Archive for April, 2005
I was not planning to do links today as stories about the sports media have been rather scarce. But there are a couple of interesting stories.
Back in February, I did some links to the firing of Chris Cuthbert, then a longtime announcer for the CBC in Canada. Cuthbert called the CFL, Olympics and Hockey Night in Canada. But CBC Sports President Nancy Lee unceremoniously fired Cuthbert by registered mail as he was preparing to call the World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow. Cuthbert has landed on his feet and signed a new contract with CTV/TSN. He’ll be involved in their Olympic coverage in 2010 and also call the CFL and the NHL. CTV has a press release on Cuthbert’s hiring. The Toronto Globe and Mail also has a story in regards to Cuthbert’s signing with TSN which is the equivalent of ESPN in Canada. Cuthbert’s firing was big news in Canada as he was seen as the heir apparent to Bob Cole as the main announcer on Hockey Night in Canada, but that will not be the case now.
And Rob Brodie of the Ottawa Sun has a story in regards to Cuthbert landing on top. Cuthbert and his agent are still considering legal action against the CBC in regards to his firing.
The other story that broke over the last two days regards college sports network CSTV. Yesterday, it announced a contract to air football, basketball and other games from three small black college conferences, the SWAC, MEAC and SIAC. Thanks to the internet, we can link to the announcement that was published in the San Francisco Chronicle. It seemed like a big thing for the conferences which generally do not have their games broadcast on TV. Here’s the press release that was published by New Vision Sports Properties which appeared to broker this contract.
But hold on. The conferences especially the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) both denied there was a deal. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post wrote a short story in today’s edition. It appeared that the SWAC had already reached an agreement with ESPN for games to appear on ESPNU and the same for the SIAC. Here’s another version of the story.
So when is a deal not a deal? When ESPN says it isn’t. This is not the end of this story. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this in the days to come. Short stack of links today. There will be lots more tomorrow.
The NFL Draft is over and the next big sporting event is the NBA Playoffs and next week, it’ll be the Kentucky Derby. The rites of the Sporting Spring are well underway.
First the links. USA Today’s Michael Hiestand has the review of the weekend ratings. Just four events were measured which shows that the TV offerings were pretty slow. Fox had a NASCAR race, CBS had golf and a Formula 1 race. ABC had the NBA Playoffs, while NBC had an Arena Football game which didn’t appear in Hiestand’s story.
In today’s Boston Globe, Bill Griffith writes about the “3 Games to Glory III” DVD which focuses on the three postseason games the New England Patriots played, which of course, led to their win in the Super Bowl. He also has some local news and notes.
Steve Zipay of New York Newsday this year’s NBA Playoffs lack sex appeal as big market teams such as New York and Los Angeles are missing. I have to agree with him. Zipay also talks to Marv Albert about his interest in NBC’s Sunday Night Football gig and also discusses the New Jersey Nets whose games Albert will call next year on the YES Network.
The New York Daily News is always good for a media column on Tuesday. Bob Raissman provides the fodder today and he mostly writes about the panic in New York over the Yankees’ poor start. But he does praise YES analyst Jim Kaat for not succumbing to it.
The dispute between Time Warner and Cablevision over FSN and the MSG Network is approaching its third month with no end in sight. Fans have been deprived of the New York Mets and god forbid, the New York-New Jersey MetroStars of the MLS. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times (registration required) writes that the dispute is leading to binding arbitration. Sandomir also wonders where New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is. He has brokered deals between the two companies in the past and is missing in this dispute.
Over in Chicago, one-time sports radio king, WSCR has topped rival WMVP in the latest ratings battle between the two stations. But as Chicago Tribune media writer Teddy Greenstein points out, both sides are claiming victory in the latest ratings period. WSCR officials are happy with their success and Greenstein writes that the station was helped by Illinois’ run to the Final Four and adding Steve Stone as a baseball analyst. Greenstein also reports that the White Sox are close to a deal with WSCR which would take the team away from WMVP after this season.
Broadcasting & Cable magazine has an article on whether the networks can make money on the new NFL deals. The networks have used the NFL as a loss leader since the 1980′s although CBS says it made money on its current deal through its Owned and Operated stations. NBC says it will make money on the Sunday Night Football deal in a similar vein.
For a college baseball team, getting on any type of TV is a big deal. The Wichita State Shockers will be shown on ESPN2 and ESPNU. The Wichita Eagle has a story. It’s not a big deal nationally, but I thought I would give you a story from the Midwest on this.
For those of you who are watching the NBA Playoffs, TNT is attempting to hire Kobe Bryant as a studio analyst for its games. The LA Daily News has a brief story on that plus a meeting to be held between Bryant and former Laker coach Phil Jackson.
That’s it for now. Back later with more down the line.
Tomorrow is the NFL Draft, an event which at one time, was a group of team executives sitting at tables at some hotel conference room, talking on the phone and handing their pick to Commissioner Pete Rozelle. Now, the event has grown to a made-for-TV event with ESPN providing wall-to-wall coverage on its family of networks and its website. The event has been moved from Madison Square Garden to the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York and while the viewers may not know every player’s name, fans of NFL teams sit and watch with baited breath to see who their General Manager will choose. Remember Donovan McNabb being roundly booed by Philadelphia Eagles fans? What about Draft Expert Mel Kiper calling the Jets’ pick of Jeff Lageman a wasted draft pick? And the shenanigans two years ago when the Minnesota Vikings had trouble getting their pick in on time?
