Lou Riggs (1934-2015), sportscasting guru to many in the business

louLou Riggs, a longtime Santa Monica College sportscasting instructor and mentor who helped develop the careers of Chris Marlowe, Chris McGee, James Worthy, Heather Cox, Keith Erickson, Jose Mota and John Jackson, passed away last Friday at his home in Santa Monica after complications from ALS.
He was 81.
A sportswriter and broadcaster for much of his life, Riggs fashioned his last 30-plus years specializing as a sports broadcasting teacher, specializing in mass communication and speech at SMC. He also did private consulting for those current sportscasters, and was a valued broadcast go-to consultant for Fox Sports. He also taught for the national Columbia School of Broadcasting based in New York.
In 1992, he co-authored a textbook called “Play-By-Play Sportscaster Training” with Al Epstein, the longtime Pepperdine University sportscaster.
“Lou Riggs is the best broadcasting coach in Los Angeles — the Michael Jordan of sportscasting gurus,” said Marlowe, a retired U.S. Olympic volleyball captain who works for the Denver Nuggets, having honed his career with Riggs while working at Prime Ticket, NBC, ESPN and ABC, having doing beach volleyball during the Summer Olympics every year since 2004.
“Lou was a wonderful man, a great mentor, and a lifelong friend,” added Marlowe. “He touched all of our lives in a very meaningful way. We will all miss him greatly.”

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Adding up who watched Sunday’s U.S. triumph at the Women’s World Cup gets you … let’s round up to 27 mil

Andres Cantor called the Women's World Cup for Telemundo this year.

Andres Cantor called the Women’s World Cup for Telemundo this year.

The American’s 5-2 victory over Japan in Sunday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup final from Vancouver — essentially decided 20 minutes into the match — still registered as the most-watched soccer game in U.S. TV history at 25.4 million for Fox, according to Nielsen figures released this afternoon.

Additionally, Spanish-language Telemundo says it had 1.27 million viewers for its coverage, the most who ever saw a Women’s World Cup in the U.S. for that network.

The previously most-watched U.S. soccer game in the U.S. was during the 2014 Men’s World Cup, when 18.2 million saw the Americans face Portugal in a Group match on ESPN. The Women’s World Cup record of 17.9 million watched the U.S. outlast China in penalty kicks at the Rose Bowl in the 1999 final carried by ABC. Sunday’s game was 41 percent better than that one, and 89 percent higher than the 2011 U.S.-Japan final, where Japan won on penalty kicks (13.5 million.)

Sunday’s game, carried on KTTV-Channel 11 in Los Angeles, had a 16.7 rating for the country’s No. 2 market, well above the 12.9 national mark. L.A. Kansas City and St. Louis had the best market ratings at 20.6 and 20.5, with San Diego third at 19.5.

The L.A. market did a 5.8 rating for all seven U.S. games in the tournament, tied for 13th overall. St. Louis topped that list (8.0), with San Diego fifth (6.4).

For comparison’s sake, the Sunday final was better than every game of the recent NBA Finals and the primetime average of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games. The most-watched sporting event before Sunday was the NCAA men’s basketball championship (28.3 million on CBS last April).

As the U.S. bolted out to a 3-0 lead 16 minutes into the game Sunday, the audience peaked at 30.1 million viewers from 5:30-to-5:45 p.m. PDT.

According to data compiled by Sports Media Watch, the U.S.-Japan final was fourth most-watched non-NFL sporting event this year (with the NFL included, the soccer game would be 15th-most watched):

Personal aside: I still haven’t watched the game. I was attending a Sunday afternoon Mass where the priest was vigilant in giving out the halftime and final scores — without a spoiler alert. I then found myself a short time later wolfing down at Fat Burger with Petros Papadakis and his family, but that’s a whole other story, as the Fox postgame show was continuing on the TV monitors. I might watch this afternoon, but I’m sure it will have no affect on the final ratings.

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Play It Forward: July 6-12 — Serena-Venus matchup starts Manic Monday, headed to the Wimbledon finals

Spectators gather on 'Murray Mount' as they watch the Serena Williams play Britain's Heather Watson at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon last Friday. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Spectators gather on ‘Murray Mount’ as they watch the Serena Williams play Britain’s Heather Watson at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon last Friday. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Details/TV: At the All England Lawn Tennis Club in England, Saturday and Sunday at 6 a.m., ESPN:
Look beyond the Manic Monday matchup of Serena Williams versus Venus Williams (which has already ended, by the way). On the men’s side, things may look easy for defending champion Novak Djokovic, who outlasted Roger Federer in five sets in ’14. But they ain’t.

Novak Djokovic  celebrates winning the match against Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon on Friday. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Novak Djokovic celebrates winning the match against Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon on Friday. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Djokovic now comes out Monday against the big serve of 14th- seed Kevin An- derson. “I’m trying to build my game in general, every stroke is getting better each match,” said the 28- year-old coached by former Wimbledon champ and current resident Boris Becker. “That is something that is obviously very encouraging to see.” Djokovic added that the “second week is obviously always more challenging, more difficult than the first, but I’m ready for it now. I have two days (to prepare for the next round). I’m going to work on the court, get myself recovered and ready for a challenge that is presented in the second week.” British favorite Andy Murray also faces the huge serve of Ivo Karlovic in his next step. “He will come to the net a lot,” Murray said. “He’s served more than 40 aces in a couple of his matches. Returns turns must be on if I’m to get through.”
Monday’s play starts at 4 a.m. on ESPN2 and 5 a.m. on ESPN. The women’s quarterfinals are Tuesday at 5 a.m. on ESPN and ESPN2, and the semifinals are Thursday at 5 a.m. on ESPN. The men’s quarterfinals are Wednesday at 5 a.m. on ESPN and ESPN2, and the semifinals are Friday at 5 a.m. on ESPN.

