Which 8-8 team delivered highest NFL rating for CBS, NBC, Fox, ESPN?

I overdosed on the Dallas Cowboys this year. It seemed like Jerry Jones’ mediocre bunch were featured more in Chicago than the Bears.

Yet there is no denying Cowboys can generate the ratings. Even after all these years, they still are America’s Team.

Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News reports a game involving the Cowboys pulled the highest rating of the year for CBS, NBC, ESPN and Fox Sports.

Last Sunday’s Cowboys-Washington game on NBC had 30.3 million viewers, the most for a prime-time game since 1996.

Here’s the rundown of the top-ranked games for the network:

CBS -Steelers-Cowboys (Dec. 16): 26.9 million

Fox – Redskins-Cowboys (Nov. 22): 28.7 million

ESPN – Bears-Cowboys (Oct. 1): 16.6 million

NBC – Cowboys-Redskins (Dec. 30): 30.3 million

The Cowboys did not appear on NFL Network this year. Surely if they did, they would have had the top … Continue Reading

Top sports media stories in 2012: Spiraling rights fees, ratings; ESPN cleans up; Mixed opening for NBC Sports Net

From my perspective, the biggest sports media story in 2012 occurred on April 16. That’s when ShermanReport.com went live. Then again, I’m biased.

There has been plenty of other sports media news in 2012. Here’s a look:

Infinity: While talking about the outrageous rights fees for sports the other day, Ed Goren, the former top production man at Fox Sports, noted that Fox paid $400 million for its first four-year deal with the NFL in 1994.

“Remember when everyone thought that was out of sight?” Goren said. “Now it’s nothing.”

Indeed, $400 million barely would get you the NFL preseason in today’s market.

The lavish spending continued in 2012. Baseball was the biggest winner, with ESPN, Turner, Fox all re-upping with a new megadeal. As a result, Bud Selig and friends will more than double their annual haul from $750 million to $1.55 billion … Continue Reading

Lipsyte weighs in on Costas: ‘Shill becomes a journalist’

I was set to let the furor over Bob Costas’ anti-gun commentary runs it course. However, I have to make note of a Robert Lipsyte column on the subject.

Writing for Slate, the former New York Times columnist discusses their relationship and the impact of Costas’ actions on Sunday night.

First about the part of labeling Costas “a shill”:

Since 1993, Costas and I have been in an uneasy relationship of mutual regard and disagreement, each waiting for the other to fulfill unreasonable expectations. He wants me to be more open to the joy of sports. I want him to take advantage of his pulpit and be more of a journalist.

And to the point:

In our almost 20 years of dialogue, Costas has been most bothered by my use of the word shill to describe how he promotes sporting

Continue Reading

Q/A with Alex Flanagan: On Notre Dame’s big season and Brian Kelly; toughest NFL coaches for halftime interview

Alex Flanagan has been NBC’s sideline reporter for Notre Dame games since 2007. It hasn’t exactly been a joy ride. The Irish went 3-9 during her first year, and the following seasons, which saw Charlie Weis lose his job in 2009, haven’t come close to meeting the absurdly high expectations in South Bend.

So with Notre Dame 8-0 going into Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh, Flanagan is experiencing her first real dose of Irish fever.

“It’s great,” Flanagan said. “In other years, it could be tough doing that seventh or eighth home game in November. There’s a whole new feel and energy now. There’s definitely a different vibe in the building.”

I had a chance to talk with Flanagan about Notre Dame and Brian Kelly; her duties as a sideline reporter for NBC and NFL Network; her crazy schedule; and the most challenging coaches for a halftime interview.

What has been Continue Reading

NBC Sports Network will feel pain of NHL lockout starting tonight; forced to air old DeNiro flick instead of hockey

If you’re a fan of old classic sports movies, you’re going to love the NHL lockout.

Tonight, instead of airing the scheduled hockey doubleheader that would have kicked off the season, NBC Sports Network will show The Fan, starring Robert DeNiro and Wesley Snipes. Not once, but twice.

Hey, wouldn’t Slap Shot have been more appropriate for what was supposed to be the NHL’s opening night?

In upcoming weeks, expect to see The Natural, Rocky, Rudy, and whatever else NBCSN can dig up in its vault.

The NHL stoppage (Note: Illustraton by Nate Beeler of Columbus Dispatch) couldn’t come at a worse time for NBCSN. After enjoying a terrific run during the Olympics, the network has had a dearth of live programming from Monday through Friday.

