SBD/Issue 52/Sports Media

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  • NAB Will Push To Keep Premier Sporting Events On Free TV

    The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), comprised of the major TV nets and their affiliate stations, Tuesday said that they will "push policymakers to support free access to premier televised sporting events" after ESPN obtained the rights to the BCS, according to Cecilia Kang of the WASHINGTON POST. The NAB also said that it will "ramp up lobbying efforts with advocacy groups for the elderly, consumers and immigrants to educate members of Congress about how such deals could affect some viewers." NAB Exec VP/Media Relations Dennis Wharton: "The question is whether college presidents and athletic directors at publicly funded institutions should be complicit in disenfranchising 20[%] of citizenry from access to the most popular college football games." ESPN and cable operators "acknowledge that millions of viewers would be shut out through the deal," but both said that the "vast majority of viewers are already subscribing to paid video services." FCC Chair Kevin Martin said of the ESPN/BCS deal, "This is part of an overall trend we've seen of sports programming moving from broadcast to pay services. I'm concerned about that for viewers" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/26).

    Writer Wonders If Move Of BCS To ESPN Is
    Harbinger Of Future NFL Shift To Cable
    NOT SO FAST: In DC, Leonard Shapiro wrote under the header, "ESPN-BCS Marriage Might End Up Hurting Football." If ESPN can "get college football's title game on cable, is there any doubt that one of these days the NFL also might be tempted to do the same with its mega-valuable postseason events -- the playoffs and Super Bowl -- in the not too distant future?" Shapiro: "Nevertheless, I suspect we're still many years from an NFL playoff and Super Bowl scenario on ESPN, at least as long as Congress has anything to say about it." If one thinks U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has been a "tad miffed over his Pennsylvania constituents' inability to get the NFL Network on anything but an extra pay cable tier, wait until he and the rest of his colleagues start hearing from the voters about a Super Bowl heading in that same direction say, by the middle of the next decade" (, 11/25).

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  • NBC To Begin Promotion Of Vancouver Games During Macy's Parade

    Watch This Clip

    It is more than a year before the Winter Olympics begin in Vancouver, but NBC already is pushing people to tune in to its broadcast. The network will air its first promotion of the 2010 Vancouver Games Thursday during its broadcast of Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and National Dog Show. The 50-second spot begins by reflecting on the Beijing Games and Michael Phelps' historic achievement, then flashes forward to Vancouver by highlighting the coastal city's scenery. NBC considers Thanksgiving Day somewhat of a good-luck charm because it started its promotions for the Beijing Games during the Macy's Parade broadcast in '07. NBC VP/Strategic Marketing Mike McCarley said, "This isn't a start of the campaign so much as a nod to the success of Beijing and a way to introduce Vancouver as a unique setting and one of the most beautiful places in North America."

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  • Declawed: Bobcats Last Among All NBA Teams In Local TV Ratings

    The Bobcats are "last in the [NBA] in local TV ratings" with a 0.425 average HH rating in Charlotte, a drop of 65% from last year's number for the same time period, according to Roger van der Horst (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 11/26). The Bobcats in April inked an arena naming rights deal with Time Warner Cable that moved the team's games from Time Warner's News 14 to FS Carolinas and SportSouth, and Van der Horst in his blog asked, "Did Fox Sports Carolinas and Time Warner Cable bet on the wrong horse?" The Bobcats are "doing no better in Charlotte than hockey's Carolina Hurricanes, even though the Canes are based in Raleigh." That is despite the fact the Bobcats have several ties to local colleges, including Univ. of North Carolina alums G Raymond Felton, F Sean May, coach Larry Brown and Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan (, 11/25). Below are the top five and bottom five NBA local market ratings to date (THE DAILY).

    Trail Blazers

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  • Internet, Digital TV Post-Beijing Games Winners In China

    The media landscape in China since the Beijing Games “certainly indicates an expanded role for the Internet," as the Olympics "brought about real efforts by Chinese media owners to experiment with new ways to win” audiences, according to Clifford Coonan of DAILY VARIETY. Internet search engine Sohu spent $14.5M on a marketing campaign to make Sohu the “portal of choice” for the Games with the “aim of taking long-term market share from rival portals such as Tencent, NEtEase and Sina.” Also, a “big winner of the technologically sophisticated way the Games were presented was digital TV.” China “aims to switch from analog to digital by 2015,” and the “plan is for all cities to have digital cable by the end of this year, with service rolling out together cities and towns in the next couple of years.” Universal McCann China CEO Manpreet Singh: “The big surprise is how big the increase is -- five fold in some cases. The challenge is to keep the numbers up. The Olympics was event-based traffic; it will slow down.” Government control in China “remains as tight as ever,” as “market liberalization has not translated into greater freedoms for newspapers and TV stations as to what they can report, and cable TV is notoriously difficult to control.” Meanwhile, mobile phones also were “big media winners in the Games,” as one-quarter of Internet users in China “used a mobile phone as a source of information about the Olympics, which is much more use than other countries.” More than 10 million Chinese citizens "watched the Olympic Games on their mobile phone screens." But for ad agencies, the post-Olympics period is marked by “challenges ahead.” While China is “not expected to be hit as badly as other countries by the global financial crisis, it’s not a great time to be looking for ad revenues anywhere” (DAILY VARIETY, 11/26).

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  • TV Usage At All-Time High, With Web, Mobile Video Usage Growing

    TV, Internet and mobile phone consumption continue to increase, according to Nielsen's "A2/M2 Three Screen Report." As of the third quarter (3Q) of '08, the average person in the U.S. watched approximately 142 hours of TV per month, while people who used the Internet were online 27 hours a month and people who used a mobile phone spent three hours a month watching mobile video. The average time a U.S. home watched TV during the '07-08 TV season was up to eight hours and 18 minutes (8:18), a record high. In addition, men are also more likely than women to watch video on mobile phones, while women are more likely than men to watch video on the Internet (Nielsen).

