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Notre Dame still No. 1: In the ratings, that is: ABC pulls big number for Florida State game

Once again, Notre Dame showed it still is the king when it comes to drawing viewers.

The Notre Dame-Florida State game on ABC pulled an 8.5 overnight rating of major markets on Saturday night; one national ratings point is worth over 1 million homes. Full ratings will be out tomorrow.

The rating was the best of the year for college football thus far. According to Sports Media Watch, the 8.5 rating is the fourth-highest in the eight-year history of ABC’s Saturday night package. Of course, two of the other games involved the Irish: the Notre Dame-USC games in 2006 and 2012 both did a 9.6 and Ohio State-Texas in 2006 at 8.8.

Notre Dame’s large following in Chicago, the nation’s No. 3 market, helped drive the rating. The game did a 10.4 in Chicago, peaking at 15.7 during the closing … Continue Reading

It isn’t just Thursday night: Bad run of one-sided games for NBC on Sunday night this year

Prior to the last two games, CBS’ Thursday night package had come under fire for delivering a series of boring routs. Well, don’t look now, but Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth have had plenty of time to use their blowout material on Sunday nights this year.

Sunday, after Peyton Manning set his records, Michaels got to tell the national TV audience all about his back-up, Brock Osweiler, in the fourth quarter.

Denver won 42-17, and it wasn’t that close.

It was the fifth straight blowout for the NBC crew:

Sept. 21: Pittsburgh 38, Carolina 17.

Sept. 28: Dallas 38, New Orleans 17.

Oct. 5: New England 43, Cincinnati 17

Oct. 12: Philadelphia 27, Giants 0.

The NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano did the math in a tweet:

“2014 Average margin of victory Sunday night: 18.8. Thursday night: 21.6.”

So don’t completely blame the … Continue Reading

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Manning interview with Costas: There will be only one Brett Favre

I wanted to share the highlights of Bob Costas’ interview with Peyton Manning on NBC’s “Football Night in America” prior to Manning breaking the touchdown pass record last night.

Kudos to Costas for coming up with a new way to get insights from Manning about the record. He asked him for his thoughts about the previous QBs who held the record.

As usual, Manning showed his knack for always saying the right thing.

First Costas started with a story of interviewing Sammy Baugh.

Bob Costas: “One of the greatest days in my professional sports career was an afternoon I got to spend with Sammy Baugh in Rotan, Texas. It was about 15 years ago. An interesting story about how I got there. We flew in to Snyder, Texas, but there were no rental cars in Snyder. So we drove from … Continue Reading

DVR alert: Moving documentary on Nebraska’s Brook Berringer on BTN

Brook Berringer, who spent his senior year as a back-up quarterback, was such an uncommon young man, Nebraska erected a statue of him in front of its stadium.

BTN tells his story in a moving documentary, “Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer.” The film airs Saturday after the Nebraska-Northwestern game at approximately 10:30 p.m. ET. It also re-airs Monday at 9 p.m. ET

Berringer began the 1994 season as the Huskers’ backup quarterback but was thrust into the starting role when Heisman Trophy candidate Tommie Frazier was diagnosed with blood clots. Berringer helped lead the team to seven straight wins and a berth in the Orange Bowl against Miami. While Frazier returned to start the game, Berringer entered in the second quarter and helped spark a comeback. The win capped off the undefeated season, and gave Nebraska Head Coach Tom Osborne his first … Continue Reading

Royal sweep: Short series not good for networks, baseball

Yes, Kansas City is a great story.

However, the Royals would have been a better story for baseball and TBS if they had won the ALCS in seven games, not four.

Four-game sweeps are no good.

The Giants also will be bad for Fox Sports 1′s business if they close out the Cardinals in five games tonight.

While the games have been mostly great, this isn’t a good postseason for baseball when it comes to maximizing drama.

Baseball truly wins with series that go the distance. The biggest ratings typically come for Games 6 and 7 of the LCS and World Series and a Game 5 in the division series. The audiences really check in for the one-and-done games.

Consider this: with Kansas City and Baltimore completing sweeps in the division series, and the Royals going 4-0 against the Orioles, … Continue Reading

Bill Simmons’ brand: Is it big enough for him to be successful without ESPN?

Jonathan Mahler and Richard Sandomir write about the future of Bill Simmons at ESPN. They cite sources as saying Simmons is “furious” about being given a three-week suspension in the wake of his comments about Roger Goodell.

From the story:

If Simmons were to leave ESPN, he could move to another media conglomerate, such as Fox, or to a digital media giant like Yahoo or AOL. (He actually first made his name blogging for AOL for $50 a week.)

It seems more likely that Simmons would want to create a multiplatform business of his own. Hypothetically, anyway, it could include a production studio that makes sports films and documentaries for a distributor like HBO or Netflix; a podcast network; a website; and maybe a YouTube channel.