They have become memorable moments for football fans and it gives the NFL a chance to grab the headlines for one weekend in the Spring. So with this year’s draft being covered by the NFL Network, ESPN, Sirius Satellite Radio and various websites across the country, fans will be covered one way or another.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand takes a look at ESPN’s coverage and also has a preview of TNT’s and ABC’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs which also start on Saturday.
The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein has a few paragraphs on the draft, but his article’s main gist is the lack of coverage on Comcast SportsNet of Kerry Wood’s outburst in the Cubs’ dugout Monday. Comcast was criticized for protecting the Cubs, but SportsNet GM Jim Corso said the video was not good enough to air. Greenstein, as a good reporter should do, went to check it out for himself and gives his analysis of the video. It should be mentioned that the Tribune and Comcast are partners in SportsNet through programming and the Cubs.
Bill Griffith of the Boston Globe has a look at ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft.
By writing one day a week, Jim Baker of the Nashua Telegraph tries to catch up on NBC getting back into the NFL and on television coverage of the Boston Marathon. It doesn’t work.
Over to the New York Post where grumpy curmudgeon Phil Mushnick yells at WFAN’s Mike and the Mad Dog for much of his weekly column. Mushnick likes to belittle the popular pair, but comes off sounding like a man who’s time has passed. Despite that, he’s a good read solely for his rants.
Andrew Marchand of the Post has his usual cycle of Friday stories. He has a mini-column that looks at how the new NFL deal for ESPN will affect its contract with the NHL (whenever it decides to come back from its insignificant lockout).
Marchand also interviews NBC Universal Sports President Dick Ebersol who’s division made a huge splash by obtaining Sunday Night Football this week.
The New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman checks in this week. He has a very good look at what ESPN is actually paying for in its deal for Monday Night Football. There are no playoff games, no Super Bowls, no Pro Bowls, NFL Primetime has been pushed back to 12 a.m. Monday (that’s right, no longer at 7:30 p.m. Sunday) and the slate will just be 17 regular season games on Monday Night. When all is said and done, could ESPN lose money on the NFL on this contract?
Larry Stewart of the Los Angeles Times says the euphoria of getting the NFL is over for NBC Sports. It’s now time to focus on who will call the games on Sunday nights. And Stewart speculates on who will fill ESPN’s booth, whether it be Michaels and Madden or Mike Patrick, Joe Theismann and Paul Maguire, the Sunday Night crew for the alleged Worldwide Leader.
Tom Hoffarth of the crosstown LA Daily News looks ahead to 2013 and the possibility that ESPN’s next move might be cablecasting a Super Bowl.
John Cotey of the St. Petersburg Times gives the pros and cons of ESPN’s spending $1.1 billion for MNF.
We continue our trip to Florida with a story from Rick Harmon of the Tampa Tribune wondering if NBC overspent on the NFL. Newspaper writers are so jealous.
Bob Costas did a conference call with newspaper media writers and Dan Caesar recaps what was said in a column he wrote yesterday for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Costas’ hometown paper. There’s been speculation what role Costas will have on NBC’s coverage, but he was quick to point out that his contract with both HBO and NBC expires next spring.
BusinessWeek looks at the MNF deal for ESPN and why it paid so much for the rights.
I always give the last word to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle who wrote about Jim Nantz’s efforts to help bring another Super Bowl to Houston and previews this weekend’s work at the PGA Tour event in the same city.
If my schedule allows it, I hope to have a review of ESPN’s coverage of the 1st round of the NFL Draft.
Update: 1:20 p.m.
Newsday’s Steve Zipay reports that ESPN has renewed a deal to air MLB games on Sunday and Wednesday nights. Details have not been released. Its current deal expires this season and ESPN has a separate deal to carry daytime and postseason games that finishes in 2006. It’s not known if the new deal includes any postseason games. This is not being reported by anyone else and Sports Business Daily picked up Zipay’s story.
Also, Comcast SportsNet has filed a suit against the Baltimore Orioles that prevents the Washington Nationals games from being televised on cable and satellite. Just a couple of days ago, it appeared that the Nationals were about to be carried on DirecTV, but that went by the boards with the lawsuit. Baseball fans are the losers in this lawsuit. Nationals games are still being televised locally on WDCA and WTTG. Here’s the story from ESPN.com. We get the DC perspective from Thomas Heath of the Washington Post. This fight will get uglier before it gets resolved.
With two days to absorb the news of NBC re-obtaining the rights to broadcast the NFL, writers across the country are now making their analyses of how the network returned to a relationship that lasted almost 40 years before the General Electric-owned entity dropped out in 1998.
It’s amazing how the NFL legitimizes or reinvigorates a sports division. When ESPN was brought into the NFL fold in 1987, it was known as a niche network that broadcast Australian Rules Football, Davis Cup Tennis, America’s Cup yacht racing, the NHL and College Basketball. After ESPN bought the rights for NFL games, Major League Baseball came a-calling and the network has grown into a virtual sports monopoly.
In 1994, Fox was a small network that wanted to make a huge splash. Despite some edgy programming that drew small numbers, owner Rupert Murdoch wanted to reach higher. The NFL brought more viewers and CBS was on the outside looking in.
