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How Kentucky May Have Saved Turner From Another Teamcast Fiasco

Last year Turner, in their first year airing the Final Four, decided to supplement their main coverage on TBS with two “teamcast” feeds on TNT and truTV, offering team-centric coverage of each team in each game. The result, however, was people turning on the teamcasts thinking they were the main feed and complaining about the “biased” announcers. So as much as Turner may have publicly proclaimed the Teamcasts a “success”, when they announced they would be repeating the Teamcasts this year, it was clear they would need to do more to direct people to the main feed on TBS and let them know what the purpose of the Teamcasts actually were, whether over the previous rounds of the tournament or at the Final Four itself.

Kentucky may have just done more to achieve that goal than anything Turner did or could do itself.

One of the more noteworthy elements of the Teamcast fiasco was that the vast majority of complaining tweets concerned the TNT Teamcast, and TNT’s viewership far outpaced truTV’s viewership for both teamcast games, making up a substantial chunk of the viewership for both games. Because of this, a leading theory for the cause of the Teamcast fiasco, or at least a factor that might have exacerbated it, was that people associated TNT with “the basketball channel”, not making the association Turner wanted them to make with TBS as the network for college basketball. To me, this only made sense if it only applied to those people that hadn’t watched TBS’ coverage of the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight; if they had watched those games, they could have probably figured out that TBS was airing games in rounds TNT wasn’t, and was likely to continue doing so into the Final Four. But the numbers back that up as well: TBS’ Elite Eight games last year had viewership numbers of 9.97 million and 7.2 million. The Final Four games had audiences of 10.39 million and 7.1 million on TBS alone. In other words, Kentucky/Wisconsin didn’t improve much over the Elite Eight numbers on TBS alone, and Connecticut/Florida did worse on TBS alone than either Elite Eight game. The Teamcast confusion primarily affected people parachuting in for the Final Four without necessarily having watched much of anything from the earlier rounds.

Fast forward to this year, when Kentucky played Notre Dame in a thrilling fight to the finish with Kentucky’s perfect season on the line on TBS. The result was a game that attracted an 8.4 household rating and 14.7 million viewers, the highest-rated and most-watched college basketball game on a single network in cable history (which opens up a whole other can of gripes for me, but whatever). That’s 14.7 million viewers with no choice but to turn on TBS to watch the game, and 19.7 million tuning in during the quarter-hour starting at 10:45 PM. To put that in perspective, Connecticut-Florida only attracted 11.65 million viewers last year across all networks, while Kentucky-Wisconsin attracted 16.25 million.

How many of those millions of people that turned on TBS to watch Kentucky-Notre Dame will now know to turn on TBS to watch the Final Four? We’ll know in a week’s time how this year’s Teamcast (or “Team Stream” as it’s being billed this year) works out; ideally both games would see the vast majority of their audience flip to TBS and leave tiny portions of the audience on TNT and truTV. But if Duke-Michigan State sees most of its audience turn on TBS, but Kentucky-Wisconsin sees only about 13 million or so people turn on TBS, we’ll know any improvement in TBS’ numbers vis-a-vis the teamcasts will have had more to do with the Kentucky-Notre Dame game than anything intentional on CBS or Turner’s part. Even that, though, would still be a massive improvement over last year.

2014 Boxing Ratings Wrap-Up

Putting together a list of the most-watched boxing fights of the year by myself poses a unique challenge. Both HBO and Showtime break up their boxing cards into multiple parts for ratings purposes that include both actual fights and bridge segments between fights, and to someone like me who’s just looking at the raw numbers it’s not at all clear which is which, especially when fights end in early knockouts – if you look at the chart you see I’ve listed two different time slots for one fight because I’m not sure my primary source identified which one was the actual fight correctly. I’m confident enough in the completeness of my sources that next year I’m probably going to do a chronological list of fight cards, similar to what I had for UFC last year, with all the numbers I have for them, and let you interpret them as you will. In the meantime, I’m going to take Dan Rafael’s top 16 fights of 2014 and use that as a baseline to extend the list as far as I can be reasonably confident in to a top 20, though I can’t be 100% certain there isn’t an interloper in the bottom four spots. The second table lists buyrates for all the PPV cards of 2014.

18-49 ratings, when available, from TV by the Numbers, TV Media Insights, or other sources. Household ratings for HBO/Showtime fights from SportsBusiness Daily, for ESPN from Son of the Bronx. Read More »

2014 NASCAR Ratings Wrap-Up

Here are the ratings for every NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series race in the 2014 season.

