Sports Media Thoughts
I need to be posting more. I’ve been busy during the day and find myself trying to catch up on Viewing Picks at night and it’s been a losing proposition. I’ll do my best to update more often here in the coming weeks.
Let’s do some thoughts while I can. As usual, they come in bullet form.
- CBC’s Don Cherry, the King of Media Firestorms, has another one on his hands after he said CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada that female reporters should not be allowed access to locker rooms. Cherry was defending Chicago’s Duncan Keith who snapped at a female reporter in Vancouver last week. Keith has since apologized and said he was not singling out the woman in particular. However, it did not stop Cherry from advocating for women to be excluded. Ron MacLean’s reaction to Cherry’s diatribe is perfect.
While some may agree with Cherry, we’re past the point of banning people from the locker room. Jeff Blair at the Toronto Globe and Mail correctly points out that many sports have specific rooms for postgame interviews and some teams have separate changing areas that are off limits to all reporters.
I’ve liked Don since he was a Bruins coach in the 1970′s and have always enjoyed his Coach’s Corner segments, but he’s managed to survive many controversies whether it’s been for previous comments about women, European players, environmentalists, writers or the Iraq War. While Cherry has stayed at CBC while analysts at other media outlets in the United States and Europe have been fired for less controversial remarks, Canada’s public broadcaster may be seeing the moment that provides the excuse to let “Grapes” go at the end of the season. Coach’s Corner is one of the highest rated segments in Canada and Cherry has become one of the most popular Canadians to the point he was listed in the Top Ten of CBC’s series “The Greatest Canadian” last decade.
I can’t see Cherry apologizing for his remarks because he truly believes what he says. We’ll see if the story grows legs over the next week.
- The 2013 NFL Draft is over. I concentrated my viewing solely on the first round on Thursday night and on NFL Network. While it was the network to watch in 2012, something was a bit off this year. Rich Eisen and Mike Mayock were solid. However, it appeared Michael Irvin who normally is animated was muted. Steve Mariucci whom I always like also seemed off. The ratings for NFL Network on the first day was up 23% from last year, but I really can’t put my finger on what was different for its coverage this year.
One aspect that was definitely missing was the tweeting of draft picks by ESPN insider Adam Schefter. Under orders not to “spoil” draft picks prior to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s announcement, the Draft was actually quite dull. And you add that to the fact that neither ESPN nor NFL Network showed any draft picks on the phone prior to their selections, you have productions that were not compelling at all.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports did tip off picks and while some of his followers got angry at him for doing so, I thought his tweets added to the experience. However, he was in the minority. I’m hoping the NFL changes this policy next year.
- Bob Socci replaces Gil Santos as the Voice of the New England Patriots. Socci just joined the Pawtucket Red Sox this season and he’s been one of the college basketball announcers on CBS Sports Network as well as being the long-time voice of Navy football. He’ll team with Scott Zolak on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
- Got to hear Friend of Fang’s Bites Jen Royle’s debut on WEEI. Her first Saturday afternoon show was yesterday on the station. While I missed it in real time, I had the chance to listen on its website. She’s the first woman to host a regular show on the station since Janet Prensky co-hosted a midday show with Glenn Ordway in the early 1990′s. Glad to hear her and I’m hoping it leads to bigger things for her in Boston.
That will do it for now.
Saturday was certainly the interesting day in sports with two sports outside of the major four dominating headlines. Let’s go over them in bullet form.
- In what normally is the start of NASCAR’s Nationwide Series became the sports and also news story of the first part of Saturday when a crash at Drive4COPD at Daytona became more than just a race. As cars were speeding towards the checkered flag, Regan Smith and Brad Keselowski crashed. That caused Kyle Larson’s car to go airborne and hit a support fence. It also caused one of his tires to fly into the grandstand. At last check, 28 fans had been injured from the flying debris from the track.
ESPN which was carrying the race elected to run past its signoff time and run into the North Carolina-North Carolina State college basketball game to cover the situation and get interviews with drivers and NASCAR President Mike Helton to find out what happened.
ESPN’s crew did a solid job in gathering information, but the real spotlight shined on Speed for its coverage for two hours on its SpeedCenter program. Adam Alexander anchored the coverage and it covered all angles from the crash from the drivers to the fans who were injured in the stands updating news as it became available, airing the surreal NASCAR press conference and tapping the NASCAR on Fox crew to report the news. In this case, ESPN gets a B for its coverage of the crash and Speed gets the A+.