During the period of 1994 – 1998, CBS was a falling rock. The sports division was in shambles, primetime programming fell to fourth place and the network was in a crossroads until 1998 when it obtained the rights to the AFC.
From 1998 until now, NBC was in a period of finding cheap and profitable sporting events to broadcast. NBC Universal Sports President Dick Ebersol was under an edict to make money as the NFL has been a loss leader for Fox and ABC. Here are examples of some of the events NBC has broadcast since losing MLB, the NBA and the NFL: The Olympics in 2000, 2002 and 2004, Notre Dame Football, the Triple Crown, the Breeders Cup, the XFL, Arena Football, Rodeo, the French Open and Wimbledon Tennis Tournaments, NASCAR, Figure Skating, AVP Volleyball and Lacrosse. But now, NBC has made it back into an arena where it has a long tradition. And by obtaining rights to the Super Bowl, the network has a vehicle to promote its programming.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand is busy this week. His Wednesday column speculates on whom NBC would hire for the Sunday Night game and what role Bob Costas would play. He also discusses what direction ESPN might take now that it will have Monday Night Football in 2006.
Hiestand has a cover story today, but not on the NFL, but on ESPN College Gameday studio analyst Lee Corso. Dick Vitale has ESPN to thank for making him a star. The same goes for Corso to a lesser extent. Corso has made College Gameday very entertaining with co-analyst Kirk Herbstreit and host Chris Fowler.
Back to the NFL on NBC, Chicago Tribune media writer Teddy Greenstein has some background on how NBC returned to the table and he also has some tidbits on Scottie Pippen joining Comcast SportsNet for the playoffs.
Phil Rosenthal of the Tribune has his take on what the move of MNF to ESPN might mean for your cable bill. ESPN has said it won’t charge more per subscriber to the cable companies. Rosenthal speculates otherwise.
Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has his take on the changes in the NFL TV contract plus some more speculation on who will fill the broadcast booths for NBC and ESPN.
New York Newsday has a story from Steve Zipay about the possibility of Marv Albert coming back to NBC to do the NFL. Albert currently calls Monday Night Football for Westwood One radio.
David Hinckley of the New York Daily News laments the move of MNF to cable.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post is the only reporter I know of to write about Chris Berman being named as host of “Monday Night Countdown” which will be live from each MNF game site starting in 2006. Berman will replace Stuart Scott on Countdown which had been produced mainly at ESPN’s Bristol, CT studios.
Matthew Futterman of the Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger writes a story on how this move will affect could affect ABC.
Stuart Elliot, the advertising beat writer for the New York Times, says NBC really couldn’t live without the NFL any longer and didn’t have a choice but to bid for the Sunday Night package. You can use bugmenot.com to sidestep registration.
We’ll see if tomorrow is any different in the amount of sports media stories focusing on the NFL primetime moves.
UPDATE – 11:15 a.m.
Mid-Atlantic Sports Network and DirecTV are about to strike a deal for carriage on the satellite TV provider. Some viewers may have noticed last night that a channel had been cleared for MASN, but there was no game for the Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals. MASN is the Regional Sports network that is operated by the Baltimore Orioles and will air National games. Currently, the channel doesn’t have an agreement with various cable companies in and around the DC area. Eric Fisher of the Washington Times has a story on the expected agreement.
If the agreement is struck sometime today, I’ll put it on the blog.
As we now have a day to absorb the implications of the moves the NFL made in its primetime packages, we realize that once again, a long time TV partner now finds itself on the outside looking in. In 1994, CBS was surprised by Fox in the bidding for the NFC package. In 1998, CBS returned to the NFL by winning the AFC and forced NBC out. Now in 2005, after 7 years of biding its time, NBC returned to the NFL broadcasting business by taking out ABC. When the packages are put to bid in 2011, don’t be surprised to see ABC find a way to get back to the NFL.
The NFL likes having the networks bid against each other. Having the NFL allows networks to promote their primetime programming. Not only that, the NFL brings young males to the TV screen in a way that no other sport does. While ABC cites losses from Monday Night Football, don’t think that it won’t miss the ratings that the game brought to its affiliates. Now, ABC will have to cope with the lost ratings.
During the period from 1994-1998, CBS floundered in the ratings and dropped to fourth place in the primetime ratings. When CBS brought the NFL back, the network rose to first place in both in the overall race and in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic.
Between 1998 to the present, NBC has fallen from a robust 1st place to third after CBS and ABC. With NBC now devoting its entire primetime lineup to the NFL on Sundays starting next year, the network will find a way to rise. With the NFL and the Olympics, NBC has two important sports properties to promote.
Fox which has been immune to losing major sports properties since getting into the sports business in 1994 had better be careful in the next bidding because it could be next.
Ok, enough of me, now time to get to the links.
We start with USA Today’s Michael Hiestand whose first major story as primary media writer for the paper is this week’s NFL changes. He has a good enterprise story looking into who will be the crew to broadcast the Monday Night games for ESPN, whether the Sunday night crew will go over or if Al Michaels and John Madden will move to cable. Plus, he explains the flexible schedule for SNF.
The Boston Globe’s Bill Griffith gets details of the deal from the chairman of the NFL TV committee, Patriots owner Robert Kraft and also provides highlights of both primetime packages.
Freelancer John Molori has his take on NBC’s re-entry into the NFL and he also writes about the ordeal baseball balladeer Terry Cashman had to endure on WEEI in Boston.
