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LeBron James Day Tomorrow On ESPN

Nellie Andreeva

lebron-jamesLeBron James’ decision about where he will play next season is certainly newsworthy but to devote a one-hour prime-time special on it?! That’s what ESPN is doing with the dramatically-titled The Decision tomorrow night at 9PM. (That name is usually used by news networks for their coverage of other important events, like presidential elections.) Given that the announcement of James’ choice will take a few minutes at best, expect an hour of fillers leading to it, kinda like an American Idol results episode. (UPDATE: ESPN says James will announce his team pick in the first 15 minutes, which brings up the question: Why not do it as a 15-minute special?) And if you thought that was an overkill, ESPN also plans a three-hour SportsCenter leading into The Decision that will be devoted to James’ decision as well as an expanded two-hour SportsCenter immediately following the special, which will dissect that decision. At least James is doing it for a good cause: proceeds from The Decision will be donated to Boys & Girls Club of America.

UPDATE: In a conference call with reporters, ESPN defended the editorial integrity of its decision to let James’ company LRMR Marketing sell the ad spots for The Decision, noting that the money goes to charity. ”There was no rights fee, no payment, and we will have complete editorial control over the hour,” ESPN executive VP of production Norby Williamson said.

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Ratings Rat Race: USA-Ghana Sets Record

By | Sunday June 27, 2010 @ 2:47pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

2010_logo_largeTeam USA couldn’t deliver another comeback win but their loss to Ghana in Round 16 delivered blockbuster ratings for ABC. The Saturday match, which Ghana won 2-1 in overtime, is now the most-watched FIFA World Cup game with 14.9 million viewers. As it was for all 3 previous team USA matches, San Diego was the top market with a 15.4 household rating. Through 50 games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the ESPN networks are averaging a 1.8 U.S. rating and 2.8 million viewers. The rating is up 48% from 2006, while viewers are up 60%.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: World Cup Up With Team U.S. Heroics, ‘Hot In Cleveland’ Down

Nellie Andreeva

ESPN’s Wednesday morning World Cup match between the U.S. and Algeria set records as the highest-rated and most-watched soccer telecast in the history of the ESPN networks, while ESPN3.com drew the largest U.S. audience for a sports event on the Web with 1.1 million unique viewers watching the match for an average of 43 minutes.

Meanwhile, the second episode of the TV Land original sitcom Hot In Cleveland averaged 3.4 million viewers, down 29% from  the record-setting heights of the show’s premiere last week. The number is still pretty solid for TV Land. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Big Finish For U.S. Open, Soft Start For ‘Scoundrels’ & ‘Gates’

By | Monday June 21, 2010 @ 9:34am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

graeme_mcdowell2_1662463cNBC is expected to win Sunday night with the conclusion of the U.S. Open golf tournament featuring both big draws Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. But ABC’s new original series Scoundrels and The Gates didn’t get a lot of traction in their debuts, landing in the 1.3-1.5 demo range that has been reserved for premieres of new scripted dramas so far this summer. Read More »

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Phil Keoghan Goes Sailing With New Series

By | Monday June 21, 2010 @ 6:59am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

philkoeghanPhil Keoghan, host and producer of CBS’ realty series The Amazing Race is taking on hosting and producing duties for another unscripted series about a race. Keoghan has teamed with Exodus Film Group, which has secured North American rights to the project. It will chronicle the Velux 5 Oceans 2010-11 race, which features skippers from all over the world sailing alone for 30,000 miles around the globe on high powered racing yachts and video recording their journeys. Search is under way for an U.S. network to carry the series.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: It’s World Cup Fever With ESPN & Univision Viewing Records

By | Saturday June 19, 2010 @ 5:14pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