- After NASCAR, the focus shifted to Mixed Martial Arts and UFC’s pay per view event which had its first female fight headline the card. As usual, Mike Goldberg set up Joe Rogan as much as he could. Rogan tapped into his comedian inner self by suggesting people leave “flaming poop” at International Olympic Committee headquarters over the decision to remove wrestling from its roster after 2020. It certainly was a strange comment, but it was due to Dan Henderson wearing trunks with a Twitter hashtag seeking to keep wrestling in the Olympics past 2020.
But that was not the main focus of the pay per view telecast, it was Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche as the main fight and it did not disappoint. While the fight lasted one round, it had a lot of action has Rousey had to overcome a chokehold and Rousey doing her patented armbar to win her 7th consecutive fight and retain the UFC’s Women’s Championship. Judging by the reaction on social media, there were a lot of buys for the fight and more than the usual attention on a UFC pay per view. Of course, Twitter reaction does not necessarily translate to ratings, but I’m thinking the interest into Rousey may have won UFC some fans on Saturday. And with Rousey’s win, expect her star to rise with interviews on mainstream programs like The View, Live with Kelly and Michael and Today’s 4th hour with Hoda and Kathie Lee.
- One story that quietly surfaced on Saturday was the potential NHL conference realignment worked out between the league and the NHL Players Association. You may remember the league tried realignment before the lockout, but it was rejected by the NHLPA. But this time, the league worked with the players and we have some interesting results.
Detroit and Columbus would both go East. The Eastern half of the league would have two eight team “conferences”. Out West, there would be two seven team “conferences” and an interesting feature as unveiled by CBC’s Elliotte Friedman on Hockey Night in Canada, there would be Wild Cards in the East to offset the higher playoff chances in the West. That could lead to some very interesting playoff potential and ratings for the NHL’s TV partners. If this is approved and Detroit heads back East, it brings back the old Toronto-Detroit Original Six rivalry into play and it also has five of the Original Six in the East. Chicago would remain in the West.
There’s a lot of TV potential with this new realignment. NBC’s focus could remain totally in the East if Detroit moves out from the West. And Hockey Night in Canada wherever it lands could see more Detroit games for its 7 p.m. ET window.
Certainly some interesting news coming out of the NHL on Saturday.
Ok, some thoughts for you on this Sunday. Back later today.
My apologies for not posting the Weekend Viewing Picks and other stuff. My power went out thanks to the Blizzard of 2013 and I also had to deal with two downed trees, one lying across my driveway, so you can imagine me going stir crazy over blocked access, no heat, no power, NO WIFI and a full driving ban in Rhode Island. Luckily, a very gracious neighbor with a chain saw cut me out and the driving ban was lifted enabling me to escape from a heatless house and go to a relative’s house where I’m writing this post.
You deserve some sports media thoughts so it’s fine time you get them now. As always, they come in bullet form.
- I know the soccer community is up in arms over Gus Johnson being named as Fox’s international soccer voice. Yes, Fox can tap Martin Tyler from its UK brother, Sky Sports, but Fox chose to go with an American voice. Now, I was with the soccer community back in 2006 when ESPN chose a heavily miscast Dave O’Brien to be its main voice for the FIFA World Cup in Germany. I can remember listening to World Soccer Daily during the month-long event killing O’Brien. A lot of it was deserved and stinging from the criticism, ESPN chose UK announcers like Tyler, Ian Darke, Adrian Healy and Derek Rae. And while they all did a very good job, long-time ESPN soccer voice JP Dellacamera was jettisoned to radio to call many games off a monitor.
While I understand many in the soccer community who feel the Fox move with Johnson is destined to fail, I’m keeping an open mind here. Gus has called a share of San Jose Earthquakes MLS games over the last two years, plus he has traveled to Europe to learn the nuances of international soccer, spending time with Martin Tyler, something ESPN did not do with O’Brien, allowing him to be thrown to the wolves.
Gus will call his first international soccer contest this week on Fox Soccer. He won’t win over fans when he does Real Madrid vs. Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League, but he does have time to buy some credibility before he does his first World Cup game. Let’s hope he does.
- We now know Fox’s cable sports strategy coming later this year. Sometime in August, Speed becomes Fox Sports 1 airing college basketball, college football, MLB, NASCAR, soccer and UFC. Fuel will transition to Fox Sports 2 airing overflow events plus some extreme sports. Fox Soccer will rebrand to FX2 and will be completely out of the sports business. Got it? Good.
