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Sager Plans Opening Night Return

Jason Barrett

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The best news of Monday’s NBA Media Day frenzy dealt not with the players on the court, but with one of the basketball-watching world’s favorite chroniclers of their actions.

The great Craig Sager, whose sartorial splendor and sideline-reporting savvy have made him a linchpin of Turner Sports’ coverage for many years, turned up in Texas at the Houston Rockets‘ Media Day session on Monday, garnering as much attention as several of the stars Daryl Morey’s assembled:

The presence of the 64-year-old Sager, a broadcasting veteran best known for his garish suits who’s been a television mainstay since the early 1970s, was particularly heartening given his absence for much of the past year and a half.

He was forced to step away from TNT’s NBA coverage in April 2014 after beginning treatment for acute leukemia, and remained sidelined for the next 10 months. After a surprise appearance during 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend in February, Sager’s son, Craig Jr., announced that his father had been cleared by his doctors to return to work the following month, marking the end of a long and emotional journey back to the sideline … or so we’d hoped.

Just three weeks after his return during the March 5 contest between the Chicago Bulls andOklahoma City Thunder, Craig Jr. reported that his father’s leukemia had returned, and that he’d once again be forced to step away from his television work to resume treatment. Sager’s TNT compatriots dug deep in their closets and donned their most colorful threads to pay homage to their colleague during the playoffs, but it just wasn’t the same as having the man himself out there on the court.

And now, after undergoing a successful bone marrow transplant back in July and additional treatment at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Sager’s says he’s on track to return to work for the 2015-16 NBA season:

That lines up with the timeline Sager laid out during an interview with Houston’s KPRC-TV last month:

“I said, ‘The NBA season starts Oct. 27, what are my chances?’ He goes, ‘Oh they’re good!’” Sager recounts asking his doctor. “I said one more, ‘What about the Olympics next summer in Rio?’ He said, ‘No brainer! I said yes! Yes!’”

After all the hard work Sager’s put into his recovery and working his way back to health, just getting to get face-to-face with players and colleagues again on Monday must have felt amazing. Here’s hoping that the next month brings no unwelcome surprises, and that we’ll get to see Sages — suited and booted to the fullest — making an even more triumphant return to the small screen, chatting us up like he never left our living rooms.

Credit to Yahoo Sports who originally published this article

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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NFL

The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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