2010_logo_largeAmericans continue to warm up to soccer’s biggest event, with ratings for the World Cup coverage on ABC and ESPN up 60% from the 2006 tournament (1.9 verage rating through Friday vs. 1.2 four years ago, despite the fact that most of the matches this year air in the morning). The Friday match between U.S. and Slovenia on ESPN was the most watched soccer game in the history of the ESPN networks among households, 3.9 million. In total viewers, it was the third most watched ever with 5.2 million. Not bad for a game that started at 10AM EDT/7PDT. The match featured an epic comeback by the Americans, who earned a 2-2 draw after trailing 0-2 at halftime, and a big controversy over the U.S. team’s disallowed third goal. Most patriotic (or best in coming up with a good excuse to be late for work) were viewers in San Diego where the U.S./Slovenia match averaged an 8.5 rating.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s Thursday match against France, which the Mexicans won 2-0, averaged 5.8 million viewers on Univision, the largest audience on the Spanish-language network so far this World Cup.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Record Basketball Ratings, Best NBA Finals Game In 12 Years

By | Friday June 18, 2010 @ 7:38am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

lakers_1660698c

UPDATE 2PM: Game 7 of the NBA Finals was watched by an average of 28.2 million viewers and drew an 11.4 rating/33 share among adults 18-49. It scored the highest total viewer and 18-49 numbers for any NBA Finals game in 12 years, since the series-clinching Game 6 of the 1998 Bulls-Jazz series. The 2010 NBA Celtics-Lakers finals were the most watched ever on ABC. Overall, the series was the most-watched since 2001. Jimmy Kimmel’s game night specials were up 13% from last year.

PREVIOUS 8AM: Folks, it’s going to be a big one! According to very early numbers, last night’s nail-biting Game 7 of the NBA Finals will probably set an all-time record for ABC. The game, won by the LA Lakers, averaged an 18.2 overnight rating, making it the highest-rated NBA playoff game on ABC ever and the top NBA game overall in 12 years, since 1998 (Bulls/Jazz). In Los Angeles, the decider drew a 39.7 rating, the highest-ever for a playoff game on ABC. In Boston (33.9), it was the second-highest ever behind Game 6 of the 2008 series between the Lakers and Boston Celtics, which the Celtics won in a landslide.

Needless to say, the NBA Finals completely dominated Thursday night. Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (2.2 rating/6 share among adults 18-49 in the fast nationals), was down 15% from last Thursday. CBS and NBC stayed out of the fray with repeats as well as a new 100 Read More »

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2 Film Directors To Lead London Olympics

By | Thursday June 17, 2010 @ 3:05am PDT

Olympic CeremonyThe Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire Danny Boyle, and Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry, have been tapped as creative bosses of the London 2012 Olympics. Stephen Daldry will be in overall creative charge of the Olympics and Paralympics, while Danny Boyle will be artistic director of the main opening ceremony. Boyle, whose new version of Frankenstein opens at the National Theatre later this year, said that he wanted to create a “thrilling, enthralling and captivating evening”. Orson Welles once described moviemaking as the greatest train set a boy ever had. The Olympics seem even more so. The opening Olympic Games ceremony has long fascinated film directors. Chinese director Zhang Yimou spent £70 million ($105 million) designing the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing event. And then of course there was Leni Riefenstahl at the 1936 Berlin games.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: NBA Finals Game 6 Down From Game 5 But Still Big

By | Wednesday June 16, 2010 @ 9:13am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The NBA Finals took an unexpected dip in the ratings last night. (Maybe some had written the Los Angeles Lakers off after the previous 2 games? Not us here in LA.) Last night’s Game 6, which saw the Lakers rebound to force a Game 7 with the Boston Celtics, scored a 12.3 overnight rating. That was a towering performance that dominated the night in every category but was down 5% from Sunday’s Game 5 (12.8 overnight rating). So far, the series had steadily built in the ratings with every game. Still, this year’s Finals are on track to finish as the highest-rated in at least six years.

Because of President Obama’s address at 8PM EDT, the fast nationals for some shows are skewed.  That includes Fox’s two-hour Hell’s Kitchen, which aired following the 15-minute address. The preliminary Nielsen estimates have it drawing a 2.8 rating/8 share from 8:30PM-10:30PM, but that number is expected to rise when the time is adjusted in the finals. That means that Hell’s Kitchen may tie or even outrate America’s Got Talent. Airing at 9PM and not affected by the Presidential speech, the NBC talent competition averaged a 2.9/8, down 22% from last week. CBS aired an all-repeat lineup.

