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December 2007 Archives

NFL Week 16 Broadcast Preview

December 21, 2007 12:00 PM

Season’s almost done. That means games are gonna be hot as teams fight for a playoff birth or yawners as teams rest players or try out new blood.

Nevertheless, Pressbox marches on (although to the beat of a different drum.)

Last week, the “NFL on FOX” averaged an 11.2 rating/21 share with 17.7 million viewers for its week 15 doubleheader. That score marks a 6% bump over last year's 10.6/21 on the same weekend last year and was helped by bone-chilling winter weather across much of the country that kept audiences indoors.

There’s little more to be said about the Patriots and their ratings impact, but to keep the trend moving their rematch with the Jets drove CBS’s ratings to a 13.3/27 for their Week 15 single and marked the top-rated single of the year. That score is also an astounding 49% bump over last year's 8.9/20 on the same weekend.

Meanwhile, NBC's “Sunday Night Football” drew a 9.5/15 for the Redskins-Giants game, down 4% compared to last year's 9.9/16 for a Chiefs-Chargers matchup.

Looking at week 16, CBS gets the doubleheader back and wisely made the Patriots game against the one-win Dolphins is national game for the week at 4:15pm with 78% of the country set to carry the match. In earlier action, the Texans/Colts game will be carried the most by stations with 35%, followed by Browns/Bengals in 30%, Raiders/Jaguars in 21% and a Chiefs/Lions game in 10%.

In other afternoon action, Jets/titans will be carried in 10% of the country, and Ravens/Seahawks only in local markets with 8%.

Here are the announcing lineups.

1 PM
Cleveland@Cincinnati Greg Gumbel, Dan Deirdorf
Kansas City@Detroit Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker
Houston@Indianapolis Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Oakland@Jacksonville Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
4:15 PM
Miami@New England Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
New York Jets@Tennessee Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
Baltimore@Seattle Bill Macatee, Steve Beuerlein

Phil Simms on the Dolphins/Patriots game“For the Dolphins I look at it this way: What state of mind will they be in? Will there be a sense of relief and a let-down because they won the game or does that give them energy and make them play better because they finally won a game? The psychological and emotional part of NFL football is a big factor with the Dolphins this week. I talked with a lot of NFL players and coaches and it was truly universal. Everyone was hoping for them to win because anyone that has ever been involved in professional football understood what a burden and what a mark it is to have on you for the rest of your life – to be part of a team that never wins a game.”

Here’s Fox’s lineup…

NFL on Fox Week 16 National (Click image to view)

1 PM
Green Bay @ Chicago Joe Buck, Troy Aikman
New York Giants@Buffalo Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
Philadelphia@New Orleans Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan
4 PM
Tampa Bay@San Francisco Dick Stockton, Brian Baldinger
Atlanta@Arizona Ron Pitts, Tony Boselli

The Peacock flexed this playoff driven game. After beating the Bears 20-16 on Monday, if they win their last two games they will clinch a Wild Card spot in the NFC. For the Redskins, who beat the Giants 22-10 last week on “Sunday Night Football,” this is a must win. Should the Redskins lose they will be eliminated from playoff consideration.

The Vikings are making their first ever appearance on NBC “SNF,” while Washington is making its second consecutive appearance on primetime after appearing one time last year.

The Official* Bowl Game Broadcast Preview

December 20, 2007 3:24 PM

With bowl season officially kicking off tonight, here’s a rundown of which games are running where, as well as what each of the games scored last season. I’ll contrast and compare who the winners and losers were when the games are completed.

Thursday, Dec. 20
Poinsettia Bowl
Utah (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)
9 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Rece Davis, Lou Holtz, Mark May
Previous rating: 1.5

Friday, Dec. 21
New Orleans Bowl
Florida Atlantic (7-5) vs. Memphis (7-5)
8 p.m. on ESPN2
Announcers: Eric Collins, Bill Curry
Previous rating: 1.3

Saturday, Dec. 22
PapaJohns.com Bowl
Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
1 p.m. on ESPN2
Announcers: Pam Ward, Ray Bentley
Previous rating: 1.4

New Mexico Bowl
Nevada (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4)
4:30 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Dave Barnett, Rod Gilmore
Previous rating: 1.5

Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (10-2) vs. UCLA (6-6)
8 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul Maguire
Previous rating: 1.6

Sunday, Dec. 23
Hawaii Bowl
Boise St. (10-2) vs. East Carolina (7-5)
8 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Terry Gannon, David Norrie
Previous rating: 2.1

Wednesday, Dec. 26
Motor City Bowl
Central Michigan (8-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)
7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Andre Ware
Previous rating: 1.7

Thursday, Dec. 27
Holiday Bowl
Arizona State (10-2) vs. Texas (9-3)
8 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit
Previous rating: 3.4

Friday, Dec. 28
Champs Sports Bowl
Boston College (10-3) vs. Michigan St. (7-5)
5 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Todd Blackledge
Previous rating: 2.5

Texas Bowl
TCU (7-5) vs. Houston (8-4)
8 p.m. on NFL Network
Announcers: Brad Sham, Charles Davis, Mike Mayock
Previous rating: 1.4

Emerald Bowl
Oregon State (8-4) vs. Maryland (6-6)
8:30 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman
Previous rating: 3.7

Saturday, Dec. 29
Meineke Car Care Bowl
Connecticut (9-3) vs. Wake Forest (8-4)
1 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Andre Ware
Previous rating: 3.2

Liberty Bowl
UCF (10-3) vs. Mississippi St. (7-5)
4:30 on ESPN
Announcers: Terry Gannon, David Norrie
Previous rating: 2.7

Alamo Bowl
Penn State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
8 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Craig James, Doug Flutie
Previous rating: 4.9

Sunday, Dec. 30
Independence Bowl
Alabama (6-6) vs. Colorado (6-6)
8 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Mark Jones, Bob Davie
Previous rating: 2.4

Monday, Dec. 31
Armed Forces Bowl
California (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
12:30 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Dan Fouts, Tim Brant
Previous rating: 1.7

Sun Bowl
Oregon (8-4) vs. USF (9-3)
2 p.m. on CBS
Announcers: Craig Bolerjack, Steve Beuerlein
Previous rating: 2.4

Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno State (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
2 p.m. on ESPN2
Announcers: Dave Lamont, James Hasty
Previous rating: 1.7

Music City Bowl
Kentucky (7-5) vs. Florida State (7-5)
4 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Ron Franklin, Ed Cunningham
Previous rating: 1.8

Insight Bowl
Indiana (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)
6 p.m. on NFL Network
Announcers: Bob Papa, Sterling Sharpe, Mike Mayock
Previous rating: 0.9

Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Clemson (9-3) vs. Auburn (8-4)
7:30 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Bob Griese, Paul Maguire
Previous rating: 3.9

Tuesday, Jan. 1
Outback Bowl
Tennessee (9-4) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
11 a.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman
Previous rating: 3.6

Cotton Bowl
Missouri (11-2) vs. Arkansas (8-4)
11:30 a.m. on Fox
Announcers: Pat Summerall, Brian Baldinger

Gator Bowl
Virginia (9-3) vs. Texas Tech (8-4)
1 p.m. on CBS
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson
Previous rating: 4.1

Capital One Bowl
Florida (9-3) vs. Michigan (8-4)
1 p.m. on ABC
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Todd Blackledge

Rose Bowl
USC (10-2) vs. Illinois (9-3)
4:30 p.m. on ABC
Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit
Previous rating: 13.9

Sugar Bowl
Georgia (10-2) vs. Hawaii (12-0)
8:30 p.m. on Fox
Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis
Previous rating: 9.3

Wednesday, Jan. 2
Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma (11-2) vs. West Virginia (10-2)
8 p.m. on Fox
Announcers: Matt Vasgersian, Pat Haden, Terry Donahue
Previous rating: 8.4

Thursday, Jan. 3
Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Kansas (11-1)
8 p.m. on Fox
Announcers: Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston, Barry Alvarez
Previous rating: 7.0

Saturday, Jan. 5
International Bowl
Rutgers (7-5) vs. Ball State (7-5)
Noon on ESPN2
Announcers: John Saunders, Jesse Palmer
Previous rating: 1.1

Sunday, Jan. 6
Tulsa (9-4) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)
8 p.m. on ESPN
Announcers: Rece Davis, Mark May, Lou Holtz
Previous rating: 1.3

Monday, Jan 7
BCS National Championship Game
Ohio State (11-1) vs. LSU (11-2)
8 p.m. on Fox
Announcers: Thom Brennaman, Charles Davis, Chris Myers

NFL Week 15 Broadcast Preview

December 13, 2007 5:46 PM

A lot to discuss over the next week, where I’ll be talking with producers about the Mitchell report (Bad Roger! Bad Andy!), a season surge in NBA ratings, a look at the bowl game announcers and some tricks Fox Sports has up its sleeve as we get the ball rolling here at Pressbox once again heading into the holidays.

