SBD/Issue 87/Sports Media

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  • Versus Rolls Out Technology For First NHL All-Star Effort

    Versus Rolls Out Red Carpet
    For NHL All-Star Game In Dallas

    The NHL All-Star Game on Versus began last night with a taped intro, followed by shots of outside the American Airlines Center. Versus’ Bill Clement: “You had to know that here in Dallas, hospitality Texas-style would be extended, and they have rolled out the red carpet.” Versus’ Mark Messier said he always looked forward to “winning the car” for being the game’s MVP. Messier: “That’s what I came here for — to win the car, and I had 15 or 16 chances to do it and I couldn’t do it.” Before the first period, Versus showed interviews with players in the locker rooms and a performance by the Robert Randolph & The Family Band outside the arena. After performing “O Canada,” Giorgia Fumanti slipped while leaving the ice, prompting a groan from the crowd. The microphones malfunctioned during the The Wreckers rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” muffling their singing for a brief time.

    GADGETRY: Versus’ Mike Emrick noted Versus telecast the game “in high definition and that includes the Railcam.” The Railcam is mounted on top of the glass and moves up and down the ice to “show you some of the speed of” the game. Versus’ Ed Olczyk noted Western Conference LW Ryan Smyth has a pregame ritual where he tosses pucks into the crowd at home and away. Olczyk: “This is the kind of stuff that’s building relationships between fans of the (NHL).” Stars G Marty Turco was wired for sound during the game.

    GETTING CHIPPY: Just prior to the second period, Versus aired outtakes from the “NHL on NBC” ad where Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin attempts to retrieve a bag of potato chips from a vending machine with the help of Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis. Versus’ Christine Simpson: “It looks like you had a lot of fun shooting that commercial. Be honest, you love being in the spotlight, don’t you.” Ovechkin: “I love being in the commercial and being on TV. It’s fun.” Simpson told Ovechkin he “tried so hard in that commercial to get that bag of chips, I figured I’ll give you a nice big bag.” Simpson gave Ovechkin a family-size bag of Lay’s potato chips, which he opened and said, “It’s good. You want it?” Simpson: “Sure, I’ll take some” (Versus, 1/25).

    IF THERE WAS A GAME, AND NOBODY WATCHED IT: Many commentators on TV last night criticized the NHL for holding the All-Star Game in the middle of the week and airing it on Versus. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell: “Why isn’t it on Saturday? The Bass Pro boys are on?” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 1/24). Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti: “You have spectacular young talent ... and yet it’s on a Wednesday night with ‘American Idol’ and ‘Deal or No Deal.’ Even Jim Belushi will probably outdraw this and that’s pretty bad” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 1/24). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said he was not planning to watch the game because “I don’t know where to tune in ... and there’s been so little hype over it.” ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser: “The NHL has disappeared. They’re way under the radar. ... I’d like to watch the hockey game if I can find the hockey game on my cable (“PTI,” ESPN, 1/24). But WFAN’s Chris Russo, during NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman appearance on “Mike and the Mad Dog” yesterday, said the game being held mid-week was “smart.” Bettman: “The extra day enabled the players to do a lot of things in the community” (“Mike and the Mad Dog,” WFAN, 1/24).

    REVIEW: In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey writes Versus’ “RailCam” is “another misguided NHL attempt to make its game television-friendly. ... RailCam was enough to make you seasick. The thing couldn’t follow players through their turns, either, and was so close to the action that it eliminated any semblance of context.” However, that was not “nearly as bad as when the regular camera was running while the Rail Cam scurried along on the bottom of the screen.” Meanwhile, Simpson is “probably the top sideline/rinkside reporter in sports at the moment.” Simpson “handled a delicate interview with [Western Conference and Stars D] Philippe Boucher ... with aplomb between the second and third periods.” Boucher’s father is battling pancreatic cancer (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, ESPN, NASCAR, NBC, NHL, Media, Walt Disney, Washington Capitals
  • Universal Pictures Wins Rights To N.Y. Times Article

