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Viewers Choose Kobe Coverage Over Pro Bowl

“One of the biggest ratings changes for Sunday came in the way of cable news channels, as everyone searched for information and answers regarding Kobe Bryant.”

Brandon Contes

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Sunday afternoon’s coverage of the NFL Pro Bowl saw a small ratings decline for their ABC network broadcast from 2019, and a year-over-year increase for its ESPN simulcast.  

ESPN’s coverage of the Pro Bowl garnered 2.67 million viewers, compared to last year when 2.36 million people tuned in. It’s feasible that ESPN’s increased audience was in part caused by viewers searching for coverage on Kobe Bryant, who was reported to be in a helicopter crash shortly before kickoff. 

ABC’s Pro Bowl telecast garnered 5.29 million viewers, compared to last year when 5.71 people tuned in. Combined, the Pro Bowl had an audience of 7.96 million total on ESPN and ABC, down slightly from 2019’s 8.07 million. One of the biggest ratings changes for Sunday came in the way of cable news channels, as everyone searched for information and answers regarding Kobe Bryant.

CNN Newsroom and FOX News were two of eight cable telecasts to break 2 million viewers on Sunday, whereas neither ranked in the top 20 for viewership on the day of the NFL Pro Bowl last year. CNN Newsroom’s 5pm ET broadcast garnered 2.38 million viewers and the FOX Report with Jon Scott received a total audience of 2.30 million. SportsCenter airing on ESPN at 5:38pm had 2.52 million total viewers, compared to the day of the Pro Bowl last year when SportsCenter’s highest rated broadcast was 721,000 at 11am. 

ESPN2’s breaking coverage of Kobe Bryant shortly after the Pro Bowl began on ESPN received 1.31 million viewers. According to Austin Karp of The Sports Business Journal, “CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, NBA TV and ESPN2 were all covering the [Kobe Bryant] breaking news, and the combined viewership for those networks from 3:00-6:00pm ET was +183% over the same window last year.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here

Sports TV News

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Sports TV News

Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Sports TV News

Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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