Thank Sidney for NHL ratings surge
"I think we're going to have ourselves a pretty good Stanley Cup if it turns out to be Detroit and Pittsburgh," says Mark Messier, who knows something about the terrain. "It's the first time in a couple of years where the two best teams are meeting in the finals.
"Detroit has a lot of experience with a tremendous amount of talent and a goaltender that's been there before. Experience certainly is not everything in playoff hockey but it does mean something. Whether the Penguins can overcome a team that's full of it remains to be seen."
He'll join Versus at a time when the network is crowing over its postseason ratings. According to the network's giddy spokesperson, the quarterfinals were up 33 percent, the conference semifinals were up 50 percent and, as of Friday, the conference finals were up 71 percent. (All together now: Thank you, Sidney Crosby.)
Obviously, we're talking small numbers compared to the NFL, but Game 2 of the Penguins-Flyers conference final was the most-watched telecast (2,345,834 viewers) in the history of the network, beating the final day of the 2005 Tour de France. The game also marked the most-viewed NHL cable telecast (playoff or regular season) since the 2002-03 season. NBC's ratings are also up during the postseason, according to the network. (The Penguins Game 5-clinching win over the Flyers drew a monster 26.1 rating in Pittsburgh and a 46 share.) Assuming Detroit can close out Dallas, the NHL will have its most marketable star (Crosby) against one of the most rabid fan bases (Detroit). As always, network executives will root for volume. Ratings rise as a series gets deeper.
"Sidney has proven to be a marketable guy," says Messier. "He was put in a position to carry the NHL from a marketing standpoint and he has really responded for a young guy. The league can lean on him."
PERSON OF THE WEEK
Armen Keteyian, CBS News chief investigative correspondent: Keteyian was soft on Bill Belichick. That was my initial take upon watching the two minute and 45-second edited interview that ran during the CBS Evening News last week. It provided too much of a one-sided forum for Belichick to blast former employee Matt Walsh. But watching the 14-minute video posted on the CBS News Web site, as well as reading the transcript in full, proved my initial take was wrong.
Keteyian was fair and tough. He pressed Belichick when the subject called for it. The full transcript also offered Belichick time to expound on the subject. It's remarkable that the producers of the CBS Evening News didn't let viewers know that the entire interview was available online -- a huge missed opportunity. But at least I know how to submit a story idea to Assignment America with Steve Hartman.
My colleague Mark Bechtel, who has covered auto racing for the past decade, e-mailed to say Fox's Darrell Waltrip deserves praise for his rabbit ears during SPEED's coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Challenge. Reports Bechtel: "During the race Waltrip said, "I think I might be hearing something," and then went on to speculate that the engine of Kyle Busch, who was running away with it, sounded flat. This is from the press box, mind you. And you know how loud it is at the track. Sure enough, a lap later Busch starts slowing down because his engine was letting go. Pretty impressive call."
ESPN Radio's John Clayton and Jeremy Green (both of whom are usually solid) lamented on Saturday about the over-the-top coverage of the Spygate saga. Both hosts also decried that there was nothing left to talk about involving the issue. The two hosts then proceeded to talk about the issue for 20 minutes, including playing three clips from Keteyian's interview with Belichick.
It's an old radio shell game to lament about the overexposure of a story as an intro to talk about the same story. How do I know? My radio partner (a talented guy named Rich Redanz) and I occasionally committed the crime when we were working for our 50,000-watt employer in Buffalo. Certainly Green and Clayton should have talked about it the day after Keteyian's interview -- especially on a show titled The Huddle.
Green later bellyached that Matt Walsh had offered little news upon meeting with Roger Goodell. Well, after meeting with the NFL Commissioner, Walsh told HBO and the New York Times that he was coached on how to evade NFL rules and that the Pats assistants knew about the team's illegal taping of signals. I'd call that news. And so would Clayton and Green's employers, who have (correctly) covered this with an army of reporters.
THEY SAID IT
"The media will always do the old conquer and divide."
-- ABC/ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy, who draws a paycheck from a media company, stereotyping an entire profession during ABC's otherwise splendid Game 7 coverage of the Cavs-Celtics. Van Gundy's silly declaration came during a discussion of how Celtics star Paul Pierce has been treated recently by the Boston sports media. For a guy who has proven to be an engaging member of the media, Van Gundy's comments were disappointing.
LINK OF THE WEEK I
Here's the explanation by Boston Herald reporter John Tomase on how his Super Bowl XXXVI walkthrough story turned out to be wrong. Tomase has his critics. He has his defenders and supporters. And he has his Homer. No one has followed this story closer than the Boston-centric sports media critic David Scott. Here's a take from ESPN's Matt Mosely that I thought was spot-on.
LINK OF THE WEEK II
Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks? Well, it depends on the ballpark.
WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO
TNT's Charles Barkley addressing viewers about Wynn Resorts Ltd. suing him for alleged gambling debts of $400,000. Barkley told the AP that "it's my fault I let the time lapse. I screwed up. I'm not broke, and I'm going to take care of it." Good for Barkley for talking to the AP, but he needs to also address the people who watch and support him weekly on TNT. (Update: A TNT spokesperson says that Barkley will address the situation during the pregame Monday night.)