SBD/Issue 41/Sports Media

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  • BCS Considering ESPN Proposal That Would Put Games On Cable

    The BCS is considering a proposal from ESPN that would see all BCS bowl games, including the championship game, wind up on ESPN, sources familiar with the negotiations are saying. If the BCS ultimately accepts the bid, it would mark the first time all games in a major championship were not available on an over-the-air broadcast network. If the BCS opts to move to ESPN, it would continue a trend that has seen other leagues migrate playoff series exclusively from broadcast to cable. MLB, the NBA and the NHL all have placed playoff games on cable over the past few years. If ABC/ESPN ultimately wins the bid and moves even one BCS game to ESPN, it would trigger a clause in its Rose Bowl contract that would allow it to immediately take the annual game in Pasadena from its home of 21 years on ABC to the cable channel. Sources say Fox still has several days to accept the BCS’ proposal, which is seeking about a 50% annual increase over the current deal’s $82.5M annual fee. The BCS is looking for a 4-year, $500M deal, which would put the average annual payout at around $125M. Fox has proposed a 25% increase, which would average a little more than $102M per year. Though Fox still has several days to match, insiders say it is not likely to increase its bid by enough.

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  • Time Inc. Seeks Volunteers For Job Cuts; SI Among Hardest Hit

    SI Among Time Inc. Magazines
    Facing Editorial Cuts
    Time Inc. editors yesterday “asked for about 100 volunteers to give up editorial staff jobs" at Time, People, Sports Illustrated and a "few other" magazines, according to Richard Perez-Pena of the N.Y. TIMES. The cuts are the first steps toward the "elimination of about 600 jobs worldwide, most of them at its 24 magazines" in the U.S. The call for volunteers includes writers, editors, photographers and researchers at a "handful of magazines who are represented by the Newspaper Guild." SI, SI Kids and Golf magazines are among the "hardest hit" in the first round. In a memorandum to staff, SI Group Editor Terry McDonell "asked for 40 people to leave voluntarily, out of an editorial staff at the magazine group of about 250 people” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/11). ALL THINGS DIGITAL's Peter Kafka reported a "number of jobs not covered by the guild will also be eliminated at the magazine and across the group" (ALLTHINGSD.com, 11/10). Women's Wear Daily's Stephanie Smith noted "employees have two weeks to inform management of their decisions" (WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY, 11/11 issue).

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  • KING-NBC To Air MLS Sounders Show Finale After Super Bowl XLIII

     
    Seattle-based KING-NBC will air the finale of its reality series "The Sounders Super Search" live after the national broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, according to Michael Malone of BROADCASTING & CABLE. The series will document fans attempting to gain a spot of the MLS Sounders '09 roster. While KING is "obligated to stick with network programming directly after the Super Bowl," the Sounders show, in which the winner of the contest will be announced, "will air right after that." The show will be hosted by Sounders announcer Kevin Calabro. KING VP & Station Manager Pat Costello said that the idea for a "soccer-style 'American Idol,' a joint venture between the station and the team, came after the MLS' Chivas USA club conducted an open tryout, with the winner getting a spot on the practice squad." The Sounders are "hosting tryouts around Seattle on three successive weekends in November, with standouts selected to appear on 'Super Search'" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 11/10 issue).

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  • General Knowledge: Knight Back With ESPN In Expanded Role

    Knight To Cover Multiple Conferences 
    Through Various ESPN Outlets
    Basketball HOFer Bob Knight will return to ESPN's college basketball telecasts this season in an expanded role. The former coach will be paired with Brent Musburger on weekly Thursday night games with various conferences, and he will work with Dan Shulman on non-conference games on other nights. Knight also will work as an on-site analyst for "College GameDay Driven by State Farm," and he will give analysis on "SportsCenter" (once a week in January and February) and ESPN Radio ("Mike & Mike in the Morning" or "Tirico & Van Pelt"). His first game telecast is scheduled for November 20 and 21 at the 2K Sports Classic Benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer in N.Y. Knight joined ESPN in March to provide studio commentary for the network's Championship Week and NCAA Tournament programming.