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UK Exhibitors Brace For World Cup Slump

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 7:57am PDT

uk cinemaMultiplex chains are resigned to admissions dropping by anything between 10% and 20% during this month’s soccer tournament. Numbers of tickets sold could fall to under 10 million compared with 12.5 million this time last year, according to Cinema Exhibitors’ Association figures. Scanning the release schedule, you suspect some titles are just being dumped in the popcorn penitentiaries to trigger that all-important pay-TV deal. This month’s Hollywood releases include Killers, MacGruber and When In Rome. Still, if Eng-er-land carry on playing the way they did against the USA on Sunday, it could all be over by next week. Cinema managers will be waving their rattles.

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R.I.P. Robert J. Wussler

By | Tuesday June 15, 2010 @ 1:16am PDT

robert_wusslerHe died at his home in Westport, Connecticut, on Saturday, June 5th, after a long illness. He was 73. Robert J. Wussler was internationally recognized as a leader in the television and sports industries, and held senior executive positions at CBS and Turner Broadcasting System where he co-founded CNN. Wussler began his CBS career as a mailroom clerk in 1957, and rose to become President of the CBS Television Network and President of CBS Sports. In 1980, Ted Turner recruited Wussler to join Turner Broadcasting System in its Atlanta headquarters and became Senior EVP.

From 1989-1992, Wussler served as President and CEO of Comsat Video Enterprises. In 1992, he formed The Wussler Group, where he spent the past two decades consulting and creating programming for syndication, network, cable and internet platforms. Over his career, Wussler won seven national Emmy Awards, including the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Trustees (NATAS) Award, four Awards for Cable Excellence (ACE) and the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) President’s Award.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: NBA Finals Continue To Rule While Tony Awards Slip A Notch

By | Monday June 14, 2010 @ 8:56am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE 11AM: Based on special-ordered fast nationals by ABC, Game 5 of the NBA Finals, averaged a 7.0 rating in adults 18-49 and 18.2 million viewers overall to rank as the most watched NBA Finals game since the series-clinching Game 7 of the 2005 Pistons-Spurs Series. In viewers and adults 18-49, it as the highest-rated Game 5 in 6 years and the second-highest-ever on ABC, since the deciding Game 5 of the 2004 Pistons-Lakers series. ABC scored its most-watched summer Sunday in 10 years and top-rated among Adults 18-49 in 6 years.

PREVIOUS 8:30AM: The NBA Finals once again dominated primetime, while the Tony Awards were down slightly from last year. Game 5 of the NBA Finals, in which the Boston Celtics took a 3-2 lead against the Los Angeles Lakers, delivered a 12.8 overnight rating, the highest of the series so far and up 36% from last year’s deciding Game 5 between the Lakers and Orlando Magic. Like the previous four games of the series, last night’s faceoff drew the highest Game 5 overnight rating since 2004.

Airing against the NBA game and the season premiere of HBO’s True Blood, whose ratings are not immediately available, CBS’ star-studded Tony Awards broadcast averaged a 1.2 rating/3 share among adults 18-49 and 7 million viewers overall, down .1 rating point (8%) in the 18-49 demo from last year’s show. The other networks aired repeats with the exception of NBC’s Dateline, and a rerun of Fox’s Family Guy (2.1/6) was the only program besides ABC’s NBA coverage to … Read More »

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Strong Ratings Start For The World Cup

By | Sunday June 13, 2010 @ 4:20pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It was extremely easy to get a table for brunch in Los Angeles on Saturday. That’s because many were watching the much-hyped United States-England World Cup match. The game, which ended in a 1-1 tie, averaged 13.0 million viewers and 8.4 million households to become the most-watched FIFA World Cup first-round match among households and viewers, and the most-viewed United States men’s national team game since 1994.

Through five matches, ESPN and ABC are averaging 4.9 million viewers, up 108% vs. the first five games of the 2006 World Cup. ESPN’s most-watched game so far was Saturday’s Argentina-Nigeria matchup (3.7 million viewers).

Meanwhile, in Spanish-language TV, Univision’s broadcast of the World Cup’s opening match between Mexico and host South Africa delivered 5.4 million viewers, the network’s most-watched opening day match ever.

