TVWeek's Deputy Editor Chris Pursell is exploring the billion dollar business of sports media. Every week he will deliver the latest insights as well as a fresh perspective along with interviews with the biggest personalities in the business.

Email Chris Pursell




July 2008 Archives

Cubs Driving More Than Runs

July 29, 2008 12:46 PM

First the Devil Rays’ string of wins sent Tampa’s ratings soaring. Now Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the television home of the Chicago Cubs, has scored its best Cubs ratings ever, recording a whopping 8.3 household rating for its live coverage of the Cubs’ National League Central Division battle against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night.

That equates to around 288,000 households for the entire game, with ratings peaking at an 11.2 during the 10:15 p.m. quarter-hour. The Cubs broke a 4-4 tie in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, 6-4.

So far this season, the Cubs are averaging a 5.01 household rating on Comcast SportsNet Chicago this season; that’s a year-to-date increase of 36% from last season. Comcast SportsNet also will carry Wednesday night’s Cubs at Brewers contest beginning at 7 p.m.

Meaningful Moments Make ESPY Awards Special

July 17, 2008 11:16 AM


IN THE THEATER: Robin Roberts and Stuart Scott present Kevin Everett with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.

The Nokia Theater made its bow as the new home of the ESPYs Wednesday night in Los Angeles. While Justin Timberlake did an admirable job as the show’s host, the ESPYs tend to be remembered for special moments rather than as a show.

This year was in keeping with that tradition, with moments both funny and touching for sports fans.


STEPPING IN: Actor Will Ferrell accepts an award on behalf of Tiger Woods.

Tops on the list were Will Farrell accepting an award as Tiger Woods and Brett Favre declaring that his ESPY “makes me want to play again,” as well as a terrific song-and-dance “rock opera” on the year in sports performed by Timberlake.

On the serious side, Samuel L. Jackson and Steve Nash presented the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to 1968 Olympic medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The athletes raised their black-gloved fists on the medal podium during the American anthem to represent the struggle for racial equality in the U.S. and the universal struggle for basic human rights, only to be kicked off the team for their actions.

Read More »

Red Bull Air Race Takes Flight for Fox Sports

July 16, 2008 1:11 PM

Rarely is a new sport able to take off without difficulty, but that’s exactly what the Red Bull Air Race World Series has accomplished. With all new aircraft, uniforms and locations, season two of the air competition on Fox Sports debuted this week and already figures to transform the dimensions of motorsport racing.

The series was watched by more than 4.5 million people last year in season one on the outlet, which saw the world’s top pilots race at speeds up to 250 mph. Red Bull conceived of the sport in 2001.

This season, 12 pilots will battle it out on 10 courses around the world, including San Diego, Budapest, Abu Dhabi, Stockholm, London and Perth.

Check out the video preview of the new season here, complete with some of the innovative technology being used to capture the competition.

In a nutshell, the race featured pilots completing obstacle courses, where they must pass though air gates in the fastest possible time as well as in the correct position. The pilot who accumulates the most points at the end of the season is declared champion. Calling the action is Mike Buchan, Mike Goldberg and Alan Preston.

Read More »

Kellogg a Perfect Fit With Nantz at CBS

July 14, 2008 1:52 PM

Even if he does, seemingly, always pick the No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four, kudos to Clark Kellogg for stepping into the shoes of Billy Packer as CBS’ lead basketball analyst.

Mr. Kellogg always brought a great presence and solid analysis to CBS’ college basketball coverage and should be a great complement to Jim Nantz, a feeling clearly shared by the network suits. Mr. Kellogg was a game analyst for the network's NCAA Tournament coverage in 1993 and 1994 and was studio co-host for first- and second-round coverage from 1994 to 1997. He has co-hosted “The Road to the Final Four” since 1997. Mr. Kellogg also served as an analyst for ESPN's regular-season basketball coverage.

“With his unquestioned popularity and performance over the years, Clark Kellogg earned all rights to this top spot,” said Sean McManus, president, CBS News & Sports. “Like Billy Packer, Al McGuire or any of the most highly regarded broadcasters, Clark is an original voice with his own style and perspective. We have been proud to have him lead our studio presence for many years and look forward to his fresh impact on CBS Sports’ coverage of college basketball for years to come.”