First up, however…: P-A-T-R-I-O-T-S = R-A-T-I-N-G-S.

Once again, the undefeated New England Patriots delivered for the network airing the team’s game. Poor Fox, which saw its two opportunities to air a match with the team (vs. Philly and vs. Giants) snatched away by NBC and the NFL Network, respectively. Despite losing the Patriots, Fox last week scored its best single-header ratings in six years, earning a 12.9 rating/27 share for its game lineup. That figure is good enough to mark a 24% gain over the same week last season.

Fox and CBS are neck-and-neck in the ratings race, with both tied at a 10.6/22 though 14 weeks of the season. Both are leading NBC’s broadcast, which is earning a 10.2/16 in primetime.

CBS averaged a 12.6/24 for the network’s double-header, up 20% versus week 14 of 2006, with the Patriots’ gutting of the Steelers pulling an 18.4/32. That now has the Patriots games delivering the two highest ratings of the year with a 20.1 in week 9 and this week’s 18.4; the biggest NFL cable rating ever on ESPN in week 13 with an 11.1; NBC’s highest-rated “Sunday Night Football” ever in week 12 with a 13.4; and likely the NFL Network’s best rating ever in week 17 if the Pats continue to run undefeated.

Up this week for the Patriots will be the Jets, followed by the winless Dolphins, hardly water-cooler talk, so their ratings will be put to the test. In fact, CBS isn’t even making it the most watched game of the network’s single-header this weekend. The Patriots/Jets game will run in 27% of the country, less than the Steelers/Jaguars game, which will be carried in 32%. In other 1 p.m. games, Titans/Chiefs will be seen by 7%, Bills/Cleveland shockingly seen in only 6% in a battle of potential wild card teams and Ravens/Dolphins in 6% as well.

The afternoon game will be seen in 22% of the nation.

Here are the announcer lineups.(Scroll down to see)

Game Announcers
1 p.m. ET starts
Buffalo @ Cleveland Gus Johnson/Steve Tasker
Tennessee @ Kansas City Ian Eagle/Solomon Wilcots
Baltimore @ Miami Kevin Harlan/Rich Gannon
N.Y. Jets @ New England Jim Nantz/Phil Simms
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh Greg Gumbel/Dan Dierdorf
4:05 p.m. ET starts
Indianapolis @ Oakland Dick Enberg/Randy Cross

Over at Fox, with a double-header, here are the maps for the early game.

NFL on Fox Week 15 Regional (Click image to view.)

Game Announcers
1 p.m. ET starts
Green Bay @ St. Louis Kenny Kenny Albert/Daryl Johnston/Tony Siragusa
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay Matt Vasgersian/J.C. Pearson
Seattle @ Carolina Dick Stockton/Brian Baldinger
Arizona @ New Orleans Ron Pitts/Tony Boselli
4:05 p.m. ET starts
Philadelphia @ Dallas Joe Buck/Troy Aikman
Detroit @ San Diego Sam Rosen/Tim Ryan
NFL on Fox Week 15 National (Click image to view and go to page 2.)

The network counters with an NFC East battle with playoff implications, in the Washington Redskins vs. the New York Giants. If the Giants win, they clinch a playoff berth; if the Redskins lose, they are all but eliminated.

“I know I sound like Madden, but these NFC East games are just special in my mind,” said NBC’s Cris Collinsworth. “They always have an appeal. That's one deal that never changes.”

This is the Giants’ third appearance on “Sunday Night Football” this season. They lost to the Dallas Cowboys 45-35 in the first “Sunday Night Football” game of the year, and defeated the Eagles 16-3 in Week 4, sacking Donovan McNabb 12 times in the victory. Washington is making its first 2007 appearance on “Sunday Night Football” after appearing one time last year, a 27-10 loss to the Cowboys.