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RATINGS RAT RACE: NBA Finals Dominate

By | Friday June 11, 2010 @ 8:46am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

1276245277The contest is tight and the ratings are high for the NBA Finals, which once again dominated primetime for ABC last night. Game 4 between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, in which the Celtics tied the series, delivered an 11.6 overnight rating, the highest of the series so far and a 6% increase from last year’s Game 4 between the Lakers and Orlando Magic. For a fourth consecutive game in the NBA Finals this year, last night’s game received the highest overnight rating since 2004 (Lakers/Detroit). The NBA game is expected to win last night by a landslide when reliable total viewers and adults 18-49 ratings for it are released. Its only serious original competition was Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (2.5/7, 6.6 million) at 9 PM, which aired a special non-competition episode introducing the 11 finalists. Its demo rating was down as expected from last week by 22% but should rebound next week. The special was in line with the show’s Meet the Top 20 special in the fall (2.6/7).

The only other original program of the night was NBC’ burnoff comedy 100 Questions (0.8/3) at 8:30 PM, which was down 11% from last week and currently ties ABC’s Happy Town as the lowest-rated telecasts (original or repeat) on the Big 4 networks this week.

The CW’s stint of airing reruns of cult favorite Moonlight after repeats of Vampire Diaries on Thursday didn’t have a whole lot of … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Biggest Stanley Cup Final Game In 36 Years

By | Thursday June 10, 2010 @ 8:37am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE PM: With the Nielsen nationals in, The Stanley Cup Final Game 6 is officially the most-watched and highest-rated NHL Game in 36 years. It was watched by 8.3 million viewers and drew a 3.2/10 in adults 18-49. The four final games broadcast by NBC this year averaged 6.1 million viewers, the best network-TV series average in 13 years. The hockey game was the highest-rated program last night, edging out Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (3.0/9). rocky-trophy-bc

PREVIOUS 8:30AM: Last night’s series-clinching Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers posted a 5.8/10 overnight rating, the best overnight for any Stanley Cup Final game in 36 years. The Blackhawks defeated the Flyers in overtime to give Chicago its first Stanley Cup since 1961, ending the NHL’s longest championship drought. Last night’s game was up 41% from last year’s Game 6 between the then-defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fox was the only other alternative for fresh programming on broadcast TV last night. (OK, I stand corrected. ABC aired a new Happy Town at 10 PM, which once again was the lowest-rated program of the night by a wide margin, drawing a 0.8 rating/2 share in adults 18-49.)

The two-hour broadcast of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance averaged a 3.0/9 in the 18-49 demo, up +7% from last week’s Wednesday show. Beyond that, it was all repeats on the other … Read More »

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Award-Winning Playwright Pens Biopic

By | Wednesday June 9, 2010 @ 10:59am PDT

Laurie CunninghamKwame Kwei-Armah, the BAFTA-nominated TV scriptwriter, has turned to the big screen. Kwei-Armah is writing Black Flash, a biopic of 70s soccer star Laurie Cunningham for production company Fulwell 73. Cunningham was the first black player to represent England at any level. He also dated a white girl, very publicly, much to the disgust of the average 70s football hooligan. Cunningham was the first English player to sign for Spanish soccer superstars Real Madrid, let alone the first black player. He died in a suspect car accident, aged 33, after getting involved with the seamy side of the Costa Del Sol.

This is not the first time Kwei-Armah has written a biopic of a black soccer player. He has already written one BBC TV drama about black footballer Walter Tull, who played for Tottenham Hotspur before the First World War. Kwei-Armah was the first black Briton to have a play stated in the West End, when his award-winning Elmina’s Kitchen transferred to the Garrick Theatre in 2005. Sean Gascoigne represents him at United Agents.

