SBD/Issue 100/Sports Media

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  • A-Rod Admission: Gammons Admits He Should Have Backed Roberts

    Gammons Says He Was Trying To
    Get Rodriguez In His Own Words
    ESPN's Peter Gammons yesterday acknowledged he "should have interrupted" Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez during their interview Monday when Rodriguez accused SI's Selena Roberts of stalking him. In an e-mail to DEADSPIN's A.J. Daulerio, Gammons said, "My first question asked if Selena's story were true, he essentially admitted it was, and I believed she was therefore vindicated. I usually don't get into grudges, and felt he was promoting her book, which will be her response. I was trying to get Alex in his own words" (DEADSPIN.com, 2/10). Roberts yesterday said of Gammons' approach during Rodriguez' attack on her, "I wasn't troubled. I respect Peter and like Peter as a person. You always wish there was a follow-up because you're on the other side of it. In the moment he might have thought, 'Let's get back to the issue at hand.'" Roberts said of Rodriguez' accusations against her, "My first thought was, 'What is he talking about? Where is he going with this?' I wasn't sure exactly where he was heading, but I know for a fact everything that came out of his mouth was a fabrication. I don't know how he could believe anything that was such a grand distortion." Roberts insisted that she "has nothing personal" against Rodriguez. Roberts: "I just think he's complicated. He certainly has an interesting life arc and a baseball arc that is unparalleled. It's fascinating to me" (NEWSDAY, 2/11). Roberts added of the accusations, "Maybe its some sort of attempt to divert the attention away from what he’s gone through. ... I don’t know. I can’t get inside that guy’s head" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 2/10).

    NO TRUTH TO CLAIMS: In N.Y., Rubin & Gagne report police departments in N.Y., Miami and Coral Gables, Florida, claim Rodriguez "never reported Selena Roberts' alleged crimes to them." Miami Beach police detective Juan Sanchez: "I haven't been able to find anything to corroborate that she has tried to break into his home. I haven't been able to find anything that corroborates the statement Alex Rodriguez made to ESPN." Sanchez said that Miami Beach police "did file a 'miscellaneous incident report' after police were called to answer a security guard's question about whether the island where Rodriguez lives is public or private property." Sanchez said Roberts was "trying to gain access onto the island, and they had no right to stop her." Sanchez: "It's a public right of way" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/11).

    Some Critical Of Gammons
    Not Backing Up Roberts
    NO BACK UP FOR ROBERTS: SI.com's Tom Verducci wrote the "worst performance, by both Rodriguez and Gammons, was in the treatment of Roberts." Rodriguez "went out of his way to try to impugn Roberts," and not once did Gammons "follow up, letting attacks on a fellow journalist with a sterling reputation go unquestioned." Meanwhile, Verducci noted Gammons "handed Rodriguez his own timeline" for using performance-enhancing drugs "by asking, 'You're saying that time period was 2001, 2002 and 2003?'" Verducci: "And when Rodriguez responded, 'That's pretty accurate, yes,' Gammons ... stuck to the script and did not follow up." What Gammons "missed is that Rodriguez clearly never admitted to using steroids," as his choice of words was "Clinton-esque" (SI.com, 2/10). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote, "I wonder why ESPN's Peter Gammons let Rodriguez say the time frame was 'pretty accurate.' It's either accurate or it's inaccurate" (CLEVELAND.com, 2/10). Roberts said of Rodriguez, "He talked about banned substances, but certainly didn’t illuminate exactly what or why he did what he did.” Meanwhile, she added she would have asked Rodriguez "a little more about the substances he took and what he thought was a banned substance; how he had access to it. Did he ever take an injection? ... A little bit more background about who he was talking about when he talked about the steroid culture" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 2/10).

    HANGING CURVE: Two writers, who both preface their comments by relating negative experiences they each had with Gammons, react to his interview of Rodriguez. SI's Jeff Pearlman on his blog wrote Gammons scored the interview with Rodriguez because he is the "Larry King of sports television." Pearlman: "Softball questions, limited inquisitiveness, an easy time for all involved. ... He had to -- absolutely had to -- follow up Rodriguez's presumably ludicrous accusations with a question or two or three or 10" (JEFFPEARLMAN.com, 2/9). In N.Y., Filip Bondy wrote Gammons is "basically a professional apologist" for MLB. Bondy: "The only reason I'm writing so bitterly about him ... is that he sat there on Monday and allowed Alex Rodriguez to call Selena Roberts ... a 'stalker' without challenging him on that point at all. Gammons couldn't carry Roberts' laptop, when it comes to real journalism" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 2/10).

    EARNING THEIR STRIPES: On Long Island, Neil Best wrote MLB Network "deserves the props it has gotten for covering a story that does not reflect well on MLB,"  but the MLBPA has taken the "brunt of the criticism in the wake of this story." Best: "Will the network be as aggressive when a story makes the commissioner's office look bad? No way to answer that until such a story comes up." Also, "did someone tip off MLB Network execs Saturday that the story was coming, allowing them to begin putting everyone in place, including getting [Bob] Costas and Roberts on live four hours after the initial report was posted?" A source "did not deny the network likely got a heads up before the SI story was posted" (NEWSDAY.com, 2/10).

    LAYING LOW: In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote, "Apparently not every network was devoting as much of its air time as possible to the Alex Rodriguez admission of steroids use." YES Network, which is owned by the Yankees, had a Rodriguez "Yankeeography" scheduled for midnight ET Monday night, but the net ran a Baseball HOFer Yogi Berra "Yankeeography" instead (TIMESUNION.com, 2/10).

