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Busy Sports Day Boosts TV Ratings For Multiple Networks

“One of the NBA’s key TV partners, TNT, emerged victorious among all key adult demos in prime time on all of TV thanks to the NBA Playoffs.”

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Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

May 27 was a busy day in sports. It was also the first day of the summer TV season for 2021. One of the NBA’s key TV partners, TNT, emerged victorious among all key adult demos (especially with males) in prime time on all of TV thanks to the NBA Playoffs. On this night (May 27), TNT earned top honors, punctuated by the third game of the Western Conference first round series between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers (the Lakers went up two games to one). Despite the 10:10 p.m. Eastern start time, the telecast posted 3.724 million viewers, up 12 percent from the comparable late Thursday night playoff game on TNT from two years ago (Warriors-Clippers Game 3 from 4/18/2019: 3.322 million).

Prior to Suns-Lakers, Game 3 of the Milwaukee Bucks-Miami Heat series kicked off the night for TNT with 2.49 million viewers, down 15 percent from 2019 (76ers-Nets Game 3 from 4/18/2019: 2.928 million).

Over on NBA TV, Denver Nuggets-Portland Trail Blazers Game 3 averaged 302,000 viewers, down 9 percent from the NBA TV game that also featured the Nuggets — they played the San Antonio Spurs in their Game 3 on Apr. 18, 2019 (332,000).

Closing the night, TNT’s popular late-night recap show “Inside The NBA” was down a slim 6 percent from Apr. 18, 2019 (1.325 million vs. 1.417 million).

NBCSN’s NHL Stanley Cup first-round playoff doubleheader featured Montreal Canadiens-Toronto Maple Leafs Game 5 (544,000 viewers), followed by Game 6 of Carolina Hurricanes-Nashville Predators (621,000 viewers), down 34 percent (from Capitals-Hurricanes Game 4: 824,000) and down 5 percent (from Golden Knights-Sharks Game 5: 655,000), respectively, from Apr. 18, 2019. Of course, the stark declines of the early evening affair was  due to the all-Canadian matchup.

A couple of Game Ones of the super regionals round of the 2021 College Softball World Series aired on ESPN: Florida State-LSU(566,000 viewers; -14% from Oklahoma State-Florida State 5/23/19) began the night and Virginia Tech-UCLA (490,000 viewers; -26% from Texas Alabama 5/23/19) was the nightcap.

First round of the Charles Schwab Challenge on Golf Channel delivered 422,000 viewers, which represented an impressive 61 percent from the same time two years ago (262,000 on 5/23/19). Contributing to this boost were the Day One leaders — two of the sport’s most prominent golfers: Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia.

Out-of-market MLB coverage on MLB Network in prime time drew 283,000 viewers (+24%, from White Sox-Astros or Rays-Indians on 5/23/19). The second game of the Toronto Blue Jays-New York Yankees doubleheader was shown to most of the nation while the New York market got Cincinnati Reds at Washington Nationals. Earlier in the afternoon, the first Blue Jays-Yankees game (in New York: Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays) posted 167,000 viewers (-12%, from Braves-Giants or Phillies-Cubs on 5/23/19).

Sports TV News

ESPN Decides Not To Send Reporters To Beijing For 2022 Winter Olympics

ESPN originally planned to send four reporters to Beijing to provide coverage.

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One day after NBC announced that none of its 2022 Winter Olympics broadcast teams will work on-site from Beijing and instead work remotely, ESPN has made a similar decision.

On Thursday, the network announced that it won’t send any news personnel to China to cover the Winter Games. According to its official release on the matter, ESPN originally planned to send four reporters to Beijing to provide coverage. But those four will now work remotely with the numerous television and digital personnel assigned to the Olympics.

ESPN.com already has a section dedicated to its Olympics coverage and plans will continue to provide the site with feature content along with scoreboards, medal counts, and additional information and statistics that will be updated in real-time. That Olympics content will also be available on the ESPN app.

Though video restrictions for Olympics highlights will be in place, SportsCenter will also report on results from Beijing and run reports and features on the Beijing games. (NBC holds exclusive rights in the U.S. for Olympics video footage.)