Simmons will have to weigh the profile, access and guaranteed salary he gets from

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Stopwatch patrol: Hey, two relatively fast LCS games

Readers of this space know all about my crusade to get baseball to pick up the pace. Usually, I am complaining about the numbing length of games, especially in the postseason.

So in the interest of fairness, I am glad to point out that something unusual happened yesterday: Two relatively fast LCS games.

Kansas City’s 2-1 victory over Baltimore came in under three hours at 2:55. Granted in 1964, a 2-1 game would have been finished in 1:55. But in the modern era, we have seen plenty of 2-1 games push the 3:30-3:40 mark.

The brisk pace was a nice change from the first two games which went 4:37 (in 10 innings) and 4:17.

Meanwhile, San Francisco’s 5-4 win over St. Louis in 10 innings checked in at 3:10. Obviously, the game would have broke the three-hour mark if it … Continue Reading

Unconventional analyst: Tom Verducci set to make World Series history in Fox booth

My latest column for the National Sports Journalism Center at Indiana is on Tom Verducci, who will play on the big stage next week.

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Howard Cosell and Tom Verducci don’t have much in common, but they will share a bit of history next week.

When Verducci works Fox’s coverage of the World Series, he will join Cosell as the only non-player or manager to sit in the TV analyst’s seat for the game’s biggest games.

The similarities pretty much ends there. Cosell wasn’t used on ABC’s coverage of four World Series because of his baseball expertise. Just the contrary, in fact, since he routinely dumped on the game.

However, when ABC landed baseball rights in the 70s, Roone Arledge told sports TV’s biggest mouth to brush up on his old Mickey Mantle stories. Cosell still was Cosell, and his … Continue Reading

NBCSports.com launches new site dedicated to long-form storytelling

This is good news for sports readers who have attention spans longer than 30 seconds.

NBC’s move follows the trend of other sites realizing there is a market for long-form journalism. Well-written stories always work regardless of the platform.

Judging by the fact that Joe Posnanski has two stories for the launch, the site will be a place for him to showcase his talents.

The details from NBC:

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NBC Sports Digital announced today that it is launching NBC SportsWorld, a new micro-site within NBCSports.com dedicated to long-form storytelling. The new site will launch on October 15 and will be populated with compelling long-form stories, essays, short films and documentaries, including select archived Olympic video. The announcement was made by Rick Cordella, SVP & GM, Digital Media, NBC Sports Group.

Named after NBC Sports’ television program in the 1980s, which featured global … Continue Reading

Olbermann: No attempt by ESPN to curtail his bashing of Roger Goodell

Richard Deitsch has a two-part interview with Keith Olbermann at SI.com. The overriding theme is that Olbermann is very happy with his situation at ESPN. That’s good to hear since happiness has been elusive for him at many points in his career.

If you’ve been watching Olbermann, you know he hardly is a fan of Roger Goodell. Nobody has gone harder in calling for the commissioner’s ouster.

Olbermann’s harsh words likely have made things a bit uncomfortable for ESPN, which has a considerable investment in the NFL. However, he says the network has supported his right to express those views.

Then again, imagine the scene if ESPN tried to curtail Olbermann on Goodell.

From the interview:

Have you heard from either the NFL or your own management about your repeated commentaries calling for Roger Goodell to be fired?

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Milbury interview on why fighting needs to be eliminated in hockey; ‘Not necessary part of game’

Mike Milbury, who participated in 70 fights as a player, generated quite a bit of attention last week on NBCSN by strongly advocating that fighting needs to be eliminated in the NHL.

NBCSN will revisit his statements during the first intermission of Wednesday’s Boston-Detroit game. Milbury and hockey insider Bob McKenzie will examine the issue.

Milbury expanded on his anti-fighting views in an interview with Tom Hoffarth of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Q: What prompted you to take a stand on anti-fighting in the NHL at this point, even as there have been writers and others in the league perhaps saying this for some time now?

A: It’s been evolving. From time to time, I’ve had the conversation with my old boss (Hockey Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins president and GM) Harry Sinden, and I think we both have agreed

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New 30 for 30: San Francisco quake stops ’89 World Series

There are certain events in which television makes it a shared experience for the entire country. The 1989 San Francisco earthquake is one of them.

What promised to be an evening of World Series baseball turned a night of watching a great city deal with an unthinkable emergency. It was one of those TV moments you’ll never forget.

The latest 30 for 30 documents it all in “The Day The Series Stopped” (tonight, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN). Watching the film will have you relive that remarkable night.

Here is the trailer.

Below is an incredible interview with a Candlestick Park worker who found himself clinging to a swinging light tower when the quake hit.

Below is a scene where the shocked players, still in uniform, aren’t sure what to do.

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