Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Browns trump reigning Super Bowl champs on "Monday Night Football"

Finally, after five games of mediocrity, the Cleveland Browns stepped up in a big way Monday night.

The Browns destroyed the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 35-14, on "Monday Night Football," televised on ESPN.

This comes at a time when quarterback Derek Anderson was in dire need of a big win to get out of the hot seat.

He got one.

The Browns racked up their highest point total of the season, as they played exceptionally well against one of the NFC's most elite and deepest teams.

This game just goes to show how solid Cleveland could be if they stay healthy.

Quarterback Derek Anderson, in every way possible, solidified his spot as Cleveland's starter, humbly saying, "It's the guys I've been telling you about," speaking of his team. "I never doubted them, ever."

Anderson threw for 310 yards, and 2 touchdowns, earning him a 121.3 passer rating. It was one of the best outings of his career.

Anderson's success was due, in large part, to the skill set of receiver Braylon Edwards. The wide-out had the best game of his season as he made catches of 49 and 70 yards. Edward's final yards tally included an 11 yard touchdown grab. He ended the game with five catches for 154 yards and a touchdown.

The Browns defense also held its own against the solid, Giants offensive attack. Cleveland intercepted Eli Manning three times, one of which cornerback Eric Wright took 94 yards back to the house, a pick-six that sealed the Giant's fate.

The Browns' defense did bend a little though, allowing nearly 180 yards rushing.

However, don't tell that statistic to Corey Williams.

Williams, a member of Cleveland's big defensive line, stated after the game, "We played a solid 4 quarters."

All in all, if the Browns can stay consistent, don't be too fast count them out in the AFC North.

The Ravens lost their 3rd straight game on Sunday, making them 2-3. The Browns also gained a little ground on the idle 4-1 Steelers.

Of course, lowly Cincinnati sits winless at 0-6.

-Martin Lewis (with a special thanks to The Associated Press, especially to the writers at ESPN.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

NBC sells nearly all of the time slots for ads available during next year's Super Bowl

With almost four months remaining before the Super Bowl, NBC has sold nearly all of its available commercial time during the big game, thumping expectations despite a significantly weakened advertising market.

The network said in mid-September that nearly 85 percent of its available time slots have been sold, with strong categories that include automobile ads and movie previews. A dozen 30-second commercials sold for a whopping $3 million apiece, a figure that is up 10 percent from last year. According to, the network has around 10 time slots still available. With a high demand for air time from revenue-hungry advertisers, NBC could command even more money for each time slot that is yet to be bought out.

Normally, only about 60 percent of Super Bowl ad slots get sold by this time of year, when professional football’s final bout is still more than four months away.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on the development via its website.

Sports have been a rare bright spot for media companies facing declining ad revenues this year due to the rapidly weakening economy. Although television ratings have been dropping for years as audiences turn to video recorders and alternative viewing platforms such as computers and Apple’s iPods, people still want to watch big-time, televised sporting events live and on high-quality screens.

Viewership for NBC, a unit of General Electric Company, was better than expected during the Olympic Games and exceeded the minimums NBC guaranteed advertisers. This allowed the network to be able to free up time slots it had reserved to make up for any shortfalls.

NBC reported that it had sold $25 million in ads during the Olympics. This figure does not include the unfathomable $1 billion or more the network made on ads sold before the Games had even begun. NBC hopes that revenues for commercial time slots during the Super Bowl can match those staggering figures on an ad revenue per hour basis (The Olympics lasted for a total of over two weeks. The Super Bowl is televised for maybe four to five hours. Ad revenue per hour gives the network a general idea of the relative earnings when comparing two or more events).

The overwhelming amount of money that ad slots during the Super Bowl are sold for is constituted based simply on the huge amount of people who view the biggest game of the year in professional sports.

The Super Bowl is single-handedly the most viewed, televised program year in and year out. Over 100 million people view the contest yearly. This colossal amount of viewers compiles a wide range of targeted consumer groups that advertisers can appeal to. This is why commercials during the Super Bowl are among the most effective forms of ads.

Commercials during the big game have quickly become a part of Super Bowl culture and lore. A large amount of people who tune in for the Super Bowl have reported that they look forward to the entertaining, well-thought advertisements that appear during breaks in the game. Companies are all but guaranteed that the products and services they offer will be immediately pushed upon potential customers through their ads during the Super Bowl.

The sports business is a proven moneymaker. While other markets’ revenues via advertisements are at a steady decline, the sports business is booming and is at a high point. This is despite declines in attendance of major sporting events throughout the country.

The decline in attendance could, however, have a positive impact on revenue earned through sports marketing and ads. More people are viewing games at home, on television, and through other platforms, which invites companies to advertise in commercials on television, and also over the internet and radio.

