SBD/Issue 162/Sports Media

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  • ESPN To Announce Web Site, "SportsCenter" Changes At Upfronts

    ESPN To Announce Revamping Of Web Site
    During Its Upfront Presentation In N.Y.
    ESPN today is hosting its annual upfront presentation at N.Y.'s Nokia Theater, where it will make a number of announcements, including a new look for and the formal introduction of Hannah Storm as a "SportsCenter" anchor. ESPN plans to redesign later this year, and the new site, which is expected to be unveiled in the fall, will be much cleaner, with less clutter and easier navigation. New features will include a "news and analysis" section, which will filter stories by sport, columnist or topic. also will add personalization throughout the site. "We're improving our navigation to move visitors beyond the home page," one ESPN executive said. The most noticeable change will be on the home page, which will have a scoreboard at the top, with tabs for sports, scores, news and analysis, fantasy, video, SportsNation and games and guides just below. The site will group its columnists in one area on the home page and put its SportsNation poll in a permanent placement at the center of the page. Meanwhile, ESPN will launch in August. ESPN plans to use the site to interact with viewers via chats, blogs, e-mails and instant polls. "SportsCenter" producers will use the interaction to help determine which stories are generating the most buzz.

    COMPLEX REBRAND: Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, which took its name from the iconic sports broadcast property when it opened in '97, is updating with a rebrand to a name that is still undetermined, but will likely include the ESPN brand. That presumably means sponsorship assets across the 220-acre indoor/outdoor participatory sports complex -- which annually hosts more than 180 events -- will be sold centrally, along with other ESPN commercial assets. However, a Disney spokesperson said the rebrand and associated elements were "very much a work in progress, with those details still to be worked out." However, more ESPN TV programming from the sports complex is a certainty. In December, the 11-year-old sports complex opened additional outdoor playing fields for football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey, and a new field house is scheduled to open this summer.

    SPORTSCENTER: Starting August 11, ESPN will telecast a nine-hour block of "SportsCenter" live from 6:00am-3:00pm ET Monday-Friday. The move, which coincides with the opening week of the Beijing Olympics, replaces the current wheel of "SportsCenter" repeats. ESPN will use three separate two-person anchor teams during the block, including Storm, who will host the program from 9:00am-noon ET. The show will refresh during the day (Ourand & Lefton, THE DAILY). 

    ORIGINAL PITCH: In N.Y., Steinberg & Elliott write ESPN today also “intends to play up its new-media offerings along with what is coming on TV, outlining plans for original programming that will appear only online or on mobile devices.” Those shows include “Mayne Street,” featuring Kenny Mayne and “Erik’s Got Issues,” featuring Erik Kuselias. Other shows include “P.O.V,” which will “compile and present video clips that are submitted to ESPN by viewers and fans,” and an untitled MMA series. ESPN/ABC Sports Consumer Marketing & Sales President Ed Erhardt said that there also will be “sponsorships available with the new media offerings … along with the opportunity for advertisers to integrate brands and products into the shows” (N.Y. TIMES, 5/13).

    NBC: NBC yesterday during its upfront presentation had “autograph-signing tables for the broadcast team of ‘Sunday Night Football’” (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 5/13).

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  • Cherry On CBC Explains His "Redneck Town" Comment On ESPN

    Cherry Explains His "Redneck
    Town" Comment On ESPN
    Don Cherry Saturday on the CBC’s “Hockey Night In Canada” explained his comments on ESPN Friday when he called Detroit a “redneck town” while discussing the Red Wings, according to William Houston of the GLOBE & MAIL. Cherry said that he “defines rednecks, not as bigots, but as Irish and Scottish immigrants working on construction, as Cherry did years ago, and literally having red necks.” Cherry’s first ESPN appearance received “more than 100 posts rating its quality, as well as a large number of comments” on However, Houston notes Cherry's appearance on the show Sunday "avoided controversy," and it had received just 43 votes on quality by late yesterday afternoon and no comments. By contrast, ESPN’s Barry Melrose’s spot from Sunday received 93 votes and 23 comments. ESPN Senior VP and Managing Editor of Studio Production Mark Gross said Cherry has been “terrific. And he’s fun to work with” (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/13).

