Olympics aside, marquee matchups led to a record Super Bowl (Giants-Pats drew 97.5 million) and a record cable event (Cowboys-Eagles on the Sept. 15 Monday Night Football, 18.6 million). Also, with their best ratings in at least five years: the Stanley Cup finals (Red Wings over Penguins), the NBA Finals (Celtics over Lakers) and the Wimbledon men's final (Rafael Nadal over Roger Federer).
INAPPROPRIATE CITATION OF BILL WALSH
In a pregame interview on Oct. 26, Fox Sports reporter Danyelle Sargent told new 49ers coach Mike Singletary that she'd heard he had called his mentor, coach Bill Walsh, after getting the job. Walsh died in July 2007. Sargent's gaffe—she made another on ESPNews in 2006 when she shouted "What the f--- was that?" over a taped segment—was edited out of Fox's broadcast but was on a feed that news groups sift through for highlights. New York's WNBC aired it on Mike Francesa's Mike'd Up.
UNTIMELY CAMEO BY STEVE HARVEY
Because of a failed router at its headquarters, TBS couldn't air the first four outs of the ALCS Game 6 between the Rays and the Red Sox, and substituted a rerun of The Steve Harvey Show. TBS was slow to inform viewers of the problem, flashing only occasional updates about technical difficulties and not scrolling the score. As Harvey (head, right) joked, B.J. Upton (body, right) homered to give Tampa Bay a 1--0 lead.
INESCAPABLE THEME SONG
A Toyota ad touting zero-percent financing blared a rendition of the Fixx's 1983 song Saved by Zero, and it became the football season's most brain-clogging jingle. The Facebook group Stop Playing Toyota's Saved by Zero Commercial quickly scored more than 9,000 members, and a video superimposing the ad's screen grabs on scenes from the horror movie The Ring appeared on YouTube.
December 22, 2008
ABC and ESPN televised 31 games from the Euro 2008 soccer tournament, but their announcers didn't attend a match. As a cost-cutting measure the broadcasters remained at a studio in Bristol, Conn., and commented while watching TV feeds.
GRIPPING MIDDAY DISTRACTION NON-MARCH-MADNESS DIVISION
The U.S. Open's playoff round aired Monday, June 16, at noon and caused something of an economic slowdown—7.8 million Americans were riveted by gimpy Tiger Woods (left) nipping Rocco Mediate on the 19th hole of the day and 91st of the tournament.
THE YEAR • JAN. 6: AMERICAN GLADIATORS RETURNS TO NBC AFTER 12 YEARS • MARCH 28: 21 OPENS; AT $81.16 MILLION, IT WILL BE THE YEAR'S HIGHEST-GROSSING SPORTS FLICK • APRIL 29: ON COSTAS NOW, AUTHOR BUZZ BISSINGER RANTS PROFANELY AGAINST THE PROFANITY OF BLOGS