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Monday Night Football Audience Continues Year Over Year Growth

“One factor that ESPN didn’t have last year that is helping them in 2021 is the Manningcast.”

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Courtesy: ESPN

The national NFL audience can’t get enough of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Year-over-year numbers went up again this week for the network’s premier football property.

The battle between Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers was the network’s second-most-watched Week 10 game since 2012, with 12.3 million viewers across all platforms.

Week 10 represented the eighth consecutive week of year-over-year growth (3% increase from 2020 Week 10). The property’s ratings as a whole are up 15% from 2020 and 7% from 2019. 

NFL fans are coming back to support the league in force after a multitude of factors kept them away from their TVs in 2020. The pandemic played a role, as did the limited number of fans attending each game. No one has been able to succinctly nail down why numbers were so down across all sports in 2020. 

One factor that ESPN didn’t have last year that is helping them in 2021 is the Manningcast. Peyton and Eli are a roaring success with their version of Monday Night Football airing on ESPN2.

Ratings were down a bit for the Monday night Manning telecast this week, but they seem to be leveling out at a record-breaking median for ESPN. The brothers notched 1.554 million viewers in their first game where they didn’t interview any active NFL players. The Manningcast has delivered the five most-watched alternate telecasts in ESPN history since the network debuted them in 2014.

Peyton and Eli caught wind of the Manningcast curse and tried to throw it off-kilter, at least for one week. Every active NFL player to appear on the Manningcast has lost their following game.

“If somebody at ESPN said well the Madden curse, players kept doing it no matter what,” Peyton described on The Steam Room podcast. I said that’s because they were getting paid. If you get paid, you don’t care about a curse. Last time I checked, we are not paying anyone to come on the show. Obviously, I hope it is not true. Right now, it is what it is.”

We’ll find out if NFL players are returning to the show when Omaha Productions unveils the next guest list.

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Draymond Green Signs With Turner Sports

“Most of Green’s work on Inside the NBA will be done remotely, but he will appear in studio when he can.”

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Draymond Green isn’t done playing in the NBA, but he is already making moves in the broadcast world. He already has a podcast with The Volume. On Thursday, he officially joined Turner Sports.

Turner characterizes the deal as “first-of-its-kind.” Indeed, Draymond Green will become the first active NBA player contributing to Turner’s coverage of the league. He will make appearances across a number of the company’s NBA properties, including Inside the NBA.

Most of Green’s work on Inside the NBA will be done remotely, but he will appear in studio when he can.

While this is Green’s first contract with Turner, he is no stranger to the company. He has made appearances on a number of special TNT broadcasts over the last two years.

“I’ve had an amazing experience working with Turner Sports in recent years and I’m a big believer in the way they entertain and genuinely connect with fans on all levels,” Draymond Green said in a press release at NBA.com. “Today’s announcement helps to formalize our relationship and I couldn’t be prouder to officially be a part of the TNT family.”

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Mina Kimes Defended By Media Colleagues Against Jeff Garcia Tirade

“Who the hell is Mina Kimes and when is the last time she threw a touchdown pass in a game?”

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Mina Kimes is one of the most substantive commentators on ESPN, sharing thoughtful, in-depth analysis on opinion on a variety of the network’s programming including NFL Live, Around the Horn, Debatable, ESPN Daily, and The Mina Kimes Show Featuring Lenny.

Unfortunately, there are still some who try to denounce and belittle her work, largely because she’s a woman. Kimes surely receives more blowback and harassment than most aware of. But she occasionally shares some of the comments to, as she put it, show women that “it never ends and has absolutely nothing to do” with you.

The latest to go after Kimes for no rational reason was former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Garcia went after Kimes for her criticism of current Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

On Tuesday’s First Take, Kimes said Garoppolo was “the worst quarterback left in the postseason” and “the definition of being part of the group project that gets an A, while doing none of the work.”

That apparently touched a nerve with Garcia, who followed up with an Instagram tirade.

“Who the hell is Mina Kimes and when is the last time she threw a touchdown pass in a game?” wrote Garcia. “NEVER! EVER! Has she taken a snap or can truly understand the ability, the mindset, the physical and mental toughness, that it takes to play the QB position in the NFL?”

Garcia’s remarks quickly circulated through social media with many media colleagues and fans moving to Kimes’s defense. Kimes herself responded with a tweet that she later deleted, perhaps thinking that she shouldn’t have done so. Here’s a screenshot, in which Garcia’s full post is also shown:

On one level, Garcia’s attack could be viewed as a “you didn’t play the game” retort often directed at media. But mentioning “mindset” and “physical and mental toughness” sure seemed to refer to Kimes being a woman.

By the way, Garoppolo passed for 121 yards versus the Packers in their divisional playoff game, completing 11 of 19 passes with no touchdowns and one interception.

As mentioned, many responded to Garcia’s attack in defense of Kimes, including her NFL Live colleague Dan Orlovsky.

Maybe Kimes should get the final word on this, responding both to Keyshawn Johnson’s arguing in Garoppolo’s favor on First Take and Garcia’s attempt to belittle her.

Garoppolo and the 49ers face the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship game Sunday at 6:30 p.m. ET on Fox. Will the result feed Kimes’s point or present a counter-argument?

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Study Estimates Nielsen Undercounting Out-Of-Home Viewership Cost Networks $350 Million

“We now know that error is tracking towards 60 billion lost TV impressions and $700 million worth of TV ads that marketers couldn’t buy.”  

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In December, marketing research firm Nielsen admitted that it had been undercounting “out-of-home” audiences for national TV programming since monitoring that viewership in September 2020.

Nearly a month later, how much money Nielsen’s error cost TV networks in advertising revenue has been estimated by a different research firm. According to the Video Advertising Bureau (as reported by TheWrap), which represents the major TV networks for advertisers, $700 million worth of unsold ad time was lost because of Nielsen.

That number is based on 60 billion lost TV impressions, according to VAB’s research and a task force the firm hired to examine the out-of-home data Nielsen said it undercounted over a 16-month span.

During an eight-month period that from May to December 2021, VAB’s study determined that Nielsen didn’t count nearly 30 billion ad impressions. That resulted in more than $350 million in advertising that networks couldn’t sell.

You can view the VAB report here.

“The only thing worse than Nielsen’s admitted error of 65 consecutive weeks of undercounting TV viewing was their claim of ‘no impact to minimal impact’ from that blunder,“ said VAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham (via Broadcasting + Cable).

“We now know that error is tracking towards 60 billion lost TV impressions and $700 million worth of TV ads that marketers couldn’t buy because of Nielsen’s second admitted case of 2020-2021 pervasive undercounting.”  

Nielsen stood by its previous assessment that its error had little effect on TV networks’ revenue.

“We reviewed the information shared by the VAB today,” Nielsen said in a statement to TheWrap, “and while we acknowledge the understatement in a portion of our National out-of-home audiences, we stand by our prior statements that the magnitude of the issue was very small for the majority of telecasts.”

Those findings likely won’t appease TV network executives who were already unhappy with Nielsen for delaying its rollout of out-of-home viewership measure. Nielsen cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason for the delay, but it looks more apparent that Nielsen knew it wasn’t ready to count out-of-home numbers properly.

Last August, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav publicly criticized Nielsen in an investor call.

“I don’t have a lot of hope for Nielsen,” Zaslav said, according to the New York Times. “I think somehow, as an industry, we’re just going to have to work our way out of it from a technology perspective and leave them in the dust.”

VAB’s study quantifying a $700 million loss in ad revenue is sure to increase such a sentiment.

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