Predictions for the next year in sports media.
- After five straight years of record-high viewership, Super Bowl XLVII between the Broncos and 49ers actually suffers a decline on CBS. The game earns 111.1 million viewers, down 0.2% from 111.3 million in 2012 – but still the second-largest TV audience in U.S. history.
- The Notre Dame/Alabama BCS National Championship Game earns an all-time cable record 19.2 U.S. rating and well over 30 million viewers — still short of the all-time BCS record set by Texas/Southern Cal in 2006 (21.7, 35.6M).
- The Thunder/Clippers NBA Western Conference Finals is the highest rated ever on cable TV, averaging a 6.4 rating for seven games on ESPN. ABC averages a 10.3 for the six-game NBA Finals rematch between the Heat and Thunder, slightly above the previous year.
- FOX set another record low for regular season baseball (1.6). The postseason is a different story, as the seven-game Angels/Nationals World Series averages a 10.7 rating – the best for a non-Yankee World Series since 2004.
- ESPN/ABC holds onto NASCAR Sprint Cup television rights. Meanwhile, NBC acquires rights to the TNT six-game “Summer Series” and Fox Sports grabs rights to the Nationwide Series, both of which will air on the outlets’ respective 24-hour sports networks (NBC Sports Network and Fox Sports 1).
- Piggybacking off of Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand (SBJ, 12/10), the NBA begins discussions on a new television deal for the 2016-17 season. There are some murmurs about Fox Sports and NBC Sports gaining rights, but incumbents ESPN and Turner Sports are the unquestioned leaders in the clubhouse.
- NBC acquires television rights to the remnants of the Big East Conference, while a combination of ESPN and CBS – the latter in an upset over FOX – acquire rights to the new ‘Catholic 7’ conference.
- A year before the current deal expires, CBS holds onto television rights for tennis’ U.S. Open. Under the new deal, the men’s final moves back to Sunday and the women’s final moves back to Saturday. ESPN also stays in the picture, continuing to televise matches on ESPN2.
- The NHL owners’ drop-dead date of January 11 comes and goes. Regardless, a new collective bargaining agreement is eventually reached and a 42-game NHL season begins the week of the Super Bowl. The owners get their win and immediately set about making it appear like a loss.
- The NFL announces plans to expand the playoffs from 12 to 16 teams beginning with the 2014-15 season.
- Just in time for the college football season, Fox Sports 1 launches in August. Without much live sports programming until 2014, FS1 gets off to a slow start in the ratings.
- “SportsNation” fizzles out by the middle of the year. ESPN announces an hour-long, afternoon edition of “First Take” to take over the 5-6 PM timeslot.
- After years of also-ran status, CBS’ “The NFL Today” studio show gets a cast overhaul for the 2013-14 season.
- TNT NBA analyst Chris Webber gets a permanent stint on the network’s ‘B’ team with Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller. Meanwhile, newly minted NBA TV studio analyst Isiah Thomas works his way up to TNT guest appearances by the end of the year.
- In response to declining “Monday Night Football” ratings, the NFL finally gives ESPN a halfway-decent schedule in 2013. The network gets two Cowboys games instead of just one (vs. the Packers and at Washington), and — to the displeasure of CBS and NBC — Peyton Manning‘s return to Indianapolis.