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Ryder Cup ratings lowest in two decades

NBC’s coverage of the 2014 Ryder Cup received its lowest overnight ratings in history this past weekend, according to Sports Media Watch. Europe won the cup this year by a blowout.

Sunday’s coverage of the event drew a 1.8 overnight rating, down 56 percent from 2012 and down 25 percent from 2010, the last time the event was in Europe. NBC earned a 1.7 for its Saturday coverage as well, down 47 percent from 2012, marking the lowest rating of any Ryder Cup telecast since the network began airing the event.

Ryder Cup coverage on NBC has been on a steady decline in ratings since 1999, where it spiked to a 4.9 rating on Saturday and a whopping 6.3 rating on Sunday, its highest ever. The last Ryder Cup, 2012, marked a slight jump in ratings for the network, contributing to the inflated percentage drops.

 

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Abdullah stirs another possible NFL controversy

Husain Abdullah wasn’t a household name. Prior to last night, it’s very likely the only people familiar with Abdullah were Chief fans and diehard NFL enthusiasts. That all changed with one “Monday Night Football” pick-six.

After picking off a pass from Tom Brady and returning it for a touchdown, Abdullah, a devout Muslim, went to his knees in prayer and promptly received an excessive celebration penalty. The National Post reports that this has caused the NFL even more grief, in a time it certainly doesn’t need any more.

The flag thrown in the fourth quarter of Kansas City’s 41-14 victory over the New England Patriots on Monday night led to criticism on social media, with many wondering how it was different from players such as former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow dropping to one knee in Christian prayer.

Many have been quick to defend Abdullah, including former NFL official and vice president of officiating Mike Pereira, who said the flag should not have been thrown in this instance.

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Fox Sports 1 braces for biggest moment yet

After some growing pains in its inaugural year on air, Fox Sports 1 braces for arguably their biggest moment yet: airing a majority of Major League Baseball’s NLDS games and as many as five NLCS games, marking the first time the network will air playoff games for any of the four major American sports.

According to Chris Chase of USA Today Sports, FS1 is responding to the moment, creating a slew of graphics packages and different cosmetics to couple with the FS1 broadcast. It has also replaced longtime baseball analyst Tim McCarver, who retired at the end of last season and was the lead analyst in the booth next to play-by-play man Joe Buck, with Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci. The network also has brought in Cleveland Indians star Nick Swisher to join the panel in Fox’s studio show.

Fox has also launched its biggest marketing push in network history toward baseball programming, including heavy promotion on the network’s NFL Sunday games and ads on every channel in the Fox family. The NLDS will begin 8 p.m. Friday on Fox Sports 1.

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FCC dumps NFL blackout rule

As pressure in the nation’s capital mounts against the National Football League, the FCC dealt a major blow to the league’s long-standing blackout rule, voting unanimously Tuesday to eliminate the decades-old regulation which “prevents cable and satellite TV from airing games that are blacked out locally when the team fails to sell enough tickets to fill its stadium,” according to a report by Politico.

The NFL has continuously defended the blackout rule, ensuring that it was simply a tool to ensure positive stadium attendance. But according to the Politico report, a number of lawmakers say that it only punishes football fans in markets where sold-out attendance is not guaranteed.

The league’s defeat on blackouts comes at a time when it’s taking heat in Washington on everything from how it handles domestic violence to the impact of concussions on its players … As the negative publicity mounts, some lawmakers say they want to examine the NFL’s tax status and antitrust exemption – a move that threatens to damage the league’s business model.

According to Politico, eliminating the rule won’t immediately end blackouts, as the NFL still is under contract this season with several broadcasters. But it marks the temperature of Washington lawmakers towards America’s most popular league and the worst may still be yet to come.

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Finn: Aikman-Buck second only to Michaels-Collinsworth

In 2001, Pat Summerall and John Madden moved on from Fox, opening up the No. 1 announcing slot. That slot was filled by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, who have been together ever since.

Though reactions to the Aikman-Buck pairing have been mixed, The Boston Globe‘s Chad Finn believes the Fox tandem ranks second only to NBC’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth.

The willingness to pull back from the microphone and let the cameras tell the story in the aftermath of a crucial play is why I appreciate Buck and Aikman, the former in particular.

Buck, who has called four Super Bowls and 16 World Series (including the last 14), is as high-profile as it gets, yet he has a history of checking his ego at the door in the biggest moments.

Finn regards Buck’s understated approach to covering a league where everything is so preposterously overstated breathes fresh air in a game at times filled with too much hyberbole and too little substance.

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Baseball on ESPN enjoys ratings boost

For the second straight year, ESPN’s coverage of Major League Baseball saw an audience increase among the network’s prime time game platforms, Sunday Night Baseball, Monday Night Baseball and Wednesday Night Baseball, according to a press release by ESPN MediaZone.

In the 25th season covering MLB, ESPN’s average audience jumped 3 percent from 2013, earning an average viewership of 1,129,000 viewers. In 2013, ESPN averaged 1,091,000 viewers and, in 2012, it averaged 1,036,000 viewers.

On Wednesday Night Baseball alone, ESPN earned a double-digit increase from the ratings in 2013. The network’s Wednesday night coverage jumped to 664,000 viewers, up 22 percent from 544,000 last season. Monday Night Baseball earned a 2 percent increase from it numbers last year.

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Another milestone for Visser: Part of cast for first all-women sports talk show

Lesley Visser had to chuckle thinking about where she was Monday compared to when she broke into the business as a woman sportswriter in 1974.

“Back then, there was no such thing as a ladies room in the press box,” Visser said. “Why would you need one of those? There were only men in the press box.”

Flash forward 40 years, and Visser was in the CBS Sports Network studios preparing for the debut of “We Need to Talk,” which airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET. Scanning the room in preparation for the new sports talk show, she saw 15 or 16 women, but only man: Kyle, the camera guy.

“How cool is that?” Visser said.

Indeed, in a career full of milestones, here’s another one for Visser: She will be part of the first all-female, general sports talk show. Sure, there will be discussions on women sports if they are in the news, but the dialogue will cover everything and anything — from the upcoming MLB playoffs to LeBron James returning to Cleveland.

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