Sirius Satellite Radio may have Howard Stern, the NFL, NBA and NHL, but rival XM Satellite Radio may have trumped them all by landing baseball on Wednesday.
In what figures to be a devastating development for Sirius in the battle for a growing satellite radio audience, XM will carry major-league games under a $650-million, 11-year deal.
XM already has more subscribers, roughly 2.5-million to 700,000 for Sirius. And it's cheaper, at $9.95 a month to $12.95 for Sirius (though baseball could raise that monthly price).
And now, baseball, by far the best radio sport, and likely with a much bigger radio audience than the NBA, NFL and NHL. I wrote a few weeks ago that baseball would ultimately decide the winner between Sirius and XM. I still think that is true. For baseball fans, this is the mighty tiebreaker. Starting with the 2005 preseason, XM will broadcast live every game in the majors, some in Spanish. XM also announced a Major League Baseball Channel that will broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will feature new content and rebroadcasts of classic games.
"This is the crown jewel, the deal that we've been waiting for," said Hugh Panero, CEO of Washington-based XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.
College football peek
USF plays No. 15 Louisville at 9 tonight on ESPN in what could be one of the biggest local television audiences to see the Bulls in action.
Louisville is coming off its near upset of Miami. The Bulls were stunned by Army, but the game, which was aired by WFTS-Ch. 28 locally, drew an impressive 4.1 local rating, which was better than Notre Dame-Navy (1.9) and Arkansas-Auburn (2.6) on CBS, Oklahoma-Kansas State (2.9), Arizona State-USC (2.6) on ABC, and Wisconsin-Purdue (1.5) on ESPN2.
In fact, of the 16 college games aired Saturday, USF's rating was bettered only by the 5.2 for Florida State-Virginia, which aired opposite the Bulls on ESPN.
According to some overly weak ratings, Fox Sports Net Florida isn't the first place area fans turn to for their college football, but this wouldn't be a bad weekend to start.
FSN will have the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, with Kansas at No. 2 Oklahoma at 1 p.m. and Washington at No. 1 USC at 6:30 p.m.
ESPN's College GameDay will originate live for the first time from Raleigh, N.C., for the Miami at North Carolina State matchup Saturday. It is the show's first trip to the North Carolina State campus, and the first to the state since Nov. 8, 1997, when No. 2 Florida State played at No. 5 North Carolina.
NASCAR ratings should go up
NBC's coverage of the Lowe's 500 from Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., earned a 4.9 national and 6.0 local rating for its prime-time broadcast Saturday. That number makes NBC and NASCAR happy, considering it was 14 percent higher than last year and had stiff competition from the Yankees-Red Sox and college football (USF and FSU were both airing locally at the time of the race).
Through 14 telecasts, NASCAR coverage on NBC and TNT has produced a 4.3 national rating, even with last year. Those numbers should rise as the Nextel Cup race winds to its conclusion in the coming weeks.