SBD/Issue 204/Sports Media

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  • CBS Sports Parting Ways With Billy Packer After 27 Years

    CBS Not Bringing Packer
    Back For 28th Season
    CBS Sports today announced it will not bring back lead college basketball analyst Billy Packer for another season. Packer had worked for CBS since '82. Packer will be replaced by CBS in-studio analyst Clark Kellogg, who has worked for the net since '94 and now will partner with Jim Nantz (CBS). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Ourand & Lefton report Packer had been "working off one-year contracts." Greg Anthony, who left ESPN earlier this year, is "expected to replace Kellogg in the studio, though his deal hasn't been finalized" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/14 issue). Packer yesterday confirmed through a CBS official that he "no longer will broadcast for the network but is pursuing other projects in basketball." In Miami, Barry Jackson reports CBS "believed the time was right for a change and that Kellogg deserved a chance to work with Jim Nantz on the lead team" (MIAMI HERALD, 7/14). A CBS spokesperson said Packer still plans to be involved in college basketball, and he will work with new unnamed partners in an effort to advance the sport (THE DAILY).

    REAX: On Long Island, Neil Best writes Packer was “famously stubborn and opinionated, but was at his best in breaking down strategy and anticipating its impact.” He also “regularly generated controversies” (, 7/14). In DC, Patrick Stevens writes Packer has an “all-business approach that can come off on television as curmudgeonly or downright grouchy.” However, if Packer is “not on the air in some capacity or another at next year's Final Four in Detroit, it's going to seem very, very strange” (, 7/14). But's Dan Shanoff writes Packer "wasn't just a curmudgeon; he was joyless, which made listening to him excruciating. His ouster is a great day for college hoops fans" (, 7/14). AWFUL ANNOUNCING’s Brian Powell writes, “I have to say that today I'm pretty happy with this move. … In all honesty, I can’t believe he lasted this long.” Noting the net selected Gus Johnson to call second-weekend games during last season’s tournament, Powell writes, “For the second year in a row CBS has decided to make an amazingly smart decision for it's March Madness broadcast” (, 7/14).

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  • UF's Deal With Sun Sports Could End Possibility Of SEC Channel

    UF Inks Multi-Year Media
    Rights Deal With Sun Sports
    The Univ. of Florida (UF) and Fox-owned RSN Sun Sports have "signed a media rights deal that is not only one of the most lucrative in the country, but also could end the likelihood of an SEC channel being created any time soon," according to Ourand & Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal will pay the UF's marketing arm, the University Athletic Association, "roughly $10[M] a year for the next 10 years." The agreement gives Sun Sports a "bundle of multimedia rights that includes everything from local TV, broadband and radio to on-site signage and corporate partnerships." To help manage UF's property, Sun Sports has "brought in IMG College, created when IMG acquired Collegiate Licensing Co. and Host Communications." The overall value of the deal is "believed to be just less than the 13-year, $112.5[M] agreement that IMG College recently guaranteed" the Univ. of Nebraska for its rights. Industry analysts indicated that the agreement could be a "sign that an SEC channel -- modeled after the Big Ten Network -- is not in the offing." Ourand & Smith note while the deal "would not preclude the SEC from creating a channel, its timing, just weeks before the conference picks its new TV partners, suggests that such a channel is unlikely." Meanwhile, CBS is likely to retain the network rights to SEC programming and ESPN "will retain the cable portion, with ESPNU and ESPN360 also getting rights that were previously reserved for syndication partners" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/14 issue).

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  • WEEI-AM Begins Website Beef-Up With Hiring Of Two Herald Writers

    Boston's WEEI-AM has hired Boston Herald Red Sox beat writer Robert Bradford and contributor Michael Felger as part of an attempt to "attract an online following with a new Web site," according to Christine McConville of the BOSTON HERALD. Bradford will edit, while Felger will cover the Patriots for the site. The pair "will contribute to in its current form, but the station plans to roll out the new Web site in January." VP & GM Tim Murphy: "We are going to invest in creating a world-class Web site. ... Our goal is to support and help our phenomenal talent on air and to make their shows as good as they could possibly be." Murphy did not say how much the station is spending on the Web initiative, but a source said that the investment "could reach $4[M]" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/12). In Boston, Shanahna & Rhone noted Bradford, in addition to editing duties, "will also contribute columns." Felger will no longer host "The Mike Felger Show" on ESPN Radio 890 Boston, but he is "expected to keep his duties with Comcast SportsNet." Murphy added that "aims to create 'useful and entertaining' content" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/12).

    END AND A BEGINNING? BOSTON SPORTS MEDIA WATCH’s David Scott wrote Felger leaving ESPN Radio 890 "could very well be a death knell for the struggling all-sports talk radio also-ran in the Boston market." ESPN 890 cannot "spin this thing as a positive step forward for the station. Felger is a marquee name in the market." Scott noted Felger's WEEI radio and duties "mean that Felger's near-20-year run with the Boston Herald is over." Upon coming to, "it is believed Felger ... will bring a version of his Patriots Report Card" from the Herald (, 7/11). In a separate piece, Scott wrote is expected to "snag other local talents from established media organizations to join the dot-com line-up." Murphy hopes that the result will be a "combination of straight news delivery blended with opinion (blogs) and other, logical extensions of 'EEI's terrestrial audio content (and personalities)." Murphy: "The idea is to distribute our audio content more aggressively" (, 7/10).