Fox has done this quietly and without fanfare. We’ve found out about Fox Sports 1 and 2 through the reporting by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. Fox Sports officials aren’t confirming things, but they aren’t denying them either. You’ve seen some of the things they plan on doing on FX with college football/MMA doubleheaders, UEFA Champions League games and other action. All that moves to FS 1 & 2 in August and FX and FX2 will solely be entertainment channels.
Fox is positioning itself quite well and if it is able to obtain the rights to the breakout “Catholic 7,” the basketball-only schools from the Big East that plan on formulating in 2014, then Fox Sports 1 & 2 will be in very good shape for years to come.
- Speaking of the Big East, the same story I linked to above mentions that NBC Sports Network is offering the conference $20-23 million annually over six years. ESPN can match that offer, but will it? Knowing how much the Big East has been poached over the years, plus knowing the “Catholic 7″ will bolt in 2014, is the league still attractive? But ESPN could match to ensure NBCSN is shut out from the major conferences, if the Big East is still considered a major conference.
- I don’t know her name, but I enjoy the give-and-take, back-and-forth rivalry I have the Twitter account known as Har Journalist. She’s in Vancouver and has a blog devoted to sports with a slant towards the MLS’ Whitecaps. It’s a very good site and one that will keep you up to date on the Whitecaps. But I warn you, criticize her Canucks at your own risk. I criticize the Canucks to rile Har Journalist and she always replies in kind. It’s all in good fun.
Those are your sports media thoughts.
I haven’t been able to post as much as I would like over the last week and it’s usually a busy week on the site. My apologies. I will be here throughout today to update things and I’ll provide my grades to the Super Bowl ads after each quarter.
Some quick thoughts as we get ready to watch the Big Game:
- The last three Super Bowls have set viewing records. Super Bowl XLVI garnered 111.3 million on NBC. However, this year, the NFL enters this Super Bowl on a down note as the 2013 postseason averaged three year lows as Paulsen at Sports Media Watch points out. I think the Super Bowl viewership has plateaued and will not set a record this year. However, if the game goes to overtime, then all bets are off, but I don’t think the game will go to an extra period. The Big Game will garner 108.2 million viewers this year.
- It seems Super Bowl marketers want to get buzz about their ads before the Big Game. While many have learned their lesson and not released their ads in their entirety as they did last year, some still put theirs out in the days leading up to today. The ad that had the biggest buzz last year was Chrysler’s Morning in America spot that had Clint Eastwood narrating. I understand that marketers want their ads to go viral before the game, but I feel they lose buzz when they do that. But I’m not spending $4 million per spot and for many companies, this is the biggest shot they’ll get all year to get eyeballs. Still, I feel it’s best for marketers to air their ads during the game.
- CBS will have 62 cameras in the Louisiana Superdome for the Super Bowl. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will call the game and they’ll have Steve Tasker and Solomon Wilcots roaming the sidelines. Unless it has a halftime wardrobe malfunction as it did back in Super Bowl XXXVII, CBS gives you a very good nuts and bolts broadcast. It’s one of the best crews and has a good reputation in stepping up in the big events.
- Dial Global Radio will have Kevin Harlan and Boomer Esiason on the call. Esiason will do double duty as he’ll also be on TV with the Super Bowl Today crew. James Lofton and Mark Malone will be your sideline analysts/reporters. Kevin is a very good radio announcer. I love his Monday Night Football calls.
- Let’s play the game already!
Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday.
I’ve been bottling up some sports media thoughts from the last time I wrote a similar post. You’re due for some more. Let’s provide you with some. They’re below in bullet form as always.
- We’re getting closer to seeing Fox Sports 1 coming to fruition. While Fox is not saying anything official, behind the scenes, it’s working very hard to show that it is very serious about making this a true alternative to ESPN. In this week’s Sports Business Journal (subscription required), John Ourand writes that Fox has already trademarked “Fox Sports 1,” purchased a dot-com to host a Fox Sports 1 website, developed a logo, and has showed a video to several professional league and college conference officials that displays what the network is all about.
Ourand cites sources who have seen the video that Fox is looking to launch the network in August of 2013, rebranding the existing Speed channel, and then making a big platform launch during Super Bowl XVIII week in February 2014 which will air on the Fox mothership.
While many sports media observers were watching NBC Sports Network to see if it was going to be the challenger to ESPN, Fox has quietly been working to sign long term contracts with existing partners MLB, NASCAR, UFC as well as the Big 12 and the Pac-12 to help establish programming on Fox Sports 1. When the network finally launches next summer, Fox Sports 1 will be in very good position and hit the ground running with some major sports programming, something that NBCSN has been unable to achieve.
And with the NBA and English Premier League coming up for bid in 2015 and the Big Ten in 2016, Fox Sports 1 could make a very good destination for all three.