Fulwell 73, meanwhile, is in post on its feature documentary The Ballad of a Green Beret. The docu follows Lt Col Bo Gritz, the most highly-decorated Green Beret during the Vietnam War, who later organised rescue raids on kidnapped American POWs, before becoming a controversial conspiracy theorist. Producer Leo Pearlman tells me that Gritz served as the model for both Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo and Marlon Brando’s paranoid … Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: Strong Finish For ‘Glee’

By | Wednesday June 9, 2010 @ 9:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

HGlee_Ep121-SC13_055OK, DVR viewers, the story is now spoiler-free and safe to read: The Glee kids did pretty well last night, drawing a 4.6 rating/12 share and 10.9 million viewers for the show’s season finale, the highest mark for a freshman series’ closer this season. Against Game 3 of the NBC Finals, Glee managed to go up 18% from last week in the 18-49 demo and 21% in total viewers. It still couldn’t beat its in-season ratings results behind American Idol but ranked as highest-rated telecast without an Idol lead-in. Glee’s lead-in last night, Hell’s Kitchen (3.2/10, 6.9 million), also was up from last week, by 10% in 18-49 and 11% in total viewers.

Another reality series, NBC’s America’s Got Talent (3.7/10) also impressed, improving on last week’s season premiere by 3%. However, the network’s new weight-loss entry, Losing It With Jillian (2.1/6) tumbled 19% from its debut last week.

At ABC, the NBA Finals between LA Lakers and Boston Celtics continue to pace ahead of last year’s matchup between the Lakers and Orlando Magic. Last night’s Game 3 delivered an 11.5 overnight rating, a 14% increase from last year and the highest number since 2004. Reliable viewer and adults 18-49 numbers won’t be available until later this morning but ABC is on track to win the night. CBS stayed largely out of contention with drama repeats.

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Discovery Channel COO Tom Cosgrove To Run Sony/Discovery/IMAX’s 3D TV Network

By | Tuesday June 8, 2010 @ 9:49am PDT
Nellie Andreeva


A little background: At the beginning of the year, ESPN and Discovery Communications announced plans to launch the first 3D television networks. ESPN’s net, ESPN 3D, will be introduced this week with the first 2010 FIFA World Cup match South Africa vs. Mexico on Friday, while Discovery’s joint venture with Sony and Imax is being prepped for a 2011 launch. Both companies have claimed to have the first 3D network. ESPN has an earlier launch date, but the network will go dark when not airing 3D programming, while Discovery’s channel will be on the air 24/7. Here is Sony/Discovery/IMAX’s release announcing Tom Gosgrove’s appointment as president and GM.

LOS ANGELES – Sony Corporation, Discovery Communications and IMAX Corporation today announced that Discovery Channel executive Tom Cosgrove has been named President and General Manager of the joint venture they have established to develop the first 24/7 dedicated 3D television network.  The network will feature content from genres that are most appealing in 3D, including natural history, space, exploration, adventure, engineering, science and technology and motion pictures from Discovery, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., IMAX and other third-party providers. In his new position, Cosgrove will oversee all business and creative areas of the joint venture, with a goal of driving consumer adoption of 3D televisions and giving the network long-term leadership in the 3D home marketplace. He

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RATINGS RAT RACE: B-Ball Rules Sunday

By | Monday June 7, 2010 @ 8:52am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE 11AM: According to the specially-ordered fast nations by ABC, Game 2 of the NBA Finals averaged a 6.3 rating in adults 18-49 and 15.5 million total viewers. That was up 1.4 million in viewers and 9% in adults 18-49 over the second game of the 2009 Lakers-Orlando finals. Last night’s game ranked as the strongest Game 2 in 6 years and the second-highest-rated ever on ABC.
PREVIOUS 8:30AM: ABC won Sunday night with Game 2 of the NBA Finals, while NBC’s coverage of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals continued to track ahead of the last few years. Reliable time zone-adjusted total viewers and demo numbers for the Basketball game will not be available until late morning, but, based in the metered markets, Game 2 between Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers delivered an 10.9 overnight rating. That is up 10% from last year’s Game 2 between the Lakers and Orlando Magic. It was also up 5% from Game 1, which logged the largest audience for an NBA Finals opening game. In the fast nationals, last night’s game posted a 5.0/14 in adults 18-49. For comparison, Game 1 averaged a 4.5/13 before rising to a 5.7/18 in the finals.

Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final between Chicago and Philadelphia drew a 2.4/6 in adults 18-49 on NBC, up 33% from the same game last year, which ran on Saturday. Its overnight rating, 4.0/7, ranked as the best for a non-OT Game 5 since 2002. The only … Read More »

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