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  • A-Rod Admission: ESPN Sees Jump In Viewers, Web Hits For Interview

    A-Rod Has Generated Big Numbers For ESPN
    With His Exclusive Steroid Confession Interview
    ESPN generated big audience numbers across several mediums with its exclusive steroid confession interview with Alex Rodriguez on Monday. ESPN's 6:00pm ET "SportsCenter," where the Rodriguez interview first aired in its entirety, drew a 1.0 rating, 43% higher than the week prior. N.Y. quadrupled its local market rating for the comparable "SportsCenter" from a week prior, posting a 1.8 rating. The draw was also the second-largest in the N.Y. market for a 6:00pm weekday window in the 12 months, behind only coverage of Rutgers Univ.'s Papajohns.com Bowl victory on December 29. Baltimore was the highest overall market with a 2.4 rating for Monday's show, more than twice the local mark for the week prior. On ESPNews, ratings doubled from a 0.1 to 0.2 from 7:00-8:00pm Monday night. Clips from Rodriguez' interview were viewed more than 2 million times on ESPN.com between 3:00pm Monday afternoon and 3:00pm yesterday. The five most-highly read Rodriguez stories on the site alone drew 1.6 million visits. Consumption also spiked via mobile platforms, with more than 250,000 mobile news alerts sent out by ESPN, and Rodriguez-related videos accounting for 60% of all mobile video views via ESPN's wireless distribution channels.

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  • LPGA Inks New Korean TV Deal With J Golf, Ending SBS Partnership

    LPGA's New Deal With J Golf Means Severing 
    15-Year Relationship With SBS
    The LPGA is "taking a calculated risk for the 2010 schedule by signing a lucrative new deal for the Korean television rights to LPGA events with J Golf, a subsidiary of Joongang Daily News," according to Ron Sirak of GOLF WORLD. The new partnership "means severing a 15-year relationship" with the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), and "losing the SBS Open after the season-opening tournament at the Turtle Bay Resort in Hawaii." The income from Korean TV rights is the LPGA's "largest single revenue stream," and it is "safe to assume the value of the LPGA in the Korean market will only grow in direct proportion to the success of Korean players on tour." Sources indicated that the new partnership is a "multiyear deal likely worth in excess of $4[M] annually." That figure would be "up significantly from the $2.25[M] SBS says it paid to broadcast 30 events in Korea this year." SBS Int'l CEO & President Sang Chun said his company would "absolutely not" continue to sponsor the SBS Open when coverage moves to J Golf next year. Chun said that the LPGA "never told him what figure J Golf bid and that negotiations were ended so abruptly that he was told on a Friday afternoon that his Monday morning meeting with the tour would not be necessary." But IMG Media Senior VP Peter Smith, who negotiates int'l TV deals for the LPGA, said the LPGA "acted totally in good faith." Smith added that it "would be incorrect to assume a sponsor would not be found to replace SBS." Sirak notes the "risks for the LPGA in leaving SBS are twofold." First, SBS has a "proven track record of support" for the LPGA. The second risk is that J Golf is a "smaller operation than SBS." But the "reward for the LPGA appears to be a significant boost in cash from Korean TV beginning in 2010, a year in which shaking sponsorship dollars loose is going to be a major challenge" (GOLF WORLD, 2/16 issue). LPGA Chief Communications Officer David Higdon said in a statement, "The LPGA is diligently working on our TV rights arrangements both domestically and internationally. These rights agreements will not result in a net loss of events on our 2010 calendar" (THE DAILY).  

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  • Media Notes

    All-Star Content Will Be
    Available For iPhones
    Turner Sports, which earlier this week announced a special All Star Game-themed area within NBA.com, will also distribute specialized digital coverage of the All-Star Saturday and Sunday events to the iPhone via a new application. Turner additionally will distribute special camera angles from TNT OverTime Extra on NBA.com that will integrate with real-time user feeds from Facebook. The Facebook integration mirrors a similar effort pursued by Turner's sister operation CNN during the '09 Presidential inauguration. The iPhone app will cost $0.99 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    CHANGING CHANNELS? Bruins Exec VP Charlie Jacobs said that WBZ-AM’s exclusive negotiating rights to extend their radio deal with the team beyond this season “expired last month, prompting the club to search for other suitors to broadcast its games” next season. Jacobs: “Our No. 1 hope is to stay on WBZ. We’ve enjoyed the association. They have a strong signal, clear channel.” Jacobs said that “another possibility, though not his first choice, would be to carry the NESN feed … on radio via simulcast” (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/11). 

    STEPPING UP TO THE DISH: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Kerry Grace notes DirecTV yesterday reported a 4.6% decline in Q4 profit on “narrower margins, but both its U.S. and Latin American operations continued to add subscribers at a steady clip.” Sanford C. Bernstein LLC analyst Craig Moffett said that DirecTV has been “virtually ‘untouched’ by the economic downturn.” However, Grace writes DirecTV “relies on discretionary items such as NFL Sunday Ticket on top of its core service, and subscribers could cut back as they look to save money” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/11).

    RACING DOWN UNDER: In response to the growing interest in Australian NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose, Australian free-to-air TV for the first time will telecast both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying runs and final practices on Network Ten's new sports channel, ONE. Prior to ONE's launch in March, NASCAR Nationwide Series and select Sprint Cup coverage will be seen on Ten-HD (JAYSKI.com, 2/10).

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