NBC News has finally written a story on the deal for the Peacock Network.
The online magazine Salon has a story on the new primetime packages. King Kaufman speculates that this could be the beginning of the end of the NFL on free TV. I really doubt that.
The New York Post has a story from Tim Arango and Andrew Marchand. This story cites “sources” as saying CBS is interesting in bringing back John Madden and placing him in a three man booth with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. That would very crowded verbiage.
Bob Raissman and Matt Marone of the New York Daily News combine for their version of the story.
Washington Post NFL Writer Mark Maske has more on the TV deal.
New York Times TV and Radio writer Richard Sandomir has a background story on ABC’s history of Monday Night Football and what this means for ESPN.
Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times is already lamenting the move of MNF to cable.
And I’ll give the last word on this subject to Houston Chronicle writer David Barron who has done a very good job on this story.
If you find you have to register to read any of these stories (it will certainly be the case for the New York Times, Washington Post and LA Times) and you don’t want to give your personal information, my suggestion would be to click on this link to bugmenot.com and bypass the signup process.
Wednesday, we’ll try to find media stories about other topics, but if there are some major stories still to be written about NBC and ESPN on the NFL, I’ll link to them.
I attended the Patriots Day game between the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. Lots of fun was had by a well behaved crowd.
As I’m driving home, I hear that the NFL finally made a decision about the primetime packages and it was no surprise that ESPN got Monday Night Football. This move had been anticipated for quite some time. ABC had lost money on the package and had attempted to lower its payments to the NFL. Only once has the NFL taken less money from the networks and to offset those losses, the league went to ESPN for an eight game schedule in 1987. Since then, ESPN has been a loyal partner to the NFL and its reward is Monday Night Football.
What is the surprise here is that NBC gets back into the NFL. At this time, NBC is struggling in primetime, basicallly where CBS was in 1998 when the Eye Network got back into the pro football broadcasting business. Up until now, NBC had made no public overtures about the NFL. It had said it would stay out of money-losing sports properties and parent company General Electric had made sure it was so. NBC lost the AFC package to CBS in 1998, lost Major League Baseball in 2000 to Fox and the NBA to ABC/ESPN in 2002. So when today’s news broke, it was kind of a shock, but with new management at the top of now NBC Universal, the sky is pretty much the limit.
USA Today’s Michael Hiestand has the story about the NFL’s new/old television partner.
NBC will broadcast the Super Bowls in 2009 and 2012, two Pro Bowls and devote its entire Sunday primetime lineup to the NFL. That means a one hour pre-game show starting at 7 p.m. ET, the game kicking off at 8:15 p.m., plus two Wild Card playoff games, three preseason games and the Season Opening Thursday night game which for the past three seasons has been on ABC.
The NFL gives details of the new primetime contracts in a press release. The interesting change for Monday Night Football besides the obvious is that the kickoff time will now be at 8:40 p.m. ET.
The new agreements with CBS, Fox and NBC start in 2006 and expire in 2011. ESPN’s Monday Night Football contract will span from 2006-2013. The NFL also begins a new contract with DirecTV for the Sunday Ticket pay per view package in 2006.
David Barron of the Houston Chronicle quickly wrote a story for the paper’s website.
Interestingly enough, MSNBC.com uses an Associated Press story for its own website. Then again, MSNBC’s sports coverage is really lacking and is hardly a destination for sports fans. Perhaps with the NFL back into the fold, NBC Sports will actually do something with MSNBC.com. Who knows?
But NBC Universal has its own press release to announce its return to the NFL.
For the financial end of the story, CNN/Money has a look at how much ABC lost on MNF.
I’m sure there will be more stories on Tuesday and we’ll keep track of them for you.
Today is the final day for USA Today Sports TV Media Critic Rudy Martzke. He started his column for the newspaper in 1982 and he ends his long newspaper career today. I’ve been calling for his retirement for quite some time and sometimes, your requests are granted. I feel he yields too much power and his silly wrestling quotes between network executives are very silly. USA Today gives him a huge send off in today’s edition.
Let’s start with his own recollections. Rudy says he hired Bob Costas to become the announcer for the ABA’ St. Louis Spirits back in 1974 when Martzke was the team’s director of operations. I think for this reason alone, Martzke overgushes on Costas even when the announcer has weak moments. Read this column and try not to spit out your coffee.
USA Today lists some of Rudy’s career highlights. I don’t quite understand the significance of this story, but read if you must.
And Rudy lists his all-time “Rudy” Awards, the pompous year-end or season-end awards he “hands” out in his column. Of course, Bob Costas in listed there.
I’m glad Rudy is gone and no more “Rudy” Awards to bore us to death.
In Boston and New York, the main topic of discussion is the fan incident involving Gary Sheffield of the Yankees at Fenway Park. The fan was a knucklehead for reaching over the fence. Sheffield showed restraint by not charging into the stands after Chris House, the season ticket holder who now becomes one of the more infamous examples of fan behavior. Dave Scott, blogger for Boston Sports Media, has his take on the media coverage which will reach the overkill stage pretty soon.
