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Tiger Woods on the attack is good for TV's fortunes

SPORTS MEDIA

The golfer has the early lead in the PGA Championship. If Tiger doing the routing it's all good, ratings wise.

August 14, 2009|DIANE PUCIN

Things are working out just fine for TNT with this golf thing.

If, like TNT, you're going to televise only two major tournaments a year, it's not a bad thing if Tiger Woods is leading after the first round. That didn't happen with the British Open, though the push by Tom Watson was quite a story in its own right. This week's PGA Championship, however, is shaping up as a Tiger story.

While it is a shock to hear Ernie Johnson as your golf television host (oh, if only Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith could come along), Johnson's skills translated well on Thursday's TNT airing of the first round. CBS takes over the majority of coverage Saturday and Sunday with Jim Nantz as the major voice.

From the start, TNT planned to focus today's coverage on the threesome of Woods, Padraig Harrington and Rich Beem.

Nantz was on record earlier this week.

"I've got a feeling. . . . Tiger completed the pre-major slam" by winning the World Golf Championship last week, he said. "It hasn't added up to a victory at a major yet but all systems are go."

Normally in sports, a rout is bad for ratings. But if it's Tiger doing the routing it's all good. Sean McManus, president of CBS News and Sports, said, "Of the five tournaments Tiger has won this season, four have been on CBS. The numbers are pretty remarkable. The Memorial was up 100%, these are Sunday ratings; AT&T National up 180%, Buick Open 164% . . ." and the Bridgestone Invitational's "overnight ratings up 104%."

So excuse the folks at TNT and CBS if they are screaming "Go, Tiger," for the next three days.

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Not so fast, says Vin

Two weeks after telling Times columnist Bill Plaschke that next season would likely be his last as television play-by-play voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully spoke to Mitch Chortkoff, sports editor of the Santa Monica Mirror, and expressed a different feeling about his television future.

On July 29, Plaschke quoted Scully as saying: "God willing, I will probably come back for one more year. At this moment, my health is excellent, and I'm leaning toward one more year." Plaschke followed with the question, "And then retire?"

"Yes, that makes sense," he said.

Scully told Chortkoff in a piece that appeared online Thursday, "In my conversation with Bill Plaschke, the subject of one more year came up and I said, 'that makes sense.' But I regret that I said that. And if I did make a decision I wouldn't reveal it. It would be proper for the Dodgers to make the announcement."

Scully had no further comment Thursday.

Maybe it's best to keep appreciating Scully and letting the extraordinary 81-year-old keep talking about the Dodgers until he doesn't want to talk about them.

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Good one, DirecTV

After the local Time Warner cable television distributor suffered a 54-second "glitch" that caused viewers to miss a Manny Ramirez grand slam last month, the satellite company DirecTV took about three days to take advantage.

On several local sports-oriented radio stations, DirecTV began running an ad asking any Time Warner customers who wanted to see all of Ramirez's big moments to switch their television service. Quoting from the ad, "That's right, some Time Warner cable customer's TV froze during the bottom of the sixth, just in time to miss baseball history. So why in the name of baseball are you still a Time Warner customer? Come on, make the switch to DirecTV."

Brad Bentley, vice president for marketing for DirecTV, said his company pays attention when cable networks goof. "If Manny is going to come off the bench and fans miss that," Bentley said, "we feel the need to remind Los Angeles customers that they have a choice."

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Good today

Former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez will likely make his debut with the New York Jets when they play the Rams at 4 p.m. on the NFL Network. And they're here: the Little League World Series playoffs. Southeast Regional play is at 5 p.m. on ESPN.

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Good on Saturday

Quadruple-header of LLWS regional finals on ESPN starting at 9 a.m. with the Midwest Regional and ending with the Northwest Regional at 6 p.m. Or there's an NFL triple-header of exhibition games beginning at 1 p.m. on the NFL Network with Atlanta at Detroit. World Track & Field Championships are on Channel 4 at 10 a.m.

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Good on Sunday

ESPN2 has the LLWS West Regional final at 5 p.m. The ATP Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal had a loaded field with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic, so the final should be good at 10:30 a.m. on ESPN2. The WTA Western Southern Financial event in Cincinnati started with both Serena and Venus Williams, but the sisters were eliminated Thursday. There will still be a final at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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