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ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN Online Add New Series

SportsNewser was in attendance at ESPN’s annual upfront presentation in New York, as ESPN unveiled a slate of new programming for ESPN2, the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes and for the network’s digital properties.

The centerpiece was a new afternoon lineup for ESPN2. The channel will add two new half-hour programs in “Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable,” hosted by Miami-based sports columnist Dan Le Batard, as well as “Numbers Don’t Lie,” which is designed to appear to fantasy players and stat freaks by looking at the sports stories of the day in a new way.

“Numbers Don’t Lie” will run at 3:30 PM, with Le Batard’s program airing at 4 PM. To make way for the new shows, “SportsNation,” which has become ESPN2′s signature show, will move to 5 PM.

Read more

Remy Returns to Red Sox Booth Tonight

Boston Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy, who has been absent from the NESN booth since April 27 while fighting pneumonia, will return to the booth for tonight’s game against the Orioles, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Remy is a fan favorite who also missed several months in 2009 while battling depression and recovering from lung cancer surgery.


Game #1 Bulls vs. Heat Most-Viewed Game In Cable History

TNT’s coverage of Game #1 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls was the most-viewed game in the history of cable television with 11.1 million total viewers and a 6.2 U.S. HH rating.

The previous best was 10,829,000 total viewers for the 2003 NBA All-Star Game, which was Michael Jordan‘s last All-Star Game.

The 2011 NBA Playoffs has been a ratings success for TNT, averaging a 3.1 U.S. HH Rating (+29%), 4,989,000 Total Viewers (+33%) and 3,630,000 Households (+30%). Read more

Versus to Cover Tour of California Extensively

Versus will provide eight days of live and taped coverage of the Tour of California starting Sunday, with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen providing commentary and Bob Roll as the in-race reporter for the premier United States road race.

Since Versus started airing coverage of the Tour of California in 2007, the network has seen average viewership growth of 46 percent. Last year’s race saw the number of viewers tuning in to the network’s daily coverage double from 2007 (3 million vs. 1.5 million), the network announced in a press release.

Versus will give viewers unprecedented access to the competition with in-depth profiles on the race’s top riders, including American cyclist and three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer, two-time Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck, three-time Tour of California runner-up Dave Zabriskie and Green Jersey winner at the Tour de France Thor Hushovd. The network will also create unique, animated cycling segments to provide viewers with a better understanding of the sport’s terminology and flow of the race. Other enhancements include a pointer feature which will easily identify and focus on specific riders in the 140-plus peloton.

MLS Cup Will Once Again Be Televised Opposite Sunday Night Football

Last year the MLS Cup was televised on a Sunday night at the same time as an Eagles-Giants game, which basically assured that all the casual fans would be tuning in to watch football (the American kind) on NBC. Well, MLS has apparently not learned it’s lesson, because this year’s MLS Cup will once again be televised on a Sunday night (Nov. 20). And guess who’s playing football that evening? Why, that’d the Eagles and Giants again.

I guess it’s slightly better than playing opposite a Red Sox-Yankees playoff game. Slightly.

Major League Soccer Talk had last year’s grim assessment.

The TV ratings are in for the 2010 MLS Cup. And according to Sports Media Watch, the overnight TV rating was 0.5, the lowest overnight rating since at least the late 1990′s.

The 0.5 TV rating was down 44% from last year’s MLS Cup between Real Salt Lake and L.A. Galaxy. In the 2010 MLS Cup, Colorado Rapids defeated FC Dallas 2-1 in extra time in front of a not even sold-out crowd at Toronto’s BMO Field. The 0.5 TV rating was down 28% from the 2008 MLS Cup between Columbus and New York.

Then again, if there’s an NFL lockout, maybe the numbers for the MLS Cup won’t be as bad.

(H/T to Brotherly Game)


Jack Edwards Signs Multi-Year Extension With NESN

Boston Bruins play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards has agreed to a multi-year contract extension with NESN.

Edwards, who reached a whole new level of ridiculousness during the Stanley Cup playoffs, has worked with Bruins color analyst Andy Brickley since 2005.

“For the past six years, Jack has been an energetic and important part of NESN’s Bruins hockey coverage,” said Sean McGrail, NESN President and CEO. “We are very happy to extend his contract, and look forward to his passionate presence in the broadcast booth for years to come.”