The U.S. begins against Honduras in the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Frisco, Texas (Tuesday, 4:30 p.m., FS1), with Costa Rica highlighting the first round of group games at StubHub Center on Wednesday … Michelle Wie comes in as the defending champ at the 70th U.S. Women’s Open golf tournament in Lancaster, Penn. … The Dodgers face Philadelphia and Milwaukee at home going into the All-Star break, while the Angels are at Colorado and Seattle … The Scottish Open, which is the warmup for the July 16-19 British Open, won’t have two-time major winner Jordan Spieth — he’s playing in the PGA’s John Deere Classic in Illinois instead … More info linked here.

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When a women’s soccer game viewing party breaks out in a gym, who does heavy lifting?

IMG_3654Until you actually witness a bunch of weight lifters drop what they’re doing at the local gym and seek out a TV monitor that has a FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer match, it’s easy to underestimate the weight that this event carries.
Just before halftime of Tuesday’s U.S.-Germany semifinal contest on Fox’s KTTV-Channel 11 affiliate, the DirecTV feed at my Torrance-based fitness center went down – too much wind and tropical atmospheric disturbance outside likely caused it.
But as my cardio workout dragged on, the personal TV attached above the digital dashboard of my Precor machine didn’t flicker off as the others did. Maybe it had a hookup from an Internet stream or cable TV source.
So from my vantage point, Alex Morgan just missing the net in the 42nd minute with a shot attempt, and Tobin Heath crashing into the boards beyond the end line after a mad dash was clearly captivating.
The subsequent groans behind me gave me a moment to pause and turn around.
There, a group of lifters who had been focused on the match via the wall-mounted flatscreens in the area they were previously grunting and groaning had come over to my section and were now angling to see the action on my screen – hopefully, this optical experience was not dependent on the energy I was generating from my elliptical routine.
Once halftime arrived, the party broke up. Some said they were heading next door to the Whole Foods food court to watch the second half. Others were racing home to see the finish.
By any way in measuring TV success – starting with the traditional data that Nielsen spits out — this tournament that comes to a patriotic climax Sunday at 4 p.m. has hardly been a superficial experience being played out on artificial turf.
An average audience of 8.4 million viewers, peaking to 12.1 million by the time it was over, saw Tuesday’s U.S. 2-0 triumph. That’s the greatest audience for a men’s or women’s World Cup semifinal game in U.S. history. For a game with a 4 p.m. weeknight start, L.A. market’s 6.1 rating was actually better than the national average of 6.0.
Remember, none of that measures public places like sports bars, restaurants, office buildings, dorm rooms … or gyms. And it’s not factoring in those breaking records with NBC’s Telemundo Spanish-language feed, or grabbing streaming for the Fox Go mobile devices.
For more of this weekly column, please go to the Daily News website linked here.

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Sunday Q&A: 25 years later, why we trust Bob Ley, ESPN’s “OG,” to keep coloring outside the lines

Bob Ley, left, meets with John Barr, Tom Farrey and Mark Fainaru-Wada in ESPN’s newsroom prior to the network's 25th anniversary show for "Outside The Lines." (ESPN photo)

Bob Ley, left, meets with John Barr, Tom Farrey and Mark Fainaru-Wada in ESPN’s newsroom prior to the network’s 25th anniversary show for “Outside The Lines.” (ESPN photo)

Without Bob Ley, one might envision ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” going off the tracks. You almost can’t spell “OTL” without the letters in Bob Ley’s name anyway, for those who think that way.

Almost a month ago, the 60-year-old agreed to a contract extension, saying his enjoyment and challenge in hosting and moderating the discussion of the six-days-a week, half-hour news-driven show continues to be worth his valued time.

(Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

(Rich Arden/ESPN Images)

The hunt-to-find series celebrates its 25th anniversary with a special setup on Tuesday at 4 p.m. on ESPN, where Ley and crew not only look back in its impact coming from a monthly test program in 1990 but also to making and breaking more news as it is today.

To help frame this silver anniversary properly, we enjoyed this golden conversation with Ley, who remains the longest-tenured ESPN on-air employee holding down a show that has produced nearly 2,000 daily episodes and 800 more on Sundays, according to the network’s count:

Q: Does 25 years of OTL sound about right?
Well, we won’t know until the autopsy is taken (laughing). Yes, it sounds about right. It was one of those, ‘Oh, you’re right’ moments last fall when we were talking about when it all started – ‘1990? ’91? Oh, man, that’s 25 years.’ It was an organic realization by the staff, and they’ve all been there as long as me because, you know, I can’t find real work. So it was like, ‘Hey, we ought to do something like a television show (about the anniversary).’ We had a meeting about this during the depths of a terrible winter and I tried to set a tone: Let’s all resolve that we are embarking on an impossible task. We cannot synthesize and present 25 years in a one-hour show, which is really 50 minutes once you boil it down. At the end of the day, we’ll all cry about something that wasn’t in the show. But we can try our best. When you get around TV for a long time, you can get blasé and jaundice about it, but when we were in the studio the other day looking at some of the things we covered and seeing how this show will look, we were saying, ‘This is pretty good.’ We’re really proud of all this. We really are. Continue reading

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