SBD/Issue 103/Sports Media

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  • MLB Rejects Last-Ditch Extra Innings Offer From Cable Reps

    By Eric Fisher & John Ourand, Staff Writers, SportsBusiness Journal

    MLB appears to have rebuffed a last-ditch effort by the cable industry to keep the league’s Extra Innings out-of-market TV package from going exclusively to DirecTV. MLB is expected to announce a planned seven-year, $700M deal with DirecTV as soon as next week, a senior baseball source said. Sources familiar with the negotiations said cable reps went back to MLB about a week ago and offered to match the financials of DirecTV’s bid but without the requirement of exclusivity. The cable lobby also agreed to guarantee the same amount of distribution for MLB’s planned channel, which is scheduled to launch as soon as ’09. That doesn’t necessarily mean cable would place the channel on its expanded basic tier, however. DirecTV has agreed to place the channel on its Total Choice package, which has close to 15 million subscribers and represents nearly all of the satellite carrier’s customers. MLB has been steadfast against limited tiering for the planned channel, with the placement representing a key element of the negotiations for the Extra Innings package. As a result, the most recent talks with cable officials failed to gain any significant traction, industry sources said.

    INTERNAL DISSENTION? Meanwhile, baseball and TV industry chatter has been centered on several team execs beginning to express private frustration over the pending DirecTV deal and the vitriol to it seen on fan blogs and message boards. Senior MLB execs denied the presence of internal unrest over the pact, and last month, DirecTV President & CEO Chase Carey appeared before MLB owners during league meetings in Phoenix with no appearance of any detrimental effect to the pending accord. However, Padres President Sandy Alderson told the North County (CA) Times, “This deal is particularly unfortunate in San Diego. If you have satellite TV, you can’t get the Padres. Now, if you have cable, you can’t get the MLB package. And if you want both, it means adding one or the other, and it would cost quite a bit of money.” Cox Communications offers its Channel 4 San Diego, with exclusive rights to Padres games, only to cable operators. A similar situation exists in Philadelphia, with Comcast SportsNet not appearing on DirecTV in that market. Within cable circles this week, there was talk that MLB was planning to get around this type of problem by granting DirecTV the right to resell the Extra Innings package to video services offered by telephone companies Verizon and AT&T. Baseball officials could not be reached at presstime to confirm any such arrangement.

    Selig Says New DirecTV Deal
    Has Fans’ Interests In Mind

    MORE ON EXTRA INNINGS: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appeared on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning” Thursday, where he said of the potential DirecTV deal, “We haven’t made a deal yet. ... I’ve heard a lot of things that quite frankly aren’t true.” He added when the deal is announced he expects “people will understand that we thought all these issues out.” Selig: “There’s no doubt in my mind that you will be quite surprised at how few people are affected” (“Mike & Mike In The Morning,” ESPN Radio, 2/15).

    GREAT DEBATE: USA TODAY offers a point/counterpoint debate on the deal. A USA TODAY editorial states leagues and broadcasters are “eager to squeeze every last dollar out of each deal. If DirecTV is willing to pay so much for exclusive rights that it’s worth turning away cable dollars, that’s how it goes. But [MLB] owners ... are selling out their most devoted fans for a pittance.” The deal would provide MLB $40M more annually, which would average $1.3M per team, “not even enough to sign a second-rate second baseman.” In the counterpoint, MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan writes, “Any deal for the [MLB] Extra Innings subscription package, when concluded, will in no way affect a single fan’s ability to watch games of his home club in his home market.” Brosnan noted an out-of-market package will still be available either through Extra Innings or MLB.TV. Brosnan: “We have had fair and open negotiations with cable, satellite and telephone company distributors regarding the distribution of a new MLB dedicated channel to all our fans and the continuation of the MLB Extra Innings package. ... Our goal remains to provide as much MLB programming as we can to the maximum number of viewers, and any consummated deal will reflect that” (USA TODAY, 2/16).