14.5 Million Viewers Watch 137th Kentucky Derby

The final numbers are in and NBC Sports’ coverage of the 137th Kentucky Derby drew 14.54 million viewers, the fourth most-watched Derby in 21 years, according to The Nielsen Company.

Saturday’s race is down 12 percent from last year’s 16.5 million and down 10 percent from 2009′s 16.3 million viewers.

The only other Derby viewership to surpass Saturday’s since 1990 was in 2004 when Smarty Jones won the Derby (14.6 million). Read more

Nigerian Soccer Player To Sue Turkish Paper For Saying He's Older Than He Claims

Nigerian soccer star Emmanuel Emenike plans to sue the Turkish newspaper Haber Turk for alleging he’s seven years older than he claims to be. Emenike, who plays for Karabükspor in the Turkish Football Federation, states on his passport that he’s 24, but Haber Turk published a story last Wednesday that says the striker is actually 31. Emenike was none too pleased.

The Nigerian Observer reports, “A furious Emenike told BBC Sport that the story has embarrassed him and his employers, and cast a shadow over his honesty. ‘This vicious accusation will not go unpunished,’ Emenike told BBC Sport on Friday. I feel very bad about this situation and so does my agent and the president of my club. This is the same country where a journalist wrote that I came to Turkey on a boat, while another incredulously said I was starving – this time around they have gone too far.’”

Pat Summerall’s Grandson Looks To Enter Broadcasting

It must be difficult to enter the same profession as your world-renowned grandfather. Add in the fact that 18-year-old Pat Summerall shares the same name as his grandfather and, well, those are big shoes to fill. The young Summerall hails from Philadelphia and will be a freshman at Baylor University this fall. He will study communications and marketing in Waco, Texas, less than a two-hour drive from the Southlake, Texas, home of his grandfather and his grandfather’s wife, Cheri.

“When I was on my college search, they suggested that I check out TCU and Baylor,” young Pat Summerall said of the elder Summeralls. “They kind of always wanted to have one of the grandchildren go to school near them. I applied to both of those schools, and when I took a visit, I ended up loving Baylor. And having family that close by was a major pull factor to go to Baylor.”

“I’m glad he picked Baylor because it’s close to where we live,” elder Summerall, 80, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

“If he weren’t a broadcaster,” the teen said, “I probably wouldn’t look into it. A lot of that world is how you can get started. Any kind of help you can get is good in that world, because it’s really hard to get started.

“I thought: Why not give it a shot? I like sports, and people have told me I have a good skill set for it.”

NFL Network: New team of Mayock and Nessler to announce games

The NFL Network announced today that Mike Mayock and Brad Nessler will be the new announcing team for Thursday Night Football in 2011, replacing the triumvirate of Bob Papa, Matt Millen and Joe Theismann.

“Mike Mayock’s in-depth knowledge of all aspects of the game and his no-nonsense analytical style has made him a rising star in the business. He is regarded by many as the best NFL Draft analyst in the business and he will be excellent on our NFL games,” said NFL Network Senior Vice President of Production and Programming Mark Quenzel. “Brad Nessler is one of the premier play-by-play announcers on television. Teaming them on Thursday nights will be entertaining and informative for our fans.”

Said Mayock, “My favorite aspect of this industry is to do live games. You are able to get up close to the coaches and players and the environment is electric. To have the opportunity to call NFL games in primetime on NFL Network is like a dream come true.”

Said Nessler, “The NFL has always been a big part of my life and my career. To join NFL Network and the great team they’ve assembled is an honor. Primetime football on Thursday nights is an event.  It’s an exciting new challenge and I can’t wait to be part of it all.”

Mayock has been an analyst on NFL Network for the past seven years. In addition to the NFL Draft, he provides analysis on NFL Total Access, Path to the Draft, Playbook and other NFL Network specials. He is also the game analyst on NBC’s Notre Dame college football games on Saturdays and called the NFC Wild Card Playoff game for NBC last season.

Nessler will continue to serve as a play-by-play voice for college football and basketball games on ESPN and ABC. He previously called NFL games on radio for the Atlanta Falcons (1982-1988) and Minnesota Vikings (1988-89).