Super Bowl commercials show how effective ads on television can be if there is a significant number of people tuning into the broadcasted sporting event.

Sports marketers will continue to find new ways to generate revenue through advertisements at, during, and through sporting events, as well as through sports merchandise. The field of sports marketing will continue to grow and prosper in the future as sport is becoming, and probably already is, one of the most successful, highest earning businesses in the market today.

-Chris Barfield (Information and statistics obtained primarily via The Wall Street Journal.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Falcons edge out the Bears 22-20 on a thrilling, last second field goal

During Sunday afternoon’s Bears-Falcons game, Matt Ryan showed Atlanta fans why he was such a great pick for the franchise in the 2008 NFL Draft. Kicker Jason Elam also showed how valuable his acquisition during the offseason was.

Ryan went 22-of-30, for 301 yards, with a touchdown and no interceptions in the Falcons thrilling, 22-20 win over the Chicago Bears. However, the bigger story was that of kicker Jason Elam, who converted on 5-of-6 field goals, including a 48-yarder as time expired which gave Atlanta their fourth win in six games this season.

Both teams had to rely on their kickers as each side was held out of the end zone for the entire 1st half. Elam kicked a total of three field goals for Atlanta while the Falcons defense held Chicago to just three points in the 1st half (a 36-yard field goal by Robbie Gould with 4:02 remaining in the 2nd quarter).

The score was 9-3, in favor of the Falcons, heading into halftime.

The Bears scored the first touchdown of the game with 2:24 remaining in the 3rd quarter on a 3-yard run by Matt Forte, making the score 12-10 in favor of Atlanta. The Falcons ensuing drive, which carried over into the 4th quarter, resulted in a 3-yard touchdown pass to Roddy White from Matt Ryan, making the score 19-10.

Neither team made too much progress on any drive after that touchdown until the Bears were able to convert on a 32-yard field goal attempt, again by Robbie Gould, with 4:00 minutes remaining in the 4th.

The Bears retained possession after Atlanta’s drive late in the 4th quarter failed as Jason Elam, who appeared to be the goat, hooked a 33-yard field goal attempt wide left with less than 3:00 minutes remaining in the game. Bears quarterback Kyle Orton completed a total of seven passes on Chicago’s next drive, including a 17-yard touchdown throw to wide receiver Rashied Davis with 0:11 seconds remaining in the game to tie the score at 19-19. The Bears’ PAT attempt by Gould was good, giving Chicago the lead 20-19.

Following the score, Gould pooched the Chicago kickoff to Harry Douglas of the Falcons, who managed to return the kick 10 yards to set up Atlanta at their own 44-yard line. The clock showed that 0:07 seconds remained in the game and fans seemed to give up hope as many of them exited the packed Georgia Dome. Then, with the poise of a 10-year veteran, Matt Ryan calmly threw a pass to receiver Michael Jenkins for a 26-yard gain along the left sideline. Jenkins caught the pass in front of safety Mike Brown, got both feet down and tumbled out of bounds with just 0:01 second remaining on the clock. Matt Ryan, once again, showed the Falcons faithful why the organization took him with the third overall pick in the draft, and also, why the team has labeled him as “the new face of the franchise.”

The play set up a 48-yard field goal attempt for kicker Jason Elam. The attempt spelled redemption for the long-time leg of the Denver Broncos, whom the Falcons picked up in a free agent deal during the offseason. His missed field goal earlier in the 4th quarter was his first in 31 attempts, and it nearly sealed his fate as the scapegoat of the game. After a short delay to confirm that Jenkins' reception was good, Elam lined up for the kick. The snap was good, and Elam, with the swift flick of his right leg, blasted the kick high into the air as time expired. The ball sailed through the uprights and the referees raised their arms, signaling that the kick was good. Elam had redeemed himself as the Falcons stunned the Bears with their surprising, and thrilling, fourth win of the season.

The Falcons erupted in a playoff-like celebration near the middle of the field after the kick. Head coach Mike Smith lifted his rookie quarterback into the air while Elam was swarmed by his teammates, having atoned for the miss with his fifth field goal of the game, equaling his career high.

The Falcons can gain much good out of their 22-20 win over the Bears. The defense showed that it is a resilient force to deal with, Elam proved how reliable his leg still is, and Matt Ryan showed that he is an up-and-coming star after another successful week. Ryan is a player who will soon be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, just as soon as he reaches his prime.

Six games into what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Falcons have already matched their win total from a forgettable 2007 season.

Suddenly, the playoffs don’t appear to be out of the question.

Go Falcons!!!

-Chris Barfield (with a special thank you to The Associated Press, and especially to the writers at