SBD/Issue 2/Sports Media

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  • Universal Sports Expanding Distribution To 30 Million Homes

    At a time when new networks are experiencing problems growing subscribers, Universal Sports is set to announce a 15-fold distribution increase, from 2 million to 30 million homes. The increase, which is set to be announced today, comes without any new affiliate deals with cable operators. Rather, NBC is utilizing part of its multicast stream, which uses its digital signal to provide its main service, plus two sub-channels in various markets. One of those channels is called Weather Plus. The other is Universal Sports, the new Olympic channel co-owned by NBC Universal and InterMedia Partners. Thanks in part to NBC's retransmission consent negotiations with cable, the channel has added distribution in marquee markets, including Chicago and S.F. on Comcast; DC, Las Vegas and San Diego on Cox Communications; and Dallas-Ft. Worth on Grande Communications. The new distribution will allow the network "to have a real discussion with advertisers about reaching specific DMAs and demographics," said Universal Sports CEO Claude Ruibal. Since NBC partnered with InterMedia to create Universal Sports in June, the network has increased its distribution to 30 million HHs. "As we move into digital distribution next year, I think we can have 50 million or 60 million households," Ruibal said.

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  • CBC, Score Media Ask Regulators To Look Into TSN2 Programming

     
    The CBC and Score Media are alleging that TSN, with its new digital channel TSN2, is "trying to operate a second network without a proper licence," according to Grant Robertson of the GLOBE & MAIL. As TSN "tries to negotiate deals with cable and satellite companies to carry TSN2 in Canada," the CBC and The Score "have asked regulators to look into the matter, hoping to keep the channel from adding to the $95[M] a year TSN makes in advertising revenue as the country's most profitable sports network." The CBC and The Score specifically "are accusing TSN of exploiting a little-known rule that lets cable channels split their feed into East and West by using the second feed to launch" TSN2. Broadcasting rules stipulate that 90% of programming "on a split feed must be the same as the main network, but 10[%] of the schedule can be different." Under the 10% restriction, TSN can "run an average of 2.4 hours a day of unique live coverage, and it can allocate those hours however it wants." Meanwhile, sources said that TSN2 "will announce a deal with the [NHL] to show at least 30 NHL hockey games this season." Robertson writes the agreement, which means TSN2 "will air more than 800 hours of live sports a year," is "a direct shot at the other networks" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/15).

    IN THE DARK: The GLOBE & MAIL's William Houston reports TSN2 has been unable "to receive carriage on major cable and satellite systems," leaving it currently on only "two major distributors." As a result, Sunday's CFL Eskimos-Alouettes game on the net will go "largely unseen in the Edmonton market and many parts of Canada," as TSN this weekend is broadcasting the Ryder Cup. Meanwhile, TSN2 "will announce this week programming additions that include expanded Champions League soccer content and a schedule of NHL and NBA telecasts in 2008-09" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/15).

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  • White Sox Radio Announcer Steve Stone Moving To TV Booth

    White Sox radio analyst Steve Stone has signed a six-year deal through 2014 "that includes a club option for 2015" to become the team's main TV analyst, according to Chris De Luca of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. Stone replaces Darrin Jackson, who "officially was notified Friday that the Sox were not picking up his option for 2009." Jackson has "been offered Stone's job in the radio booth but has not replied." De Luca noted the move "has been expected since Stone signed on to be the Sox' radio color analyst before the season" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 9/14). Jackson said he will "wait until after the season to decide" on whether to take the radio job. White Sox TV play-by-play announcer Ken Harrelson said that he "told Sox officials that he hoped to continue the partnership," but added that he is "also loyal to the Sox and said he understood the team's decision." In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein reported White Sox TV ratings have "lagged far behind those of the Cubs, and the team would like to change that." The move also "seems to close the door on the possibility that Stone will be involved in a Cubs ownership group" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/14).

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  • Boom Town: John Madden Profiled By N.Y. Times' Play Magazine

    Profile Looks At Madden's
    Legacy On Game Of Football
    NBC's John Madden is profiled by the N.Y. TIMES' PLAY magazine's Bryan Curtis, who writes Madden's "true legacy is as one of the sporting world's premier public intellectuals." NBC's Al Michaels, who partners with Madden on "SNF" broadcasts, said, "I don't think there's anybody who has made the NFL more interesting, more relevant, and has educated more people about football than John Madden." Curtis notes the "common complaint with Madden ... is that these days he is merely offering up the conventional wisdom." But it is "important to remember that in many cases he's the one who established the conventional wisdom." Curtis writes that perhaps the "most important part of Maddenism is that football, quite simply, is fun." Madden has previously said, "When people watch football, they're looking for fun things." Michaels said that he has "encouraged Madden to address hot-button issues, but Madden's primary focus is still on the game on the field" (PLAY, 9/'08 issue).