Despite the disruption caused by the rain-delayed Daytona 500, every race on Fox to actually run (that I know of) outrated every race not on Fox, and as usual the four March races outrated every non-Daytona race. The most-watched race not on Fox was the Ford EcoBoost 400 on ESPN, followed by the Oral-B 500, with the Brickyard 400 falling to third; ABC’s most-watched race was the Bank of America 500, followed by the Irwin Tools Night Race. TNT’s most-watched race, the Toyota/Save Mart 350, fell behind eleven ESPN/ABC races including four Chase races and all three of ABC’s races. Due to rain delays, the Coke Zero 400 went from TNT’s most-viewed race to its second-least viewed.

Do not take this to necessarily mean the new Chase format is winning people over, however. The first four Chase races were ESPN’s least-viewed races of the year and only beat one other race, the Quaker State 400 on TNT, and five of the first seven Chase races filled out ESPN’s bottom five spots. ESPN’s least-viewed non-Chase race was the Gobowling.com 400, which fell behind only two TNT races. The Quaker State 400 finished only 50,000 viewers ahead of the Sprint Unlimited in its first year moved to Fox Sports 1.

On the Nationwide side of the ledger, the most-watched non-Daytona race was the Aaron’s 312, followed by the Gardner Denver 200 on ABC. ESPN2 had the fourth-most watched race, but it was the third race of the year overall. The least-watched race not to have a significant portion air on ESPNEWS was the Buckle Up 200 on May 31.

Ratings for races on broadcast from SportsBusiness Daily, Sports Media Watch, or for primetime races, The Futon Critic or TV Media Insights. Ratings for races on cable from Son of the Bronx/Awful Announcing, with some information from SportsBusiness Daily. 18-49 ratings, when available, from TVbytheNumbers, The Futon Critic, or TV Media Insights. Read More »

2014 MLB Postseason Ratings Wrap-Up

Here are the viewership numbers for every game of the MLB postseason sorted by viewership. Game 7 of the World Series had more than ten million more viewers than the next-most viewed baseball game of the year.

The move of half of the pre-World Series portion of the postseason to Fox Sports 1, with one wild card game moving to ESPN, had a tremendous impact on the ratings. Only two non-World Series games, both ALCS games on TBS, had more viewers than ESPN’s Wild Card game, and only one other game beat TBS’ Wild Card game, and that only if Fox Sports 1’s analytics-based telecast of NLCS Game 1 is included in the numbers. FS1 was able to draw a larger audience to its most-watched broadcast ever, NLCS Game 4, than Fox alone drew to NLCS Game 1 (both had over five million viewers), and thanks to drawing the big-name Giants and Cardinals in contrast to the ALCS’ Orioles-Royals series, four out of five NLCS games drew a larger audience than all of TBS’ ALDS or non-primetime ALCS games, but none of FS1’s NLDS games could beat more than one primetime ALDS game, Royals-Angels Game 2, which had 3.414 million viewers.

The most-watched non-primetime game was Game 2 of the ALCS with 4.25 million viewers; the most-watched non-primetime Division Series game was Tigers-Orioles Game 1 with almost four million viewers, which started at 5:30 PM ET, followed by Orioles-Tigers Game 3 with 3.297 million viewers. Depending on definition, FS1’s most-watched non-primetime game was either Dodgers-Cardinals Game 4 at 5 PM ET with 3.267 million viewers, or Cardinals-Giants Game 3 with 2.779 million viewers, by far the smallest audience of the League Championship Series. Giants-Nationals Game 1, at just over two million viewers, was FS1’s only other non-primetime game, the least viewed non-MLBN game of the postseason, and the only FS1 game to be beaten by TBS’ least-viewed postseason game, Tigers-Orioles Game 2, a noon start that attracted 2.261 million viewers. The least-viewed non-MLBN primetime game was Dodgers-Cardinals Game 3 with 2.887 million viewers.

26 games had more viewers than the most-watched regular season game window of the season, with Dodgers-Cardinals Game 3 beating every regular season game window that wasn’t World Cup-inflated. For perspective, 30 games aired on Fox, TBS, ESPN, and FS1, all but two of which beat every non-World-Cup-inflated regular season game on ESPN.