    Print | Tags: DirecTV, ESPN, MLB, Media, Walt Disney
  • Former Coach Bill Cowher Joins CBS’ “NFL Today” As Analyst

    CBS Signs Recently Retired
    Cowher As NFL Analyst
    Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher will join CBS Sports as an analyst for “The NFL Today” during the ’07 season. Cowher: “It is something that will give me the opportunity to stay busy on Sundays this year. I’m looking forward to it and it may go beyond this year. ... I plan on doing this for a couple years” (CBS). Cowher: “Being an AFC coach, I’ve seen CBS work through the years. It seemed like a natural fit.” CBS Sports Exec VP & Exec Producer Tony Petitti said, “We haven’t had a coach in our lineup for some time. We think that perspective is important to the fans” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/16). Cowher said he will not “say things that will be judgmental of a coach,” adding, “[I will] just give my opinion of what I’d do in that situation. It doesn’t make me right or wrong” (USA TODAY, 2/16).

    Print | Tags: CBS, NFL, Media, Viacom
  • TVG Ends Talks To Simulcast Races At CDI-Owned Tracks

    TVG Cuts Off Negotiations
    With Churchill Downs Inc.
    TVG is “cutting off negotiations with Churchill Downs Inc. [CDI] over new contracts to carry the company’s races,” according to Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. The net said that it will “devote more programming, production and promotions to non-Churchill tracks, citing [CDI’s] downsizing.” TVG GM David Nathanson in a statement said, “We were seeing continued growth in our television distribution and account wagering handle, as [CDI] continued to divest of racetrack properties, diminishing its importance to our business.” TVG said that wagers by its subscribers on CDI races have “dropped under 13[%] from more than 30[%] of its total wager.” Hall notes CDI officials recently “expressed frustration over” their relationship with TVG and told investors “that they are re-examining how the company approaches account wagering.” CDI has “not elaborated on what form that would take.” CDI Chief Development Officer Bill Carstanjen in a statement said, “We are fully exploring our options going forward with regards to television and account-wagering rights.” TVG said that it will continue showing races from CDI tracks “until those individual contracts expire” (COURIER-JOURNAL, 2/16).

    Print | Tags: Churchill Downs Inc., Media
  • Final Nielsen Ratings For Recent Sports Events

    The following lists final Nielsen ratings for recent sports events (THE DAILY).

    SHOW
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    RAT/SHR
    The Honda Ski Tour: Breckenridge (taped)
    2/10
    ABC
    2:00-3:00pm
    0.6/2
    "Inside College Basketball"
    2/10
    ABC
    3:00-3:30pm
    0.5/1
    NCAA: Men's Basketball: (regional)
    2/10
    ABC
    3:30-6:00pm
    1.2/3
    NCAA: Men's Basketball: (regional)
    2/10
    CBS
    1:00-3:22pm
    1.6/4
    Golf: PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach
    Nat'l Pro-Am: Third Round
    2/10
    CBS
    3:22-6:00pm
    2.1/5
    NFL: Pro Bowl
    2/10
    CBS
    6:00-9:41pm
    4.6/9
    NASCAR Nextel Cup: Budweiser Shootout
    2/10
    Fox
    8:29-10:04pm
    4.8/9
    PBR: Built Ford Tough Series: The Atlanta Classic Presented by Zaxby's (taped)
    2/10
    NBC
    4:30-6:00pm
    1.2/3
    "NBA Sunday Countdown"
    2/11
    ABC
    12:30-12:57pm
    1.2/3
    NBA: Spurs-Heat
    2/11
    ABC
    12:57-3:32pm
    1.9/5
    NBA: Lakers-Cavaliers
    2/11
    ABC
    3:32-5:52pm
    2.7/6
    Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross
    Series: Houston (taped)
    2/11
    CBS
    12:00-1:00pm
    0.9/2
    NCAA: Men's Basketball:
    Connecticut-Georgia Tech
    2/11
    CBS
    1:00-3:12pm
    1.0/2
    Golf: PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach
    Nat'l Pro-Am: Final Round
    2/11
    CBS
    3:12-6:30pm
    3.0/6
    NASCAR Nextel Cup: Daytona 500:
    Pole Qualifying
    2/11
    Fox
    2:00-5:15pm
    2.8/7
    USSA Chevrolet Snowboard
    Grand Prix (taped)
    2/11
    NBC
    2:30-3:30pm
    0.9/2
    NHL: (regional)
    2/11
    NBC
    3:30-6:00pm
    0.8/2