    Universal Pictures has won a “multistudio bidding war for the movie rights” to an article in last Sunday’s N.Y. Times written by Warren St. John about a group of soccer-playing refugee children from different countries who settled near Atlanta, according to Borys Kit of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The deal includes rights to the article, and life rights to the soccer team’s coach, a Jordan-born woman named Luma Mufleh. St. John “plans to turn the article into a book, and those rights were acquired as well” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 1/25). DAILY VARIETY’s Fleming & McNary note the Universal bid $3M for the rights, and the deal “calls for Universal to pay $500,000 to build a soccer field for the kids.” Part of the money will “fund a foundation to benefit the team, and the dealmakers cut their fees so more of the coin would go to the teens.” Columbia Pictures, DreamWorks and Disney also bid for the rights (DAILY VARIETY, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: Media, Walt Disney
  • Robinson To Accent Early ESPN MLB Coverage; Jays Sign Ashby

    Robinson To Join ESPN’s MLB
    Coverage For Spring Training
    Baseball HOFer and former Nationals manager Frank Robinson will serve as an analyst for ESPN during its Spring Training coverage, as well as the first two weeks of the regular season. The move is part of the net’s “efforts to celebrate the 60th anniversary” of Jackie Robinson breaking MLB’s color barrier (WASHINGTON POST, 1/25)....Dusty Baker, who has signed a two-year deal with ESPN, will serve as a studio analyst both in Bristol and on the West Coast for the regular season and the playoffs. He will call ten regular-season MLB games as well as the Little League World Series. A clause in Baker’s deal allows teams to contact him about a managerial position (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 1/25)....Jim Leyritz has signed a two-year deal with ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y. as an MLB correspondent (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/24).

    BLUE JAYS: In Toronto, William Houston reports the Blue Jays signed Andy Ashby to a three-year deal worth about $300,000 annually. Ashby, who had been the Astros’ radio analyst for eight years, will serve the same position with the Blue Jays, replacing Warren Sawkiw, whose contract was not renewed (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 1/25).

    MARINERS: In Seattle, Dave Andriesen reports long-time Mariners play-by-play announcer Dave Niehaus will spend the first two or three innings of each game with new analyst Mike Blowers in the TV booth, then will “trade places for the remainder of the game” with Dave Sims, who will be in the radio booth with analyst Rick Rizzs. The team ideally “would have permanent TV and radio voices,” but neither FSN Northwest nor KOMO-AM “wants to be entirely without Niehaus.” Rizzs will be “almost exclusively on radio” (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 1/25).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, Houston Astros, MLB, Seattle Mariners, Media, Toronto Blue Jays, Walt Disney
  • Blog Hound: Blogs Fuming Over NHL’s Decision To Keep Sked

    Most bloggers are livid over the NHL BOG’s decision to keep the current scheduling in place as opposed to altering the schedule to allow for more out-of-conference games.

    Posted By: KP
    “If you deny a wide swath of your fan base the opportunity to see some of the best stars in the game on a year to year basis, then you shouldn’t be terribly surprised to see the interest in your league drop off.”
    Hockey Buzz Blog
    Posted By: Josh Plummer
    “I guess what's frustrating me the most is the NHL doesn't seem to be listening to us. We're the shareholders, we're the ones who open our wallets and we're the ones the NHL should be trying to satisfy.”
    The Checking Line
    Posted By: Brent Bollmeier
    “Eleven owners killed this thing. ELEVEN out of THIRTY! Rather than grow the game by marketing its young stars across the continent, they’re content to keep their riches to themselves.”
    Behind the Jersey
    Posted By: Christy Hammond
    “I don’t understand how the media and fans can complain so much about the schedule over the past month and nothing changes. Ugh. I hate the current schedule. Hate it.”
    Sports Business News Blog
    Posted By: Howard Bloom
    “It’s time the National Hockey League Board of Governors showed they really care about their game, show they really care about the future of the NHL and hold Gary Bettman accountable for his lack of leadership in managing the NHL.”

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    Print | Tags: NHL, Media
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