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SBD/Issue 13/Sports MediaPrint All
Future Network USA in ’05 will launch Future Action Sports, a new group of action sports magazines including the five-times-a-year Skateboard Trade News and the quarterly Snowboard Trade News, according to Michael Shields of MEDIAPOST. The new venture will be led by former TransWorld Media Publisher & VP/Sales & Marketing Fran Richards. TransWorld publishes Skateboarding magazine and Snowboarding magazine, among others. Richards contends that “a void has opened up since” TransWorld was purchased by Time Inc. in ‘00, noting that the magazines “have become less accessible to readers, as they are staffed more and more by professional athletes rather than journalists.” Richards: “Those magazines have changed tremendously. They used to be very inclusive. Now they have gotten extremely hard core during a time when the sports have actually become mainstream.” While Richards does not expect the new titles to be profitable, he believes they “will provide ‘a critical leadership position’” in action sports (MEDIAPOST.com, 9/28). Mark Ford, CEO of Time Inc.’s Time4Media, which oversees TransWorld, “expressed disbelief at” Richards’ characterization. Ford said the previous TransWorld mentality was “about ‘this is a little club. We don’t want anyone to come into the club.’ In the end I don’t think it served the industry well. What served it well is growing the sport, not keeping people out of the sport.” AD AGE’s Jon Fine notes Richards is the third former Transworld staffer to join a start-up publication since Time’s purchase, as this year’s launches of The Skateboard Mag and Snowboard Journal were both headed by former Transworld execs (AD AGE, 9/27 issue).
MULTICHANNEL NEWS reported that in a joint effort between Comcast Sports Southeast/Charter Sports Southeast, Michigan-based Comcast Local and the Comcast Media Center, Comcast is “filling the roster of college-football programming available via its Comcast On Demand [VOD] service.” The service provides content such as entire football games and 10- to 15-minute game recaps “within hours of the last play.” Comcast On Demand will also offer 30-minute weekly coaches’ shows from ACC, Big Ten and SEC teams (MULTICHANNEL.com, 9/28).
HELD AT BAY: While Glenn Dickey and Tom FitzGerald both announced last week they would no longer write sports columns for the S.F. Chronicle, S.F. Chronicle Sports Editor Glenn Schwarz said that the paper’s merger with the S.F. Examiner four years ago “left the paper with an embarrassment of riches as far as columns were concerned. The paper’s recent cost-cutting efforts have nothing to do with FitzGerald and Dickey’s reassignments.” Schwarz: “The consensus (among) the top editors in sports and at the paper is that the entire paper had too many columnists” (S.F. BUSINESS TIMES, 9/24 issue).
ON THE AIR: In N.Y., Andrew Marchand reports Marv Albert “may do at least some Nets games on the YES Network this upcoming season.” With Nets play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle’s commitments to CBS for the NFL and NCAA basketball, Albert “could pick up about 10 games as a fill-in.” Eagle still has a year remaining on his contract with YES (N.Y. POST, 9/29)....Former LPGAer Dottie Pepper has signed a deal with The Golf Channel to become an announcer in ’05 and “is negotiating with NBC and ABC to do additional announcing duties” (PALM BEACH POST, 9/29).
"MNF" Halftime Feature Wasn't The
Only Thing Sacked Monday Night
The overnight Nielsen rating for ABC’s debut Monday of the practical-joke feature “You’ve Been Sacked” during halftime of “MNF” from 10:45-11:00pm ET was 15% lower than the rating for the previous 15 minutes, compared to a 19% decline between the comparable periods for the September 20 Vikings-Eagles game and a 20% drop during the September 9 Colts-Patriots game, according to Rudy Martzke of USA TODAY. But there was only a 9% dip at halftime of the September 13 Packers-Panthers game, “when a segment looked back at Brett Favre's play in a Monday night game last year after his dad died.” In “Sacked,” teammates tricked Rams WR Torry Holt into “believing he had been selected as the league’s best-dressed player” by an imaginary magazine, which led to a photo shoot that “involved him dressing as a scantily clad ballerina.” IMG/TWI Chair Barry Frank: “I thought Torry Holt was made to look ridiculous. But I know ABC has been struggling with halftime for many years." Martzke writes, “If this was the best of these segments, I prefer to sack the rest.” But Initiative Media Exec VP/National Broadcast Media Tim Spengler, whose “MNF” clients include Coors and Dockers, said, “They're adding entertainment ... that doesn't feel inappropriate. It fits prime time.” Martzke notes “MNF” Exec Producer Mike Pearl and Producer Fred Gaudelli “contacted producers in Hollywood and received more than 50 proposals for halftime themes” before the season. Pearl said three of the eight "Sacked" segments have been shot and more could be ordered (USA TODAY, 9/29). Gaudelli: “The standard fare at halftime doesn’t cut it. The stuff with NFL Films is high quality, but it has a predictable ratings drop-off at halftime. There’s a sameness to it. So we’re trying to do things that make people want to stay up 10 minutes longer.” But in N.Y., Richard Sandomir writes that “Sacked” is “beneath the reputation” of “MNF,” “though it would be perfect for Spike” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/29).