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  • Kenny Mayne's Online Series "Mayne Street" Debuts On ESPN.com

    ESPN's Kenny Mayne Launches
    Online Humor Series Today
    “Mayne Street,” the project of longtime ESPN on-air personality Kenny Mayne, premiered on ESPN.com today. The online humor series chronicles a fictionalized account of his life working for the network. Produced in a deadpan humor style not unlike “The Office” or some of Larry David’s work, the video segments will run about two to six minutes each and appear on the site over the next two months. The project, at one point contemplated for one of ESPN’s TV networks, fell to the back burner and then resurrected itself last year during Mayne’s contract renewal talks. “I brought it up again, and [ESPN Exec VP/Content John] Skipper said let’s just go for it online and get right into production, since that's where so many people are watching anyway,” Mayne said. “This has been an absolute blast, more fun than anything I’ve done at ESPN.” Mayne has continued do his feature work for ESPN during production of “Mayne Street,” essentially trading in his slots on “SportsCenter” to produce the segments (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Mayne said, "I’ve been calling it like a poor man’s Larry David. It’s Larry David meets 10% Christopher Guest meets PBS’ ‘Frontline.’ It doesn’t matter. It’s three-and-a-half minutes long. Just watch it. What else are you going to do?" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN2, 11/11). At presstime, the debut episode was the main story on ESPN.com (THE DAILY).

    MAYNE STREET PLAYERS: TUBEFILTER's Lindsay Stidham reported Mayne in the show is "surrounded by a venerable cast of characters who have been in the comedy game for a long time." The show is "scripted but leaves room for plenty of improvisation -- which suits Mayne perfectly" (TUBEFILTER.tv, 11/10). Mayne said that the show also will include "special guest appearances," including Celtics G Ray Allen, celebrity chef Bobby Flay and actor Dominic Chianese. Filmmaker Josh Shelov, who is working with Mayne on the show, said, "Originally we wanted it to be a full 30 minute TV show, but in order to speed up production ESPN turned it into a web series. The medium of the day is the Internet and we are happy to be a part of that" (THELANTERN.com, 11/10). 

    PERFECT MATCH: TV WEEK's Jon Lafayette reported ESPN has secured Vicks NyQuil as a presenting sponsor for "Mayne Street" (TVWEEK.com, 11/9). AD AGE's Larry Dobrow reported Starcom MediaVest Group "played matchmaker" for NyQuil and ESPN "early in the developmental process." NyQuil officials "enjoyed considerable access during production, to the extent that ESPN put together an early rough cut of the series for sponsor approval." Vicks Assistant Brand Manager Jason Partin: "We got to see them in execution, rather than just on the page, and weigh in at that point. That was important to us" (ADAGE.com, 11/10).

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  • People & Personalities: Olbermann Signs New Deal With MSNBC

    Olbermann Set To
    Earn $7.5M Per Year
    In N.Y., Brian Stelter reports MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have reached a contract extension through the 2012 election season worth $7.5M annually, replacing the four-year, $4M per year deal signed in '07. Under the deal, Olbermann will remain on MSNBC's "Countdown" and as co-host of NBC's "Football Night in America" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/11). Meanwhile, Olbermann was on ABC's "The View" yesterday and discussed with Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the wife of former NFLer Tim Hasselbeck, a politically-tinged comment he made during a recent "FNIA" broadcast. Hasselbeck: "You snuck in there this [Sarah] Palin comment. You said this quarterback was knocked out -- out cold -- and you said he was so badly concussed that he thought he could see Russia from his house. And I thought that even in my football game, Keith, why!?” Olbermann: “I actually said would I say this if I was still just being a sportscaster, ... if I was still doing that and not doing politics, would I have made that joke? Is it enough of a cultural reference that almost the politics is subtracted from it? And I said, ‘I think so.’" However, he later admitted that was the one comment "all season which was really, I must confess, there was some restraint involved" ("The View," ABC, 11/10). 

