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WNBA Season Opens With Biggest Ratings Since 2012

The league has experimented with different ideas over the past few years to raise popularity.



Courtesy: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

The WNBA is one of the few sports to see its television ratings increase during the pandemic. That trend carried through the playoffs and seemingly into this season as the league posted historic opening weekend ratings. The league’s doubleheader on ABC produced the second and third most-watched regular-season games on record.

Saturday’s Sky-Mystics WNBA regular-season game averaged 611,000 viewers and a 0.39 rating on ABC, tallying the WNBA’s largest regular-season television audience in nine years — since Lynx-Mercury on the opening weekend of the 2012 season, also on ABC (804K). Before this weekend, the high was 599,000 for a Wings-Mercury ABC game last summer.

The Chicago Sky is shaping up to be a big draw this season. They tout one of the game’s best players in hometown hero Candace Parker and they call one of the country’s biggest media markets home. Parker’s victorious 70-56 Sky-debut on Saturday is the most-watched WNBA game of any kind since the 2018 All-Star Game (709K) and rolled over every WNBA Finals game since Game 5 of the 2017 series (902K). Last year’s top Finals game, Seattle’s series clincher in game three against Las Vegas, averaged 570,000 viewers on ESPN.

Saturday’s package of games was the first time ABC had ever broadcasted a doubleheader on its network after carrying the league’s games since 2003.

The finale pitted last year’s finalists against each other in a battle between the Aces and the Storm as Las Vegas got revenge 96-80. The contest averaged a 0.39 rating and 598,000 on ABC — the league’s third-largest regular-season audience since 2012. The average of 605,000 for Saturday’s doubleheader surpassed last year’s opening weekend games by 25%.

The league has experimented with different playing formats over the past few years to boost its popularity. The innovations have included a revamped playoff format and The Commissioner’s Cup. This is an in-season competition that designates a portion of regular-season games in the first half of the season — 10 per team, 60 total — to count toward Cup standings. The Cup prize money totals $500,000.

Sports TV News

AEW Dynamite Moving To TBS

“Wrestling hasn’t been seen on TBS since the network cancelled WCW Thunder in March of 2001.”



Hockey is coming to TNT. That means wrestling is moving to TBS. The network will be the new home of AEW: Dynamite starting in January.

AEW’s original TV show airs on Wednesdays. That will be the spotlight day of the TNT NHL package. The network will present hockey doubleheaders every Wednesday, leaving no room for wrestling.

TNT won’t be completely out of the AEW business. In a press release, WarnerMedia announced that Friday will still see AEW: Rampage airing on the network. The press release pointed out that Rampage has gotten off to a very hot start for TNT.

“Since its August 13 debut, AEW: Rampage has ranked as one of the top cable programs on Friday night. The second week of the show featuring the debut of CM Punk delivered the strongest ratings for the AEW franchise since the premiere of AEW: Dynamite.”

Wrestling hasn’t been seen on TBS since the network cancelled WCW Thunder in March of 2001. That changes on January 5.

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Sports TV News

Louis Riddick Explains How MNF Production Meetings Work

“Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.”



Courtesy: ESPN Images

The Monday Night Football campaign is in full swing, and The Athletic’s Robert Mays had MNF analyst Louis Riddick on The Athletic Football Show to discuss his weekly routine for putting on a top-notch broadcast.

Riddick dove into the process each week and discussed which coach has impressed him the most during his time in the booth. Tuesdays are a rest and recovery day after traveling home — then the process starts on Wednesday.

“We kinda have a, from a booth perspective, between Steve Levy, Brian Griese, myself, and then Phil Dean the producer and Jimmy Platt, the director. Us five get together and just discuss the previous week’s game and whatever we want to bring up that is positive or negative,” Riddick described to Mays on the show.

The brain trust discusses play breakdowns, production, and situations that popped up during the game. Next up is choosing the important voices for the next game that they want to speak to.

“We give Phil the list of coaches and players that we think are important to talk to,” Riddick said. “He sends that into that team’s PR department, and then usually they say yay or no. Most teams are very, very good with giving us the players that we want because it’s better for them. They know the more we highlight them, the better it is for them.”

Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.

“I would say our meeting with [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle Shanahan,” Riddick answered. “Before we did the Bills game down in Arizona because they had to move from Santa Clara because of what was happening was some of the best football conversations I’ve ever had in my life, quite honestly. From team building, coach-player relationships, X’s and O’s, the opponent, what he learned from his father, what he feels specifically that running backs need to have and why… It was fricken incredible, incredible.”

Riddick can be seen on Monday Night Football breaking down all the action throughout the 2021 NFL season. Listen to the full episode here.

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Sports TV News

Women in Sports Media Celebrate Kate Scott Joining 76ers

“The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from the women throughout sports media this week.”



Courtesy: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Kate Scott is breaking new ground, and the sports broadcasting community took notice.

Scott joined Lisa Byington as the only full-time female voices of NBA franchises when the Philadelphia 76ers announced her addition this week. She replaces longtime TV play-by-play voice Marc Zumoff.

“Being the voice of the 76ers is a dream come true,” Scott said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “As a kid playing hoops alone in my driveway, I actually used to imagine I was Allen Iverson; the clock would wind down in my head, people would scream, ‘You’re too small! You don’t belong!’ But I’d fade away, hit the shot, and the crowd in my mind would go wild.

“To now get the opportunity to be the voice of that team is incredible, and I look forward to earning the respect and trust of the phenomenal city of Philadelphia, and 76ers fans everywhere, one call and one game at a time.”

Scott seemingly busts down barriers every year. She recently became the first woman to call Olympic men’s basketball as part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Tokyo 2020, where she covered both men’s and women’s games.

“Kate’s energy, passion, and tremendous knowledge of the game of basketball made her the ideal candidate to usher in a new era of 76ers basketball on NBC Sports Philadelphia,” Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations Chris Heck said. “We’re thrilled that she’ll call our city home and look forward to the lasting connections and memories she’ll make with the best fans in sports. Kate and Alaa [Abdelnaby] are a dynamic broadcast pairing that 76ers fans will enjoy watching on the call this season and beyond.”

The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from women throughout sports media this week.

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