On this Thanksgiving Week, I’ll provide a few thoughts on what has transpired so far this week. All in bullet form, of course.
- The announcement that ESPN Dictator George Bodenheimer will become ESPN Chairman, leaving day-to-day operations with Executive Vice President of Content John Skipper bears watching. While I have jokingly called Bodenheimer a dictator, he’s far from that really. I’m told he’s very thoughtful and considerate. Bodenheimer grew with ESPN from its humble beginnings and grew the company when he became President. He rose from being literally low man on the totem pole to one of most powerful men in sports.
Now the operations will be under Skipper who has a publishing background and launched ESPN The Magazine. Will he be able to grow ESPN as Bodenheimer did? We shall see.
- The news that broke about Thursday Night Football on Tuesday that NFL Network may get more games as early as next season also bears watching. Where will those extra games come from? CBS and Fox, of course. While the two Sunday afternoon partners won’t say anything publicly, you have to think they aren’t happy giving up inventory to prop up NFL Network. While this may not be a full schedule, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did say perhaps some early season games would be added to NFL Network’s existing 8 game 2nd half schedule. How will the Commish placate CBS and Fox? That gets another “we shall see.”
- Thanksgiving Day into Night on paper has the potential to be a football lover’s feast. The Detroit Lions, long a laughingstock, now has a winning record and wants to spoil NFC North rival Green Bay’s quest for a perfect season. An improved Miami Dolphins comes into Dallas and the Cowboys are in the driver’s seat in the NFC East. And there’s the nightcap with Baltimore playing host to San Francisco and there’s the Brothers Harbaugh story to watch as well. I’m predicting monster ratings for CBS, Fox and NFL Network. And despite Nickelback and Enrique Iglesias playing the halftime concerts in Detroit and Dallas respectively, the entire slate of games will be fun to watch.
- MLB announced a new five year Collective Bargaining Agreement with the MLB Players Association. When it expires in 2016, it will have meant 21 years without a labor stoppage. Who would have thought that possible after the 1994 strike wiped out the World Series? Maybe the NBA could learn something.
- Less than 200,000 people watched Sidney Crosby’s NHL season debut for Pittsburgh on Versus on Monday. Perhaps having a game opposite Monday Night Football and Dancing With The Stars isn’t a good idea.
- And on a similar note, the MLS Cup received an 0.8 overnight rating on ESPN Sunday night. Putting it opposite Sunday Night Football on NBC, plus starting it after 9 p.m. on the East Coast doesn’t help the sport attract kids who MLS wants so desperately to reach.
That will do it.