    TWO IS GREATER THAN THREE: In Denver, Dusty Saunders writes in the "hype-filled world of football broadcasting, two-man perspective always beats three-man prattle." CBS announcers Dick Enberg and Randy Cross, who yesterday called the Broncos-Chargers game, "provided necessary information for viewers." But ESPN's announcing team of Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic and Mike Ditka, which called last Monday's Broncos-Raiders game, "seemingly were more involved in entertaining themselves" (ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, 9/15).

    "INSIDE" EDITION: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote the season premiere of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" "provided evidence the new guys are capable of walking the walk." While CBS and Showtime are not "spending the kind of cash HBO did on the program, the content was cool, the cast compelling" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/14).

    NOTES: In Detroit, Tony Augusty reports because of "technical difficulties," some Bright House cable subscribers "were unable to hear the television announcers for most" of yesterday's Packers-Lions game (DETROIT NEWS, 9/15)....In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich reports CTV yesterday left the Colts-Vikings broadcast "for commercial with 15 seconds" remaining in the first half, and when the coverage "returned, the Vikings were celebrating a 53-yard field goal" (TORONTO STAR, 9/15).

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  • Blog Hound: Bloggers Irate Over Gaffe In Chargers-Broncos Game

    Over the weekend the most popular topic was outrage over the incorrect call near the end of yesterday's Chargers-Broncos game. Cubs P Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter versus the Astros last night was also a hot topic. No. 1-ranked USC's dominant win over Ohio State Saturday was popular, with many non-Buckeye-fan bloggers pleased that OSU lost and several others praising how good USC looked overall. The knee injury suffered by Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis after being run into on the sideline was highly discussed. Titans QB Vince Young's emotional state remained a top subject, as more details and rumors surfaced regarding Young allegedly talking about quitting football and committing suicide. Visit www.sportsmediachallenge.com for more info or see chart below.

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  • Media Notes

     In Buffalo, Alan Pergament noted changes to the Sabres' TV plans this season include analyst Rob Ray being "only at ice level providing analysis." Also, "The Shootout," the team's postgame show on MSG hosted by Kevin Sylvester, "will air only after home games." Following road games, Sylvester "will do a five-to-seven minute wrap-up with player interviews and highlights." The Sabres also hired Maria Genero "to work with [Sylvester] and Mike Robitaille on features that will air on Sabres TV via the team's Web site, Sabres.com, and on MSG during intermissions and in a weekly magazine show." Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn said that the changes "are part of a new television strategy that was formulated in response to the changing media world" (BUFFALO NEWS, 9/13).

    Writer Questions ABC For Sending
    Griese To Cover His Alma Mater
    BIASED VIEW? SPORTINGNEWS.com's Tom Ziller noted ABC analyst Bob Griese worked Saturday's Oregon-Purdue Game, during which Griese, a Purdue alum, was "leading the crowd through a cheer and waving his Purdue flag." Ziller: "ESPN broadcasts plenty of Saturday games. Send the alum somewhere else! Griese isn't like Erin Andrews or [Kirk] Herbstreit, who are part of ABC/ESPN's A-team. If the biggest game is in Florida or Ohio State, you have to send your best broadcasters there. Griese is much lower on the totem pole" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/14).

    NOTES: In a Q&A with the BIRMINGHAM NEWS' Jon Solomon, Atlanta Constitution college football reporter Tony Barnhart said he has taken a "voluntary separation package" from the paper. Barnhart will be full-time at the paper until September 28, though he has signed on to continue his Mr. College Football blog and "some other things for the rest of the season" (AL.com, 9/11)....Rogers Sportsnet reporter Christine Simpson "rejected the network's contract offer and is close to signing with the NHL Network." Simpson has been with Rogers Sportsnet since '98 (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/15)....ESPN Brasil closed a deal with Copa do Brasil last Thursday giving it the rights to air the Brazilian soccer tournament for two seasons, '09 and 2010 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal)...."Sports Soup," a new series which will air twice a week on Versus, will debut October 14 at 10:00pm ET. The show will be shot in L.A. and will be hosted by comedian Matt Iseman (DAILY VARIETY, 9/15).

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