It’s been quite a while since the last mailbag, October of last year to be precise and I’ve been meaning to do one. Let’s do one now since we have a few questions stockpiled. Thanks to you for sending questions and if you want to have one answered for the next mailbag later in the spring, send it to me at email@example.com.
I want to know what you think of Kirk Herbstreit having to move his family from Columbus, Ohio to Nashville to get away from sicky Buckeye fans who don’t appreciate him speaking negatively on their team.
That was very sad. That Kirk Herbstreit felt the need to move from his home to Columbus to escape the wrath of some crazy Ohio State fans who did not understand that he can’t lean one way or the other on ESPN/ABC is quite sad. Yes, he’s paid to give his opinions, but they have to be down the middle. Kirk is an Ohio State grad, but the fact that he didn’t “love” them on College GameDay or during college football games wasn’t enough for some Buckeyes fans who don’t understand. It’s too bad that he has to move away from the area where he grew up for the sake of his wife and children.
With the success of the NCAA across multiple-media platforms. Do you see other sports going the same way with live broadcasts across a variety of networks, websites, and portable visual displays? thank you.
Thanks, Dr. Jeff. I do. The success of the NCAA Tournament on March Madness on Demand shows how an online platform should be run. All of the games were available to watch in conjunction with the live broadcasts. Unfortunately, MLB NBA, NFL and the NHL have not put their postseason online and if they do, will probably charge a fee. I would like to see a portion of their playoffs be put online and for free as the NCAA has done with the men’s basketball tournament. I believe the interest in the tournament has increased this year thanks to access to the multiple platforms both online and on TV.
How do you think the ratio of online to televised coverage will change as the tourney advances round by round?
Thanks, Russell. Well, as the tournament advanced round-by-round, there’s no doubt that the number of online views went down, after a stunning first day of visits to the digital platforms. Turner Sports says the first three rounds also saw record numbers as people wanted to see all of the games.
We did see increased TV ratings for the Sweet Sixteen, but they were even for Saturday’s Elite 8 games. I would think online viewing went down by at least 30% from the week before. I hope to get the online viewing numbers sometime today or tomorrow.
Much appreciated, Peter. The NHL definitely has more suitors than the last TV negotiation when Versus and NBC pretty much had the table to themselves. Yes, Fox would be interested and could place the games on FX to ensure a national platform for the NHL. ESPN says it’s interested, but I really don’t know how much. To me, ESPN has decided to lie in bed with the NBA and I have a feeling it will show tepid interest in bidding for the NHL. CBS/Turner has a commitment to March Madness, so I don’t know how serious this interest is, but with more bidders at the table, this will drive the rights fee up and that’s encouraging to the NHL. I still think NBC and Versus will remain the main rightsholders. I now think that a second cable partner will be signed, but I don’t think it will be ESPN.
Worst national sports network package announcer combos, in your opinion?
That’s a tough one, Chris, but I’ll go with MLB on Fox. Joe Buck, Tim McCarver, Chris Rose, Eric Karros, sometimes Thom Brennaman, sometimes Josh Lewin, not the best lineup in my opinion.
Each of the major pro sports leagues in US/Canada now has a channel devoted to covering that league (i.e. MLB Network, NHL Network, etc.), as well as some of the major individual sports (i.e. Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, etc.). Some are affiliated with one of the league’s broadcast partners (like NBATV is now run by Turner Sports where TNT is a TV partner of the league and Golf Channel is now part of the NBC family where NBC is one of the many TV partners) while others are independent (like Tennis Channel is independent and MLB Network isn’t directly affiliated with any of MLB’s TV partners). So my question is this…
- Is it better for the league, viewers, ratings, content, etc. for the league/sport TV channel to be completely independent, or is it better in some or all of those areas to for it to be affiliated? Like are viewers of the Golf Channel better off now that it’s part of the NBC Sports Group? And would the NHL Network be better in the U.S. if it were affiliated with NBC/Versus or in Canada if it weren’t part of the TSN family?
Do you see ESPN creating a College Football Bowl game to be named after themselves (i.e. the “ESPN Bowl”)?
Programming sports in a vacuum, which broadcast or cable network do you trust broadcasting (as the best to present a broadcast to be watched) each of the major sports, given their current resources, history, production values, and ability to bring in the right on-air talent?
Quite a few questions from regular reader, DyHrd. All good ones too. Let’s tackle the first one.
I don’t have a problem with the league-owned networks. Both MLB and NFL Networks have shown they can cover a story and not get shackled by being a league mouthpiece. NBA and NHL Networks are highlight factories and there’s nothing wrong with that either. There’s no one particular formula for these networks. Yes, Turner is now running NBA TV and it’s 100 times better than when it was run by the league itself. NHL Network continues to be run by TSN in Canada and while the production values have improved, there’s still room for improvement. MLB and NBA are the best-run and they have people who have led network sports divisions running the channels. I think each of the four networks have merit, but whether they’re affiliated with NBC, ESPN, CBS doesn’t matter. It’s all part of how the league wants to be presented.
Second, I think ESPN sells bowls based on sponsorship and ad revenue. If it named a bowl ESPN, there won’t be much money to make from sponsoring it itself. For example, The Capital One Bowl not only gets bowl sponsorship, but ESPN can also sell ads to Capital One. It’s a win-win for both parties. While ESPN executives may joke privately about naming a bowl after itself, I don’t think it’s gotten to the activation stage.
And last, the sports network I trust the most. It’s easy for many to say ESPN because of its inventory, but not so for me. I like CBS because of their history with college basketball, NFL and the PGA. I know what I’m going to get. In addition, Jim Nantz is a good fit on all three. Gus Johnson has become popular thanks to his NFL and NCAA calls. And CBS has a very good bench. After that, I like NBC’s coverage of the NFL due to the signing of the old Monday Night Football crew from ESPN/ABC. ESPN as far as MLB and college sports are concerned are very solid and there’s a good track record. And I also like Turner’s coverage as well.
And there you have it, our mailbag for March. I hope to do another mailbag either in April or May. Thanks for sending the questions.