Of MLB Network’s two games, Nationals-Giants Game 3 attracted a larger audience with 1.838 million viewers, with Cardinals-Dodgers Game 2 lagging behind with 1.785 million viewers. Both games beat last year’s MLBN games by substantial margins (last year’s most-watched MLBN game had less than a million viewers), and both games broke the previous record for the most-watched game in MLBN history, Tigers-Athletics Game 2 in 2012, which had had around 1.3 million viewers. Both games aired later in the day than previous MLBN postseason games, and Cardinals-Dodgers Game 2 competed with an extra-inning game on FS1 for much of the game, so it finished lower despite airing more of the game in primetime. Only 19 regular season windows on any network beat Nationals-Giants Game 3, including no non-“Sunday Night Baseball” ESPN windows, and that only if the YES Network audience for Derek Jeter’s final home game is combined with the MLBN audience. Only one additional regular season window beat Cardinals-Dodgers Game 2.

Only four regular season games on MLBN, probably all involving the Yankees, beat MLBN’s overflow coverage of Cardinals-Dodgers Game 1. FS2’s overflow coverage of the same game became, at the time, the ninth most-watched program in the network’s history, including its days as Fuel, and the fourth most-watched program since relaunching as FS2. To my knowledge, only one regular-season game not on Fox, ESPN, or ESPN2 beat the combined audience for the overflow coverage on both networks.

All numbers from TVbytheNumbers, TV Media Insights, and Awful Announcing. Some Fox household ratings from SportsBusiness Daily. Read More »

2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame Watch – The Top 50 Active Resumes

Surefire first-ballot players:

  1. QB Peyton Manning
  2. QB Tom Brady

These two stand far and away on top of the pack, and their lead has become a yawning chasm; not only are their names indelibly linked, they’re the only two remaining active players from NFL Network’s “100 Greatest Players” from 2010, and they’re still among the best in the game (even if retirement rumors are starting to swirl around Manning).

Borderline first-ballot players:

  1. QB Drew Brees
  2. DT Kevin Williams

The top three names in last year’s version of this category all retired, though I’m not sure if Ed Reed has acknowledged it yet (though he was certainly willing to spend the season on the Inside the NFL set as though he knew he wasn’t going to get another job with a team). That tells you a) how loaded this Hall of Fame class is going to be and b) how barren this category is now. Fortunately, the next category, and the rest of the list, suggests this year may mark a true passing of the torch.

Surefire Hall of Famers:

  1. TE Antonio Gates
  2. S Troy Polamalu
  3. CB Charles Woodson
  4. TE Jason Witten
  5. DE Julius Peppers
  6. DE Dwight Freeney
  7. LB DeMarcus Ware
  8. RB Adrian Peterson
  9. QB Aaron Rodgers
  10. CB Darrelle Revis
  11. WR Calvin Johnson
  12. WR Andre Johnson

I’ve held off on putting Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, and Darrelle Revis on the surefire list, when conventional wisdom would have them first-ballot guys, until they racked up the resume to warrant it, and for a while the possibility of them being flashes in the pan was very much alive, but Rodgers’ MVP-caliber season was more than enough to do the job, as was Revis’ return to All-Pro form, while Johnson’s return to the Pro Bowl gave me a reason to reassess his resume compared to the other WRs at the surefire/borderline line. Good thing too: Ware is the highest-ranked player from last year’s list not named Manning or Brady to improve his resume, and he didn’t budge relative to the others. Ouch. I’m leaving AP on the list for now, as he still has a shot to show contrition and become a Michael-Vick-esque comeback story, but if this marks the end of his career he’s not getting into the Hall of Fame, placement in this category aside, unless the memory of how his career ended eventually fades.

Borderline Hall of Famers:

  1. WR Larry Fitzgerald
  2. WR Steve Smith
  3. WR Wes Welker
  4. DE Jared Allen
  5. RB Jamaal Charles
  6. RB Arian Foster
  7. WR Reggie Wayne
  8. LB Patrick Willis
  9. RB LeSean McCoy
  10. OT Joe Thomas
  11. RB Marshawn Lynch
  12. DE Haloti Ngata
  13. DE John Abraham
  14. QB Ben Roethlisberger
  15. QB Eli Manning
  16. QB Michael Vick
  17. P Shane Lechler
  18. WR Brandon Marshall
  19. OT Jahri Evans
  20. DT Ndamukong Suh
  21. S Earl Thomas
  22. QB Philip Rivers
  23. KR Devin Hester
  24. K Adam Vinatieri
  25. RB Maurice Jones-Drew

With Rodgers, Revis, and Calvin Johnson leaving this category, I don’t have anyone obvious to serve as a demonstration of how players relatively early in their careers can have weaker resumes than you think, but I do have a couple of good reasons for Adrian Peterson to get back into the public’s good graces and continue his career: Jamaal Charles and Arian Foster don’t have resumes that are that much worse. If they had one or two more All-Pro seasons, would you see them as players on par with Peterson?