We’ll be monitoring this story well into 2013.
- In a related note, Fox’s parent company, News Corp., made huge news last week with its purchase of 49% of the YES Network plus reportedly being close to retaining the rights to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a staggering $280 million annually.
Through buying into YES and keeping the Dodgers, News Corp. would have the rights to three of the four MLB teams in the nation’s two largest markets. And with the option to increase its ownership of YES to 80% within three years, Fox is in a very good position to maintain its position in MLB through local rights.
I would not be surprised if Fox goes after ownership stakes in NESN in Boston, co-owned by the Red Sox and Bruins, and Altitude in Denver, partners with the Avalanche and the Nuggets. I don’t think News Corp. is done with its spending spree. It will have a lot of cash to spend as it’s spinning off its publishing unit and focusing solely on television and movies.
By positioning the Fox Sports Nets with long term contracts with several MLB, NBA and NHL teams, Fox ensures the survival of its regional sports networks for many years to come.
- ESPN’s 12 year contract to air the college football playoff plus the Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls shows that the Alleged Worldwide Leader has faith in the sport and wants maintain its firm control of the postseason.
We saw that when it placed all of the Bowl Championship Series on cable in 2010, that ESPN was very serious about controlling the postseason. And while ABC is given major college football games during the regular season, it carries just a few bowl games, most are aired on either ESPN or ESPN2.
When your humble blogger went to ESPN last year to talk with Executive Senior Vice President of Studio and Event Production, Norby Williamson, he told me that ESPN was the perfect destination for the BCS as the network could provide fans with programming surrounding the games not just pre and post, but through coverage in the days leading up to the Championship Game. I’m sure his feeling has not changed now that ESPN has obtained the rights to the playoffs.
While there’s no doubting that ESPN does college football well, its control of all of the BCS Automatic Qualifying conferences is disturbing. By guaranteeing control through long-term contracts that go well into the next decade, ESPN will continue airing games for the foreseeable future without interruption.
- Whenever I eat dinner at my parents’ house, one program they like to watch while dining is Inside Edition. While the show has its positive qualities, one huge negative is its coverage of celebrities, Lindsay Lohan in particular. It seems every move she makes is extensively covered, no matter how big, no matter how small. One night, as the show was in its 3,608th consecutive day of covering Lindsay Lohan, I said out loud, “This is like ESPN with Tim Tebow,” and it suddenly hit me that Inside Edition’s obsession with Lohan is just like ESPN’s with Tim Tebow.
Now is this so far off? Inside Edition goes to court whenever Lohan violates her probation whether it be drunk driving or stealing a necklace (allegedly). ESPN went to New York Jets training camp to cover Tebow.
Inside Edition went into battle mode when handlers called 9-1-1 when Lohan failed to wake up for a call on set of the Lifetime movie, “Liz and Dick”. ESPN made sure we all celebrated Tim Tebow’s birthday via SportsCenter.
Inside Edition covered Lohan’s snub of ABC’s Barbara Walters. ESPN asked actor Liam Neeson about Tim Tebow even though he was hardly familiar with the QB.
Inside Edition can’t seem to go one day without mentioning Lohan. Doug Gottlieb admitted to Dan Patrick that ESPN management told him to mention Tebow on his radio show.
These are just a few instances, but again, I ask is this so far off to make the analogy that Lindsay Lohan is to Inside Edition as Tim Tebow is to ESPN?
I’m sure I’ll hear from ESPN’s extensive public relations machine on this, but they can’t convince me that Tebow isn’t their Binky.
- I’ve seen all of season 3 of Downton Abbey except for the Christmas Special that will air on ITV in the UK on Christmas Day (naturally). While I won’t give any spoilers, I will give some news that has already been reported. Shirley MacLaine gives some great energy to the first few episodes playing Elizabeth “Cora Grantham” McGovern’s mother, visiting from the United States. The season begins in 1920 with Robert in financial difficulty and Downton’s future in doubt, Mr. Bates in jail and Matthew and Lady Mary engaged.
What transpires next is the usual drama, comedy and plot twists that make the series great. There will be joy and there will be sadness, but you’ll have to see what happens when the third season premieres on PBS on January 6.
I’m giving away nothing. If you want spoilers, buy me a few drinks and I’ll tell you.
We’re done. Enjoy your Tuesday.
Time for some overdue sports radio thoughts. I apologize for the inconsistency in posting. I’ve been sick since last week and its hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s no fun not having a voice and certainly not good to feel wrecked every time I awake. I hope to get better soon, but this bug continues to linger.
