the World Series!". Of course, the station would be excited about making this announcement. However, this promo aired in prime time - during Game 6.

Then there was WGN-TV's new sportscaster Lauren Magiera on the air this past Sunday (10/3) morning on the station's newscast. Magiera, who earlier this season told of a Blackhawks (NHL) goal being scored "in the third quarter", was narrating a highlight segment from the previous night's Chicago Bulls game. While showing a basket scored early in the 2nd quarter, she described it as "one minute in to the half".

OKLAHOMA CITY: Oklahoma University basketball radio broadcasts will have a new analyst starting later this month when the season gets underway. Kevin Henry, who acts as the school's Director of Community Relations and has appeared on some Sooner Sports TV telecasts within the past year, will take over the role as full time radio analyst.

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