SBD/Issue 222/Sports Media

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  • ABC, Versus Sign Deal To Share Rights To IRL Races Through 2012

    ABC, Versus To Share IRL
    Television Rights Through 2012
    The IRL scored a coup by signing about $10M per year worth of deals with ABC/ESPN and Versus for its IndyCar Series, nearly matching the license fee the racing series had been collecting from ABC/ESPN. The new deal takes effect next year and essentially wipes out the final year of the deal the IRL had with ABC/ESPN. Deal terms have ABC/ESPN paying close to $4M per year for the rights to the Indianapolis 500 and four other races -- all of which will be broadcast on ABC -- through 2012. ABC has broadcast the Indy 500 for the past 44 years. "The Indy 500 is something we were focused on," said ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Scott Guglielmino. "It really boiled down to that." ESPN decided to take a pass on the remaining 13 races of the IndyCar Series season, which had been carried on ESPN2. Versus stepped up and paid about $60M over 10 years for the rights to those races.

    INCREASED EXPOSURE: IRL executives are most excited by the increased exposure that Versus is promising, saying that the amount of IRL programming will increase at least 200% over what had been on ESPN. The biggest gripe from IRL stakeholders has been the short window for the race and lack of ancillary programming on ESPN. Versus addressed that with a 3-hour window on race day, a Saturday show and re-airing the races during the week. Versus also is planning pre- and post-race shows around the races, plus other ancillary programming it plans to develop. "ESPN's blessing and curse is all the sports properties it has," said Versus Exec VP/Programming, Production & Business Operations Marc Fein. "The position of our network is to go after properties we can own. We want to surround and embrace it." Fein said Versus plans to replicate the amount of promotion and marketing that it has used for the NHL. "We're going to promote it a lot more than it has been promoted," Fein said.

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  • TSN Set To Launch Companion Channel With Major League Focus

    TSN To Launch Channel To Focus
    On Major Sports Programming
    TSN this fall is "planning to launch a companion channel called TSN2," which will include "major-league programming such as NHL and NBA telecasts on a cycle of 24 hours a day, seven days a week," according to William Houston of the GLOBE & MAIL. Advertising sources said that TSN "has already bought for the channel the rights to NBA games that were discarded by Rogers Sportsnet at the end of last season." TSN2 also will "provide extensive auto racing and tennis coverage and, apparently, will air at least one major-league event daily." The channel will be the "first digital channel in Canada to provide programming in [HD]." TSN "asked cable and satellite companies this summer to sign agreements to carry TSN2," but by the end of last week, "several, including Rogers Cable and Bell ExpressVu, had not agreed." TSN's existing alternative digital channel "will be discontinued once TSN2 is up and running." Houston writes the launch of the net "will not be good news for Sportsnet or The Score," as it "will represent more competition." Nor "will it be helpful to the CBC, which is hoping to start its own digital sports channel" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/7).

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  • Soccer Media Notes: Scottish FA Lands New $116M TV Deal

    Scottish Football Association Inks $116M
    TV Deal With Sky Sports, BBC
    The Scottish Football Association (FA) has announced a new TV rights deal with Sky Sports and the BBC that will net the FA "as much as [US$116.9M] between 2010 and 2014 -- the biggest broadcasting windfall in their history." As part of the deal, Sky Sports will have exclusive rights to the Scotland men's national team's home games, as well as nine live Scottish Cup matches, while the BBC has "secured a highlights package for the national side and five live cup games" (SOCCERNET.ESPN.com, 8/6).

    GOAL ORIENTED: DAILY VARIETY's John Hopewell reported Spanish TV provider Sogecable has reached a deal with FIFA for all Spanish rights to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. While terms of the deal were not released, Sogecable "likely ponied up as much as, if not more than, Spanish broadcaster La Sexta reportedly paid -- [US$140.5M] -- for World Cup 2006 rights." Sogecable's pay TV operator Digital Plus will broadcast all of the games (DAILY VARIETY, 8/6).