ESPN, ESPNews, ESPN2′s “Cold Pizza” all had coverage of the incident throughout the early morning hours. House who now has TV stations camped in front of his house and messages left by Boston Sports Radio station, WEEI, now knows what it is like to be the focus of 24 hour media and the internet. It’s not about to leave him until he speaks to one or two media outlets. It will be a wild ride for him and I don’t mean that in a positive way. WEEI in Boston and WSKO in Providence spent their entire morning shows on the subject. Dennis & Callahan on WEEI debated intent with Boston Herald columnist Gerry Callahan taking the side that House meant to hit Sheffield and was surprised that he got caught. Co-host John Dennis said it was an accident. Their debate became heated but also boring.
Boston Globe media reporter Bill Griffith had a story before the incident and he writes about the Boston Marathon coverage which goes overboard on Monday, Patriots Day, a Massachusetts state holiday.
The Marathon is also the focus of Jim Baker’s media column in the Nashua Telegraph.
In New York, the dispute between Time Warner and Cablevision has the DISH Network, the satellite TV subscription service offering a discount for Mets fans who can’t watch MSG Network and FSN. New York Newsday’s Business section has a story on the offer.
Earlier this week, I focused on the YES Network’s refusal to show the Boston Red Sox’ ring ceremony on Monday. Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News chimes in today with his two cents. This column comes a bit late, but Raissman does not have a Tuesday column so he writes about the incident today.
The New York Post’s Phil Mushnick is grumpy again today. He also has a take on the YES debacle.
Andrew Marchand of the Post has a couple of stories of note. His first this week is a news and notes column. Among the highlights, TNT’s Kenny Smith, one of the excellent duo with Charles Barkley on the channel’s NBA coverage, is a candidate for the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching job. Smith has made it clear that he would leave TNT for a chance to coach. This might be that opportunity.
Marchand also has five questions for TNT’s John Thompson.
Over to Chicago where Teddy Greenstein has become a very good media reporter for the Tribune. Today, he writes about the media’s contentious relationship with Cubs manager Dusty Baker. Greenstein contacted a San Fransisco newspaper reporter to see if Baker was the same out there. Good reporting and a good story by Greenstein.
Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has some criticism for CBS for not broadcasting the morning rounds of the Masters last weekend plus he has some local news media notes.
The Los Angeles Times’ Larry Stewart writes about how FSN’s Lindsey Soto had to deal with the death of Al Lucas during last weekend’s Arena League game in LA.
Scott Andera of the Orlando Sentinental previews next week’s NFL Draft coverage which will be wall to wall on the NFL Network and be covered extensively on the ESPN family of networks.
David Barron of the Houston Chronicle has the story on the new FSN Houston channel which will now focus on the Astros and the Rockets. While their games will air on the usual FSN Southwest channel, new pregame shows will be aired on the FSN Houston channel and they will also air on a special DirecTV side channel.
Plenty of links to chew on today.
On Monday, the Boston Red Sox received their World Series rings and raised their championship banner in center field at Fenway Park. It was all to culminate a five month celebration of the 2004 World Series which the Sox won, breaking an 86 year drought.
In Boston, the ceremony was covered wall to wall on NESN, but not on WEEI, the Sox’ flagship radio station. Nationally, ESPN showed highlights during its coverage the Red Sox home opener against the Yankees. In New York, the YES Network left viewers out to dry by not even acknowledging it.
We’ll have links to stories and stuff from around the country today.
First, Bill Griffith of the Boston Globe gives the highlights from the ceremony from NESN’s coverage.
Boston sports fans watching on TV got the chance to watch the entire ceremony without commercial interruption and without any announcers. Viewers saw the players receiving their rings and a general love fest by the Red Sox fans to their Olde Towne Teame.
John Molori has his review of the Ring Ceremony and has other thoughts.
In New York, there were a few mentions here and there by YES announcer Michael Kay, but nothing more than that. Newsday’s Steve Zipay rips YES for ignoring the ceremony.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times piles on. He also takes YES to task for not televising the ceremony. With the Yankees owning and operating YES, I can see why they would choose to ignore the ceremony, but it shortchanges the casual fan who wants to see history. Sandomir was able to see both NESN’s and YES’ coverage via DirecTV and he writes the coverage could not be more different.
Over to the New York Daily News, Bob Raissman goes to another subject, the blackout of MSG/FSN on Time Warner Cable. The dispute between Time Warner and Cablevision is into its second month and it appears there is no end in sight. The Mets are not going to fight Time Warner because it is a partner with the Mets for a new Regional Sports Channel starting next year. One can assume that Cablevision will make it difficult for carriage next season. Stay tuned.
CBS continues its March/April winning streak. The network had an excellent rating for the final round of the Masters and viewership was up over the previous year due to the duel between Tiger Woods and Chris DiMarco. They are obviously pumped about their ratings for the NCAA Tournament and the Masters which have been paired together since CBS got the tournament in 1982.
Retiring Rudy Martzke of USA Today goes inside the numbers of the weekend TV ratings of the various sporting events over the weekend. Martzke notes that the falling NBA ratings could fall below last year’s.
Even though it’s expected the Washington Nationals will draw 3 million fans at RFK Stadium this season, right now, TV ratings are finishing just above numbers for a test pattern. Eric Fisher of the Washington Times reports that a hastily prepared schedule and little to no promotion has hurt the Nationals’ ratings on WDCA. This doesn’t bode well for the upcoming Regional Sports Network, Mid-Atlantic Spotts Network that will broadcast both the Nationals and the Orioles. Team officials say it will take time for viewers to find the broadcasts. Whatever.
