Wednesday night's Red Sox-Angels game was the highest-rated telecast in NESN's 20-year history, returning a 15.1 rating in the Boston market. The audience peaked at an 18.8 rating during the quarter-hour beginning at 9 p.m.
That big rating came on the heels of Tuesday night's 13.3 Sox-Angels rating, which set a one-day record for NESN's highest rating for a non-Sox-Yankees telecast.
The all-time top Sox rating -- at least in the era since the advent of cable television -- was the 18.8 for last month's ESPN "Sunday Night Baseball" telecast of the Sox-Yankees. Behind that are a pair of Channel 25 telecasts of Sox-Yankees games that posted 16.3 and 16.2 marks.
Last night's wrap-up of the Sox-Angels series went head-to-head with the Patriots-Jaguars exhibition on Channel 5, which was certain to cut into the audience for each game.
The Sox are home all weekend against the Rangers, starting with tonight's Channel 38 telecast at 7, and continuing on NESN tomorrow at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 2.
After that comes a viewing downer: six straight 10 p.m. starts from Oakland and Seattle, starting Monday against the Athletics.
One way Comcast will maximize its carriage of the channel is by placing the channel's highlight shows in the cable company's "On Demand" service, with a special "button" for the NFL Network. Plans are to use the channel to show expanded highlights of regular-season games, to replay NFL Films features, and two "Games of the Week," both in high definition, that will become available the Wednesday following the weekend's action.
Colorado District Attorney Mark Hurlbert's decision to drop the felony sexual assault charges against Kobe Bryant brought amazing broadcast reactions.
From the beginning, the story was nasty. There was the he-said, she-said nature of the case that hinged on the question of whether there was consensual sex or rape, a focal point that defense lawyers blurred with all sorts of ancillary information and charges.
There also was the black man/white woman racial angle and the nearly all-white makeup of potential jury pools in Eagle, Colo.
Wednesday night on ESPN, Jim Gray reported on the decision and the reaction in the Bryant camp. ESPN promoted his report as having exclusive access to the Bryant defense team. Instead, it seemed the defense had exclusive access to a pipeline to get its message out on ESPN's "SportsCenter."
Gray came off as a spokesman/apologist for Bryant in a one-sided report that never acknowledged there might have been a second side to the case.
Gray's report took the position that many people have been wrongly accused of crimes and wound up in jail, and there was no jury of Bryant's peers in Eagle, Colo. And, if Bryant were offered a way out with no admission of guilt or plea entered, why wouldn't he sign the apology?
Gray also helped the Bryant camp set a public position for its defense in the pending civil case against Bryant. "Bryant said no deals are in place, there have been no discussions between the parties, and Bryant had no plans to pay off this person and would vehemently defend himself in the civil trial," Gray said.
However, that being said, the late-night "Outside the Lines," with host Bob Ley, showed ESPN's strength at reacting to a news story on the fly as the staff jettisoned a planned Sox-Yankees rivalry piece to focus on the Bryant legal decision.
CBS is airing its US Open coverage -- 11 a.m.-6 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday -- in high definition with both the standard definition and HD viewers seeing the same feed. USA has coverage today at 11 a.m. and continues at 7 p.m. In between?
Bill Griffith's e-mail address is email@example.com