Vinatieri remains an interesting situation: very few non-quarterbacks have been propelled into the Hall of Fame on the strength of their Super Bowls… but Vinatieri could be one of them, despite being a kicker, a position with only one other representative in the Hall at all. [And while every quarterback with multiple Super Bowl wins is in the Hall of Fame except Jim Plunkett, all except Plunkett has at least three Pro Bowl selections, so while I have to put Russell Wilson on the list his single Pro Bowl keeps him pinned to the bottom for now.]

Need work:

  • RB Chris Johnson
  • DT Justin Smith
  • S Eric Weddle
  • T Jason Peters
  • LB Lance Briggs

Adrian Wilson may say he wants to play some more, but he hasn’t played a down in two seasons and had no scuttlebutt about being picked up by someone else once he was cut by the Bears. It’s over, and it won’t be ending with a bust in Canton. The same might be said for Justin Smith, who would seem to have a better chance of improving his resume, all things considered; he’s been thinking of retiring but the 49ers reportedly want him back.

Young stars (exclamation marks indicate players with resumes already strong enough to be among the top 50):

  • C Maurkice Pouncey (5th year)
  • TE Jimmy Graham (5th year)
  • LB Navarro Bowman (5th year)
  • TE Rob Gronkowski (5th year)!
  • LB Von Miller (4th year)
  • WR A.J. Green (4th year)
  • DE J.J. Watt (4th year)!
  • CB Patrick Peterson (4th year)!
  • CB Richard Sherman (4th year)!
  • RB DeMarco Murray (4th year)
  • DE Robert Quinn (4th year)
  • LB Justin Houston (4th year)
  • QB Andrew Luck (3rd year)
  • QB Russell Wilson (3rd year)
  • WR Josh Gordon (3rd year)
  • LB Luke Kuechly (3rd year)
  • RB Eddie Lacy (2nd year)
  • RB Le’Veon Bell (2nd year)
  • WR Odell Beckham Jr. (Rookie)
  • G Zack Martin (Rookie)
  • DT Aaron Donald (Rookie)
  • LB C.J. Mosley (Rookie)

I’ve renamed this section from “players to watch for the future”, but I’m not happy with this name. I had someone blast me last year for putting rookies on the list but not putting LeSean McCoy or Jamaal Charles in either this list or the Needs Work section before they burst onto the main list last year. The purpose of this section is to list players early in their careers that have shown indications of Hall of Fame talent, but just haven’t had long enough careers to rack up enough accolades to make the main list – people like Watt or Gronk that have every ounce of Hall of Fame aura about them and might be my new Rodgers/Megatron once they make the main list, a chance to explain how this list only reflects everyone’s career if they retired today.

This year’s biggest-name rookie didn’t make the Pro Bowl in his own right.

Players to watch for the Class of 2019:

  • TE Tony Gonzalez
  • S Ed Reed
  • CB Champ Bailey
  • FB Vonta Leach

As mentioned before, each of the first three could very easily go in first ballot, especially Gonzalez, for whom the only reason I hadn’t listed him as surefire is because he’d be the first tight end ever to go in on the first ballot. Leach is the only other candidate to get in at all, but he has as good a chance as any fullback.

Wednesday, January 28 TV Ratings Report

Time for another ratings post proof-of-concept! This time I’m wading into the general ratings world. Ever since The Futon Critic stopped doing final ratings last year, we don’t have a site that lists broadcast and cable shows alongside each other, and we’ve never had them listed on a time-period basis like this so we can get some perspective on how popular cable shows really are and what shows would be tops on TV if broadcast still trumped cable. I aim to list the top five English-language shows in primetime at any given time in 18-49, and the top five original shows in 18-49, with Univision included for completeness, and when TVMI lists cable shows I’ll list the most-watched shows on television as well.

Sources: TVbytheNumbers (top 18-49 shows, cable news ratings), TV Media Insights (all broadcast shows, most-viewed shows), TV Recaps and Reviews (additional ratings for original cable shows). Shows in bold are new or live. Read More »

Weekend Sports Ratings for January 24-25

As I acknowledged a while back, the only three networks that can regularly top 100,000 viewers for their studio shows are ESPN, ESPN2, and NFL Network, making it pointless to do a daily Studio Show Scorecard until other networks can at least reach that threshold. Until then, there really isn’t any competition for ESPN. In the meantime, I’m going to work on templates for a couple different formats for this post. This one I’m already pretty sure I won’t be using, at least before the studio shows justify the scorecard, as it’s proved too time-consuming.

