SBD/Issue 128/Sports Media

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  • NFL, NBC To Move Opener, Make Way For Republican Convention

    NFL Likely To Move Up Start Time Of Season
    Opener To Avoid Conflict With GOP Convention
    The NFL and NBC "likely will move up the time of the league's September season opener so it won't conflict" with presidential candidate and U.S. Sen John McCain's (R-AZ) acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, according to Paul Gough of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Since the '02 season, the NFL has kicked off its season on the first Thursday night after Labor Day, but this year that date runs "into the final night of the convention." The NFL has yet to announce its '08 schedule, but it is "apparently not going to shy away from having its season opener on the scheduled day." As a result, the NFL and NBC have "agreed in principle" to start the game at 7:00pm ET instead of the traditional 8:30pm start time, meaning the game likely would end "before NBC's expected one hour of convention coverage for the night," scheduled to begin at 10:00pm. The move "comes with several risks, including loss of audience since the game would start so early on the west coast." It also could "impact any pregame special or entertainment that the NFL or NBC could schedule." In '00, the NFL agreed to ABC's request to start a preseason game at 7:00pm instead of 8:00pm so that the net could carry an hour of coverage from the Democratic National Convention (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 3/26). The game most likely will feature the Giants "hosting one of eight predetermined opponents" -- the Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins, 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals or Panthers (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 3/25).

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  • Comcast SportsNet Bay Area Taking Over Giants, A's Broadcasts

    Giants, A's Games To Air On
    Comcast SportsNet Bay Area 
    FSN Bay Area is changing its name to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area at 12:00pm PT Monday after Comcast "bought a controlling interest" in the RSN in June, according to Tom FitzGerald of the S.F. CHRONICLE. CSN Bay Area will be added to the MSO's "nine other regional-sports-programming operations." Comcast officials said that the switch will mean "more pregame and postgame shows on the local pro teams, more [HD] telecasts of their games, several hours of daily local sports-news shows and a daily talk show of at least an hour involving local sportswriters." On-air graphics, animation and music also will change. CSN Bay Area VP & GM Ted Griggs said that when a local studio is completed it will "house between 50 and 80 newly hired people." FitzGerald notes the net will air 140 MLB Giants games and 80 A's games, and pregame and postgame shows "will be far more prevalent on Comcast than they were on FSNBA." There will be 50 Giants pregame and 65 postgame shows compared to 25 and zero last year, respectively. The net will also air 20 A's pregame and 40 postgame shows, up from 15 and zero in '07. Griggs and CSN President Jon Litner "insisted that the station will not skew its news coverage in favor of the Giants at the expense of the A's, even though the Giants have an equity stake in the operation." Litner: "What you can expect is honest and fair reporting." FitzGerald notes the RSN will air 100 MLB games in HD and intends to "greatly increase its [VOD] catalog," as MLB has given local teams the rights to allow VOD of games (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/26).

    BEATING THE COMPETITION: In San Jose, John Ryan reports there could be a "trouble spot in the distance" as Comcast is well known for "using sports channels as leverage in its battles with competitors." Litner said CSN Bay Area will be "platform agnostic" and DirecTV confirmed that there is "no change in access." Ryan notes things still "could get interesting" in future contract negotiations, "or if a version of what's now [FSN Plus] emerges to handle the extra volume" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/26).

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  • Groups Launching Youth Sports Social Networking Site

    CAA, Pequot Capital And MLBAM Partnering
    On Youth Sports Social Networking Web Site
    CAA, hedge fund Pequot Capital (PC) and MLBAM are collaborating on the joint venture WePlay.com, a "social networking site for youth sports" expected to launch in mid-April, according to Tim Arango of the N.Y. TIMES. Parents will be able to "get practice schedules [and] coordinate car pools" on the site, while athletes can set up profiles and communicate with teammates. WePlay CEO Steve Hansen said 240 million people in America are "one degree of separation from youth sports." Hansen: "Youth sports is held together by e-mails, phone calls and clipboards. We want to change that." Arango reports the site will be "mostly advertiser supported, initially in the form of sponsorships integrated in to the site, and later, banner ads." Upper Deck already has signed on as an advertiser and will offer "online trading games for youngsters and access to a digital trading card library." Photos and videos of athletes including Cavaliers F LeBron James, Yankees SS Derek Jeter and Colts QB Peyton Manning as children, as well as "footage from recent shoots, ... will surround the more traditional features of social media." As part of the venture, a camera crew will follow James at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, which he attended, in the coming weeks. CAA came up with the idea for the site, and its agents "liken the venture to the sports version" of FunnyOrDie.com. The investment so far in WePlay is $4.5M, and the "financial backers are already thinking about other niche-oriented social networking sites." PC's Pequot Ventures Managing Dir Rick Heitzmann: "There's no reason to believe that the organizing principles that are applied here to sports can't be applied elsewhere, such as to religious organizations" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/26).