But you visit to to get the latest news and some occasional reviews and thoughts so let’s provide some now while I can. As usual, they come in bullet form.
- With ESPN reportedly close to wrapping up a long term contract with the BCS for the new college football playoff that begins in 2014, it’s amazing to think how much money is being paid for the contract. Sports Business Journal reports that ESPN would give the BCS $500 million annually over a 12 year span for not just two semifinal games and the championship, but for three “contract” bowls that would include the Rose, Sugar (originally the new “Champions Bowl”) and Orange Bowls.
Not only does this keep the college football postseason in ESPN’s possession once the BCS system is done next year, but it also continues ESPN’s tight Kung-Fu grip on college football.
Now, the other networks including CBS and Fox do have rights to BCS conferences, but they have to deal with ESPN as a partner (Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC). There isn’t much that ESPN doesn’t have its hands on and if it doesn’t want to keep rights to a league, it won’t. But until the day occurs when ESPN will let a conference slip to another network (ahem, Big East), ESPN is going to have a major say in college football for a long time to come.
- It’s really strange when WFAN’s Mike Francesa can be a Voice of Reason, but in the case of ESPN’s Rick Reilly, Mikey was dead on. After the Monday Night Football game on ESPN between Kansas City and Pittsburgh, Reilly was seen on camera instructing postgame host Stuart Scott to give him credit for allegedly breaking the news of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s shoulder injury on Twitter. However, as pointed out rather deftly by Deadspin’s Tim Burke, it had already been reported by his ESPN colleague, Adam Schefter, and as Francesa said, it was quite apparent to anyone watching ESPN that Big Ben was hurt.
Ever since Reilly went to ESPN, he has become a small fish in a very big lake. When he was at Sports Illustrated, he was a big fish in a small pond, so he was very noticeable. In fact, when he was at SI, one could surmise that he was the star of the magazine, writing the Point After on the back page.
But after being lured to ESPN for a lot of money, Reilly hasn’t found a signature role to stand out. His pieces on SportsCenter have been rather forgettable. ESPN has tried to employ him as an essayist at The Open Championship and major tennis events rather unsuccessfully. Do you remember his show “Homecoming” which ran for about twenty minutes? Of course you don’t.
I don’t know when Reilly’s contract with ESPN expires, it’s really not my concern, but when it does, the Powers That Be should ask for some of their money back because Reilly has been mailing it in for the past few years.
- You may not be familiar with the name of Dino Costa, but subscribers to SiriusXM are. Dino is the nighttime host on Mad Dog Radio. His Twitter feed is an interesting follow. And while I may disagree with some of his tweets, Costa is quite entertaining. And his radio show is a very good listen. If you have the opportunity to listen to him, by all means do so. Costa will tell you that he’s a good listen, but that’s fine.
Last week, Dino called into his boss’ show, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, as the two have been feuding on-air, to tell him he (Russo) is a has-been. Mad Dog Radio’s Steve Torre tries to play peacemaker in this clip.
There are two trains of thought. Either this is real and the two are at war, or it’s another stunt that Mad Dog is attempting to pull off, but I don’t think Costa would fool his listeners and play them. In any event, Costa is quite good and if you have SiriusXM, give the man a try if you haven’t already.
- CBS has created a mash-up of Queen’s iconic “We Will Rock You” with the network’s NFL theme “Posthumus Zone” and it’s pretty good. Queen’s Brian May teamed up with Helmut VonLichten to form a re-mix. It will be CBS’ theme for Super Bowl XLVII in February. I didn’t know what to think when I saw the press release on Tuesday, but after giving a listen to the mash-up, I found that I liked it. Good job, CBS.
- Saw “Skyfall” over the weekend and loved it. As a James Bond fan, I loved the dark feel to this chapter. Daniel Craig has made Bond into his own and you can see he’s more comfortable in the role. Dame Judy Dench as “M” is tremendous. Javier Bardem was great as the villain and it will be nice to see Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris in future Bond films. There were some nice nods to the past while bringing the movie into the 21st Century. Great direction from Sam Mendes. Can’t wait for Bond 24.
And we’re done.
Time to provide some sports media thoughts as we begin another workweek. Of course, they will be in bullet form.
- What was once the place for sports networks to convene to put pressure on cable has suddenly become the place to hold out. DirecTV was once the provider to pick up sports networks before anyone else. It was one of the first providers in the country to pick up NFL Network, the Big Ten Network, the mtn., CBS Sports Network (when it was known as CSTV then CBS College Sports), Outdoor Life Network and others. Now, it has become a holdout like Time Warner Cable which was the last major cable provider to pick up NFL Network and still refuses to carry MASN in North Carolina.