“The safety of our employees is of utmost importance to us,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive VP, event and studio production, in the network’s announcement. “With the pandemic continuing to be a global threat, and with the COVID-related on-site restrictions in place for the Olympics that would make coverage very challenging, we felt that keeping our people home was the best decision for us.”

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics begin with the opening ceremony Friday, Feb. 4.

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Sports TV News

2022 Baseball Hall of Fame Election Results Exclusively Revealed On MLB Network Jan. 25

Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny, and Lauren Shehadi will host MLB Network’s extensive Hall of Fame election coverage.

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This Tuesday, Jan. 25, the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame election results will be announced exclusively on MLB Network at 6:00 p.m. ET in a four-hour announcement show.

Beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET, National Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch will reveal the results live from the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery in Cooperstown, as voted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). MLB Network’s Hall of Fame program on Tuesday will be simulcast on MLB.com and in the MLB app on connected devices.

Greg Amsinger, Brian Kennyand Lauren Shehadi will host MLB Network’s extensive Hall of Fame election coverage. This will include analysis from 2018 Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Costas, MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds, and MLB Network insiders and Hall of Fame voters Jon Morosi, Joel Sherman and Tom Verducci.

During the program, there will be clips from a players-only roundtable discussion on the 2022 BBWAA ballot hosted by Reynolds and featuring MLB Network analyst Yonder Alonso, three-time Gold Glove Award winner Mike Cameron and 2007 Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy.

More of baseball’s elite will also join the programming, including Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona, 2022 BBWAA Career Excellence Award winner Tim Kurkjian, three-time Manager of the Year Award winner Jim Leyland, and longtime baseball journalist and Hall of Fame voter Rob Parker. MLB Network will cover the ballot results across its studio programming, including Hot Stove (9:00 a.m. ET), High Heat (1:00 p.m. ET) and MLB Now (2:00 p.m. ET).   

According to MLB Network’s official release, the live pre-announcement show will also feature the following content:

  • A Tom Verducci essay on 2022 being the final year on the ballot for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
  • A feature by customized piece by hip-hop legend and baseball diehard Chuck D on which questions fans and voters face as this year’s announcement approaches.
  • Brian Kenny looks at each of the eight first-year candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot.
  • Short videos on the atmosphere surrounding Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, the Plaque Gallery, and candidates anticipating getting “the call.”

Prior to the Tuesday announcement, Brian Kenny will host MLB Now live from the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday, Jan. 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET. And following the election results on Wednesday, Jan. 26, MLB Network will cover the announcement across its daily studio programming.

MLB Network will also exclusively air the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Sunday, July 24.

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Sports TV News

ESPN, FS1 Morning Studio Shows Drew Big Ratings Monday After Cowboys’ Playoff Loss

Dallas losing a playoff game in embarrassing fashion compelled plenty of viewers to tune in for sports debate shows.

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Monday morning following the Dallas Cowboys’ 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in their NFL Wild Card playoff game was very good for sports daytime TV. Both ESPN and FS1 boasted big, record-setting ratings for their studio debate shows, with viewers obviously wanting to know what on-air personalities and analysts thought of the Cowboys’ bumbling last-second failure.

On ESPN, Get Up drew 658,045 viewers, a six percent increase from the show’s previous season-high, set a week earlier. First Take attracted 918,386 viewers, the largest audience for that program. That total seven percent higher than the show’s prior best number, set on Dec. 28, 2019.

Fans clearly wanted to see Stephen A. Smith take delight in the Cowboys’ demise, also perhaps knowing that Hall of Fame Dallas receiver Michael Irvin was sitting across the desk from him Monday.

As mentioned, FS1 benefited from the Cowboys losing as well. Skip and Shannon: Undisputed brought in 442,000 viewers, the highest audience that show has ever attracted. Fans surely tuned in to see the reaction from Cowboys fan Skip Bayless and the taunts he’d receive from Shannon Sharpe.

The Herd with Colin Cowherd also earned its best ratings on FS1, drawing 290,000 viewers for Monday’s show. The network would also like you to know that the audience for both programs has gotten a boost year-over-year, with Undisputed enjoying an 89 percent increase and The Herd up 20 percent.

The Cowboys have always been a big ratings draw for the NFL’s television partners. Apparently, Dallas losing a playoff game in embarrassing fashion provides a significant benefit for the shows responding to the weekend’s major sporting events.

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