NFL Week 14 Broadcast Preview

December 6, 2007 3:36 PM

The undefeated streak of the New England Patriots continues to deliver gold for NFL carriers, and this week CBS hopes the trend continues.

The week 13 games bolstered ESPN's “Monday Night Football” which soared to an incredible 11.1 rating and 18 share with 17.5 million households tuned in for Baltimore's near-upset of the Pats. The game not only ranks as the highest-rated and most-watched NFL telecast ever on cable, but scores the most-watched cable telecast, edging out Disney's August airing of “High-School Musical 2” which drew 17.2 million.

With fans expecting a blowout, Monday night's game opened at a 6.8/11 (10.6 mill.) at 8:30pm, and grew steadily as the night wore on before peaking at a 15.0/28 (23.9 mill.) at 11:30pm. So far this season, the unbeaten Patriots have delivered season-high ratings to CBS (vs. IND in Week 9), NBC (vs. PHL in Week 12), and ESPN (vs. BAL this week).

NFL Network
With both the Redskins and the Bears struggling, the loser of this game on Thursday night is almost certainly out of the playoff race. Although on the NFL Network nationally, the games can also be seen on MyNetwork Ch. 50 (WPWR-TV) in Chicago and MyNetwork Ch. 20 (WDCA-TV) in DC in the two local markets.

The NFL Network will lead up to the match with programming that includes Deion Sanders going 1-on-1 with Bears kick returner Devin Hester and Kara Henderson sitting down with Redskins running back Clinton Portis as well as Pedro Taylor, father of the slain Sean Taylor.

As I said before, this week, the big kahuna returns to CBS against a tough Pittsburgh team and slated Jim Nantz and Phil Simms to call the national game for the network.

“Now the NFL is not about all the games, it’s about which game of the year is it this week,” said Mr. Simms of the Patriots ratings behemoth. “I guess there are certain parts of it that are good, but we tend to lose focus on too many teams that are doing some good stuff and they are going to be part of the playoff picture. We can’t get past the Patriots, the Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, and this week the Steelers squeak in there because they are playing the Patriots Every time the Patriots play a game that is close now, of course since they are undefeated, it becomes huge news.”

Here are the CBS announcers for the week 14 games.

Game Announcers
San Diego @ Tennessee Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
Oakland @ Green Bay Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Miami @ Buffalo Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots
Pittsburgh @ New England Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
Cleveland @ NY Jets Dick Enberg, Randy Cross
Kansas City @ Denver Gus Johnson, Steve Tasker

The NFL ON FOX pulled in a 10.5/20 (16.5 million viewers) for its week 13 doubleheader, anchored by a Giants/Bears national game. This week Dallas @ Detroit will be featured in a single game broadcast for the channel.

Here’s Fox’s official game map with announcers and percentages…

Map 1
NFL on Fox Week 14 Singleheader (Click image to view.)

Fresh off the Patriots, the Ravens now face the Colts on NBC “Sunday Night Football.” The Colts can lock up a playoff berth with a win on Sunday night and some help and could potentially wrap up their fifth straight AFC South title.

“Change any one of about a half dozen plays in the Pats-Colts game, then the next week have Vinatieri make a field goal he almost never misses and the Colts would now be 12-0,” said NBC’s Bob Costas. “They would have the No. 1 seed and the Pats, in all likelihood, would be coming to Indy in late January.”

This is the Colts third appearance on NBC this season. The team defeated the Saints 41-10 on the opening Thursday night game of the season and lost to the Chargers 23-21 on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 10. The Colts appeared on SNF three times last season winning all three and hold a 21-11 all-time record on the NFL's premiere primetime network package (ABC's MNF 1970-2005, NBC's SNF 2006-Present).

Meanwhile, this is the Ravens first ever appearance on NBC “Sunday Night Football.”

Following the mammoth numbers of this week, the channel will struggle to get close to that again as the channel gets a Saints/Falcons game of two teams with losing records but hard rivals. Interestingly, on the same day that the Falcons host the Monday Night Football game, their franchise quarterback Michael Vick will find out how long he will spend in jail.