But some fans in Northern Virginia and North Carolina will not be able to see the games. Jerry Lindquist of the Richmond Times-Dispatch has a blurb on this development.
For those of you who like to watch baseball games on the internet through MLB.com and MSN.com, you will be interested to know that the two parties no longer are linked. MLB.com has signed a new carriage agreement with ESPN.com.
That’s it for now. Until tomorrow.
This weekend, the sports viewing consisted of The Masters and HBO’s 10th Anniversary of the sports magazine show, “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”.
CBS is handcuffed by antiquted rules put forth by the Augusta National Golf Club. Under the parameters imposed Hootie Johnson and the members of August National, CBS cannot expand coverage from its 3:30 – 7 p.m. hours on Saturday and 2:30-7 p.m. Sunday. The same goes for cable partner USA which goes from 4:00 – 7 p.m. While other major tournaments such as the U.S. Open or the PGA Championship allow for 18 hole coverage for an entire afternoon, the Masters still has the least amount of television coverage for a a major.
It shortchanges the viewer especially when the 2nd or 3rd rounds are postponed until the following morning. CBS was forced to show highlights at the beginning of its coverage on both Saturday and Sunday. USA could not show special live coverage in the morning. There is no legitimate explanation for this slight. The Masters and Hootie, its tournament chairman continue to force CBS to follow its rules rather than the other way around. CBS has to provide the tournament with its own special graphics and adhere to every whim. For instance, when Gary McCord made a comment about “body bags” near the green and the green being “bikini waxed”, the Masters subsequently banned McCord and CBS could do nothing about it.
I like watching the Masters because it’s a rite of spring, but these pompous rules help no one. The Masters takes itself way too seriously and it goes down to the announcers. Jim Nantz sounded like the “Voice of God” or the keeper of Augusta National. Lanny Wadkins did a good job in his analysis. Some of the other announcers made sure they mentioned how beautiful the course was. While this was true, I didn’t need to be told every 15 minutes.
When the drama came down to Chris DiMarco and Tiger Woods, CBS was all over it. The live shot of Tiger Woods’ chip on 16 and the close up of the ball as it hung on the lip, finally going into the hole was classic. The reactions were caught at the right time and the replays were done correctly. But time and time again, Peter Oosterhuis, Verne Lundquist, Peter Kostis, Bobby Clampett, Bill Macatee and Dick Enberg were a bit over the top describing the course’s beauty and the lovely azeleas.
USA Today’s Rudy Martzke who’s on his last week at the paper, has his last column on the Masters.
The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand says Nantz did a poor job on the mike at the 18th green. I totally agree.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times writes what I touched upon earlier when the Masters resumed early Sunday without any TV coverage.
In the Houston Chronicle, David Barron has praise for old pro Verne Lundquist’s call of Tiger’s miracle shot on the 16th green yesterday.
The Rocky Mountain News of Denver takes a look at the Masters and ESPN’s coverage of the Frozen Four which went to the University of Denver. Dusty Saunders is the writer.
Sunday also had the 10th anniversary special of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel”. Over the last 10 years, the HBO sports magazine has delved into subjects that the networks refuse to even mention. Some of the more memorable stories such as former Minnesota Vikings player Esa Tuolo who came out as a gay man, racism in sports, features on people overcoming disabilities and other obstacles. It is one of the best programs on TV today and with reporters Bernard Goldberg, Frank Deford, James Brown, Armen Keteyian and Mary Carillo, the show has won several Emmy Awards for Sports Journalism. All well deserved. The program will air again tonight at 9 p.m. ET on HBO 2. It is worth watching and a regular version will air later this month. And I wish people would stop picking on Bryant Gumbel. He may be aloof and humorless, but the man is a good journalist and keeps the show on time.
I’ll have links if the national ratings come out later today.
Back to the blog after a couple of days of impossible deadlines. I hate deadlines. Anyway, let’s get cracking on the links today.
It appears that WSCR in Chicago will be the new radio home of the White Sox. White Sox General Partner Jerry Reinsdorf met with station officials on Wednesday. If the Sox sign a deal with WSCR, it would end a 10 year relationship with WMVP. And according to Chicago Tribune media reporter Teddy Greenstein, Reinsdorf had a contentious interview on WMVP which has many of the hosts talking.
CBS Sports had a great rating for the Men’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final on Monday and overall, this year’s tourney had higher numbers than last year and it wasn’t even close. Monday’s final was up 36% than 2003. CBS published a press release for all the world to see.
Greenstein has a story on CBS’ coverage of the Masters which begins today.
One note about CBS and the Masters, this is the 50th consecutive year for the network to televise the event and that is the longest continuous stretch for any network as a sports rights holder. While CBS has had this seemingly endless strangle hold on the event, you might be surprised to know that ever since it began, the network has signed one year contracts with August National. John Ryan of the San Jose Mercury News has the story comparing CBS broadcast styles over the years with Jim Nantz who will be the host of the weekend coverage.
Jerry Lindquist of the Richmond Times-Dispatch has his take on the TV coverage of the Masters.