    YES MAN: On Long Island, Neil Best cites sources as saying that the YES Network will "exercise its right to match an offer from MSG" to continue simulcasting WFAN-AM's Mike Francesa's show. YES' contract to simulcast the show was set to expire at the end of '08, and while no deal has been announced, sources said that it "should happen within a few days" (NEWSDAY, 11/11).

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: ESPN's Kenny Mayne said he has had several teams tell him he could not use their personnel in his "Mayne Event" segment of ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown." Mayne: "There are three places we can’t go: Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts and anywhere Bill Parcells is, even here (at ESPN). ...  My argument was I went to those teams on a Wednesday and I was with them for three minutes, five minutes, how ever long it took, and you’re telling me clowning around with me on a Wednesday impacts you on a Sunday? I think you have an organizational problem if you think screwing around with me on a Wednesday hurts you on a Sunday” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN2, 11/10).

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  • Blog Hound: 49ers-Cardinals "MNF" Fails To Excite Bloggers

    Over the past 24 hours, 49ers-Cardinals "Monday Night Football" was the most popular topic among the most influential sports blogs, with many discussing the lackluster match-up and play of the two teams. The trade of Rockies LF Matt Holliday to the A's was also highly discussed. Another hot topic was the death of two fans allegedly following an argument about Saturday's Alabama-LSU game. Whether or not Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis is on the hot seat was also a popular topic. Rounding out the top five was discussion about Ashley Stewart, a woman allegedly involved in an altercation with Chiefs RB Larry Johnson last month, filing a lawsuit against Johnson. Visit www.sportsmediachallenge.com for more info or see chart below.

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  • Media Notes

    BUSINESSWEEK's Tom Lowry noted if the Univ. of Texas' (UT) planned sports network, tentatively named the Longhorn Sports Network, "gets off the ground, it would be the first time a university has created its own sports network seeking broad distribution." IMG College Senior VP Pat Battle: "Texas has such an incredible fan base and such great content through all its sports programs that we feel a network like this will have a real following." Battle is "hoping the network will launch next fall." Lowry noted a "big sticking point for distributors is knowing which sports and which games the university network will be able to show." The net will show a "range of sports, from baseball to track and field," but it currently does not have rights to any UT football games, which "raises doubts about what kind of an audience the network could attract" (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 11/7). A Fox spokesperson said FSN is "not in any conversations with [UT] about selling back rights to them" (THE DAILY).

    NFL Official Says Red Line Was Misplaced
    For Controversial Play In Giants-Eagles Game
    THIN RED LINE: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes NBC's red line, the "electronic approximation of the line of scrimmage," during Sunday's Giants-Eagles "Sunday Night Football" game was "maladjusted," leading to a controversy on a play in which Giants QB Eli Manning appeared to be across the red line when throwing a pass. NFL VP/Officiating Mike Pereira told NBC "SNF" producer Fred Gaudelli that the red line "should match where the sideline yardage marker is; the misplacement meant the line should have been closer" to the 20 yard line rather than the 21. Pereira yesterday said it was "clearly obvious Manning wasn't beyond the correct red line," and that he "sent a DVD of the game to the league's broadcasters as a reminder of where to correctly spot their electronic lines of scrimmage." Sandomir notes the NFL "pays no attention to [the electronic line] when its replay booth at each stadium examines disputed plays" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/11).

    HIGH HOPES: Macrovision is "confident it will sell Television Games Network (TVG) before year's end" despite the current economy. Macrovision President Fred Amoroso: "I'm confident we'll be able to sell (this property). We are in the final phase of this process" (THOROUGHBREDTIMES.com, 11/6)....NYRA has created pages on social networking sites Facebook and MySpace in an attempt to reach a younger demo (NYRA).

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