This is a regular feature breaking down, minute-by-minute, the content that appears on ESPN's 11 p.m. edition of SportsCenter throughout the week. Graphic by Jim Cooke.
When we left you last week, Tebowmania had overrun SportsCenter, hockey coverage was non-existent, the NFL dominated everything, and ESPN was talking about sporting events that aired on ESPN. What would this new week bring? Here are the results from Jan. 20-26. (Note: Tennis joins the categories this week because of the Australian Open, which aired on ESPN.)
Total time: 464 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 356.25
TIME DEVOTED TO INDIVIDUAL SPORTS
NFL: 123.25 minutes (34.5%)
NBA: 65 (18.2%)
College football: 38.5 (10.8%)
College basketball: 43.25 (12.1%)
NHL: 9 (2.5%)
MLB: 12.5 (3.5%)
Tennis: 2.75 (0.8%)
Other sports: 11.75 (3.3%)
SportsCenter staples ("Top 10," "Encore," "What 2 Watch 4," etc.): 50.25 (14.1%)
MOST-COVERED TEAMS BY SPORT
New York Giants (NFL): 58.75 (16.4%)
Orlando Magic (NBA): 12 (3.3%)
Penn State Nittany Lions (college football): 38.25 (10.7%)
Syracuse Orange (college basketball): 8.5 (2.3%)
Boston Bruins (NHL): 3.5 (0.9%)
Detroit Tigers (MLB): 8.75 (2.6%)
MOST-MENTIONED SPORTS FIGURES
Rather than break down the amount of time a specific sports figure was covered, we counted how frequently names were mentioned in the transcripts from the week. The 15 most-mentioned sports people for Jan. 20-26:
Joe Paterno: 116
Tom Brady: 81
Eli Manning: 75
Kevin Love: 27
Victor Cruz: 27
Peyton Manning: 26
Alex Smith: 24
Joe Flacco: 23
Dwight Howard: 23
LeBron James: 21
Russell Westbrook: 20
Prince Fielder: 19
Rob Gronkowski: 18
Kevin Durant: 17
Derrick Rose: 16
Joe Paterno > Tebow: ESPN spent a little more than 38 minutes on Paterno's death. Tom Rinaldi and others filed several reports chronicling all that Paterno meant to State College, what his legacy will be, reactions from the funeral, and the thoughts of former players under Paterno. It was thoroughly covered, as it should've been. In case you were curious, Jerry Sandusky's name was mentioned eight times all week.
Playing big-market teams gets you top billing: The Orlando Magic managed to play both the Lakers and Celtics this week, resulting in extended coverage of the team. It's unlikely they'll be the most-mentioned team this week, unless Dwight Howard finally gets himself traded.
ESPN almost went an entire week without saying Tebow: SportsCenter mentioned the Broncos quarterback 154 times from Jan. 7 through Jan. 18; last week, he was mentioned only once—after freestyle snowmobiler Colten Moore celebrated an X Games gold medal by Tebowing. One funny thing of note: The phrase "Team USA," used in reference to the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, came out twice in our captioning service's transcript as "Tebowmania." It's telling when a presumably automated captioning service becomes so accustomed to the name "Tebow" that it hears "Tebow"s even when no one's saying them. EVEN THE MACHINES HAVE TEBOWMANIA.
Nothing (not even bye weeks) can stop the NFL: Despite playing only two games this week, the NFL once again dominated coverage on SportsCenter. Even if you take away all the time given to football on Sunday's SportsCenter following the championship games (54.5 out of 86.75 commercial-free minutes), the NFL still would have been the most-mentioned sport on the program.
The 2 Minute Drill is a lie: Chris Berman's football segment on Jan. 21 lasted 5.5 minutes.
ESPN continues to not give a shit about the NHL: Nine minutes were devoted to the sport, while a little over three minutes was earmarked for highlights of a college basketball team in the middle of a 40-game losing streak. It's true: A lot of people—some of whom work at this very site—don't give a shit about hockey, either. But ask yourself what these breakdowns would look like if ESPN had the NHL's TV contract and not NBC.
CUMULATIVE STATISTICS, JAN. 7-26
Total time: 1223.5 minutes
Time (minus commercials): 916.25
Note: The Jan. 19 broadcast doesn't appear in these totals. We'll include the numbers for that show in next week's column.
NFL: 348.75 minutes (38%)
NBA: 171.5 (18.7%)
College football: 93.25 (10.2%)
College basketball: 119.25 (13%)
NHL: 22.5 (2.4%)
MLB: 29.25 (3.2%)
Other sports: 32.5 (3.2%)
SportsCenter staples: 99 (10.8%)