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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

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TNT has record viewership in NBA first round

Viewership was up 32 percent for the first round of the NBA playoffs on TNT, with 4.2 million average viewers versus the 3.1 million on average who watched last year’s first round games. In the numbers released Monday, TNT outlined double-digit growth across several demographics, including

All viewers 18-34 +38%Â   (1,390,000 vs. 1,008,000)

All viewers 18-49 +37%Â   (2,403,000 vs. 1,757,000)

All viewers 25-54 +32%Â   (2,128,000 vs. 1,615,000)

Men 18-34 +36%Â   (982,000 vs. 721,000)

Men 18-49 +38%Â   (1,729,000 vs. 1,252,000)

Men 25-54 +34%Â   (1,517,000 vs. 1,133,000)

TNT’s postseason success follows its most-watched regular season, when the NBA on TNT averaged a 1.6 U.S. household rating, up 45 percent over last year’s coverage.

(Source: Turner Broadcast Sports)

ESPN Files Lawsuit Against Conference USA

ESPN filed a lawsuit against Conference USA in Manhattan federal court Wednesday. The network claims the conference did not fulfill its contractual obligations, according to John Ourand of Sports Business Daily.

The lawsuit claims that ESPN and C-USA reached an agreement in principal and the conference never gave the network a final offer. C-USA sold their television rights to Fox Sports in January. Their agreement is scheduled to begin with the 2011 college football season and run through the 2015-16 athletic year. Read more

Groupon Enters the Sports Advertising Market

If advertising during the world’s biggest sporting events means a company has gone legit, than welcome to the fray, Groupon.

The deal-selling service that recently spurned $6 billion from Google will advertise during the Super Bowl pregame show. The company wanted to snag a spot during the actual game, but inventory was already sold out. Regardless, the move signals a seismic shift for the Web company, which has pretty much ignored traditional advertising up to this point.

“The next level of extending the brand is traditional offline media and techniques to build the brand,” Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer at Groupon, told Advertising Age. “If you look at the great iconic brands that have been built on the internet, they all go through that transition, and I think we’ll go through a similar progression.”

The choice to advertise around the Super Bowl was a simple one. Read more

NBA TV Launching Newsmagazine, 'True NBA'

NBA TV is getting into the newsmagazine game, launching a new series called “True NBA.” The series is hosted by CNN anchor John King, who will be joined by a team of NBA analysts and correspondents.

Each hour-long episode will explore four topics that go beyond simple NBA reporting, and into stories that affect the culture as a whole.

NBA TV is part of NBA Digital, a company which is jointly managed by the league and Turner Sports. The partnership allows the NBA to leverage Turner’s TV and digital prowess. CNN is also owned by Turner, hence the addition of King to the program.

Sports newsmagazines have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Once a staple on HBO with programs like “Real Sports,” the format has spread to ESPN with “E:60″ and now the league-owned networks.

The first installment of “True NBA will feature:

§ TNT’s Emmy Award winning essayist and reporter Jim Huber looks at the 50th Anniversary of the Minneapolis Lakers near-deadly plane crash in Iowa: Huber tells the story of how close the Lakers franchise came to never realizing its lofty status.

§ NBA TV Insider David Aldridge takes a look at former NBA player Manute Bol’s legacy: Aldridge recounts Bol’s remarkable journey from Sudan to the NBA and how now, after his passing, his vision of helping his home country lives on.

§ CNN’s John King Follows Former NBA Center Chris Dudley’s run for Governor of Oregon: King takes viewers down to the wire on Election Day as Dudley’s political future hung in the balance.

§ NBA TV studio analyst Rick Fox sits down with Los Angeles Clippers rookie Blake Griffin: Fox talks to this year’s breakout rookie about coming back from injury, his upbringing and the signature move that has produced so many electrifying highlights.

More information, after the jump.

Read more

NFL Network Coming to Suddenlink

Suddenlink Communications will offer NFL Network and NFL RedZone to its subscribers, thanks to the deal cut last week between NFL Media and the NCTC.

The agreement will make the channels available to Suddenlink’s 1.3 million subscribers by the first Sunday game of the season Sept. 12. The company says it has already begun to roll out the networks to customers.

“We’re excited to be able to offer NFL Network and NFL RedZone to our customers who have been asking for them,” said Jerry Kent, Suddenlink’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in a statement.

Read more