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Tiger Woods Provides Ratings Boost for PGA

Brandon Contes

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No, Tiger Woods is not back, but the intrigue and excitement he generates certainly is. In recent years, a golf tournament that sees Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy miss the cut could pose a concern for the network’s weekend ratings, but with Tiger in the fold, NBC’s coverage of the Valspar set records.

The 3.26 overnight rating for Saturday’s third round of the Valspar Championship on NBC Sports was the highest-rated non-Masters round 3 since 2006 and an incredible 181% jump from last year’s Valspar Saturday coverage.

Sunday’s final round, which saw Tiger finish second to Paul Casey earned a 5.11 overnight rating, golf’s highest non-major broadcast on any network in nearly five years, trailing only Tiger’s 2013 Players Championship victory which garnered a 5.7 rating. The 5.11 overnight rating was a 190% increase from last year’s final round of the Valspar.

NBC also earned a higher rating Sunday than any golf event, aside from the Masters, since the 2015 PGA Championship which did a 5.14. To compare, the final round rating of the 2017 Masters was a 7.6, U.S. Open 3.6, The Open 3.2 and PGA Championship 3.6, Sunday’s Valspar 5.11.

Additionally, the Valspar was the most streamed PGA Tour event ever for NBC with 15.4 million minutes streamed for the final round alone, 27.2 million minutes for the full event across NBC and Golf channel digital platforms.

Tiger Woods will never return to the consistent dominance he once held on the golf course, but he’s proven to still dominate in terms of receiving attention. Last year, PGA TV ratings began to garner some concern, but interest in golf will be just fine so long as Tiger’s back holds up. With The Masters around the corner, CBS has to be ecstatic to have a healthy Tiger Woods for the first time in three years.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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