    SHOW
    DATE
    NET
    U.S. AREA
    COV. AREA
    000s
    NCAA Men's Basketball: Duke-Virginia
    2/1
    ESPN
    1.1
    1.3
    1,186
    NBA: Spurs-Suns
    2/1
    TNT
    1.2
    1.5
    1,379
    NBA: Cavaliers-Heat
    2/1
    TNT
    1.2
    1.4
    1,294
    NCAA Men's Basketball: Texas A&M-Kansas
    2/3
    ESPN
    1.0
    1.2
    1,125
    NCAA Men's Basketball: Indiana-Iowa
    2/3
    ESPN
    0.9
    1.1
    1,038
    "NFL PrimeTime"
    2/4
    ESPN
    1.7
    2.0
    1,867
    "NFL Countdown"
    2/4
    ESPN
    1.7
    2.0
    1,855
    PBA: Sun City Classic
    2/4
    ESPN
    0.9
    1.1
    1,034


    Print | Tags: Nielsen, Media
  • What's The Frequency?

    THE DAILY presents "What's The Frequency?," which highlights the subjects being discussed this week during afternoon drive shows on sports talk radio across the U.S. The following chart lists some of those topics. Local stations are listed in order of market size.

    NATIONAL SHOWS
    Sirius NFL Radio (3-7pm ET) “The Afternoon Blitz”
    Giants’ roster cuts; Chargers fire Marty Schottenheimer; Tiki Barber takes job with NBC; Potential franchise tags
    MARKET -- STATION
    SHOW
    Miami -- WAXY “The Dan Le Batard Show”
    Pat Riley returning to Heat after All-Star break; Former NBAer John Amaechi reveals he’s gay; Former NBAer Tim Hardaway says he hates gay people
    Miami --WQAM “Power Hour”
    Heat climb back to .500; Pat Riley returning to Heat after All-Star break; Miguel Cabrera misses Marlins’ FanFest; Who will replace Marty Schottenheimer with Chargers?
    Detroit -- WXYT “The Sports Inferno”
    NBA to place franchise in Las Vegas?; Tim Hardaway’s comments; Michigan-Michigan State hoops; Pistons favored to win East?
    Seattle -- KJR “The Gas Man”
    Sonics’ new arena proposal gets lukewarm reception; Can Univ. of Washington still make NCAA tourney?; Daytona 500 preview; Daytona 500 cheating; NCAA football timing rules
    Phoenix -- KDUS “Calling All Sports With Roc & Manuch”
    Suns slide into All-Star break; D’Backs pitchers and catchers report; How to bet on Daytona 500; World Golf Championship bracket; Should Wayne Gretzky step down?
    Minneapolis -- KFAN “The Chad Hartman Show”
    Tim Hardaway’s comments; Twins’ new deal with Joe Mauer; T’Wolves; Wild; Univ. of Minnesota hoops; Rumors of Vikings trading for David Carr; NFL Draft previews
    Charlotte -- WFNZ “Prime Time With The Packman”
    Daytona 500 preview; NASCAR controversies; What’s wrong with Duke basketball?; Tim Hardaway’s comments; How many ACC teams will make NCAA tourney?; NBA All-Star in Las Vegas
         

    Want to add your own Frequency? Contact Josh Rosen at jrosen@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

    Print | Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks, Detroit Pistons, Miami Marlins, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Wild, NASCAR, NBA, NBC, NCAA, New York Giants, NFL, Palace Sports & Entertainment, Phoenix Suns, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco Giants, Media
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