Now, DirecTV has refused to pick up the Pac-12 Networks and Time Warner SportsNet citing fiscal responsibility. It has not talked with the Pac-12 lately and has no new talks scheduled for Time Warner, thus preventing West Coast fans from seeing college sports and the Los Angeles Lakers. DirecTV says it does not want to pick up all of the Pac-12 Networks (it has seven overall) and wants to charge an extra fee for anyone who wants to watch it. And the satellite provider is balking at Time Warner’s price per subscriber ($3.95) for the Lakers channel.
DirecTV appears to have drawn its line in the sand. The Athletic Director at Cal-Berkeley changed her TV subscription from DirecTV to Comcast so she can watch Pac-12 Network and the Lakers training facility changed its subscription from DirecTV to Time Warner Cable as ESPN LA’s Arash Markazi tweeted on Sunday.
Not a great sign that the Lakers’ practice facility switched to TWC from DirecTV this week. They probably wouldn’t if a deal was imminent.
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) November 4, 2012
So whenever DirecTV decides to pick either or both of the channels, it could very well be at its own terms.
Joe Flint of the Los Angeles Times reports that Cox Cable is the latest to agree to carry Time Warner SportsNet’s English and Spanish channels. It leaves DirecTV and Dish as the last remaining holdouts and of those two, only DirecTV would probably pick up TWSN as Dish has not been willing to carry sports networks as freely as DirecTV.
- NFL Network’s A Football Life has scored touchdowns in each and all of its episodes this season. From the season premiere on Ray Lewis to the look at the final year of the Cleveland Browns 1.0 to the Los Angeles Rams Fearsome Foursome to the latest edition on Chris Spielman, the documentaries from NFL Films have been of high quality. This all began last year when it spent one season with Patriots coach Bill Belichick and showed viewers some humanity behind the man inside the hoodie.
The access NFL Films has received with each of its subjects, plus the archival footage it has culled through its own library or through news footage or personal home movies, A Football Life has become appointment viewing. The next one on coach Jimmy Johnson during his Dallas years should prove to be quite compelling television.
- There’s been 10 weeks of the college football season and I can now provide a review of the Fox College Saturday pregame show. I’ve been waiting for improvement since Week 2 (Week 1 was pre-empted in most of the country by a Fox Saturday Baseball overrun), but it hasn’t been there. Erin Andrews is not suited to be a studio host. She’s been better on the sidelines, although the MLB Postseason in October wasn’t her best work.
There is no chemistry between Erin and analysts Eddie George and Joey Harrington. They struggle to get through highlights and there’s doesn’t appear to be any real energy. Oddly, when Patrick O’Neal is teamed with George and Harrington on FX, they have much better chemistry and energy.
I have a feeling Fox will try this studio team for one more season before making any changes. Fox has too much money invested in Andrews to take her off the show after one season, however, the show remains a train wreck.
- Heard Friend of Fang’s Bites, Jen Royle on WEEI in Boston auditioning last week to become the update anchor for the station’s morning show, Dennis & Callahan. I felt she had the best chemistry among all those trying out. Here’s hoping she gets a gig out of it.
- I wish there was a way to get KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” off ads and TV shows. This song is the bane of my existence. And as it was pointed out on the old “Best Week Ever” on VH1 that it was overused on a slew of ABC’s shows as a female empowerment song in 2006. And don’t ask me why I can remember these references off the top of my head.
As I digress, if the song can be removed from commercials and movies, it would make me very happy.
Ok, I’m done.
Time for some long overdue sports media thoughts. They’re all in bullet form. And the thoughts have to do with NBC Sports/NBC Sports Network.
- NBC Sports Network will finally get its man on Monday when it picks up the TV portion of the Dan Patrick Show and its accompanying show, The Box Score. Since the summer, NBC had been negotiating with DirecTV to become the national cable distributor of the show. Fox Sports Net had been the cable partner from 2010 until this month when negotiations to remain the home of the show broke off.
NBC Sports Network is desperately trying to become a legitimate competitor to ESPN, but with the NHL lockout plus losing out on Major League Baseball, it appeared that things were looking bleak. But some developments this week are giving NBCSN some hope to take the power back.
The first part is getting an established brand name like Dan Patrick to the network. The formal announcement will be made on Sunday Night Football during halftime of New Orleans-Denver.. Then the show starts the following day. The move has been long rumored, but it will finally come reality next week. For NBC Sports Network, the climb has to start somewhere. It has to start somehow. What better place than next week?