    3Q '08
    2Q '08
    3Q '07
    3Q '08 vs. 3Q '07
    % +/-
    3Q '08 vs. 3Q '07 Time Difference
    Watching TV in the home*
    Watching time-shifted TV*
    Using the Internet**
    Watching video on the Internet**
    Mobile subscribers watching video on a mobile phone***

    METHODOLOGY: TV and Internet figures are calculated using Nielsen's national TV and Internet panels which are measured electronically and reported on a regular basis. The mobile phone figures are collected by Nielsen via a quarterly survey, and give a firsthand look at how early adopters report their usage of mobile video.

    NOTES: * = TV in the home includes live viewing plus any playback viewing within seven days. Time-shifted TV is playback primarily on a DVR but including playback services like Start Over as well as playback from a DVD recorder. ** = Internet figures are from home and work. Hours:minutes for Internet and video use are based on the universe of persons who used the Internet/watched online video. All Internet figures are monthly averages over the course of the quarter. Online video duration metrics are not comparable to previous measurement periods as a result of methodology change. *** = The average monthly unique users of mobile phones and mobile video in 3Q '08 and 2Q '08, based on Nielsen Mobile surveys and CTIA projection of U.S. wireless subscriptions. Video user projection, time spent and composition data based on survey analysis of past 30-day use during the period. The mobile video audience figures in this report for 3Q '08 and 2Q '08 now include mobile phone users who access mobile video through any means (including mobile Web), and are no longer limited to subscription-based mobile video. Projection of all subscribers is based on persons 2+. Projection of mobile video viewers, and all other mobile video estimates, based on subscribers 13+.

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  • Blog Hound: College Basketball Action Captivates Bloggers

    Over the past 24 hours, college basketball was the most popular topic among the most influential sports blogs. Areas of discussion included the Maui Invitational tournament, Syracuse's upset wins over Florida and Kansas, and Loyola's strategy to constantly double-team Davidson G Stephen Curry. Last night's Cavaliers-Knicks game sparked conversation about Cavaliers F LeBron James going to the Knicks in 2010. Also discussed was Ball State's football team finishing the regular season undefeated at 12-0 with a win last night over Western Michigan. Rinku Singh and Dinesh Kumal Patel, two pitchers from India signed by the Pirates, remained in the top five for a second day following a discovery that the two players have a blog. Rounding out the top was amusement over two Iowa football fans getting caught engaging in sexual activity in a bathroom stall at the Metrodome during Saturday's Iowa-Minnesota game. Visit for more info or see chart below.

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  • Media Notes

    Packers-Saints "MNF" Game Earns An 8.6 
    Cable Rating, Down 10.4% From Last Year
    Through 13 games this season, ESPN’s "MNF" is averaging a 9.1 cable rating with 12.2 million viewers, up 7.1% and 10.9%, respectively, from an 8.5 cable rating with 11.0 million viewers through the same point last season. ESPN earned an 8.6 cable rating (11.4 million viewers) for its "MNF" coverage this week of Packers-Saints, down 10.4% from a 9.6 rating for the comparable Dolphins-Steelers game in '07 (THE DAILY).

    QUICK CHANGE: The AP's Rachel Cohen noted the NFL "quietly changed its policy this season to allow more fans to see games" on NFL Network, a shift that affects a "relatively small number of viewers who live in outlying areas to the cities of the teams playing." NFL Net games have "always been simulcast on an over-the-air station in each market," and "some of those stations are carried on cable systems outside the market, but before this year, the games were blacked out." Now, those systems' subscribers "will be able to watch," though residents in "those areas who don't get the channel on cable still won't see the games unless they receive NFL Network." NFL Exec VP/Communications & Public Affairs Joe Browne: "It made more sense to us upon reflection that if a cable station was carrying the programming 24-7 that it be allowed to carry our NFL Network games" (AP, 11/24).

    WEB OF INTRIGUE: MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Stuart Miller notes live streaming of sporting events online is "providing new opportunities for fans." Senior VP & GM Jason Kint: "There is tremendous growth in live streaming sports. It is not cannibalizing television audiences but providing dynamic opportunities across platforms." Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon: "Live streaming events over the Internet is part of the personalization of the sports experience. The technology of streaming allows you to become the programmer and follow what you want." But Miller notes the platform "also faces some challenges, in terms of rights issues and differing business models," as while "everyone believes in live streaming, not everyone is certain about what the best business model is" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 11/24 issue).

    DIALING UP FROM LONG DISTANCE: In Anchorage, Mike Campbell reported the Great Alaska Shootout college basketball tournament, which began Tuesday and concludes Saturday, is "expanding its reach among television viewers across the country" after being dropped by ESPN after last year's tournament. KCFT-Ind., which is broadcasting eight Shootout games, earlier this month announced an agreement with FSN Northwest in which the RSN "would carry four Shootout games this week." ESPN began airing the Shootout in '85, but a "bevy of new tournaments around Thanksgiving ... signaled the end of the relationship" (ANCHORAGE DAILY NEWS, 11/24).

    PEOPLE & PERSONALITIES: MLB Rangers Exec VP/Communications John Blake said that Padres TV rights holder Channel 4 San Diego has asked permission to speak with Rangers radio announcer Victor Rojas "about the vacant lead TV announcer's job" (, 11/25)....Vikings radio play-by-play announcer and KFAN-AM host Paul Allen has "signed a five-year contract extension to remain" at the station. The agreement "marks the first time that KFAN has combined Allen's talk-show contract with his agreement to call Vikings games" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 11/26).

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