Buck replaces Costas as HBO host

The Baltimore Sun

Presenting weekly sports media notes while wondering whether I, too, can apply for a slots license with - as they say on commercials - no money down:

* Now batting for Costas, Buck.

With Bob Costas' departure to a cable-exclusive deal with the MLB Network announced this week, HBO yesterday presented his replacement, Fox's Joe Buck.

Buck's quarterly show will carry the "town hall" setting used on Costas Now, but other than that, HBO and Buck said, much of the format is up in the air.

"I imagine there'll be some swings and misses, and there'll be some things people will be talking about," Buck said in a conference call yesterday.

Though centered around sports, Buck said, the show might stretch beyond.

"I don't think that keeping it straight sports all the time is something I want to do," he said.

And he might even sneak in a dirty word or two.

HBO "is a littler freer, a little more liberated than network TV," Buck said.

The HBO show doesn't affect Buck's play-by-play job with Fox.

* Earlier this week, ESPN ran an interview with Pat Summitt as she approached 1,000 victories, featuring Bob Knight. In praising Summitt, Knight lauded all the Tennessee coach had done to lift the sport of "girls basketball." Summitt, of course, was too classy to tell Knight he should be proud of all he has done for boys basketball.

* This might be the most interesting thing about NBC's telecast of the Pro Bowl on Sunday: The last time the network carried the game, 1974, John Madden was coach of the AFC team.

* According to the final Nielsen numbers, 151.6 million people watched at least six minutes of the Super Bowl, making it the most-viewed television program ever. The average female audience was 38.3 million, putting this Super Bowl as the highest-ranked show among women since 38.6 million watched figure skating featuring Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Olympics. The Super Bowl also ranks third among women since Nielsen began compiling such statistics in 1991.

As you'd expect, Pittsburgh had the biggest rating for the game at 53.6 percent of the market's audience. But Phoenix couldn't do any better than ninth (47.5) to watch its hometown team. Baltimore came in 19th at 45.0. The second-highest ratings in the country were in Norfolk, Va. (52.6), which is where Steelers coach Mike Tomlin comes from.

* In Detroit, the NBC affiliate wasn't letting Matt Millen's pre-game appearance go off without noting his disastrous tenure running the Lions. The station inserted a crawl on the screen under Millen asking whether he had a "credibility issue" as a commentator after the way things went in Detroit.

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