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NBA Finals Game One Ratings Drop Off From 2019, Up From 2020

Big markets around the country saw ratings drop off 50-plus percent.

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Courtesy: ESPN

Ratings are out for Game One of the 2021 NBA Finals. According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, a total of 8.56 million people watched Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns.

That is a 35% drop from the same game two years ago when the Golden State Warriors battled the Toronto Raptors without their star forward Kevin Durant. July is historically a bad month for TV ratings, but this is a halt to positive vibes the league was producing over the opening rounds of the playoffs.

When comparing to last year’s Finals held in September/October, Game One ratings were up 15%. The broadcast peaked with 10 million viewers as the game entered crunchtime around 11:15 p.m. ET.

ESPN also pinpointed stellar ratings in the hometown team’s markets which shouldn’t come as a surprise for a Bucks team that hasn’t reached the Finals since 1971 and a Suns team that hasn’t been there since 1993. The broadcast drew a 23.9 rating in the Milwaukee market, the best since 2001, and a 23.7 rating in the Phoenix market, the best since 2000.

Ourand also dove deeper into the numbers and found massive dropoffs in some of the country’s largest markets like New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia.

Philly and New York ratings were down 56% from the same game in 2019. All while Chicago saw a 51% drop off and D.C. had half of their audience lost from 2019. Among TV markets, Phoenix ranks 11th and Milwaukee ranks 37th. Not exactly the most ideal locales for trying to gauge broad national interest. 

Another minor factor in the lower ratings was the Tampa, Florida ABC affiliate didn’t air the game, instead following news coverage of Tropical Storm Elsa. One game doesn’t make a whole series so we’ll have to see if the Bucks can respond from their Game One loss and extend the NBA’s TV window a little farther in this series.

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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