SBD/Issue 36/NBA Season Preview

NBA Media: Bobcats Could Swap Carriage For Naming Rights

Bobcats Could Tie Arena Naming
Rights To Deal With Time Warner Cable
Time Warner's potential naming rights deal for Bobcats Arena could see the team “freed from their deal with the cable company” that has a majority of the team's games on News Channel 14, according to sources of Scott & Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The team's deal with Time Warner has seven years remaining. A move to FSN "would give the Bobcats wider viewership in the Charlotte region and throughout the Carolinas and also allow those with satellite television to see games.” A source said that the Bobcats' current TV deal “is sufficiently problematic that NBA executives, including Commissioner David Stern, have been involved in addressing the situation” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/31).

MAGIC: In Florida, John Denton reports negotiations between Florida FSN, which will air almost half the Magic's games this season, and Bright House Networks "came to a stalemate" yesterday, meaning "there will be no Magic TV coverage" in most of Central Florida for tonight's home opener against the Bucks. The "sticking points are how much Bright House will pay FSN for its content and also Bright House demanding that FSN be only on the digital cable package." Sun Sports & Florida FSN VP & GM Cathy Weeden said the net "will continue to be available to work though and discuss opportunities as much as Bright House will make themselves available to do the same." Magic COO Alex Martins said that the franchise unsuccessfully "tried to help" the two sides agree (FLORIDA TODAY, 10/31).

BLAZERS: With Comcast SportNet Northwest launching tomorrow, John Ourand writes in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL that there is a “good chance” the net will be “available only to Comcast subscribers.” The net has “failed to cut carriage deals” with any other cable operators or with satellite providers DirecTV and EchoStar. If no other deals are reached, the channel will launch “on expanded basic to nearly 600,000 of Comcast’s 1.7 million subscribers in Washington and Oregon” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/29 issue).

RAPTORS: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich notes all 82 Raptors games this season “will be televised in Canada for the third straight year, but will be shared by five networks,” including CBC, which is set to air its first-ever NBA game on Sunday. The net “hopes to attract younger viewers with basketball,” and the Raptors “should benefit from being on conventional TV for the first time in five seasons.” The team will “join a select group of NBA teams” by showing all its games in HD (TORONTO STAR, 10/31).

STERN ON RATINGS: NBA Commissioner David Stern appeared on CNBC yesterday and said of the defending champion Spurs being viewed as “boring”: “The Red Sox are probably the hottest team in baseball, and (MLB) just finished with their second-lowest (rated) World Series of all-time. I think that that’s the wave of the future with respect to television ratings, and that’s why the digital exploitation that we’re all waiting on is about to be a big deal. … We don’t like to have our all-time lowest rating and we’re working on that. But the way you measure it is consumption. I know that Nielsen and ESPN are working on a Consumption Index because you have to see who’s consuming your game (on all types of media)” (CNBC, 10/30).

NBA TV: Dish Network has added NBA TV to its HD channel lineup, available with the America’s Top 100 package (CABLEFAX DAILY, 10/31).... In DC, Tim Lemke writes it "appears NBA TV will get wider distribution as part of a new deal that would hand control of the channel to Turner Broadcasting, which would have the power to distribute the channel to Time Warner Cable systems." The NBA is seeking carriage on TWC’s digital tier. A deal with TWC in theory would put “pressure on other major cable operators to begin carrying the channel on a more widely distributed tier.” Stern said, “We had anticipated a couple of years ago that the cable industry would be putting more muscle behind their promotion of the sports tier, but they seemed to be ambivalent about which way they were going. We envisioned being content with an expanded marketing muscle behind a sports tier approach. But that really is not something that the cable industry has been particularly formidable about. So we’re now seeking broader distribution” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/31).

NOTES: The Rockets will broadcast all 82 games this season in Spanish on KEYH-AM (Rockets)....The Nets signed a multi-year extension with Chris Carrino to remain the team’s radio play-by-play voice (Nets)....Former Ball State Univ. men’s basketball coach Ronny Thompson has joined Comcast SportsNet as an analyst for Wizards and college basketball games. Thompson is the son of Basketball HOFer John Thompson (CSN).

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