Most viewership numbers for events on cable from Sports TV Ratings, 18-49 numbers from TV Recaps and Reviews or TVbytheNumbers. All ratings for primetime events on broadcast from TV Media Insights, overnights for daytime events from ShowBuzz Daily. Read More »

Ensuring a #CommActUpdate for the Twenty-First Century

The Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee has been collecting input for a comprehensive update of the Communications Act for over a year now, with an eye towards a “technology-neutral” law that avoids placing different technologies in different regulatory “silos” and instead treats equivalent technologies equivalently. Towards that end, it has been issuing a series of white papers on issues surrounding the effort, and the most recent one concerns an issue that, perhaps even more than net neutrality, illustrates how much this effort is desperately needed: the video marketplace.

I sent in my thoughts on the state of the video marketplace and on the more general question of what I would like to see in a technology-neutral Communications Act, which you can see here. You may also want to read the comments I sent to the FCC on its ownership review and on a la carte television, assuming the FCC site is up.

2014 MLB Regular Season Ratings Wrap-Up

Putting this post together was a mess. This year coincided with the Son of the Bronx shutdown, which affected MLB far more than other sports, and while I did lean on the guy to provide MLB Network and other baseball ratings from the “gap” I didn’t realize he would only provide the top five shows on MLB Network his first few weeks on Awful Announcing, probably not enough to cover every game. His early days at AA also coincided with the World Cup dominating ESPN’s top ten, meaning I might not even have every ESPN window with over a million viewers. Conversely, he started including numbers for the TBS game late in the season (which does about as well as a medium-high MLBN game, in other words, even worse than I thought) but not quite throughout TBS’ portion of the season.

Still, here’s every MLB game I do have numbers for. A couple of factors led me to not split this post up into two parts like I did last year. First, the new TV contract meant each Saturday had at least one game on Fox Sports 1 (as Fox broadcast’s schedule compressed down to just Baseball Night in America and some September windows), and with no one knowing where FS1 was until the postseason (and only needing to find out if their team on a Fox RSN had a “regional elevate” game), many FS1 games, especially those that weren’t regional elevates, had numbers on par with MLBN games. The other, of course, was having access to TBS figures. In addition, there seemed to be more games scheduled for ESPN2 than last year, and they got some bad ratings, on par with those other three networks I just mentioned. Finally, with Derek Jeter’s last home game getting a million viewers just on YES, I rolled its numbers up with MLB Network’s figures, and the result is a game that had more viewers than any window that wasn’t on Fox or Sunday Night Baseball, before MASN’s Orioles broadcast is even factored in. Counting an RSN might be a dicey proposition – those numbers aren’t widely available for most games, and the most-watched games across RSNs and (if applicable) national telecasts would quickly fill up with Yankees and Red Sox games – but it’s ultimately the same principle as including local simulcasts of cable NFL games, and this was truly rarified air.

Numbers on cable where household ratings are available or where 18-49 ratings are not, including all games on TBS or MLB Network, from Son of the Bronx or Awful Announcing. Numbers on broadcast from SportsBusiness Daily or Sports Media Watch. 18-49 numbers, where available, from TVbytheNumbers, The Futon Critic, or TV Media Insights. Read More »

Predictions for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selections are performed by a panel of 46 leading NFL media members including representatives of all 32 NFL teams, a representative of the Pro Football Writers of America, and 13 at-large writers.

The panel has selected a list of 15 finalists from the modern era, defined as playing all or part of their careers within the last 25 years. A player must have spent 5 years out of the league before they can be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame. Players that last played in the 2009 season will be eligible for induction in 2015.

During Super Bowl Weekend, the panel will meet and narrow down the list of modern-era finalists down to five. Those five will be considered alongside one senior candidate, selected by a nine-member subpanel of the larger panel last August, and two contributors (not players or coaches), selected by another nine-member subpanel, for a total of eight. From this list, at least four and no more than eight people will be selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

My prediction for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is:

Marvin Harrison
Jerome Bettis
Will Shields
Junior Seau
Charles Haley
Mick Tingelhoff
Bill Polian
Ron Wolf

Hall of Fame Game: Steelers v. Giants