- The news broken by Sports Business Daily’s John Ourand on Friday that NBC appears to be the leader in the clubhouse for the US rights for the English Premier League has to feel like a bullet in the head to incumbents Fox Soccer and ESPN. When the bidding for the rights began this month, it appeared the current rightsholders, Fox/ESPN would continue for another three years beginning with the 2013-14 season. However, news broke today that the English Premier League had informed Fox/ESPN that it would no longer require its services. Ourand reported that NBC’s bid would triple Fox’s current fee of $23 million per year. An announcement is expected next week.
Of course, the Al Jazeera-owned beIN Sport which launched in the US in August has expressed its interest in the US rights, but it’s not known if it actually bid.
Let’s say for argument’s sake that NBC wins the rights, it would be huge. NBC Sports Network could conceivably air EPL games on Saturday and Sunday mornings plus air Monday afternoon games. Matches could be sublicensed to another network or placed on another NBCUniversal property like the Comcast SportsNet affiliates.
The English Premier League makes a nice compliment to the Major League Soccer games that air on both NBC and NBCSN. And if the EPL bid is successful, it suddenly gives the Peacock some street cred with soccer fans.
Plus, this is a huge blow to Fox Soccer which has heavily depended on the English Premier League for programming. And ESPN which already lost the World Cup and now 80 EPL games finds itself with just MLS once the 2014 World Cup concludes.
- Brett McMurphy at ESPN.com reports that the Big East conference is letting its exclusive 60 day negotiating window with ESPN lapse and will now start talks with Fox and NBC Sports.
While the Big East can still sign with ESPN, the conference is taking a gamble that it can get a megadeal similar to what other major college leagues have received. The Big East left big money on the table when it rejected a long-term deal from ESPN last year choosing to shop around. Now with its exclusive window with the alleged Worldwide Leader coming to an end, the Big East will get courted especially by NBC.
Over the last year, NBC Sports Network has picked up rights to the A-10, CAA, Ivy League and the Mountain West conferences, but it would be a huge win to get the Big East, a league that has been with ESPN since its inception.
Fox might be in just to drive up the bidding, but now with losing the EPL and Formula 1, it needs some inventory for its soon-to-be-launched Fox Sports 1 channel. If the Big East can convince either Fox or NBC or perhaps even both to pony up, the conference might be in line to see fees on par with the ACC. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Suddenly, NBC Sports Network’s future looks a bit brighter than it did earlier this month. And if it gets a piece of the NASCAR schedule next year, then NBCSN’s programming with the NHL (if it ever returns), English Premier League, MLS, Big East, Formula 1 and the other aforementioned properties makes the channel a decent challenger. Don’t forget the NBA contract bidding in 2014 also is looming.
That’s going to end the thoughts for now.
Time for some long overdue sports media thoughts.
First I want to apologize for the lack of content over the last three days. I’ve been helping in dealing with a family crisis and that’s been taking my time. Suffice to say that it might influence the number of posts this week into next. I’ll do my best to continue posting as much as I can during that period. Thanks for your patience in advance.
Ok, some sports media thoughts in bullet form
- It’s in vogue to criticize TBS’ coverage of the MLB Postseason from the announcing to massive spelling fails to the production, but I’m going in the opposite direction. Count me as one of the few who likes what TBS is doing. Their coverage of the four two Wild Card Games, 18 League Division Series into the American League Championship Series has been understated and stellar. While there have been obvious errors (Dick Stockton? Why?) like “Willie Mayes,” Turner has for the most part gotten the job done. You can yearn for ESPN, but you can rest assured that we would have Chris Berman shoved down our collective throats and see Curt “38 Studios Fail” Schilling in the studio.
Brian Anderson was very good in calling the National League Wild Card and the Cincinnati-San Francisco series. Don Orsillo and Buck Martinez had good chemistry paired on Detroit-Oakland and Ernie Johnson has been doing well, although Anderson would be my pick as the TBS “A” team announcer.
I like John Smoltz and Ron Darling, although Darling should not play a doctor on TV especially when attempting to diagnose Derek Jeter’s injury. Cal Ripken was bit dry as a game analyst although there were times when he successfully first guessed moments and spotted trends. Bob Brenly and Joe Simpson were very competent in their stints.I wish Turner brought back Victor Rojas this year in place of Dick Stockton. And it seemed that Craig Sager’s loud wardrobe is more subdued this year.
Overall, I give TBS a B minus for its coverage thus far.
