Sports TV News
Phil Mickelson Win Fuels Ratings Win For PGA Championship
Phil Mickelson’s magical run brought a lot of viewers to the TV on Sunday.
Not many humans, let alone golfers, can be a television ratings draw in four different decades, but Phil Mickelson isn’t your normal guy. “Lefty” captured his sixth major title at this year’s PGA Championship and the historic feat drew plenty of eyeballs to the TV.
Sunday’s final round averaged a 3.9 rating and 6.58 million viewers on CBS as Mickelson methodically moved his way towards another Wanamaker trophy. That was the highest rating for a PGA Championship final round since the 2018 event where Tiger Woods finished second.
Overall, the ratings increased 19% and viewership was up 28% from last year, when the event took place in August. Mickelson became the fourth golfer in history to win in four different decades. That type of longevity brought Mickelson fans of all ages out of the woodwork to watch their guy take the trophy.
The performance delivered golf its second-largest final round audience since the pandemic began, trailing only this year’s Masters Tournament Sunday showing.
The final Saturday numbers were strong as well, averaging 2.3 million viewers. That represents a 10% increase from last year’s rating and was a tournament-high since 2018.
Mickelson’s triumph as golf’s oldest major champion was the highest-rated sporting event of the weekend. The final round blew the Lakers-Suns opening playoff game out of the water by over 2 million viewers. A factor in that dominance was the 50-plus demographic where Mickelson outrated the NBA battle 4.93 million viewers to 2.16 million.
It wasn’t all lollipops and rainbows for the networks involved, namely ESPN, which lost considerable viewership on their coverage. Lead-in coverage on Sunday was down 38% from 2020, and Saturday coverage followed the same path, dropping 41% year-over-year. Their Friday coverage wasn’t much of an improvement, dropping 24% from 2020 numbers. Part of the drop is due to earlier broadcast windows in 2021 compared to last year’s west coast venue. ESPN wasn’t quite able to capitalize after “Mickelson Mania” returned to the sports world.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
Sports TV News
Neil Everett Exits ESPN After 23 Years
“ESPN changed my life, but now it’s time for me to change my life.”
Neil Everett’s SportsCenter days are over. Front Office Sports reports that the anchor has chosen to say goodbye to ESPN after 23 years at the network.
“ESPN changed my life, but now it’s time for me to change my life,” Everett said. “Time to write a new chapter.”
The network reportedly offered Everett a new deal. Had he agreed to it, the anchor would have taken a salary reduction.
This is a significant moment for SportsCenter. Everett moving on means one of the show’s longest-tenured partnership comes to an end. He had worked with Stan Verrett since 2009.
Everett’s exit comes in the same week that it was revealed Chris Chelios would not return to the network’s NHL coverage next season. The Walt Disney Company is currently in the middle of trying to cut 7000 jobs to save $5.5 billion.
As for the future, Everett says he will seek to increase his TV role with the Portland Trail Blazers. He has been part of the team’s broadcast crew on NBC Sports Northwest for the last two years.
Sports TV News
Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica To Make FOX TV Debut on Belmont Coverage
“Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
As the college football season was winding down, fans found out one of the foundational members of the College Gameday staff would be leaving ESPN. Chris “The Bear” Fallica left the network and has been working for FOX since the new year. This weekend during the network’s coverage of The Belmont Stakes, he will finally make his TV debut for his employers.
“It’s been great. This will be my first TV appearance, so I’m excited,” Fallica said in an interview with FOXSports.com. “But we’ve been cranking out content on the digital side since January, and I’m very happy with how the USFL picks have been going (4-0 last week for those of you counting at home). Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
Fallica, who worked for ESPN for nearly three decades, is going to be a major presence in FOX’s gambling content both on air and online. Making picks is nothing new. He had been doing it on College GameDay for years prior to his exit.
In addition to making football picks, horse racing is going to be a major part of what The Bear does for FOX. While this will be his TV debut on FOX, Fallica put the spotlight on one of his colleagues.
“It was a great decision to bring Tom [Durkin] back for this call. His voice is synonymous with the sport for a generation of racing fans, so it will be a treat to hear him call a race again.”
Durbin is coming out of retirement to call the race. This is the first year that the Belmont is airing on FOX as part of a rights deal with the New York Racing Association.
Sports TV News
FOX Reportedly Considering Replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff
“Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.”
It looks like changes are coming to FOX’s college football coverage. Andrew Marchand reports that the network is considering replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff.
Bush and the network reportedly argued over money before the 2022 season. FOX kicked the tires on multiple options, including Desmond Howard and Robert Griffin III of ESPN. Eventually, it decided to bring Bush back on a one year deal. With that deal set to expire and the two sides again at an impasse, FOX is eyeing other options.
Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.
If Ingram does join the show, he would be the first analyst from outside of the conferences FOX carries. Ingram played his college football at Alabama. He has since amassed more than 8000 yards over 13 seasons in the NFL.
FOX declined to comment on the report. Marchand reports that with no deal finalized, there is an outside shot that Ingram returns to the NFL, Bush returns to FOX and there is no change at all. That, however, is considered a long shot.