    CHERRY PICKER: YAHOO SPORTS’ Greg Wyshynski wrote Cherry during his Sunday spot “criticized the Mellon Arena’s ice crew for helping to make” a disallowed Penguins goal inconclusive during Game Two of the team's Eastern Conference Finals series against the Flyers. Cherry: “When did they paint the goal line across there? 1992?” But Wyshynski noted when the clip was uploaded to yesterday, "that section wasn’t included” (, 5/12). Gross said that Cherry’s remark was “made to ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter’ as an aside … after his spot was over. That’s why it didn’t appear online” (GLOBE & MAIL, 5/13).

    OUTSPOKEN : AOL SPORTS’ Kevin Schultz writes of the redneck comment, “Like him or loathe him, hockey fans that are familiar with Cherry know that this type of talk is nothing new from him. The question is -- did ESPN?” (, 5/10). In Michigan, Pat Caputo wrote, “What Cherry does at times borders on bigotry. It’s his dark side. He can’t seem to fawn over ‘Good, old Canadian boys,’ without taking cheap shots at European players in the process.” It makes Cherry a “double-edged sword. It’s wonderful that he is a dinosaur living in the days of the Original Six.” However, it is “deplorable the way Cherry strikes out at a change that has made the game far more skilled than back when Cherry reached the NHL as a player” (OAKLAND PRESS, 5/12)

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  • Blog Hound: Three Basketball Topics Among Five Most-Discussed

    The top spot in today’s Top Five topics is taken by Cavaliers F LeBron James yelling at his mom to “sit down” following a hard foul by Celtics F Paul Pierce in last night's Eastern Conference Semifinals game. The scandal involving former USC G O.J. Mayo and BDA Sports is in second place, followed by Cowboys WR Terrell Owens' upcoming appearance on MyNetworkTV's “Under One Roof.” Rounding out the list are Brewers P Eric Gagne wanting his closer role back and Lakers G Kobe Bryant reportedly planning to play with an injured back in Game Five against the Jazz. Visit for more info or see chart below. 


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  • Media Notes

    PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Affairs Ty Votaw said the Tour is "very pleased" with the 3.4/8 overnight rating for NBC's final-round coverage on Sunday of The Players Championship. The tournament was held for the second time in May after being switched off its former late-March date, and Votaw said, "We knew, for a lot of reasons, that the move from March to May would provide us with a greater potential for success" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/13).


    NOTES: * = Due to rain, NBC’s Saturday coverage of The Players in '05 was second-round play, while Sunday’s coverage was of second- and third-round play. The final round took place that Monday on NBC.

    Writer Feels Van Gundy Should
    Provide More Analysis During Games
    FALLING OUT OF FAVOR?'s Brian Powell wrote ESPN/ABC NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy last year during the playoffs "started out as a good addition to the team of Mike Breen and Mark Jackson," as his "injection of humor and analysis seemed to have worked over the past year." However, that is "all that [Van Gundy] does. He rarely analyzes the game anymore and he takes every opportunity to joke about coaches, players, situations, and even his partners in the booth" (, 5/12).

    OLYMPIC SITE: In San Antonio, David King writes the IOC's Web site,, has a "real sense of inclusion now," with features such as Olympic Personal Trainer. While it is "aimed at the younger crowd, as part of the Olympics' new Summer Youth Olympic Games, there's good information at Olympic Personal Trainer for anyone involved in sports." King: "Just hearing from such a wide array of athletes on any one subject shows just how wide the world really is" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 5/13).

    NOTES: Sunrise Sports & Entertainment (SSE) last week debuted "Unrestricted," a 64-page, N.Y.-based monthly sports publication that covers New York sports. Advertising for the inaugural edition was sold out. The mag will be published monthly by SSE's publishing division, which also publishes "Unrestricted South Florida" and "Panthers Insider." SSE publishing plans to launch similar publications in Boston, Philadelphia, DC, Chicago and L.A. (SSE)....Versus and Golden Boy Promotions, in their first partnership to televise a boxing event, will air the Ricky Hatton-Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi-Lovemore N'Dou Welterweight World Championship doubleheader on May 24 at 3:30pm ET, live from Manchester, England (Versus)....Former MLBer Lou Merloni has joined NESN as a Red Sox studio analyst (NESN).

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