Bob Costas has a new show on HBO. It’s really his old show with a new title, timeslot and mission statement. Instead of being the irreverent host of a late night sports and entertainment show that ran for a mere 12 weeks, Costas is getting motivated to go back into sports full-time. His old show, “On the Record with Bob Costas” which would contain a sports interview once every 6 weeks has been scrapped for a new format, one which will run every month, similar to “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” which has never lost its focus. Nice to know that Costas will be doing this new talk show for HBO. Here’s the press release from HBO. It appears the show will debut on May 13.
Richard Sandomir of the New York Times writes about the ongoing negotiations between Disney and the NFL. Sandomir says moving Monday Night Football to ESPN is a distinct possibility. The other possibility is moving ABC to Sunday Night, but that would leave its big hit, “Desperate Housewives” without a home for 17 weeks. Plus, the issue for the NFL as always is money. ABC wants to lowball the NFL after years of heavy losses on Monday nights. Sandomir says if ESPN pays the $1 billion asking price for MNF, the NFL might be willing to take a lowball offer from ABC so long as the total revenue is close to the asking price for both packages. Stay tuned.
It appears Sandomir used John Consoli’s article from Mediaweek a few days ago as a base. You can read this before Sandomir’s and not miss much.
Sirius Satellite Radio, the home of the NFL, NASCAR, the NCAA Tournament, the NBA and the NHL, has added another sports property to its lineup. Sirius now becomes the official satellite radio partner of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Katy Bachman of Mediaweek has the story.
One of my pet peeves is Fox Sports Net’s lack of exposure and promotion for the PAC-10 conference in both Football and Basketball. While FSN has broadcast PAC-10 basketball games on Thursday and Saturdays, they have been difficult to find especially if it has a prior commitment to local teams. Then the game either gets shut out or delayed. Arizona basketball coach Lute Olsen is well aware of this and he tells the student newspaper, the Arizona Daily Wildcat that he’s hopeful that ESPN will bid for the next contract when negotiations open in 2006. Olsen is particularly critical of the fact that FSN signed a contract with the ACC for a Sunday night game and provides more promotion for that game over the PAC-10.
That is it for the links for now. We’ll be back tomorrow with the weekly Friday media columns and I’ll have a review of the Masters coverage Sunday.
For sports fans, being able to watch great events such as the Men’s Final Four and the start of the baseball season prove that it can bring people from all walks of life together. And at the same time, reality sets in with the death of Pope John Paul II.
Saturday’s coverage of the Final Four on CBS did have reports from the news division on the death of the Pope and both were understated, hardly over the top.
CBS has covered the Final Four since 1982 and they have this event down pat. From host Greg Gumbel to top announcing team Jim Nantz and Billy Packer to the production crew, nothing was missed, no stat went unturned and the way the event was handled was just right. Packer and Nantz have a good chemistry. Nantz allows Packer to be Packer (which can be dangerous at times), but it allows for a good broadcast. While Packer’s knowledge is well-known, his opinions can be at times, antiquated and dry. On Saturday, I have to give him credit for giving good analysis and not overtaking the broadcast that some analysts have the tendency to do (i.e., Dick Vitale).
The studio team of Greg Gumbel, Clark Kellogg and Seth Davis meshed although Davis still should not be on television. The Final Four Show moved well and there were good features; however, the Lesley Visser one on the 20th Anniversary of the Villanova upset of Georgetown has been done on HBO, ESPN, ESPN Classic, FSN and all in the past week. The Jump Ball segment with Tom Brennan, Lorenzo Romar and one other coach whom I can’t remember right now was too short.
The only things that came up short were the games. Both were blowouts by the middle of the second half, but even so, Michael Hiestand of USA Today reports that the overnight ratings were still up over last year.
ESPN’s coverage of college basketball ends Tuesday with the Women’s National Championship, but the network is now in baseball mode. Prime example was during “Baseball Tonight” which along with College Gameday (college football edition) and NFL Primetime are the network’s most important shows.
Even though BBTN did its first official show before the Red Sox-Yankees game last night, it was already in mid-season form. Host Karl Ravech is one of the best hosts on TV today. He asked the right questions of analysts John Kruk, Harold Reynolds and Peter Gammons. All three analysts worked well off each other and they all got their comments in without stepping on each other. Ravech knew when to interject and even though the show was on location at a very loud Yankee Stadium, Ravech handled everything the right way.
When ESPN doesn’t go too crazy as in SportsCenter or their silly gimmick shows like “Dream Job” or “Beat the Schwab”, it shows that no one can match their style or their substance. Baseball Tonight has the right tone and it just shows the highlights without silly schtick and smart-ass anchors. And with Karl Ravech, you have a host who knows how to keep pace and voice the highlights. The only other host on ESPN who is worth a damn is Chris Fowler who should be paid double his current salary for dealing with Lee Corso and Dick Vitale. I’m not ragging on either analyst, just saying that Fowler sometimes has his hands full and he does his job as traffic cop very well.
But Baseball Tonight is back and I’m looking forward to the way the show handles the highlights and live cut-ins. This is ESPN’s last year of its current regular season contract handling Sunday and Wednesday Night Baseball and thus, Baseball Tonight. Hopefully, Disney/ESPN will keep the contract just so BBTN can continue for many years to come.
Back with the Friday media columns from across the country. Don’t worry, I’m not going to passing off false reports, that’s not what this whole thing is about. If you do want to read some humorous columns, you can click on the link to the “Call of the Green Monster” site which is all parody and very funny. It’s all about the Red Sox, but it has a good sense of humor and doesn’t cross the line.
