Ok, time to answer your questions for the Fang’s Bites mailbag. You have come with great questions and I would like to thank you for taking the time for some nice thought out questions. I have great readers. As I mentioned previously, five people at random will be receiving swag from My Coke Rewards. The prizes are listed in the post that is linked in the last sentence. I’d like to thank My Coke Rewards and again I give this disclaimer.
The prize was provided by The Coca-Cola Company. The Coca-Cola Company is not a sponsor, administrator or connected in any other way with this sweepstakes.
Ok, we have that out of the way. Let’s answer the questions.
Who, in your opinion, is going to get the rights to the 2014 and 2016 Olympics? Do you think NBC will keep the rights, or will CBS/Turner, Fox, or ESPN nab them up?
That is the $1,000,000 or actually in the Olympics case, the $1,000,000,000 question. There has been upheaval in the Olympic TV bidding process for 2014/2016. Long time Olympics broadcast partner, the European Broadcasting Union, which was responsible for distributing the Olympics to public broadcasters all over Europe, had its bid rejected by the International Olympic Committee in 2008. That affects a lot of long-time partners including the BBC in the UK.
As a result, Rupert Murdoch-owned broadcast entities have won bids in Hungary and Italy.
What does this mean for the United States? Well, it means a wide-open bidding process for the first time in a long time. I expect ESPN to present a very strong bid based on its performance at this year’s World Cup in South Africa. This proved that ESPN can produce an international event with respect and not go over the top.
Fox has not broadcast an international event until this year when it aired the UEFA Champions League final and it did ok.
CBS/Turner has experience from the 1990′s when it did a very respectable job broadcasting three Winter Olympics (1992, 1994 and 1998). However, since Sean McManus took over as President of CBS Sports, his focus has mostly been on sports at home. CBS did not submit a serious bid for 2010/2012.
The incumbent, NBC, has a lot of capital with the International Olympic Committee. Its parent company, General Electric has been an Olympic sponsor. The IOC has stated it likes the way NBC and in particular, Sports Emperor Dick Ebersol, has treated the Games.
While I may not like the way NBC has produced the Olympics from 1992 until now, I fear if ESPN gets it, we’ll see Chris Berman and Stuart Scott bloviating throughout the 17 days of competition. With Comcast coming in, I expect the company to make a solid bid and make it so NBC doesn’t lose the Olympics. This is a very wordy way of saying NBC should keep the 2014/16 Games in its stable.
I saw your message on Facebook, so I have a few sports media questions for you.
- One of the things I see on various message boards are complaints about the ESPN Bottom Line during sporting events. Is ESPN aware of these complaints and do they have plans to remove it?
- It was alleged that the NFL put pressure on ESPN to remove “Playmakers”. Do the sports leagues put similar pressure on outlets on how their sport is presented and are there examples?
- MLB.tv placed their content on various connected devices such as Blu-ray players, PS3’s, etc. Are other sports leagues heading in this direction?
- What has been the trend for ESPN’s baseball ratings over the past 20 years? Since they do not have the playoffs, is it financially viable for them to keep baseball?
Thanks for the questions. I’ll tackle one at a time.
- I’m sure ESPN is aware of the complaints of the Bottom Line, but the network feels it’s providing a service to viewers. The Bottom Line has been a staple on ESPN2 and for other networks for over 10 years now. I don’t expect it go away anytime soon.
- As far as leagues putting pressure, sure. The NBA wants the networks to present their game in the way David Stern wants. All leagues want their TV partners to deliver their message and product in a positive way. The last thing the leagues want is negative stories.
- I know that MLB.TV and NBA Gametime are featured on Roku which allows you to receive games over your high speed internet connection onto your HD TV. You’ll see more content from the sports leagues on other non-traditional platforms as they look for ways to generate revenue.
- I’m not the person to look at ratings trends, Sports Media Watch is very good for that. ESPN continues to carry baseball as it has the postseason on Radio and can promote it on SportsCenter. ESPN also has the MLB International contract overseas. It’s very financially viable for ESPN to continue carrying baseball although it looks like it’s treated like an afterthought the last few seasons.
I do DyHrd. I see this coming in the next year or so. With SportsCenter on ESPNews from 3-6 p.m. and again at night, I see the rebranding of this channel as an inevitability. Maybe there will be ESPNews from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again at 6 p.m., but SportsCenter will most likely take over the rest of the day. I believe this will be a way to keep punching up the channel as the ratings have fallen since ESPNews began.
And an aside, I tried watching ESPNews’ “The Beat” which runs twice in the 6 p.m. hour. Horrible. Awful. Terrible. What is that?
Now a couple of questions regarding the New England area.
I believe that WEEI is still in for the long haul, although losing Jessica Camerato and Joe Haggerty to Comcast SportsNet were very huge losses for the website. However, there’s still a very good stable at WEEI.com. I know WEEI’s owner, Entercom, is still committed to the website and will continue to maintain it. WEEI.com has very good writers. However, with so many sites in the area including Boston.com, WEEI.com, CSNNE, ESPN Boston, one of those sites will go dark. I don’t think it’ll be Boston.com or CSNNE. ESPN has been disappointed in the growth of its local websites, but it’s in for the long haul. But I can see a scenario where one site will go by the wayside after its owner feels it’s not getting enough revenue.
