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MTV, which produced last year’s controversial Super Bowl halftime show, will air a preview of the new look for its sister station, MTV2, during halftime of Fox’ broadcast of this year’s Super Bowl, according to the AP. The new format will launch at midnight on Super Bowl Sunday. MTV Networks Group President Van Toffler: “Our audience is looking for an alternative to the Super Bowl halftime show and we felt that the new MTV2 fit the bill perfectly” (AP, 1/31).
FORE-SHADOWING: On Long Island, Steve Zipay notes Fox, as part of its Super Bowl pregame coverage, will host a live hole-in-one contest for charity at the par-three 17th hole at TPC at Sawgrass. The contest will consist of three teams captained by a PGA Tour player with participants from the NFL, NASCAR and MLB “all of which are televised by Fox.” Sources said that Fox “has ulterior motives. The free promotion gives some leverage to Fox, which is eyeing a possible TV partnership with the PGA [Tour] when its $850[M] broadcast and cable deals end next year.” In addition to Fox, FSN “might want to swipe USA Network’s 33 events” on cable (NEWSDAY, 2/1).
SWEEPING UP: Fox after the Super Bowl broadcast will air a special episode of “The Simpsons,” featuring Homer attempting to plan a Super Bowl halftime show. A number of athletes guest star. After “The Simpsons,” Fox will air a sneak preview of its upcoming animated series “American Dad.” SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Don Muret reports Alltel Stadium concessionaires Levy Restaurants and Centerplate will distribute 30,000 trays promoting “The Simpsons” and 60,000 drink cups featuring characters from “American Dad” during the game. Centerplate VP/Catering John Vingas: “This is Fox thinking way outside the box.” Fox did a similar promotion for “Family Guy” during Super Bowl XXXIII at Dolphins Stadium (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/31 issue)....USA TODAY’s Gary Levin writes TV’s February sweeps race “is over before it even begins. ... Teamed with ‘24’ and red-hot ‘American Idol,’ the Super Bowl guarantees Fox a first-place finish” (USA TODAY, 2/1).
Fox Thinking Outside-The-Box With Concession Tray Sponsorship
KEEP ON THE SUNNY SIDE: In Florida, Jeff Elliot noted that instead of returning home immediately, some of Fox’ 400 Super Bowl crew members will travel to Daytona Beach after the game to prepare for the February 20 Daytona 500. Fox Sports President Ed Goren and Fox execs will meet with NASCAR officials today in Jacksonville to “finalize TV coverage plans for the prerace shows and the actual race” (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/31).
Eagles Launching Animated
Series For Kids
The Eagles are launching a kids’ TV show next season, “becoming only the third NFL franchise with this type of programming, and the second with an animated version,” according to Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Eagles Senior VP/Marketing Mark Donovan: “We obviously want to create fans, and fans at a young age. One of the things we have focused on is our youth initiatives. There are three prongs: The kids’ club, which we relaunched; the kids’ Web site; and ... the kids’ show.” But one senior team marketing director said, “I don’t know how you make money on [a kids’ show]. It doesn’t hit the right demos in terms of advertisers.” Kaplan reports that the Jets after two seasons have lost “mid-six figures annually” on “Generation Jets,” their animated series. Steelers Dir of Marketing Tony Quatrini said that his team’s three-year old show, sponsored by McDonald’s, “ekes out a small profit.” But Quatrini “admits that if not for the branding and marketing appeal, the show would not pass a financial-return test.” Donovan: “We see this as a marketing investment that will start out with a negative financial return, but we believe over time it will show a financial profit, as well as a branding profit.” Donovan noted the Eagles show has a sponsor, but declined to identify the company. Kaplan writes the Eagles “have a carriage deal with [WPSG-UPN] in Philadelphia, but the team is still hoping to hash out a better deal with another network” (SBJ, 1/31 issue).
“Dream Job” Winner Hall Emerges
As Signature Anchor Of ESPNU
Mike Hall, the winner of ESPN’s original “Dream Job,” has been named to be the signature anchor for ESPNU, which launches March 4. Hall will host pregame, halftime and postgame shows from ESPN Regional Television’s Charlotte headquarters. He also will host stand-alone specials and make public appearances on behalf of the net (ESPN). ESPNU VP & GM Burke Magnus, on Hall: “He’s going to be the guy, the face and voice of ESPNU” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/31).
KEEP DREAMING: “Dream Job” returns with a special preview episode on February 20 at 7:00pm ET on ESPN. The show will move into its regular slot –- Sundays at 10pm ET February 27. This five-episode season will feature former NBAers Dana Barros, Dee Brown, Matt Bullard, Darryl Dawkins, J.R. Reid and Gerald Wilkins competing for a one-year NBA studio analyst contract with ESPN. Mazda and Wendy’s have returned as sponsors, and Smith Barney has also signed on. The season finale is set for March 27 (ESPN).
Cubs analyst Dave Otto, who did studio work for FSN and was an occasional color commentator on WGN-WB/WGN-AM, is leaving the team to “pursue other ventures,” according to Fred Mitchell of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Otto “was told he would have a reduced role” with CSN Chicago telecasts of Cubs’ games this season, “prompting his decision to move on.” Otto alternated with Joe Carter on color duties with announcer Chip Caray on TV in ’01 and ’02 when Steve Stone was out due to health reasons (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/31).
SUTCLIFFE EXITS SAN DIEGO: In San Diego, Jay Posner reports Channel 4 Rick Sutcliffe is “leaving the Padres' television booth after nine seasons to devote more time to coaching young Padres pitchers and working for ESPN.” Tony Gwynn, who also works for ESPN, anticipates picking up about 25 of the 40-45 games Sutcliffe worked each year. Posner notes there were rumors “throughout last season that some members of the Padres' front office were eager to see Sutcliffe leave.” But Sutcliffe said that the rumor “was news to him,” and Channel 4 GM Dan Novak said that “it wasn't a factor” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 2/1).
AD AGE’s Jenna Schnuer reports SI is testing a Spanish-language version, sending three issues -– the MLB and NFL previews, as well as an issue with NBA and ’06 World Cup previews –- to 500,000 readers, including People en Espanol and AOL Latino subscribers (AD AGE, 1/31 issue)....NASCAR Vice Chair Bill France Jr., on upcoming TV rights negotiations: “We’d like to get more money. It (will) depend on what the end result is and what the product is going to be, when I say the product, I’m talking about the type of racing, when, where, times, venues, the whole nine yards” (FLORIDA TODAY, 1/30)....In Ft. Worth, Jim Reeves cited an FSN Southwest source as saying that the net has saved about $2M from not carrying Stars games during the NHL lockout (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 1/30).
YAHOO: A Yahoo spokesperson told THE DAILY, “Contrary to several reports over the past week, Yahoo Sports did not own the online broadcasting rights to the NCAA tournament in 2004, though we did produce the NCAA Tournament’s first-ever online video service in 2003. In addition, there were comments reported that implied that the product did not perform well in terms of subscriber numbers under Yahoo’s watch, which is also erroneous. Any subscriber numbers for 2004 should be attributed to last year’s online rightsholder –- to my knowledge it was a combination of Sportsline, ncaasports.com and AOL” (THE DAILY).