Sports Now

Sports news from Los Angeles and beyond

Category: Television

NFL draft is a ratings success

"The Mentalist" was the most-watched television program last Thursday night, being seen by 14.9 million viewers, but that wasn't the big news.

ESPN's overwhelming coverage of the NFL draft, the first held during a weeknight prime-time period, was the sixth-most-watched show Thursday night, beating out traditional powerhouse programs such as "The Office" and "30 Rock" on NBC plus "Fringe" on Fox and "FlashForward" on ABC, according to the Nielsen Media Research. And let's not even talk about live NBA games on TNT (18th out of 20 shows but better than "Vampire Diaries" and "Malcolm in the Middle").

ESPN's draft coverage was seen by 7.2 million people Thursday night. Another million viewers watched draft coverage on the NFL Network.

Altogether, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday on ESPN and ESPN2, 45.4 million people watched the draft, a 16% increase from last year. 

Also registering a significant increase in traffic was the NFL Network, which drew 5.7 million viewers over three days, a 24% increase over a year ago, and  NFL.com which received 12.5 million visits during the draft, a 61% increase from a year ago.

You could almost follow the storylines via the ratings.

On Thursday night, ESPN's top market, viewing-wise, was Jacksonville, Fla. (home of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. The "Where will Tim Tebow go?" question was dominant). The second-biggest market was New Orleans, followed by Austin, Texas, (home of University of Texas and quarterback Colt McCoy), Cleveland and Oklahoma City (plenty of Oklahoma-based interest in quarterback Sam Bradford). The Los Angeles market was 53rd out of 56 metered markets (because, well, most of us were at work).

On Friday, during the 3 to 4 p.m. PDT time slot on ESPN, Cleveland did the best, followed by New Orleans, Kansas City, Columbus (home of Ohio State) and Austin. Los Angeles was 56th (because, well, most of us were still at work). During ESPN2's coverage from 4-7:30 p.m. PDT, Greenville, S.C., was first, followed by Washington, D.C.; Portland, Ore.; Hartford/New Haven, Conn.; and Birmingham, Ala. Los Angeles was 52nd (some of us had arrived home).

For Saturday's ESPN coverage, from 7 a.m. until 2:19 p.m. PDT, Phoenix was first, followed by Dayton, Ohio; Tampa/St. Petersburg; Houston; and Atlanta. Los Angeles was 10th (we were catching up).

-- Diane Pucin


 


USOC, Comcast end effort to launch Olympics network

The U.S. Olympic Committee and Comcast have decided to walk away from a deal brokered last summer to launch an Olympics network, according to a report in the online edition of Sports Business Journal. 

Patrick Sandusky, chief communications officer for the USOC, confirmed the end of the Comcast partnership, telling the journal, “The USOC and Comcast have decided it’s currently not the right time to create an Olympic channel.”

The decision, which ends the USOC’s determined effort to have its own channel, comes as no surprise. When the joint venture was announced last July, it triggered a storm of criticism, first from the International Olympic Committee and then NBC, which had just purchased Universal Sports, a network whose primary content was Olympics-related news and events.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said the USOC and Comcast had not worked on it since last August, primarily because of Comcast’s subsequent and pending acquisition of NBC.

-- Debbie Goffa

Versus, DirecTV have an agreement

The dispute that has kept Versus (home of much NHL action as well as several major cycling events, including the Tour de France) off satellite television carrier DirecTV since Sept. 1 was settled Monday.

It is expected that the channel will be available no later than 4 p.m. PDT Monday for DirecTV customers.

In a statement from the two companies, Derek Chang, executive vice president of content strategy and development for DirecTV, said, "We are pleased that both sides were able to work out a satisfactory deal to bring this programming back to our customers."

Jamie Davis, president of Versus, said, "We're excited that we were able to come to a fair agreement that puts Versus back in millions of homes with DirecTV in time for our busy spring programming schedule."

That schedule includes NHL playoff hockey and a live UFC event.

-- Diane Pucin

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