In case you hadn’t heard the buzz, reports circulated this weekend that CBS Sports lead game analyst Billy Packer was out after 27 seasons. Mr. Packer had drawn some heat in recent seasons for statements that included trashing the selection of George Mason as an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament (the team went on to make the Final Four) and calling a Kansas/North Carolina game “over” before the Tar Heels came back, although Kansas ended up winning the game. However, he was top-notch at breaking down analysis in-game.

“For over three decades Billy Packer has been the voice of the NCAA Final Four and, in many ways, of college basketball,” said Mr. Kellogg. “His excellence as an analyst is Hall of Fame-worthy. His knowledge of the game and its history is unparalleled. That, along with his passion and keen insights, enabled him to do his work as an analyst better and longer than anyone in the game’s history. His legacy is one of enduring excellence and keeping the focus on the game. That is the foundation I aspire to build on.”

The Charlotte Observer had a good interview with Mr. Packer, which you can read here.

In it, Mr. Packer noted that he didn’t see himself coming back as a broadcaster, noting, “In the history of nationally televised basketball, I’ve done probably 90% of the great games, so I don’t want to be going to do games of a different status, so I have no interest in that.”

Good luck to both men as they begin their new journeys.

Q&A: Golf Champ, Broadcaster Ian Baker-Finch

July 11, 2008 6:45 PM

As we head into MLB’s mid-summer classic, as well as the British Open and Espys next week, national sports ratings continue to heat up

Baseball on Fox jumped to its best score of the season at a 3.0/8 for the always entertaining Red Sox/Yankees and Cubs/Cardinals games. That score marks the networks’ best national rating for the sport since June 2 of 1997.

NBC, meanwhile, earned a 3.5/10 on Sunday for the terrific Wimbledon final, possible one the best matches ever played. That score was good enough for a 30% improvement over last year’s final, which earned a 2.7/8 in the five set epic. Late in the fifth and final set, ratings only grew and peaked at a 4.7/11.

Read More »

NBC Gets Aces With Wimbledon

July 7, 2008 11:57 AM

First an amazing match with Tiger Woods’ dramatic come-from-behind playoff victory at the U.S. Open, now an epic Gentlemen's Singles final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon—NBC is hitting ratings highs.

NBC Sports' “Breakfast at Wimbledon” coverage of the finals match between the world’s top two male tennis players earned the network its best overnight rating for a Gentlemen's Final in eight years, scoring a 4.6 rating and a 12 share and besting last year’s finals by 44%, according to Nielsen Media research.

“This has got to be the greatest match we've ever seen—EVER,” commentator John McEnroe said during the match.

Mr. Nadal was the victor in the grueling, nearly five-hour match, dethroning Mr. Federer, the five-time defending Wimbledon, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 to score his first Wimbledon victory.

Top metered markets for Sunday's coverage of the Gentlemen’s Final:

1. St. Louis, 8.2/19
2. West Palm Beach, Fla., 7.5/17
3. Washington, D.C., 6.4/17
4. Nashville, Tenn., 6.3/14
4. Fort Myers, Fla., 6.3/15
6. Las Vegas, 6.1/14
7. Jacksonville, Fla., 6.0/13
7. Richmond, Va., 6.0/12
9. New York, 5.7/15
9. Milwaukee, 5.7/12

NBC also scored with its Ladies’ Singles final between the Williams sisters, earning the best rating for a Ladies Final since 2005 with a 3.4 overnight rating and a 10 share. Venus Williams defeated sister Serena in a match that improved ratings from last year’s final by 21%.

Tremendous Home-Market Tune-In for Tampa

July 2, 2008 1:58 PM

With the best record in Major League Baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays may be worrying television executives hoping for a Chicago Cubs-Boston Red Sox World Series. But the red-hot baseball team is drumming up record numbers in its home market.

Tuesday night’s winning game against the Red Sox drew the highest rating ever for a Rays game on television with a 9.1; that made it the top-rated television program in the Tampa area. In fact, last night’s game demolished FSN Florida’s previous record TV HH rating for a Rays game on the regional cable network, which was a 4.5 on June 19 vs. the Chicago Cubs.

That score is up 203% over the season-to-date 3.0 rating, which itself is up 36% over 2007 numbers.

With major-market teams from Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia all in serious contention to make the playoffs, Tampa Bay could well play spoiler to those big-market draws. Just don’t tell that to fans in Tampa.