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In N.Y., Tim Arango cites a source as saying that the sale process for Sporting News “could be on hold for at least a month as the company sorts out” discrepancies in the audience numbers for its radio unit “and determines any potential liability.” The company “could be forced to reimburse advertisers as a result of the investigation (N.Y. POST, 11/16).
O’Brien Likely To Replace Caray
In Cubs’ Broadcasting Booth
CUB SCOUT: In Chicago, Ed Sherman reports the Cubs have agreed to terms with Dave O’Brien to become their TV play-by-play announcer beginning in ’05. O’Brien “needs to be released from the final year of his contracts” with ESPN, where he calls baseball and college basketball games, and the Mets, where he calls 50 games per year. Under the terms of the Cubs deal, O’Brien “could still work college basketball games for ESPN” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 11/16).
REVVED UP: MEDIAWEEK’s John Consoli reported NASCAR officials “privately believe their telecasts are currently undervalued, particularly the second-half of the racing season on NBC and TNT, in which ratings have grown as a result of the new” points system this season. NASCAR is “expected to seek a hefty increase from NBC if it wants to renew its telecast rights,” which will be up for renewal following the ’06 season. Fox’ deal for the first half of the season runs through ’08 with NASCAR holding an option to terminate it after the ’06 season (MEDIAWEEK.com, 11/15).
Filmmakers Examine "Russian
Revolution" In Womens' Tennis
Phil Johnston and Peter Geisler’s new 43-minute documentary, tentatively titled “Anna’s Army: Behind The Rise of Russian Women’s Tennis,” chronicles the success of Russian female players and “probes much deeper than the usual cultural examinations of the ‘Russian Revolution,’” according to SI’s Jon Wertheim. With the WTA’s help, Johnston and Geisler “interviewed every player of significance,” including Anna Kournikova, who “granted them a lengthy sit-down.” While Maria Sharapova did not “want to be featured alongside the other Russians,” Johnston and Geisler “ambushed Sharapova’s postmatch news conference at [the Ladies German Open] and asked enough questions to get their sound bites.” A “number of networks have expressed interest in buying the rights to the film,” but Johnston has no deal in place yet. Johnston toured Moscow’s Spartak Club, “seeking old coaches, administrators and tennis journalists for interviews” during 18 months of filming. But Wertheim wrote the “real winners are in the old footage Johnston was able to procure [including] a snippet of grainy home video” that shows Elena Dementieva, Anastasia Myskina and Dinara Safina taking a group lesson together as five-year-olds (SI.com, 11/12).
Sheridan Seduces T.O. Before “MNF”
ABC’s “MNF” earned a 12.7/20 overnight Nielsen rating for Eagles-Cowboys last night, down 3% from a 13.1/20 for the comparable Eagles-Packers game last year. “MNF” drew a 35.0/48 in Philadelphia and a 28.5/40 in Dallas/Ft. Worth (THE DAILY).
A STROLL DOWN WISTERIA LANE: The introduction to last night’s game featured a taped segment of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” cast member Nicollette Sheridan, who plays Edie Britt, wearing only a towel in the Eagles locker room before the game, seducing Eagles WR Terrell Owens. Here is the dialogue between the two:
Sheridan: “Hey there, Terrell.”
Owens: “What are you doing here?”
Sheridan: “My house burned down, and I needed to take a long, hot shower. Where are you off to looking so pretty?”
Owens: “Baby, it’s ‘Monday Night Football.’ Game starts in ten minutes.”
Sheridan, laughing and looking at Owens seductively: “You and your little game. I’ve got a game we can play.”
Owens: “Edie, this is major. We’ve got Parcells and the Cowboys, and Donovan needs me.”
Sheridan: “What about my needs? What about Edie?”
Owens: “Will you stop it. All of Philadelphia is counting on me.”
Sheridan: “I can’t help myself. I love you T.O.”
Owens: “Then how about you tell me what’s buried underneath that pool.”
Sheridan: “You know I can’t tell you that.”
Owens: “Then I got a game to play.”
Sheridan: “Terrell, wait.”
Sheridan dropped her towel, and Owens said: “Aw hell, the team’s going to have to win this one without me.”
PLAYTIME: The scene cut to “Desperate Housewives” cast members Teri Hatcher and Felicity Huffman watching the scene on TV. Hatcher: “Oh my God, who watches this trash? Sex, lies, betrayal.” Huffman: “And that woman, she’s just so ... desperate.” Hatcher: “I know what we should watch.” Hatcher changed the channel, the “MNF” theme music started playing, and then Hatcher and Huffman said in unison, “Are you ready for some football!?” ABC play-by-play announcer Al Michaels said of Owens during the game, “He wants to meet Angelina Jolie, but he did meet Nicollette Sheridan” (“MNF,” ABC, 11/15).
ABC’S RESPONSE: ABC Sports VP/Media Relations Mark Mandel during last night’s game said that he had not “heard any reaction to the segment” with Owens and Sheridan. Mandel: “I’m sitting at home watching the game and nobody called or e-mailed me. Before every [‘MNF’ game], we do something entertaining to get the viewer to watch the game. We have traditionally looked for all kind of hooks to do these kind of segments, if there is an ABC show doing particularly well” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 11/16). Attempts to reach ABC this morning were unsuccessful. The NFL also did not comment on ABC’s intro (THE DAILY).
REAX: PHILLYBURBS.com’s Kevin Cooney writes the Owens-Sheridan skit was “priceless. That was a good example of ABC cross-promotion that actually worked” (PHILLYBURBS.com, 11/16). In Philadelphia, Doug Darroch writes the skit “made Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction look like small potatoes. If you saw it, your office is probably talking about it today. If you’re a parent having to answer uncomfortable questions, you’re not real pleased with ABC today” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 11/16).
BILL OF RIGHTS: SI’s Peter King reported the NFL “thinks Disney’s going to have trouble ponying up the money for one contract in the ESPN/ABC deal (Disney owns both), never mind two. NBC and Fox are in play for Monday night as well, and there’s a 95[%] likelihood that the Monday night winner will be an over-the-air network, not cable. I don’t see NBC making a business deal that doesn’t make business sense, though” (SI.com, 11/15).
RIGHT TEAM, WRONG NETWORK: Meanwhile, Michaels said of Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston –- both former Cowboys who now work as NFL analysts for Fox being shown on camera in a luxury box during the game: “Great promo for Fox” (“MNF,” ABC, 11/15).
Content Agreement Settles
A threatened media blackout of Premier League and Football League matches in the U.K. “has been averted after national newspapers and football authorities reached a compromise agreement over the use of data and photographs,” according to Owen Gibson of the Manchester GUARDIAN. The dispute “hinged on the extent to which newspaper publishers could use photographs and match information on their own websites and for mobile phone services.” DataCo, the company set up by the two leagues to safeguard their rights, “was concerned that newspapers are profiting from the game through fantasy football competitions, mobile score alerts and downloads.” But the papers “refused to accept a list of demands including provisions that digital publication of match photographs should be subject to a two-hour time delay and that up to 7% of revenues from fantasy football competitions should be returned to clubs.” Newspapers “began to drop the names of sponsors Barclays and Coca-Cola from their coverage,” while some newspapers also chose “photographs that obscured sponsor’s logos” on jerseys (Manchester GUARDIAN, 11/16).