The NBA playoffs are the hot item for sports viewing these days, and that figures to continue for a while. This past weekend (April 22/23) saw a 13% increase in total viewership over the seven telecasts compared with the 2nd weekend of opening round telecasts last season. On Friday night (April 21), ESPN's doubleheader games finished as the top two most watched cable programs (of any type) for the night.
Although NHL Stanley Cup Playoff viewership had started to rise after the opening weekend, NBC and its group figure to take a hit with the elimination of Chicago, Minnesota, and Boston after the opening rounds. It's certainly not NBC's fault, especially with its even more improved coverage, that it has "only" St. Louis, Nashville, and Edmonton as three of its four Western Conference markets starting this week.
In addition, have the much anticipated East matchup between Pittsburgh and Washington may be good for those ratings, it hurts in the long run that one of those two teams will be gone before the semi-finals begin.
The NFL gets some of the spotlight later this week as ESPN provides live coverage of the entire NFL Draft again this year. It will have a different feel without Chris Berman, like him or not, since this will be the first time he will not be hosting at least the opening round of an NFL Draft live telecast.
Fox Sports Radio is hitting its draft coverage hard, especially looking to helps its Philadelphia affiliate WPEN-FM. The network plans to be on live from a Philadelphia restaurant on Thursday at 7 PM ET, with WPEN-FM morning host Anthony Gargano hosting an earlier "pre draft" show live starting at 6 PM ET which will also air across the network.
Here's hoping that the sports media will wait until picks are made and report the facts instead of seemingly endless projections and "expert" picks which have no bearing on actual news.
The NFL schedule, released late last week, will not allow NBC a flex scheduling option for Week 16, which surrounds Christmas weekend. In a seemingly rare move to actually please the paying fans, the NFL has determined that the Saturday Dec. 23rd Minnesota vs. Green Bay and the Christmas night Eagles vs. Raiders games will remain in prime time on NBC no matter what. By doing this, it eliminates the possibility of fans having to change holiday weekend plans because of changed starting times.
On Week 17, which surrounds New Year's weekend, an oddity has all four California NFL teams (at least for the coming season) playing within California on December 31st. The Raiders are scheduled to host the L.A. Chargers in Oakland, while the L.A. Rams will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers at the same time with 4:25 PM ET kickoffs.
Speaking of California teams, a curious move by KSWB Channel 5 in San Diego for the coming exhibition season. The station, which had aired all available Chargers exhibition games in the past, has dropped the team since its move to Los Angeles.
Instead, KSWB will air three of the L.A. Rams exhibition games. Ironically, the one August game it cannot air is a national telecast on CBS on August 26th, in which the L.A. Rams will take on, you guessed it, the L.A. Chargers.
While this is going on, there has yet to be an announcement about which Los Angeles radio station will become the flagship station for the Chargers. Even the team's official web site still has "Coming Soon" for its radio broadcasts, as of press time.
In recent seasons, San Diego Chargers games were carried in L.A. on KLAC 570 when available (when no conflicts with Dodgers broadcasts). Of course, now that the Chargers are a local team, they need a station which will air every game along with full pre-game and post-game programming.
KLAC is not a logical candidate, given that the station is 49% owned by the Dodgers, which have games throughout September and possibly post-season games during October.
COLUMBUS: Former NFL standout A.J. Hawk joins WBNC 97.1 The Fan for a daily Noon to 1 PM talk show with co-host Anthony Rothman. It will begin on May 8th and be titled "Off Season with A.J. Hawk". The station has already announced that Hawk will remain part of the midday "Carpenter & Rothman Show" during the season on "Football Fridays".
DETROIT: Health issues have caused WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket morning show co-host Terry Foster to announce his retirement, effective immediately. Foster suffered a stroke almost one year ago and missed most of the second half of 2016.
As you would expect, Mike Valenti will remain with the morning show. Since this announcement caught everyone by surprise, it's too soon to think about who the replacement will be.
CHICAGO: Even though the Bulls have attracted attention with winning their first two playoff games against Boston and helped the ratings, their regular season proved a local TV ratings disaster. The ratings for CSN Chicago, which aired most of their games, were the lowest for any season since 2007-08, down roughly 33% from the previous season, and down around 58% from two seasons ago. Their highest rated single game telecasts were all during November and December.
DENVER: Ed McCaffrey and KOA 850 have completely parted company. The former Broncos receiver will no longer co-host his sports talk show, as well as coming out of the Broncos radio booth. He had been an analyst along with play-by-play voice Dave Logan since the 2012 season.
RICHMOND: The sale of ESPN 950 WXGI will result in even more coverage with what will soon be a three station simulcast. WXGI will continue to air sports, along with adding 102.7 FM. In addition, next market south WTPS 1240 Petersburg will also carry the station. All three will air live play-by-play of both the Washington Nationals and Redskins, along with University of Richmond football and basketball.
TULSA: KJRH Channel 2 Sports Director Al Jerkens has announced that he will retire when his current contract expires this coming August 3rd at the age of 65. Jerkens has been a fixture throughout his 43 year TV career. He will be missed.
HOWELL MI: Sorry to learn of the passing of former WHMI Sports Director Dave Johnson. He lost his battle to pancreatic cancer last week at the age of 48. Our thoughts are with his family.