Sports Media Notebook for 08/14/2015 — Sports Media Thoughts

Let’s do some thoughts for you on this Friday. It’s all about providing you with fresh content. So without further delay, here’s the column:

Earlier this week, Al Michaels broke some news on the Dan Patrick Show. Unfortunately, this interview is not available on the show’s YouTube page, but the audio is on his website (under Hour 3 from August 10). Michaels mentioned to Dan that he was looking forward to seeing him on the road during the Sunday Night Football season as Bob Costas was going to cut back on trips in 2015. Now Dan looked legitimately surprised as Al mentioned the news. Perhaps it was due to it not being made official by NBC as there has been no announcement by the network, but if Al mentioned it, there has to be a ring of truth.

Costas has been on the road for every Sunday Night Football game since 2009 hosting Football Night in America from each site while Dan Patrick is back in the studio with Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison. It appears Bob and Dan will flip roles on occasion allowing Patrick to be on the road.

The fact that Costas wants to cut back on his schedule tells us that perhaps he is looking at the end of the tunnel of his career. Costas is 63 and has been broadcasting dating back to the late 1970’s. That’s a very long time. You can’t blame him for thinking that he might want to enjoy life or cut back on some of his duties.

That leads us to the next item and why NBC elected to name Ryan Seacrest as the late night host for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Sports fans aren’t enamored with the pick, but then again, NBC is not targeting the Olympics at hardcore sports fans, the Peacock is aiming the Games at non-sports fans who will get hooked on stories and background of the athletes.

Costas has been the Olympics primetime host since 1992 in Barcelona. His first Olympic Games was in Seoul, South Korea in 1988 as the late night host. Costas will be 64 next year. His friend, the late Jim McKay hosted his last Olympics for ABC in 1988 in Calgary at the age of 68. If Costas elects to remain as Olympics primetime host for one more cycle, 2018 in South Korea and 2020 in Tokyo, he’ll be 68 when all is said and done.

Now McKay didn’t get back to the Olympics until 2002 when he was invited as a special contributor by Dick Ebersol as CBS and NBC took over the rights to the Olympics throughout the 1990’s and now NBC in the 21st Century. Costas can go out on his own terms as NBC owns the rights through 2032.

As for Seacrest, he’s on track to be the heir apparent to Costas on the Olympics. You can ask about Josh Elliott and he would be a candidate as well, but NBC has made him disappear for the most part since signing him last year (and that is a whole other story for another time). While Seacrest isn’t the first choice for hardcore sports fans, he might be the best choice for NBC as it goes into the 2020’s and beyond. I’m not a fan of Seacrest, but he does have his appeal and he might be suitable for the audience that NBC is looking to attract on the Olympics.

On Wednesday, MLB Network had its MLB Now crew led by Brian Kenny “call” the Houston Astros at San Francisco Giants game from its Secaucus, NJ studios. Along with Kevin Millar, Jim Duquette and Rob Neyer, Kenny led a discussion on his favorite subject, advanced metrics. Normally, this would cause me to change the channel, but Kenny using statistics and his ability to bring his panel into focus did a very good job. It appears that MLB Now will do this again and I’m hoping they do it more often. Very good idea and having the ability to draw on certain afternoon games lends itself quite well to MLB Now.

Speaking of Kenny, he’ll be the host for Fox’s edition of Premier Boxing Champions. Having hosted boxing on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, this is a natural fit. As PBC increases its exposure with numerous time-buys across the networks, promoter Al Haymon has been seeking major league talent for his fights which have included Costas, Michaels, Marv and Kenny Albert, Joe Tessitore, Teddy Atlas, Kevin Harlan, Sugar Ray Leonard and now Brian Kenny.

Fox’s debut of the PBC series begins Tuesday, September 8 on Fox Sports 1 and will continue on Tuesdays through 2016.

An interesting note from my good friend Paulsen at Sports Media Watch, that TNT will no longer have exclusivity on its NBA Thursday night doubleheaders and neither will ABC when it airs its new Saturday night series.

Paulsen writes:

“TNT has relinquished timeslot exclusivity for its Thursday night NBA games, noted Wednesday, allowing the league more flexibility to provide players rest throughout the season. The network’s weekly doubleheaders will compete with up to four other games on the night, as opposed to just one — or none — in previous years”

And ABC’s Saturday schedule at 8:30 p.m. ET will go up against other games. Usually, networks buy exclusivity in their windows keeping other games from going up against their contests, but in this case, the NBA doesn’t want to cram back-to-back games during the rest of the week giving more rest for players and what it hopes will decrease the chance of injury.

One thing that was quietly announced on Thursday was the fact that Andy Roddick has left Fox Sports 1. In fact, Roddick was answering a question on Twitter when he happened to slip the news into his tweet:

Roddick was originally hired by Fox to be part of an athletes panel on Fox Sports Live which included Donovan McNabb (since suspended due to a DWI arrest). That panel has been pared down to two people and is part of the Countdown program that airs at midnight ET and is usually hosted by Charissa Thompson.

Roddick hasn’t made too many appearances recently and was on the BBC back in July as an analyst for its Wimbledon coverage. Roddick has shown promise as a broadcaster and he mentioned in an interview with Richard Deitsch back in 2013 that he didn’t want to be just a tennis analyst, but that’s where his future in broadcasting may lie if he wants to continue in media.

And that is where we’ll close the notebook for now.

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.