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  • EA Sports' "NBA Live" Game To Allow Users To Update Player Ratings

    EA Sports To Allow Users To
    Update "NBA Live 09" Player Ratings
    The E3 Media and Business Summit opens today in L.A., and EA Sports will announce that it has expanded the functionality of the forthcoming "NBA Live 09" title with what it calls "Dynamic DNA." The technology allows gamers with online-connected consoles to update player intelligence and ratings on a daily basis. While many games have previously offered roster updates between physical releases, this marks the first systemic effort to have the full coding behind videogame players mirror reality on an ongoing basis. The game is one of the few in EA Sports' stable that is widely recognized as inferior to its main competition, in this case 2K Sports' "NBA 2K9," and to that end the effort also represents an effort to regain some critical and competitive edge. The game releases Oct. 7 in North America, and a week later elsewhere.

    WARDROBE MALFUNCTION? Meanwhile, Brett Favre's Friday request to the Packers to grant him an unconditional release places EA with the possibility of an unprecedented occurrence in which the current "Madden" cover athlete is wearing a different uniform than the one on the game. Packers GM Ted Thompson said Saturday he would not release Favre or allow him to return as a starter, and numerous published reports over the weekend speculated on potential trades. "We're still assessing what all this means for us. But Brett Favre is still an icon, and we'd love to see him play this season," said EA Sports spokesman David Tinson.

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  • People & Personalities: WFAN's Russo, Francesa Quiet On Future

    Francesa (l), Russo Quiet On Future During
    First Broadcast Together Since Spat
    On Long Island, Barker & Boone reported WFAN's Mike Francesa and Chris Russo Friday broadcast their "Mike & the Mad Dog" show together for the first time since reports surfaced about the potential end to their partnership. The pair addressed the issue for two minutes about 25 minutes into the show, where they discussed a fight they had earlier this year. Russo "downplayed its significance," but Francesa "seemed less sure." Russo: "The theory that you and I would depart because we hate each other, I don't quite understand that. We've had our bad moments, but we were good the last half of the spring." Francesa replied, "We had a bad fight. ... We didn't talk for a long time" (NEWSDAY, 7/12). Francesa: “It was only 50-50 that you’d never see (the pair together) again” (“Mike & the Mad Dog,” YES Network, 7/11).

    INCOMPLETE PASS:'s Peter King writes CBS "made a major mistake in not including Dan Marino in the cast" of "Inside the NFL," which will air on Showtime this season. King: "As someone who worked with Marino for six years on the HBO 'Inside the NFL' show, I saw the magnetism he brought to the show every week." CBS' Phil Simms will be one of the show's panelists, and King writes, "I do understand the reticence to have the two-white-quarterbacks-on-the-set thing, but Marino is synonymous with the show, and I think the public will miss him greatly on Showtime" (, 7/14).

    REPORT CARD: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich reviewed the CBC's baseball crew of Jim Hughson, Jesse Barfield and Rance Mulliniks during this weekend's Yankees-Blue Jays series and writes there was "much that was to be lauded and much that was to be condemned." The trio "often raise the level of the broadcast," and Barfield and Mulliniks "are at their best when discussing the finer points of the game and telling stories." Mulliniks also "isn't afraid to question players," but his "continuing abuse of the English language" was an issue. Zelkovich: "Grammatical sins are only part of the problem. Then there are the inanities produced by the perceived need to fill airtime" (TORONTO STAR, 7/14).

    NOTES: A source said former ESPN Radio 1250 Pittsburgh host Mark Madden later this year will join WXDX-FM at either 3:00-6:00pm ET or 3:00-7:00pm. Madden was fired by the ESPN affil in May after insensitive remarks about U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/14)....Univ. of Alabama radio announcer Ken Stabler will take a leave of absence from the booth "in the wake of his arrest last month on drunken driving charges." UA radio announcer Tom Roberts will handle color commentary in Stabler's absence (TUSCALOOSA NEWS, 7/11)....Nuggets F and U.S. men's basketball national team member Carmelo Anthony will be contributing a basketball diary and photographs for the N.Y. Times' Olympics blog during the Beijing Games (, 7/14).

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  • Blog Hound: Favre Drama Dominates Weekend Blog Discussions

    Over the weekend, the most popular topic in the blogosphere was former NFLer Brett Favre and the Packers and whether Favre would play football again. Other hot topics were the news that CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer would not return next season; former MLBer Jose Canseco getting knocked out in the first round of a celebrity boxing match; an FBI investigation into Nationals GM Jim Bowden's alleged involvement in a financial scandal involving signing players from the Dominican Republic; and Knicks G Stephon Marbury reportedly getting a tattoo of the logo of his Starbury shoe line on his head. Visit for more info or see chart below.

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