I also wanted to give a shout to awfulannoucing.com which continues to make me laugh with their take on the world of the sports industry, but without losing insight. Check it out for his POV.

Sean Taylor's Death - Lessons for the Press

December 3, 2007 4:05 PM

Just got back from a week of skiing in Utah, and had the opportunity to witness a lot of television while the kids were sleeping. As such, I wanted to take the time to address the media coverage of Redskin safety Sean Taylor’s death last week.

Sean, who was laid to rest today in Miami, was shot in his home a week ago by would-be thieves. He ended up dying of blood loss while trying to protect his daughter, wife and property. The Miami police department acted quickly to apprehend the perpetrators.

But in the hours before the arrests were made, many media personalities jumped to the conclusion that Sean’s death was unsurprising, citing his brief history of run ins with the law.
Particularly guilty of jumping to conclusions, aka profiling, were figures at ESPN, “Pardon the Interruption” co-host Michael Wilbon and ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd, who each proclaimed that Sean’s history made his death expected or even justified.

Michael Wilbon’s quote has already run the gamut in the online sports community but here it is again, taken from his online chat through the Washington Post, posted hours after Sean’s death…

“I know how I feel about Taylor, and this latest news isn't surprising in the least, not to me. Whether this incident is or isn't random, Taylor grew up in a violent world, embraced it, claimed it, loved to run in it and refused to divorce himself from it. He ain't the first and won't be the last. We have no idea what happened, or if what we know now will be revised later. It's sad, yes, but hardly surprising.”

Colin, who I normally like, dug himself into an even deeper hole with these types of judgments before it was revealed that the burglars had nothing to do with Sean’s past.
Colin also included the following on his radio program:

“Sean Taylor, great player, has a history of really really bad judgment. Really really bad judgment. Cops, assault, spitting, DUI. I'm supposed to believe his judgment got significantly better in two years, from horrible to fantastic? 'But Colin he cleaned up his act.' Well yeah, just because you clean the rug doesn't mean you got everything out. Sometimes you've got stains, stuff so deep it never ever leaves.”

I don’t know about you, but I have never met anyone who wouldn’t be surprised to find multiple men breaking into their homes and firing a gun. Sean Taylor, by all accounts from family and friends, had settled down since the birth of his daughter two years ago.

It’s unsettling that some in the sports journalism community promoted and flaunted Sean’s associations with a “violent world,” focusing more on that than the fact that Sean had a father who was a police chief or that he attended an elite prep school.

Wilbon and Cowherd are both paid to give commentary in order to drive ratings, but by placing a label on a victim of a crime before any details were known, and knowing that millions are listening, is a poor exercise of judgment for any media personality.

In the post-shooting analysis, was his past a reasonable part of the story to explore? Possibly, but to assume that past was part of the present was sloppy work from successful men.
On the other hand, of all the newscasts I was able to access in my hotel room, both general interest and sports-oriented, I found CNN to have the best coverage of the details following Sean’s shooting. CNNSI.com properly placed the Pro Bowler’s passing ahead of BCS speculation. MSNBC brought a solid performance as well.

In addition, kudos to the “NFL Today” crowd for wearing buttons with Sean’s number, 21, on their lapels on Sunday in his memory. In fact, of the whole media situation I think “NFL Today’s” James Brown, who is one of the best frontmen I’ve ever seen for the pregame shows, said it best…

“An awful lot has been written and said about Sean Taylor over the past week. A young man who, without a doubt, made mistakes, some foolish, some egregious and immature. And in no way am I looking to trivialize his transgressions or excuse them, but are those reasons enough for some to be so insensitive, so quick, and I think so inaccurate, in stereotyping Sean Taylor as a bad apple, or that the end he met with was not a surprise. A group of burglars break into his house and are surprised to find him there, end his life. By all accounts, as we've heard from the people who actually knew him well, Taylor did an awful lot of maturing over the last year-and-a-half. For those who have been mature a lot longer than that, exercising restraint in passing such callous and harmful judgment would seem to be in order.”

A postscript to this cautionary tale for the media: At Sean’s funeral today, the mayor of the town where his father serves on the police force received a standing ovation when he urged the media learn a small lesson in humility from Sean’s death and its aftermath.