LATEST NEWS

Chicago ratings: Cubs fans jumping back on bandwagon; Why NBC pulling for Blackhawks

An excerpt from my latest Chicago Tribune column:

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Cubs: If they win, they will watch. It didn’t take long, as the ratings already show Cubs fans are jumping back on the bandwagon.

CSN did a 4.22 rating for Cincinnati’s 3-2 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night; 1 local ratings point is worth approximately 35,000 homes. The game ranked first in primetime in Chicago in every male demographic and with everyone age 18-49.

On Monday, the Cubs’ 7-6 win over Cincinnati still pulled a 3.94 rating despite airing on CSN Plus. The game peaked with an 8 rating in the late innings.

All told, the three Cubs games on CSN averaged a 3.6 rating, more than double last year’s season average of 1.5.

And it’s just a start for the Cubs and CSN. The ratings will soar much higher with … Continue Reading

Good or bad, focus always on Tiger for golf reporters

An excerpt of my latest column for Poynter.org.

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At one time, Robert Lusetich didn’t cover golf for FoxSports.com. He covered Tiger Woods.

Lusetich was assigned to all of his tournaments in 2009. Part of it was due to a book he was writing on Woods, but it also was the result of the insatiable appetite for all things Tiger. After winning his 14th major at the U.S. Open in 2008, the countdown was on for Woods’ inevitable march to Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major victories.

So if Woods was teeing it up in competition in 2009, Lusetich was there to write about it.

“Tiger moves the needle, not just in golf, but in the world of sports,” said Lusetich of the unique assignment.

The all-Tiger-all-the-time coverage hardly has dulled through the years. The nature of the beat, though, has changed … Continue Reading

MORE LATEST NEWS

Why is Britt McHenry story news?

Seriously, I’m interested in knowing why social media is exploding over a person most people barely know about before yesterday?

Why does a bad moment in someone’s personal life suddenly become news?

Did McHenry’s behavior merit a suspension from ESPN?

What does the entire saga say about our priorities in news coverage?

Please stay tuned for more on this issue.

 

 … Continue Reading

Chicago ratings: Cubs fans jumping back on bandwagon; Why NBC pulling for Blackhawks

An excerpt from my latest Chicago Tribune column:

*******

Cubs: If they win, they will watch. It didn’t take long, as the ratings already show Cubs fans are jumping back on the bandwagon.

CSN did a 4.22 rating for Cincinnati’s 3-2 victory over the Cubs Tuesday night; 1 local ratings point is worth approximately 35,000 homes. The game ranked first in primetime in Chicago in every male demographic and with everyone age 18-49.

On Monday, the Cubs’ 7-6 win over Cincinnati still pulled a 3.94 rating despite airing on CSN Plus. The game peaked with an 8 rating in the late innings.

All told, the three Cubs games on CSN averaged a 3.6 rating, more than double last year’s season average of 1.5.

And it’s just a start for the Cubs and CSN. The ratings will soar much higher with … Continue Reading

Tragic tale of best-selling sports author: Long jail term looms for repeated DUI offenses

There’s a good chance you have read one of Jim Dent’s books. You might have seen ESPN’s film adaptation of “The Junction Boys,” the story of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s insane preseason drills while at Texas A&M.

Well, unfortunately, here’s the rest of the story via Barry Horn and Valerie Wigglesworth of the Dallas Morning News.

And so Dent, 62, is being held in Collin County jail without bail on the DWI charges. He faces additional felony charges of bail jumping and failure to appear in court. Those charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison if he is convicted.

Dent is again scheduled to go before a district judge Thursday for sentencing on the DWI charges. When that’s over, he could be sent to Williamson County for sentencing on a similar charge.

“I realize now I have

Continue Reading

Was it the Spieth factor? Masters ratings up 26 percent on Sunday

An estimated 14 million viewers tuned in to CBS to watch Jordan Spieth clinch the Masters title Sunday. The 8.7 national rating was up 26 percent over last year when Bubba Watson outlasted Spieth on the final day.

There probably was a Tiger Woods bump over the weekend; he didn’t play in 2013. His big round on Saturday helped CBS pull a 5.8 rating, up 45 percent from last year.

Woods, though, mostly was a non-factor Sunday, as the focus mainly was on Spieth and runner-ups Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. The rating also would have been higher with a bit more drama. Spieth held a four-shot lead for most of the back 9.

Clearly, viewers tuned to watch Spieth. The emergence of a new young champion bodes well for golf at a time when Woods is slipping and Mickelson … Continue Reading

DVR alert: Ben Crenshaw’s love affair with the Masters in Golf Channel documentary

During its coverage of the Masters last week, the Golf Channel ran excerpts of its new documentary, “Ben Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta.” The entire film airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET, as Jimmy Roberts and the Golf Channel weave in footage of Crenshaw’s last Masters into the film. Should be outstanding.

The rundown from the Golf Channel:

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Capping an emotional week marked by his last competitive round at the Masters Tournament, Golf Channel Films will premiere Ben Crenshaw: A Walk Through Augusta, a hour-long retrospective on the life and career of Ben Crenshaw and his special relationship with the Masters, premiering Monday, April 13 at 10 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

“It’s almost as if he has green blood in him, not red.” – wife Julie Crenshaw

Via special access to Crenshaw as he prepares for and plays his last Masters, … Continue Reading

Lou Holtz is finished at ESPN

ESPN posted a statement on its website saying Lou Holtz won’t return as a college football analyst in 2015:

“Lou brought a champion’s perspective and a legacy of accomplishment to our coverage along with his distinctive style and humor. We appreciate his contributions and wish him all the best in the future.”

Holtz’s agent, Sandy Montag, told Richard Deitsch at SI.com: “Lou enjoyed his time and friendships made at ESPN and looks forward to other opportunities in college football.”

Holtz, 78, had been at the network since 2004. Last May, he said he planned to retire after the 2014 season.

“I’d like to leave when people say, ‘Why are you leaving?’ not ‘When are you leaving?’” Holtz told Blue and Gold Illustrated. “This is my fifth last year. They usually talk me into it. ESPN is a great organization … Continue Reading

Nantz: More focus should be on No. 1, McIlroy, instead of No. 111, Woods

An excerpt from my Tribune column:

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CBS booked Jim Nantz for an hour of radio interviews the day before the opening round of the PGA Championship last August. While he expected the perfunctoryTiger Woods questions, Nantz thought he also would be asked about Rory McIlroy, who was on fire after winning previous two starts including the British Open.

“Guess how many questions I got asked about Rory in that hour?” said the veteran CBS lead golf announcer. “Zero. His name never came up. It was all about Tiger. As a journalist, how do you justify that?”

Nantz says the example shows that many members of the media, not to mention golf fans, are missing the point. As he covers his 30th Masters, he thinks it’s time for everyone to pay more attention to the No. … Continue Reading

Book review: The good, bad and ugly of Billy Martin, baseball’s ‘flawed genius’

An excerpt from my Chicago Tribune review of Bill Pennington’s fine book. Highly recommended.

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In the epilogue, Pennington writes that a case could be made that Billy Martin merits consideration for the Baseball Hall of Fame for his brilliant work as a manager. Yet as the book’s title points out, Martin was a “flawed genius” with many demons that probably kept him from reaching Cooperstown. However, if there was a Hall of Fame for baseball’s most colorful and compelling characters, Martin would be a first-ballot selection.

Martin’s career cut a huge swath through baseball history. He was the scrappy second baseman on the great Yankees dynasty in the 1950s. He learned the game from famed manager Casey Stengel, and his late-night antics with future Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford were the stuff of legend. Pennington writes, … Continue Reading