5:41 PM PST, January 13, 2012
There was plenty of time to fill late in the Philadelphia 76ers' rout of Sacramento on Tuesday night, and longtime 76ers TV play-by-play man Marc Zumoff made a pitch for the first-place team in the NBA's Atlantic Division.
"In case you're just tuning in and just discovering this team. … they're young, they're energetic, they're a lot of fun to watch," Zumoff said. "They share the basketball. They defend. They fastbreak. Coming in, they have five guys averaging in double figures and no one averaging more than 17 a game."
Zumoff was obviously playing the role of company man and trying to get more people to come out to the Wells Fargo Center.
That is still a hard sell, given the economy, and while Zumoff was extolling the virtues of team basketball, it's star power that NBA fans generally crave and the 76ers still don't have a mega star..
However, it's obvious that the Philadelphia sports market, hungry for a winner after the disappointments of the Phillies and Eagles, could be starting to pay attention to a franchise that has largely been irrelevant since the 2001 NBA Finals.
The 76ers rank 29th out of 30 NBA teams so far in attendance, attracting just 13,199 fans through their first home dates.
But the ratings on Comcast SportsNet, whose coverage team includes Northampton native and Central Catholic grad Meredith Marakovits, have been through the roof.
According to a release sent by Comcast, 76ers game and pregame and postgame ratings are up 60 percent from the start of the 2010-11, which, of course, was in late October and November.
Wednesday's game against the New York Knicks averaged a 3.6 household rating (108,000 households), and was the highest-rated regular season game since Dec. 7, 2009, when Allen Iverson returned as a member of the Denver Nuggets.
Through 10 games, "Sixers Pregame Live" and "Postgame Live" were also up significantly. "Sixers Pregame Live' is averaging 18,000 households (50 percent increase from last season) and "Sixers Postgame Live" is averaging 39,000 households (up 117% from last season).
It helps the 76ers that the Eagles aren't in the playoffs.
It also helps that the condensed NBA schedule has meant a game almost every night. Like with the Phillies, people like to get into a routine.
Also, the 66-game NBA regular season means that every game is that much more important.
We'll see if the interest and the team's success continues, but right now the 76ers have a large portion of the Philly pro stage to themselves and they're making the most of it.
SICK AND TIRED
If you watch Showtime's "Inside the NFL" you know that one of the favorite segments for Cris Collinsworth is when Phil Simms goes into his rants of the week, otherwise known as "Sick & Tired."
Collinsworth loves to make Simms seem like he's "Scrooge," and this week Simms was fired up about several topics including players going into theatrical productions after scoring touchdowns, TV analysts talking too much ("I'm actually sick and tired of myself," Simms said), players staying anonymous when they rip teammates and all of the commercials that talk about male sexual problems.
Adding some spice this week was a guest appearance by player Maurice Jones-Drew, and they showed a montage of Jones-Drew's elaborate celebrations.
"We're entertainers," he protested. "This isn't just a game. We're here to entertain people. When you guys played, you just played the game. Nobody wanted to come and see you guys."
Simms refuted that by saying the TV ratings were higher in the 1980s when he was in his heyday.
They also got after Jones-Drew about his tweet that criticized Bears quarterback Jay Cutler for sitting out the most critical part of last year's NFC title game.
It was good TV and Jones-Drew, who has his own fantasy football show on XM radio and used the opportunity to audition for an analyst role after football, didn't back down.
Phillies radio play-by-play man Scott Franzke is part of the contingent coming to DeSales' Billera Hall on Jan. 26 for the Phillies Winter Banquet to benefit IronPigs Charities. In a short period of time, Franzke and Larry Andersen have developed great chemistry on the radio broadcasts and Franzke is one of the best young guys in the business.
Bob Costas and John Feinstein, a familiar face around the Patriot League, have been elected to the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's Hall of Fame. Also, Comcast SportsNet's Jim Jackson, the Flyers' play-by-play man on Comcast SportsNet, has been selected Pennsylvania sportscaster of the year.
Jackson also does the Phillies pregame and postgame radio shows.
TIRICO ON RADIO
Give Mike Tirico credit. A lot of big-time TV play-by-play guys wouldn't "lower" themselves to do radio.
But Tirico, the lead guy on NFL Monday Night Football, seemed happy to be working for ESPN radio at the BCS national title game on Monday night.
Sunday's Pittsburgh Steelers-Denver Broncos game on CBS drew 42.4 million viewers, ranking as the most-watched show since Super Bowl XLV and the most-watched Wild Card game ever (topping last year's Packers-Eagles game on FOX, 39.3 million).
Look for tonight's Broncos-Patriots game to also deliver record numbers as Tim Tebow's emergence has proven to be the best thing to the NFL since they decided to play some games in primetime.
"It's really been a phenomenon," Fox executive producer Ed Goren said of Tebow. "I've reached out to the guys in this business and I don't think any of us can recall anything quite like it in the NFL."
Goren was asked if he wanted Tebow in the NFC and he said he was content with the star quarterback's offensive juggernauts in the NFC, including the Packers, Saints and Giants.
KEITH'S CAN'T MISS … HBO's next sports documentary is on the life and times of Joe Namath. It premieres Jan. 28 at 9 p.m.
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