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January 2008 Archives

ESPN, NFL Network Blitzing Super Bowl Coverage

January 24, 2008 6:59 PM

With Fox preparing for what could be a behemoth game, even by Super Bowl standards, between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, NFL Network and ESPN also are moving at full speed with their pre-game coverage.

In ESPN, Super Bowl XLII coverage will kick off in Arizona Monday at 6 a.m. and is slated to continue throughout the week with more than 90 hours of domestic television and 65 hours of radio programming. The company’s signature television programs—including “First Take,” “NFL Live,” “SportsCenter” and “Sunday NFL Countdown”—will all originate from ESPN’s main set in Scottsdale. ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” (simulcast on ESPN2) also will originate from this set, while “The Herd With Colin Cowherd” and “The Mike Tirico Show” will broadcast live from downtown Phoenix throughout the week.

On Monday, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb is set to debate with Skip Bayless on “1st and 10,” while TNT NBA analyst and former Phoenix Suns star Charles Barkley will appear as the “Five Good Minutes” guest on “Pardon the Interruption” with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, who will be on location in Scottsdale. Other guest appearances throughout the week will include NFL Hall of Famers Barry Sanders and Joe Montana; NFL all-time leading receiver Jerry Rice; current NFL players Matt Hasselback, Chad Johnson and Matt Leinart; and actor Adam Sandler on “SportsCenter.”

Chris Berman, Merril Hoge, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, Mark Schlereth, Sean Salisbury, Stuart Scott, Emmitt Smith, Scott Van Pelt, Trey Wingo and Steve Young will be among the more than 25 ESPN on-air personalities who will appear on various programs throughout the week from Arizona.

Meanwhile, the NFL’s own outlet, the NFL Network, will unleash 213 hours in pre-game coverage counting down to Super Bowl XLII—that’s 24 hours a day for nine days in television’s longest Super Bowl pre-game show.

The coverage will kick off on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 10 a.m. with a marathon of highlight reels from all 41 Super Bowls.

Among the programming on deck will be:

Every NFL-related press conference live, including team arrivals, player availability, head coach press conferences, Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008 announcement, Commissioner Goodell’s Super Bowl press conference and Walter Payton’s NFL Man of the Year press conference.

Four episodes of “Playbook,” live from Arizona.

Six episodes of “Put Up Your Dukes,” live from Arizona.

A live pre-game show beginning at 11 a.m. ET on Super Bowl Sunday from the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Two hours of post-Super Bowl coverage live from the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Seven hours of coverage from Super Bowl Media Day on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

Special afternoon editions of “NFL Total Access” Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET, taking fans inside the official Super Bowl Media Center.

Special two-hour editions of “NFL Total Access” from AFC and NFC team hotels.

Prime-time airings each night of extended 90-minute versions of “NFL Total Access” at 7 p.m. ET with the latest news, interviews and analysis.

Fourteen airings of original broadcast versions of seven previous Super Bowls—including Super Bowl XXXIX, Super Bowl XXV, Super Bowl XXXVI, Super Bowl XXI, Super Bowl XXXVIII, Super Bowl XXXI and Super Bowl VII, which capped the 1972 Miami Dolphins’ undefeated season.

Plus … a roundup of the greatest Super Bowl commercials of all time.

NHL Survives NFL’s Dominating Sunday

January 22, 2008 11:15 AM

While the NFL continues to prove its dominance following the blockbuster ratings from the conference championships on Fox and CBS over the weekend, the National Hockey League scored a 1.1 rating for the regular debut of the NHL on NBC this weekend, holding even with both the first game last year as well as its overall season performance for the 2006-07 season.

“Considering the competition from football, that’s a big win for the sport,” said one executive from a major sports league. Check out my story on the recent successes of the NHL here…

Of course, the NFL remains the bread, butter, turkey and wine of the broadcast networks. The NFC game on Fox drew a 31.7/46 overnight rating in prime time, with an 18.6/40 among adults 18-49. The AFC game on CBS, meanwhile, pulled a 27.4/48 in households on Sunday.

As for the Super Bowl, local station ad buyers from Fox affiliates are already drooling over what may be one of the higher-rated Super Bowls in recent years, given the rating behemoth generated by the New England Patriots’ perfect season. That combined with the natural rival between New York and Boston, two big-market teams with fan bases around the country, has already cleared out local inventory for the Feb. 3 game in most of the key markets.

Versus Revs Up for Its First Bowl Game

January 8, 2008 2:59 PM

I would think that if any powerhouse company could change the BCS Bowl system to bring in a playoff, it would have to be the networks.

Last night’s Allstate BCS Championship Game on Fox last night earned a 14.4/22 household rating and share, and was easily the highest-rated show in prime time. However, the game was down 17% from last year’s 17.4/27, according to Nielsen Media Research data, due largely to the participation of the smaller-market LSU. Of course, the fact that two teams who arguably were not dominant through the topsy-turvy season likely had a lot to do with it as well.

Here’s to moving forward with the discussed plus one game for 2009 or 2010, as blowouts in a number of key bowls are hurting ratings and interest nationally.

There is one more Bowl to go, of course, and it’s an interesting one from an industry perspective. The Hula Bowl will be broadcast Saturday on Versus, marking the channel’s first foray into post-season college football.

Versus has quietly had a solid season with its college football gamecasts, beefing up its number of games from nine in 2006 to 19 in 2007. Comparing the two seasons, Versus saw a 50% jump in rating and a 92% increase in total viewership by airing contests from the Big 12, Pac-10 and Mountain West conferences, with the Pac-10 games in particular boosting numbers and averaging a 0.5 score during the season.

In fact, the network scored twice with two of the biggest upsets of the year, Stanford’s win over USC on Oct. 6 and Oregon State taking down Cal the following week on Oct. 13.

Heading to the Hula Bowl, which pits top players from the East against the West, Versus is going all-out to make the most of the event.

“We're proud to air the Hula Bowl as the first postseason college football game on our network,” said Marc Fein, Versus’ senior VP of programming and production. “We had a terrific college football schedule this year, one that featured nationally ranked teams as well as some of the biggest upsets of the year and, arguably, in college football history with Stanford defeating USC. The Hula Bowl, which showcases some of the best collegiate football players in the country, is a great way to conclude our college football season.”

Airing the game for the first time in network history, Versus has tapped Ron Thulin as the play-by-play announcer, Kelly Stouffer as the analyst and Lewis Johnson as the reporter.