    TALKING POINTS: Marlins LF Luis Gonzalez has launched IsTalking LLC, a company that develops new social networking Web sites for college students. The company's flagship site is ASUIsTalking.com, which is exclusively for students who have an Arizona State Univ. e-mail address. The company also has launched ASUAlumniIsTalking.com, which is targeted for graduates of the school (IsTalking).

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  • Blog Hound: Beijing Olympic Protests Mounting

    With the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony kicking off yesterday in Athens, Greece ahead of this summer's Beijing Games, bloggers discuss mounting protests surrounding the Games.

    Under The Jacaranda Tree
    Posted by: Ned Kelly
    “If there really is such a thing as an accursed object - a material thing with a curse attached to it - then China’s Olympic Torch is one. The curse became attached to it when it was announced that it would be carried through Tibet.”
    Cracked.com
    Posted by: Totally Worth My $17.50/hour
    “The Olympics shouldn’t have been given to Beijing, and I think a boycott would send a fairly clear message.”
    Everyday Embellished
    Posted by: Vanessa
    “I just know there are problems that need to be cleaned up and I think the Chinese government’s focus is on all the wrong areas–those buildings they built could have housed millions. Hopefully the revenue from the Olympics will be spent differently and maybe the attention received from the Olympics will help that cause.”
    Cafferty File
    Posted by: Terry from Calif
    “A boycott is in order and should begin with corporations removing their business and support for this event. How can we as a global community ignore the issues occurring in China?”
    Rank and Vile
    Posted by: Anonymous
    “If China wants the Olympics and open up to the world it has to be prepared to be scrutinized as everyone else. China may be the big new power out there but I still think that giving it the Olympics was a bad idea.”

    BUILDING THE BUZZ: Sports Media Challenge's Buzz Manager analyzed the online buzz surrounding the Olympic protests. Bloggers who feel the protests are unnecessary were counted as positive, representing 31.82% of the buzz. Bloggers who think the protests and possible boycott of the summer games are warranted were tallied as negative, making up 68.18% of posts.Click here for more information. See www.sportsbusinessdaily.com for more info.

    The topic ranked 6 out of 10 on the Buzz, indicating a medium level of interest among sports bloggers. 

    • Fans believe the Olympic Games are intended to be above political debate, but China’s political history makes controversy unavoidable. They see striking similarities between these Olympics and the 1936 games hosted by Adolph Hitler in Berlin.
    • Several bloggers have urged their readers to endorse a boycott of the Olympics, write letters to sponsors, and generally condone China as a host of a worldwide event in an effort to showcase the human rights violations occurring in Tibet.
    • Some fans think the protests have gone too far. They believe it’s unfair to the athletes, trainers, and event promoters who have worked so hard to make the Olympics a success.

    Do you have a blog post that our readers would find interesting? Please forward your submission to bloghound@sportsbusinessdaily.com.

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  • Media Notes

    Made-For-TV Movie Based On
    Cherry In Development Stages
    In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich reports a made-for-TV movie based on the life of "Hockey Night In Canada" analyst Don Cherry, written by his son Tim, is "in the development stages." Writer Paul Quarrington is assisting Tim Cherry on the script, and shooting is "expected to start this summer with next spring's Stanley Cup playoffs the target launch date." The two-part movie deals "mostly with [Cherry's] early life in hockey's minor leagues" and ends when Cherry meets "HNIC" co-host Ron MacLean (TORONTO STAR, 3/26).

    ON THE AIR: In N.Y., Bob Raissman reports SNY yesterday during the Mets-Braves Spring Training game held a "talk-radio show during a baseball TV broadcast," with announcers Keith Hernandez, Ralph Kiner and Kevin Burkhardt taking phone calls from listeners during the game. The announcers "didn't look thrilled by all of this," but SNY said that it will "continue [taking calls on air] during the regular season" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/26).

    EASTERN PROMISES: In L.A., Kevin Modesti writes under the header, "ESPN, Spare Us Your Eastern Philosophy." He notes of the eight Spring Training games ESPN and ESPN2 have shown this year, six have "involved the Red Sox or the Yankees, while one other featured the Mets." ESPN also is scheduled to show 33 games in the "early months of the regular season," 17 of which feature the three teams. Modesti: "You can't help thinking if ESPN were in, say, Fresno, the Dodgers and Giants would be recognized as The Biggest Rivalry in Sports" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 3/26).

    NOTES: Dish Network will not carry MLB's Extra Innings package this season. Dish did not offer the package during the '07 season after "pressure from congressional lawmakers forced [MLB] to allow TV providers other than DirecTV to carry it" (TVPREDICTIONS.com, 3/25)....ESPN has acquired HoopGurlz.com, the only U.S. Web site dedicated solely to coverage of high school girls' basketball and women's college basketball prospects on a national basis (ESPN).

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