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Game 6 Ratings Dwarfed By Sunday Night Football

“Sure, the NBA game had higher stakes, but even in June, when the Finals are usually played, the numbers do not compete with primetime NFL broadcasts.”

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The Los Angeles Lakers were crowned champions of the NBA on Sunday night, but the NFL was still champion of sports television. NBC’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings had more than double the audience of what turned out to be the last game of the 2020 NBA Finals.

An audience of 11.4 million people tuned in to watch football. They were rewarded with a game that came down to a touchdown pass thrown with just 15 seconds left on the clock. By contrast, LeBron James’s fourth NBA title (the Lakers’ 17th) drew just 5.6 million viewers.

Liam McKeone of The Big Lead writes that this isn’t that big of a deal and certainly shouldn’t be a surprise. Ratings are a fun talking point for some, but in reality this isn’t a reason to panic.

“The NFL should not be used as a baseline for any ratings discussion for anything on television, much less the NBA, because it regularly posts outlandishly high numbers,” he says.

McKeone says that the reality is that the NBA has never been the NFL in terms of ratings. Football is engrained as a part of American culture on Sundays. Sure, the NBA game had higher stakes, but even in June, when the Finals are usually played, the numbers do not compete with primetime NFL broadcasts.

Adam Silver and the rest of the League Office is certainly concerned about the decline in ratings, but there are explanations. The NBA was playing during a time of year it usually does not. There is more competition not only from the sports world, but also from other types of broadcasts and streaming services. There is probably at least some people that were turned off by the league’s social justice messaging as the White House and right wing media outlets have suggested. Plus a presidential election and a worldwide pandemic is effecting viewers’ habits.

“So, in summary, yes, SNF blew a championship-clinching NBA Finals game out of the water in terms of viewership,” McKeone concludes. “The NBA is undoubtedly not pleased about that. But that does not mean the ship is sinking and the league may as well disband. It simply means the NFL is still king, and the NBA was negatively affected by COVID-19. Like literally everyone else. It’s as simple as that.”

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.

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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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