#Sportsbiz Recap – September 18, 2016

‘Thursday Night Football’ Ratings Sag, but Twitter Feed Surpasses Expectations by Anthony Crupi


  • According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, the Jets-Bills game averaged a cumulative 15.4 million viewers and a 9.5 household rating across CBS and NFL Network.
  • 26% decline compared to the 21.1 million viewers and 12.9 household rating compared to last year’s Broncos – Chiefs opener.
  • last season’s eight-game average on Thursday Night (17.5 million viewers, 10.9 household rating).
  • AAC matchup between the Houston Cougars and Cincinnati Bearcats on ESPN drew 2.16 million viewers, or slightly more than the 2.1 million viewers of TNF on Twitter.

My opinion is the ratings may have been down due to the lack of a compelling matchup from the Empire State. I wouldn’t be surprised if ratings were down from last year’s due to people realizing that the quality of the games on Thursday is a pittance. The Twitter experience still has some quirks that need to be worked out but with over 2 million viewers and the average viewing time of 22 minutes, this is certainly a valuable property. Twitter has struck a deal with Time Inc. to simulcast the Twitter stream on Time properties, which I think is a very proactive approach to increase the visibility. The remaining issues for TNF on Twitter mainly reside with the viewing experience. There is a lag of approximately 45 seconds between the TV set and Twitter feed, which is disparaging on a real time platform. The second complaint that was commonly lauded was the inability to change the tweets that were displayed on the TNF page. The tweets displayed were curated content, controlled by a combination of a human/computer algorithm to weed out the bad apples. Paying approximately $1m per game and charging between $1-8m for varying levels of sponsorships, Twitter made out well on this deal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bidding of simulcast rights go much higher on the next deal similar to what the NFL was able to pull off for the linear rights on Thursday Nights by splitting the package between CBS/NBC.

FOX is live streaming Saturday’s Oklahoma, Ohio State football game in virtual reality. 


  • Fox Sports will stream the game (Oklahoma vs Ohio State) live in virtual reality as part of a new deal with LiveLike.
  • You can watch using Gear VR or Google cardboard, but you can also watch it straight from a smartphone, sans headset.
  • LiveLike’s setup is much more TV-like than when another VR streaming startup.
  • Unlike traditional VR videos that let you see 360-degree views of your surroundings, LiveLike only films 180-degree views, replacing the area “behind” you with what looks like an in-stadium suite
  • LiveLike is taking a different approach. In addition to multiple camera views, you can keep Fox’s TV feed of the game, including announcer commentary

LiveLike is a new competitor to the Virtual Reality space. My most interesting takeaway from this is that Fox Sports already had a five-year agreement in place with NextVR. LiveLike takes a fresh approach that does not require a headset to experience and opens the experience up to a much larger audience. The experience was available via Fox Sports VR app, which required cable authentication. I look forward to seeing what the next step is taken by LiveLike and what additional content they are able to deliver to consumers.

Sling TV Adds ESPN3, SEC Network


  • Sling TV continued to round out its college sports offerings, adding ESPN 3 and SEC Network to its Sling Orange package.
  • The addition comes on the heels of recent carriage deals with Pac-12 Network and Campus Insiders for the over-the-top product.
  • Sling TV split into two offerings in June – Sling Blue, a multi-stream service that includes regional sports networks and broadcast and cable channels; and Sling Orange, its original 20-channel offering.
  • According to a blog posting by Sling TV chief marketing officer Glenn Eisen ESPN3 and SEC Network are available to Sling Orange customers at no additional cost.

Sling TV continues to add to their offerings as an alternative for all of the ‘cord-cutters’ that are contributing to the rapidly falling subscriber numbers at the cable networks. Additional subscribers to ESPN3 are interesting because as a digital platform it now has more subscribers than the ESPN lienar networks. Sling TV is an Over-The-Top solution which will be competing in the future with the ESPN planned OTT network and that is my key takeaway from this content distribution plan.


Published by Barney Carleton

Senior Manager, Media Operations & Technology at the NBA. St. John's University BS '13, MBA '15

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