NBC, NHL need Blackhawks to stay strong for long time; Chicago accounts for nearly 25 % of national rating for Soldier Field game

I have said it before and I will say it again. The rise of the Chicago Blackhawks is the best thing to happen to the NHL in years.

The Blackhawks and Chicago delivered again Saturday for NBC and the NHL.

Saturday’s Blackhawks-Pittsburgh outdoor game at Soldier Field in primetime did a 2.1 overnight rating for NBC; complete national numbers will be available today. It was NBC’s highest rating ever for a regular-season, non Winter Classic game.

Here’s why: Chicago did a whopping 14.9 local rating. That means the nation’s third largest market saw an estimated 525,000 homes tuned into the game, or nearly 25 percent of the total viewership for the entire country.

Pittsburgh also did its part with a 13.3 rating. That translates to an estimated 156,000 homes for the nation’s 23rd ranked Nielsen market.

Clearly, though, Chicago, by … Continue Reading

NBC documentary: Kerrigan opens up about attack; Carillo says hard to believe Harding didn’t know

In January, ESPN did a 30 for 30, The Price of Gold, on the infamous Tonya-Nancy affair from 1994. However, there was one thing missing. No Nancy Kerrigan interview.

Kerrigan, who is working for NBC during the Olympics, naturally gave Mary Carillo and  the network a sitdown for its documentary. The one-hour film airs Sunday at 7 p.m. ET just prior to the closing ceremonies.

Kerrigan did meet with the media following a screening of the film Friday in Sochi. Richard Deitsch of SI.com reports:

Kerrigan said that Carillo and Grossi had attempted to get a sit-down interview with her for years and she finally agreed last year. The NBC staffers started working on the project last summer and the pair did two long sit-downs with Kerrigan.

“I trusted them enough to portray my family and the history of

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Costas: Have to sit out because eye problems are preventing me from doing job; Lauer to fill in

Update: NBC just released some quotes from Bob Costas on why he will have to miss tonight’s show with the worst eye infection in Olympic history.

Costas:

“It was becoming increasingly noticeable and uncomfortable, but if it was just that, I would have continued. We in broadcasting are lucky to have the jobs we do, and at one time or another, we’ve all gone on the air feeling less than our best.

“The difference is that last night and into this morning, it got to the point where, as a practical matter, I simply couldn’t do my job because my eyes had become so blurry, watery and sensitive to light.

“If it was just discomfort, I’d be there. I’m receiving excellent treatment…it’s a viral infection, and all you can do is try to manage the symptoms while the virus runs … Continue Reading

Negative vibe: Will American TV viewers warm up to troubled Olympics in Sochi?

NBC has been covering the Olympics since 1988, but it never has faced a challenge like this one.

It’s hard to remember an Olympics with a more negative vibe: Terrorist threats; Russia’s horrid civil rights policies; an uninspiring locale for a Winter Games; disgust for Vladamir Putin, who spent $51 billion to build up Sochi while so many people in his country can’t put food on the table; and really, really bad hotel rooms, to name a few.

Reporters who couldn’t drink the terrible water over there weren’t the only ones who had bad tastes in their mouths about the prospect of these Games. I do, too, along with many other Americans.

Yet NBC has two things going for it: The brutal weather in most of the country will keep most everyone indoors and in front of their televisions; and … Continue Reading

Flexing: Bears-Packers could be moved to primetime for week 17

NBC should thank Detroit. The Lions’ loss to Baltimore opens the door for Chicago-Green Bay to moved to prime time for NBC on the last Sunday of the season.

The flex rules for week 17 give the NFL (not NBC!) until Monday to make a decision. NBC, though, definitely will have input. The idea is to ensure Al Michaels and Co. have a meaningful game for the grand finale.

What could be better than a winner-take-all Bears-Packers game for the NFC North title in frigid Soldier Field? Throw in the likely return of Aaron Rodgers, the league’s oldest rivalry, and you’ve got plenty of storylines to satisfy Bob Costas.