- With Fox Sports 1 becoming closer to reality, it appears to be in position to be the true challenger to ESPN than NBC Sports Network. After a very good spring with the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs and a great August with the Olympics, NBCSN has crashed to earth faster than Felix Baumgartner’s free fall from 127,900 feet above New Mexico.
Hoping to gain a foothold in the BCS conferences and MLB, NBC Sports Network finds itself on the outside looking in. While it has been able to gain contracts with mid-major conferences like the A-10, CAA and the Ivy League as well as the Mountain West, NBCSN hasn’t been able to grab that major conference as of yet. And while the Big East is the last college conference up for bid among the majors, confidence among sports media observers for NBCSN to grab a part of the TV contract is not high.
Ratings since the Olympics for NBC Sports Network have fallen well below regular viewing levels. And the NHL Lockout has been a killer after the playoffs last Spring were so well received. If the lockout is resolved soon, then NBCSN can depend on some original content, but if the lockout continues, college football and MLS are finished in the fall and NBCSN can’t depend on college hockey to carry the network. And while obtaining Formula 1gives NBC Sports Group some live programming, it needs much more.
With Fox collecting sports properties like college football, MLB, NASCAR and UFC for its impending all-sports cable network, it’s in quite a good position for carriage among the major cable and satellite providers. NBC Sports Group must be wondering if it will ever get over the hump.
- Last week, CBS Radio announced the purchase of a New York FM station which will become the home of the nation’s first all-sports radio station, WFAN. CBS quickly announced that the station will become a 660 AM/101.9 FM simulcast. And while the simulcast will take shape starting later in the fall, this move was a pre-emptive strike at ESPN Radio and its hopes of putting the New York Yankees on FM.
During the summer, ESPN Radio New York moved to the FM dial. Now WFAN has followed suit just a few months later. This is going to set up a bidding war for the radio rights to the Yankees next year. This season, the Yankees signed a new contract to remain on WCBS-AM, their flagship station since 2002.
That contract expires after the 2013 season and the team has made it clear of its desire to go on FM in the future. Expect the bidding between CBS Radio and ESPN to get heated with the loser getting the Mets whose rights also expire after next season.One move CBS Radio could make for 2013 is to air the Yankees on WFAN-FM while the Mets stay on 660 AM.
This is going to make for some interesting sports media fodder in 2013.
That will conclude your thoughts for now.
A few sports media thoughts on this Monday. Yes, they’re in bullet form.
- I finally had an opportunity to see Fox’s college football production on Saturday. While Gus Johnson and Charles Davis were on top of their form for Nebraska-UCLA, the same cannot be said about the studio. I missed the Pregame, but watched halftime and the postgame with Erin Andrews, Eddie George and Joey Harrington. The chemistry isn’t quite there. Plus, both George and Harrington were quite shaky doing highlights.
I can’t fault Fox for attempting its tried and true formula from the NFL studio, but it doesn’t quite work with college football yet. I’ll give it a few more weeks before writing a full review.
I thought Erin did better with the Game Breaks and her chemistry going back and forth with Gus flowed better than with George and Harrington. Still, it’s early. It’s a work in progress.
- Kara Henderson has informed us where she went after leaving the NFL Network earlier this year. She left NFL Network over the summer and some had speculated why she departed. In this tweet from Sunday, she explains.
Happy football season everyone!For all those who have been kind enough to ask.. left TV to get married and raise my boy- there’s a catch..
— Kara Henderson (@KaraHenderson) September 9, 2012
Congrats to Kara on her nuptials and glad to see she left on her own terms.
- Noticed that the Comcast SportsNets around the country have incorporated the iconic NBC peacock into their logos. I flipped to the CSN channels I receive on DirecTV and saw the peacock either through bugs on the screen or through top of the hour ID’s on affiliates in New England, DC, Chicago and San Francisco. I have to assume this is also the case for CSN Philadelphia and CSN Northwest, neither of which are available on the satellite provider.
This is all part to weave Comcast SportsNet into the NBC Sports Group. I would expect that various NBC Sports programming will be syndicated on the CSN’s including simulcasts of NBC Sports Radio and some documentaries.
- In a related note, it appears that Fox Sports Net has moved on from Comcast SportsNet and has made deals in three local markets to air its national college football games. Fox has signed WLVI in Boston, WDCA in DC and KICU in Oakland, all are markets which have Comcast SportsNet affiliates. Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic is carrying Fox SportsNet’s regional ACC games, but that deal was made through the conference and was not affected by the CSN’s dropping en masse of Fox Sports Net programming.
That will do it.