We are seeing more proof that the major pro sports leagues and the TV networks which cover them are making plenty of progress when it comes to their respective player drafts. After all the years where the NFL Draft was the only one that viewers paid attention to, MLB, NBA, and NHL are also gaining traction.
The hype surrounding the drafts and the related coverage, which includes team press conferences to introduce top picks to the fans, are starting to pay off in terms of viewership.
Earlier this week, the College World Series Finals on ESPN showed a ratings increase from last year of more than 70%. The Tuesday (6/27) early overnight ratings were the best for a CWS Finals since 2011.
The local New Orleans TV ratings lead the way on this, which is not surprising when you realize that LSU has led college baseball attendance every season going back to the mid-90's. That market showed higher ratings this week for baseball than for most of the college football games shown locally on ESPN during the 2016 season.
Of course, many of the top MLB Draft picks are showcased in the CWS, prompting fans of the teams with high picks that are participating to tune in.
This impact of fans now wanting a glance at their favorite team's high draft picks carries over to the NBA, which is ready. Starting this coming Saturday (7/1), NBA-TV will be airing a total of 60 live Summer League telecasts over the next two weeks from three League locations, Orlando, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas.
NBA-TV has assigned Matt Winer, Rick Kamla, Joel Meyers, and Casey Stern to play-by-play, along with its regular analysts such as Brent Barry, Rip Hamilton, Isiah Thomas, Kenny Smith, and Steve Smith.
In addition, the Network is also going to offer up live studio programming surrounding its coverage with game highlights and analysis.
All of this shows the power of league marketing and social media. Some fans simply want to get a look at the top picks, while others want to make observations before upcoming fantasy league drafts.
Meanwhile, while it's not the same as NBC having the Notre Dame football contract, ESPN has extended its Brigham Young University home game coverage through the 2019 season. This deal gives ESPN first right of selection for all home games except one each season, with the one game to air on BYU's TV network. ESPN will also air available road games when it has agreements with "host" teams or their conferences to air games. Their first telecast will be on August 26th against Portland State.
Cumulus Media will syndicate Air Force football and basketball broadcasts with a new multi-year deal, with Jim Arthur continuing as play-by-play voice. KVOR Colorado Springs will continue as the flagship station.
BOSTON: WBZ-FM 98.5 Sports Hub has extended its agreement with a multi-year deal to continue as flagship station for Bruins broadcasts. This deal also includes a weekly two hour weekly Bruins program, along with 30 minute pre and post-game shows. The Sports Hub has aired the Bruins since its inception back in 2009.
ALBANY: WRBG-TV Channel 6 will continue to have two sports anchors after the recent hiring of Chet Davis. It turns out that Jason Lewis has announced he will be leaving WRBG-TV, after roughly two years, in mid-July.
At the same time, this week is the final one for Josh Rutlenberg, who departs from WTEN-TV Channel 10 after this week (June 30th) because his contract was not renewed.
As of press time, no word as to whether or not Lewis' departure has anything to do with the opening at WTEN-TV.
DECATUR: WSOY 1340/103.3 has extended its contract to air University of Illinois football and basketball to run through the 2021 season.
PANAMA CITY: WGSX 104.3, which was under call letters WBYW until a few weeks ago, has become the local ESPN Radio affiliate. The market had been without a local ESPN station since 2014. As much as we like to see local programming during weekday hours, in this case the decision to carry Paul Finebaum during afternoon drive makes sense, given his knowledge and emphasis on SEC Football.