As far as NESN and WEEI simulcasting, I don’t see it happening. NESN appears to be going away from sports and trying to go into mainstream programming. Why, I’m not sure.
What Boston sports radio station will add a female full-time host first – WEEI or 98.5 the Sports Hub? Or is this so many light years away, it’s tough to call?
WEEI tried having a female anchor (Kristine Leahy) their foray into video, but that was eventually canned. I hoped that with 98.5 looking to make a splash when they were established, they would take the jump, but they haven’t yet either. With two of the most respected sports journalists in this town (Jackie McMullan and Amalie Benjamin) being female, you would think one of them may take the jump (especially McMullan, but her ESPN role may prevent that.)
Thanks, Kat. WEEI did have a female co-host, Janet Prensky, working with Glenn Ordway in the early days of the sports radio format. After she was fired, it’s been an all-male lineup. There’s been Jamie Parker who’s done sports updates, but she’s not full-time. WEEI enjoys catering to male listeners and I don’t see the station hiring a female host in the foreseeable future.
98.5 The Sports Hub is another story. With the station being run out of New York, I can see the CBS Radio bosses hire a woman. At its stations in Baltimore and New York, Anita Marks was used as both a full-time host and fill-in. I don’t see her going to Boston, but perhaps there’s someone CBS can bring in. It’s a long shot, but more likely at The Sports Hub than WEEI.
I would like to know if you see what upcoming TV rights are coming up for renewal like the NHL, US Open tennis, PGA golf, etc….and your thoughts if ESPN/ABC might make a serious run for any of these TV rights? I think that any of these sports would be a great addition to ESPN and could even have some of it on ABC. ABC is in desperate need of additional sports programming and any of these sports would help.
I keep hearing that ESPN is interested in the NHL, but I don’t see the evidence. Plus, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman appears to be happy with Versus. With Comcast buying NBC, expect the NHL to remain with a newly combined NBC/Versus.
For the US Open, CBS is expected to continue carrying the tournament which includes the semifinals and finals, but for a reduced cost. Expect an announcement soon, but if talks break down, I’m sure ESPN would love to swoop it up for ESPN2.
For the PGA Tour, I would expect NBC/Golf Channel, again part of a combined Comcast/NBC, to get a majority of tournaments with Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller getting an increased workload. I don’t expect ESPN to get involved in the PGA Tour rights.
The real interesting period for sports rights will be in 2013-14 when MLB, NASCAR, NFL and the NBA all go up for bid. I call this Sports Rights Armageddon. ESPN is involved in each of these sports. There will be upheaval and some incumbents may be shocked to find themselves on the outside looking in.
For college football, it’s a case of too much inventory. CBS is doing well with its SEC package and with its right of first refusal, it will continue to be on top. ABC is the victim of some bad decisions by ESPN. Notre Dame-Boston College in primetime in the East while putting Stanford-Oregon on ESPN2 in standard definition? Come on! And Oregon State-Boise State wasn’t as attractive as network executives thought. If ESPN wants to make the ABC primetime game a showcase, it would behoove them not to have games on ESPN and ESPN2 opposite.
Which of ESPN’s college football announcers deserve a bigger stage/game than they currently have (promotion?) & vice versa, which should be demoted?
Good question, Tim. I hate to demote, but one already happened this season and that was Pam Ward going from the ESPN2 noon ET game to the ESPNU game. I’m not a fan of Pam Ward and she can no longer do damage on a showcase game. I would like to see Brad Nessler be bumped up to the ABC primetime game. He did the Notre Dame-Michigan State game for ABC and did a fantastic job. I thought when Keith Jackson retired, Brad was going to be the guy, but ESPN opted for Brent Musburger. When Brent retires, I would like to see Brad and his partner, Todd Blackledge become the ABC primetime team.
Here’s one I want to ask reporters: How would you rather receive news tips: text, email, phone call or other?
Question 2: How do media balance the public’s desire to know more about what’s going on off the field than the game itself?
Thanks, Gail. For myself, I prefer texts or e-mail. I’ve seen many “insiders” get texts via Blackberry and their iPhones. Speaking for myself, if I’m working as a reporter, I would prefer receiving texts.
The second question is very open ended. Blogs and TMZ have definitely had an influence on the decision to cover off the field issues. When editors and news directors see the readership for the blogs and gossip sites, they feel they have to cover the story. The interesting issue was the Jerry Jones story earlier this year when someone secretly taped the Dallas Cowboys owner without his knowledge and gave the tape to Deadspin. Dallas TV stations ran it, but not without reservation.
With more sites reporting on what used to be private matters, you’ll see more stories in the mainstream media for fear of being left behind. I think the MSM misreads trends and blogs thinking readership for Deadspin and TMZ thinking that’s what the public wants.
And with that, we’re done. Thanks for the questions. We’ll do our next mailbag in November. I’ll be contacting five people at random on the swag from My Coke Rewards.