    PLAYING TO SPACE: The GLOBE & MAIL's William Houston reported each of the 50,000 Canadian HHs that subscribe to Setanta Sports Canada are "forking over $14.99 a month" to watch the provider's English Premier League content. Setanta North America President Shane O'Rourke said that after one season of the EPL in the Canadian market, Setanta's distribution of "50,000-plus has exceeded expectations." Houston noted there are "negatives, starting with the monthly fee." Also, HD coverage, "for which soccer is a particularly good sport, is not available" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/6).

    OUT AT THE DISH: Dish Network Friday removed GolTV from its channel lineup, as Dish's carriage deal with the net expired. GolTV had been available on Dish Network's "America's Top 250 and Dish Latino programming packages." A GolTV spokesperson last weekend said that there had "not been any negotiations over the weekend, but he anticipate[d] that talks would resume" Monday (MULTICHANNEL.com, 8/3).

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  • Blog Hound: Favre To Jets Trade Fervor Tops Olympic Chatter

    As one might expect, the trade of QB Brett Favre to the Jets dominated sports blogs over the past 24 hours. Olympics discussion also increased, with topics including the U.S. cyclists' apology for arriving in Beijing wearing air masks, the Opening Ceremony, the U.S. women's soccer team's 2-0 loss to Norway yesterday and NBC's plans for coverage. Yankees P Joba Chamberlain's shoulder injury and subsequent move to the 15-day DL was also a popular topic. Rounding out the top five were the announcement of the '08-09 NBA schedule and charges of point shaving leveled against former Univ. of Toledo basketball player Sammy Villegas. Visit www.sportsmediachallenge.com for more info or see chart below.

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  • Media Notes

    In L.A., Dawn Chmielewski reports Disney "plans to relaunch Toon Disney as Disney XD, a cable channel ... aiming at boys ages 6 to 14." The channel "will offer original action-adventure and comedy series, movies, animation and sports-themed shows developed" with ESPN. The move, which was "under wraps for more than a year, is an attempt by the company to capture a market that has long eluded it." The Disney Channel "has struggled for years to find the right programming formula to lure boys, who tend to gravitate to Viacom's Nickelodeon and Time Warner's Cartoon Network" (L.A. TIMES, 8/7).

    Writer Feels Not Many Hard-Hitting Moments
    In First Episode Of HBO's "Hard Knocks"
    LIGHT KNOCKS: On the first installment of the latest season of HBO's "Hard Knocks," Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones is shown addressing the team at one of the first training camp meetings, saying, “The Cowboys are a big deal. We’re the number one thing that people look at, because I don’t know about you, but I like playing on Broadway.” Jones: “I could be doing anything in the world I want to be doing this morning and I want to be here with you” ("Hard Knocks," HBO, 8/6). In Dallas, Barry Horn writes the first episode "had its moments," but "so far Camp Cowboys appears to have been little more than fun and games." There "simply haven't been enough fly-on-the-wall moments since the start of training camp," as it "seemed liked the owner, coaches and players spent too much time playing to the cameras" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/7).

    CABLEVISION: With Cablevision reportedly considering selling off some of their higher-profile assets, he WALL STREET JOURNAL's Silva & Currie note based on Cablevision's deal last year to sell stakes in FSN Bay Area and FSN New England to Comcast, the value of Cablevision's N.Y. sports channels, MSG and MSG Plus, "could be roughly $1[B]" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/7). In detailing News Corp’s strong performance in the company’s cable programming segment earlier this week, Chair & CEO Rupert Murdoch stated that the gains came "despite $200M spent on the introduction of Fox Business Channel and the Big Ten Network" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/6).

    PLAYING THROUGH: The PGA of America has extended a television agreement through 2020 with TSN to broadcast in Canada the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, Senior PGA Championship and the Grand Slam of Golf (THE DAILY).

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