Detroit’s loss dropped the Lions to 7-7, behind the Bears (8-6) and Packers (7-6-1). If the Bears beat Philadelphia; Green Bay defeats Pittsburgh; or the Giants beat Detroit on Sunday, the … Continue Reading

Rebecca Lowe will be this year’s Michelle Beadle during Olympics; will host on NBC SN

Hopefully, it will work out better for Rebecca Lowe post-Olympics than it did for Michelle Beadle.

Back in 2012, NBC’s new hire, Beadle, served as the host of the network’s big media session hyping the Games in London. Then she was host for the Olympics coverage on NBC SN.

Since then, it’s been all downhill for Beadle at NBC. When asked if she would have role in Sochi, a network spokesman said, “We are still finalizing our talent group for Sochi, which we expect to have completed by early January.”

Don’t hold your breath that Beadle will be in Russia.

Lowe, though, will. She will serve as the network’s lone female host during the Winter Games, handling the duties on NBC SN.

Lowe, who has received stellar reviews for her anchor duties of the Premier League, merited the high-profile assignment. … Continue Reading

Pucks and turkey: NHL hopes to create new tradition with national holiday weekend game

I imagine Thanksgiving was very festive for NHL executives and owners.

On Tuesday, the league shocked our neighbors up North by signing a 12-year, $5.2 billion deal with Rogers Sportsnet for the NHL’s TV rights in Canada. Here’s the link to Steve Lepore’s interview with NHL COO John Collins in Awful Announcing about the new package.

Also, Fang’s Bites did a podcast analyzing  the deal with Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports, Howard Bloom of Sports Business News and Lepore.

Earlier this week, NBC SN reported favorable rating news for the young season:

NBCSN has averaged 595,000 viewers over its first nine exclusive NHL telecasts (mostly Wednesday Night Rivalry), up 31% compared to the exclusive game average to this point in the 2011-12 season (455,000). No November games last year because of the strike.

Also, our Nov. 13 PHI-PIT Wednesday

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Flashback: NBC actually missed infamous Leon Lett blunder on Thanksgiving Day

Remember the game that made Leon Lett part of the NFL’s Thanksgiving lore? There’s another element that you likely don’t remember.

After Dallas blocked the field goal attempt, the cameras cut to the jubilant Cowboys celebrating on the sidelines. The quality isn’t good, but as you can see, NBC didn’t show  Lett’s infamous gaffe live.

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Flex to rescue again: NBC wins with Carolina-New Orleans moved to Sunday night on Dec. 8

Ah yes, it is good to be NBC.

On Dec. 8, the schedule called for the network to air Atlanta at Green Bay. What looked to be an attractive game before the season now is largely forgettable thanks to the Falcons’ disaster at 2-9.

However, don’t despair NBC, it’s flex scheduling to the rescue. Last night while NBC was pulling in what is sure to be a huge rating for Denver-New England, the NFL announced it will move Carolina-New Orleans to Sunday night on Dec. 8. Atlanta-Green Bay gets thrown back to Fox.

How great is this for NBC? The game in the Superdome should be a battle for first place in the NFC South with Drew Brees facing Cam Newton and the upstart Panthers.

Fox and CBS are allowed to protect a certain number of games, but Carolina-New Orleans … Continue Reading

NBC, football fans: Thank CBS for gift of Denver-Kansas City in primetime Sunday

If not for a gracious move by CBS, most of the country wouldn’t have seen Denver-Kansas City Sunday.

Under the flex scheduling provisions, both CBS and Fox can protect five games from their inventory. The set-up prevents the NFL from moving those attractive games to Sunday night for NBC.

Note: Technically, it is the NFL, not NBC, that elects to flex games, although you can be sure the Peacocks make their feelings known.

CBS reportedly protected both of the Denver-Kansas City games, including Sunday’s contest in Denver. However, the network doesn’t have the doubleheader window this week. Fox does with San Francisco-New Orleans.

As a result, if CBS kept this week’s big game, which was scheduled for the late window, it would have aired in a limited number of markets beyond Denver and Kansas City. Most of the country wouldn’t … Continue Reading