That would have changed with hockey starting. NBCSN is supposed to air games on … Continue Reading

5-0 Notre Dame has NBC smiling; Herbstreit says Irish will be in BCS conversation

Is it time to starting sipping that Irish Kool-Aid? You bet if you’re a TV executive at NBC and ESPN.

A 5-0 start has ratings soaring for Notre Dame’s games on NBC. And with the Irish suddenly relevant, ESPN isn’t wasting any time.The network is hustling Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and the rest of the GameDay crew to South Bend Saturday.

Herbstreit can’t believe it has been seven years since GameDay did a show from Notre Dame.

“It’s been way, way too long since we’ve been there,” Herbstreit said.

NBC also is bulking up. For the first time, NBC Sports’ college football studio show featuring Liam McHugh, Doug Flutie and Hines Ward will go on the road and broadcast on-site from Notre Dame Stadium. Prior to the game, a special NFL Films- produced behind-the-scenes look at Notre Dame Football, … Continue Reading

My First Job: Roger Maltbie tells off producer during first Ryder Cup; Thought his NBC career was over

Roger Maltbie will be working his 11th Ryder Cup for NBC.

However, back in 1991, Maltbie feared his broadcast career was over after his first Ryder Cup.

In today’s My First Job, an on-going series on people’s first forays in the business, Maltbie discusses why he decided to leave the PGA Tour even though he still was exempt to play for several more years.

And Maltbie talks about how he told off the producer in the aftermath of Mark Calcavvechia’s meltdown at Kiawah in 1991. When the confrontation happened, he didn’t expect to be on hand for a second Ryder Cup.

*****

Roger Maltbie: Announcing came out of the blue. In 1987, NBC tried out a bunch of us at Kapalua. Koch was there. Johnny Miller. Dick Stockton. Irwin. They offered me a job, but I said, ‘No thank you. For what you’re offering me, it doesn’t make sense.’… Continue Reading

How the Ryder Cup went from nothing to coveted TV property for NBC

It’s Ryder Cup week, one of the biggest weeks in golf. The event will get wall-to-wall coverage on NBC and the Golf Channel.

It wasn’t always that way. During the 1980s, the Ryder Cup barely registered with the networks.

It might have stayed that way if NBC hadn’t lost its Saturday afternoon baseball package. But it did, and the network found itself looking for sports programming in September.

NBC took a flier on the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah. However, it generated little interest from sponsors, and the network had low expectations.

Well, it turned out to be the greatest Ryder Cup ever, captivating the entire country. Suddenly, the event became a hot TV property.

NBC Sport Jon Miller, president of sports programming for the NBC Sports Group, tells how the Ryder Cup became the Ryder Cup.

********

Jon Continue Reading

Is it possible to get too much of this NFL? Are you kidding? Finally, real games

Remember that scene in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas where the people of Whoville stand around the tree and sing that song that I now can’t get out of my head?

That’s how I feel about the start of the NFL season.

Fah who for-aze! Fah who for-aze!

Welcome NFL, Welcome football,

Come this way! Come this way!

Ah yes, our fest begins tonight and doesn’t end until Super Sunday in February. Dallas at New York Giants on NBC and away we go.

Now more than ever before, we can’t get enough of this NFL. The networks keep feeding us more and more, as if that 48-ounce steak they once served now is a mere appetitzer.

Endless pregame shows, endless during-the-week shows on various networks, and a new slate of Thursday night games. Picture Homer Simpson sucking up a dump truck worth of … Continue Reading

Q/A with Darren Rovell: On leaving CNBC for ESPN; ‘It felt bigger’

As any good business reporter knows, the element of risk is a theme in many stories.

So now the tables turn on Darren Rovell. Risk now is a part of his story in his recent jump from CNBC to ESPN.

Rovell had the sports business gig all to himself at CNBC. He also had his own sports business show on the NBC Sports Network.

Rovell, 34, landed many high-profile interviews and developed a huge following on Twitter (now in the 240,000 range). He carved out a nice niche at CNBC.

Rovell, though, decided to return to ESPN (he worked there from 2000-06). Obviously, he won’t be the only sports person at the network. While he will have more platforms for his stories, he also will face exponentially more internal competition. It will be more difficult for him to stick out at … Continue Reading