Sports Bulls & Bears: Seahawks' big loss a big win for NFL

 

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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VANCOUVER — Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports:

BULLS OF THE WEEK

The Super Bowl consolidated its place as the biggest annual sports television event on the continent — and second biggest in the world behind only the UEFA Champions League final each May — by drawing a record average audience of 114.4 million viewers to NBC and a record 9.23 million on CTV and RDS. It’s about five to six times as big as the highest viewership any of the other North American leagues can ever garner for Game 7s of their NBA Finals and World Series of baseball.

Worldwide, expect the global television reach to come close to 200 million viewers.

With a soap opera-like buildup, polarizing personalities, compelling matchups, a back-and-forth game, a colourful halftime show staged and animated like nothing before it, a fourth-quarter New England rally and a stunning play call by Seattle in the dying seconds, Super Bowl XLIX was the most-watched television show in U.S. history. Here in Canada, it was another testament to the growth of the NFL fan base north of the border, topping the previous record — 8.15 million at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012 — by more than one million viewers.

Those numbers this week made it difficult to fathom that only six years ago, it was the CFL’s Grey Cup and not the Super Bowl that was in the driver’s seat of Canadian sport television. The Grey Cup showcase outdid the Super Bowl as Canada’s biggest annual sports TV event for 43 years before New Orleans beat Indianapolis in front of 6.9 million Canadians on CTV and RDS in 2010. Five years later, it is doubling the Grey Cup (4.1 million watched on TSN and RDS last fall).

Yet that’s not all; the Super Bowl was the most tweeted U.S. sports event ever and set new records for live video streaming. By bringing out the best and worst in armchair quarterbacks from coast to coast, Super Bowl XLIX will be talked about for generations to come as the poster child for mathematic probability (if not improbability), game theory and “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

BEARS OF THE WEEK

There was an extremely fine line between perceived genius and idiocy for Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll in the final minute of Super Bowl XLIX. His high-risk call on second down from the New England one-yard line will be debated for years. The fact that it came before a North American audience of more than 123 million people on television and social media did much to deflate the reputation Carroll had earned by leading Seattle back to its second consecutive NFC Conference championship and Super Bowl berth.

Yet leave it to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to make an even bigger sport business mistake that day, a cowardly decision that violated multiple principles of media relations, partner relations and best practices. Goodell refused an interview request from NBC, the $800-million NFL rights holder in rotation to telecast Super Bowl XLIX. Yes, Goodell has had the poorest season of his career — and one of the toughest ever for a commissioner in any league in any sport — and might have thought it prudent for him to avoid being a distraction to the game on the field. Yet regardless, turning down a broadcast partner that pays you close to 10 figures in annual fees and around $7.5 billion over nine years is simply beyond ridiculous.

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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