Over to USA Today, Rudy Martzke in his last two weeks before retirement apparently mailed this column in. It’s so short you wonder why he even bothered. He spreads his manlove to the CBS production team of Director Bob Fishman and Producer Bob Dekas. It’s not a great column, but then again, Martzke is leaving on April 15 so he’s looking forward to spending time on the beach.
Boston is getting ready its the first season since 1919 as the Red Sox as Defending Champions. With ESPN2 televising the season opener this Sunday between the Red Sox and Yankees (weather permitting), the Boston Globe’s Bill Griffith comes through with a very thorough article on the improvements and additions Red Sox fans will see on the NESN broadcasts, plus other new features on Red Sox radio flagship WEEI and how fans can listen to out of town broadcasts through XM Satellite Radio.
Jim Baker of the Nashua Telgraph in New Hampshire also has an article on the Red Sox broadcasters, the Final Four weekend and a few other events sports fans will watch over the next few days.
I love reading Phil Mushnick’s weekly column in the New York Post mostly to see who this curmudgeon criticizes. Some of the criticisms are off-base, others come from left field. This week’s is more legitimate as New York City accepted the New York Jets’ bid to build a new stadium that will also spearhead the city’s 2012 Summer Olympic proposal. Mushnick also mentions the fact that Time Warner continues to shut out Mets and Knicks fans of MSG Network. Good column today.
Andrew Marchand has a series of articles in the Post today. His first deals with the sports weekend that has both the Final Four and the Red Sox-Yankees opener.
Marchand adds that the enjoyable Monday Night Football announcing duo of Al Michaels and John Madden could be doing their last season in 2005. This blog has been following the NFL TV negotiations and there’s still no resolution of the primetime packages. Marchand writes that Michaels can leave ABC if it loses MNF. Madden hopes he will stay in the broadcast booth if Monday Night Football goes elsewhere. And in that same story, Marchand talks about the use of sideline reporters in the NCAA Tournament.
Lastly, Marchand has five questions for new ESPN baseball analyst Larry Bowa.
ESPN Radio 1050 in New York got rid of “Wally and the Keeg”, the show featuring Wally Matthews and Tom Keegan. They were moved from afternoon drive to midday and this week, they were effectively shown the door. It leaves Michael Kay as the only local show on the radio station. ESPN entered the sports radio market in New York to give competition to WFAN, but so far, the FAN has won every ratings book over ESPN since their competition began four years ago. Bob Raissman of the New York Daily News has the story.
Billy Packer is growing more and more delusional by the day. Last week, there was a bizzare incident with Kentucky guard Patrick Sparks who said something to Packer after hitting a three pointer during the regional final against Michigan State and then slapped hands with him. Now, Packer is suggesting the NBA go to a four-on-four matchup on the court. That would go over well with the NBA Players Association. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune covered Packer’s comments during a teleconference call with media reporters.
Also covering Packer’s remarks is David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.
Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a very good article on the growth of college basketball on TV. He traces the popularity to the broadcast of the UCLA-Houston game in the Astrodome in 1968. Dick Enberg called the game on a syndicator known as TVS and Enberg’s career has grown to the announcer that he is today.
The signature video to CBS’ NCAA Tournament coverage is “One Shining Moment”, encompassing the best moments of the Tournament and the Final all the way down to about three minutes total. Scott Andera of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel has a column on that and other TV news.
Also focusing on “One Shining Moment” is San Francisco Chronicle media writer Steve Kroner and it’s more enjoyable than what Andera wrote. Perhaps Kroner wants to edit the video next year. It’s a good article, I’m not disparaging Kroner.
Larry Stewart of the LA Times has the story on the Lakers deciding to drop TV play-by-play man Paul Sunderland after this season. From all accounts, Sunderland has done a bang up job after stepping into the booth after Chick Hearn got sick and subsequently passed away. It was not the easiest of positions to be in, but Sunderland did a very good job under the circumstances and acocrding Stewart, is well liked by the Laker organization, so why are the Lakers making this decision? In Stewart’s story, Sunderland even gets an endorsement from Hearn’s widow.
Figure skating was one the hottest sports ten years ago after the Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan debacle. Now, ratings are so low, ESPN is questioning its new deal with the International Skating Union. The network took over the World Figure Skating Championships this year from ABC and you probably didn’t watch it judging from how low the ratings were earlier last month. Chicago Tribune Olympic Sports writer Philip Hersh has the story about ESPN’s exasperation over the ratings and the unccoperative ISU.
Jay Posner of the San Diego Union Tribune has a preview of the Red Sox-Yankees on ESPN2.
The Baltimore Orioles have announced the formation of a new Regional Sports Network, Mid-Atlantic Sports that will broadcast both the O’s and the Nationals games. It will pay a rights fee to the Nats and all profits will go to the Orioles. Nice deal for Peter Angelos. Thomas Heath of the Washington Post has the details.
Jim Sarni of the Miami Sun-Sentinel has his media column concerning the events other than the Final Four
Finally, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has the story over who will be the new Dolphins broadcast team. As it stands, there has yet to a hire. Jackson speculates that Jon Sciambi, formerly of the Marlins broadcast team would be a good choice.
Have a good weekend. I hope to have a review of the CBS coverage of the Final Four and Baseball Tonight on ESPN2 late on Sunday.