We continue with the guest columns. This one comes from reader Corneilus Green. Three columns in one for you.
Sports Broadcasting Talent Moves
The summer is definitely heating up with the speculation of who is staying or who is going to new networks.
Michelle Beadle is the most high profile talent to leave ESPN (which was mostly expected) and she gets to do more at NBC. It was definitely a shocker that Michelle Bonner left ESPN and the same for Dana Jacobson.
Scott Van Pelt whom I would have preferred leave for NBC/Comcast, remained at ESPN which is good for him, however, his radio partner, Ryen Russillo is near the end of this contract and who knows where he might go.
Doug Gottlieb, whose contract is up in September, could have a contract offer from CBS Sports according to SportsbyBrooks. Whatever CBS offers to Gottlieb has to be astronomical for him to leave the Worldwide Leader, though I think he should go if the opportunity was presented.
I feel Erin Andrews will stay at ESPN. Her stock has fallen since a few years ago and thus does not have value to another network should she still want to cover sports.
The lowest profile re-signing was John Buccigross. Buccigross stayed at ESPN mainly because he would the #1 voice for NCAA Frozen Four replacing Gary Thorne. Buccigross is one of the few at ESPN along with Linda Cohn and Steve Levy who trumpet hockey, which is amazing because as we know, it gives little to no coverage to the sport.
Had Buccigross not stayed with ESPN, it was expected that NHL Network would have offered him the chance to be its main anchor and be the face of the network. It will be interesting to see where all the sports talent lands.
NBA TV and MLB Network should utilize field reporters who can report from the various team’s headquarters instead relying on the insiders and the writers on the dot-com side.
I will be watching to see who the Pac-12 Network hires in addition to Summer Sanders, Ronnie Lott, and Rick Neuheisel. I would like for the Pac-12 Network to hire Tom Ramsey. I miss hearing him call college football. I fully expect Fox to elevate Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt, and Petros Papadakis as the main team for college football on FX, also make Gus Johnson its main voice for the Pac-12 on Fox and move Steve Physioc to part-time on Pac-12 football and become the main voice for college basketball for the Big Ten Network.
Fox should replace Kevin Frazier with Fran Charles on as college football studio host and also add another analyst to Marcus Allen.
Never has there been more interest in sports media and who’s staying or who’s going. This year has unofficially been the year of the media rights deals and sports talent moves. Do not expect that to change during the summer.
An SEC Network could become reality in 2014. The SEC has called this Project X. It’s one of a number of things that has come up during the renegotiation the conference’s media rights deals with CBS and ESPN. With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC, it opened the league to an increase of its media rights fees.
An SEC Network was close to starting in 2009 but ESPN threw a boatload of money at the conference not to start one. It appears that the SEC added two schools just for the sake of addition. The conference was already recruiting Texas and Missouri which wanted more money though they should have gone to the Big Ten had an offer been extended to both, but they were wishy-washy while Nebraska was jumping to the Big Ten without any hesitation. Texas A&M kicked and screamed its way to the SEC, but I’ll save that for another day.
The SEC is close to agreeing to an increase its TV rights fees, but the holdup has been CBS. The Tiffany Network has balked at paying more because its game inventory will not change. CBS is justified in balking. Mizzou and Texas A&M do not have the same attraction as Nebraska.
ESPN, which has been trying to establish a monopoly on televised college athletics, will most likely try to buy CBS’ slate of SEC games if CBS does not change its stance. CBS should hold out to the very end and get more doubleheaders and more night games to justify paying more for SEC games.
It’s being speculated that ESPN will partner with the SEC to establish an SEC Network. This would be likely picked up within a year on all the cable, digital cable, and satellite companies in the conference’s footprint because of the league’s popularity. The SEC has a bigger footprint than all of the conferences and the most rabid fan bases.
An SEC Network would most likely be modeled after the Big Ten Network. Many observers thought the SEC should have started its own network instead of allowing ESPN to talk them out of it by dangling more money. This makes Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany look a lot smarter than SEC head honcho Mike Slive in that perspective.
If the conference agrees to establish a TV network, this would put more cash in the SEC membership’s coffers, surpassing the Big Ten in revenue. The conference has enjoyed six consecutive years of a school wining the BCS National Championship Game.
It’s high time the SEC gets its own network. In my opinion, NBC/Comcast would be a better equity partner for the league in establishing an SEC Network than ESPN.
The Pac-12 Network was the crown jewel when it came to the historic media rights deal between the conference and ESPN/Fox. Even more historic was the creation of seven networks, the main Pac-12 Network and seven regional channels.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has proved himself to be a power broker in college athletics and he has grown the conference into a financial power. In addition, his experience in negotiating TV contracts brought four digital cable companies as partners to carry the networks when he announced their formation.
While this all sounds good in theory, the hard part will be trying to convince all of the cable and satellite companies to carry all seven networks. Most likely all will carry the main Pac-12 network, but not the other six. Thus, the challenge of starting a sports channel and ensuring most of the country can watch it.
The Mtn. went dark on May 31 because it could not get distribution beyond DirecTV and various smaller cable providers in the West. Longhorn Network is having difficulty gaining carriage in Texas.
Time Warner Cable will have a tough time convincing cable and satellite companies to pick up its two new regional networks it is starting with the Los Angeles Lakers. As reported by John Ourand from the Sports Business Journal, Time Warner is charging companies $3.95/subscriber fee. That’s insane.
DirecTV President and CEO Mike White said that the satellite provider will not carry the Longhorn Network. Another statement could potentially spell bad news for the Pac-12 Network. White said DirecTV will most likely not carry all seven Pac-12 Networks. If you’re Larry Scott, you should be concerned. It appears DirecTV will only carry the main network and not the regional channels. Dish Network and AT&T U-Verse are probably thinking the same thing.
While Larry Scott’s thinking was out of the box, it could be a bad move for now. The Big Ten Network has been largely successful, but it was just one network. The Pac-12 Networks will have major challenges in gaining carriage. As a U-verse customer, I would like to be able to watch all of the networks from their inception. The question is: Can the Pac-12 convince every digital and satellite company to carry all seven networks? Good luck, Larry Scott.
Corneilus Green resides in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Currently unemployed, but Corneilus is a sports enthusiast who once had a dream of being a sports broadcaster and commentator. He still might do it.
Thanks to Corneilus for the column. More guest columns will published throughout the week.