SBD/Issue 96/Sports Media

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  • ESPN Preps Redesign Of ESPN The Magazine, Accompanying Web Site

    ESPN Redesigning Magazine
    And ESPNTheMag.com
    ESPN is prepping a major relaunch of ESPN The Magazine that will include a full-scale visual redesign of both the print magazine and the ESPNTheMag.com Web site; a deeper tie with ESPN.com's Insider service, which has included a subscription to the magazine; and a much stronger embrace of digital distribution methods. Exact launch dates for many of the initiatives have not yet been established, but some efforts such as multi-platform ad sales around the magazine brand have already begun. And company execs are aiming for a full-scale presentation of the magazine's new look and identity at this spring's advertising upfronts. The moves come after several months of unfounded industry rumors of a potential demise for the print version of the 11-year-old magazine. "This is about expansion, not contraction," ESPN Publishing GM & Editorial Dir Gary Hoenig said. "We are not abandoning the idea of a printed magazine. It remains a cornerstone of what we're doing. But what we're after is an evolution of the brand." The visual redesign in part will seek to give the magazine a stronger link with the existing graphic identity of ESPN's TV properties. Also a goal in the strategy is bringing the ESPN Insider subscriber base, roughly 350,000 people, closer to the print magazine's circulation base of about 2 million. The additional digital components will include several applications for mobile and an expansion of a previously announced linkup with Zinio for a digital version of the magazine.

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  • ITV Blunder Causes Viewers To Miss FA Cup Winning Goal

    Gosling Scores Crucial Goal In Extra Time To 
    Beat Liverpool, But Many Viewers Missed It
    England's Football Association (FA) confirmed that it will "seek urgent talks" today with ITV after coverage of yesterday's Liverpool-Everton fourth-round FA cup match was "interrupted at [a] crucial moment by an unscheduled advertising break," according to Ley & Smith of the London TELEGRAPH. ITV announcer Steve Rider said "technical faults" were to blame for the commercials, which aired during extra time. When live coverage returned, Everton MF Dan Gosling had already scored the winning goal. It is understood that an automated system that airs ads "kicked in as the game continued in extra time." The system is "not designed for live events such as football games which can over-run and delay the schedule." ITV also "failed to show the game's other pivotal moment" -- Liverpool MF Lucas receiving a red card in the second half -- instead focusing on "close-ups of other players" (London TELEGRAPH, 2/5). In London, Bill Edgar reports some viewers had their coverage restored right as Gosling scored, but others "rejoined the action only when the Everton players were celebrating." Meanwhile, ITV also was forced to apologize following coverage of the Histon-Leeds United second-round FA Cup match when fans' profanities were audible on the broadcast (LONDON TIMES, 2/5). ITV today said that it has received 1,000 complaints about the Liverpool-Everton incident (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 2/5).

    OUT OF LUCK? In Manchester, Owen Gibson writes through a "combination of bad luck and poor judgment," ITV's coverage of the FA Cup is "beginning to look cursed." The Histon-Leeds game "provided the hoped for shock but struggled for clear pictures through driving rain," and ITV later in that telecast apologized "after broadcasting swearing fans on the pitch and naked players in the dressing room" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 2/5).

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  • Grapes Of Wrath: Don Cherry Not Going Away Anytime Soon

    Cherry (r) Says He Would Quit Working The
    CBC's "Hockey Night" If MacLean Quit
    CBC hockey analyst Don Cherry said he has no plans to stop hosting "Coach's Corner" on "Hockey Night in Canada," as he has "so much fun" with the segment, according to a cover story Q&A by Ryan Kennedy of THE HOCKEY NEWS. Cherry said of the "Coach's Corner" feature, "I really believe that one day I'll be fired, there's no doubt about that. They'll come and say they want to go in a different direction. ... I look forward to Saturdays like you wouldn't believe." Cherry said there is nobody who could replace him on "Coach's Corner." Cherry: "I'd hate to be the next guy to come on at the end of the first period. When you're on for 28 years, it would be tough. I think if [host Ron] MacLean quit, I'd quit, too." Cherry said he was having his makeup done the first time he met CBC Sports Exec Dir Scott Moore, and Moore said, "I'm Scott Moore, would you like your pink slip now or later?" Cherry: "We've got a strange situation, but I think Scott understands me." When asked if 30 teams is "too much in the NHL," Cherry said, "When they expanded into Atlanta and Florida, Nashville and Phoenix, I said they were making a big mistake. ... Look at the Florida Panthers. They're doing pretty good right now and no one's going. You've got to go where people love hockey. I know the NHL doesn't like to hear that stuff, but they don't love hockey down there, it's football country" (THE HOCKEY NEWS, 2/9 issue).

    LARGER THAN LIFE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Tim Wharnsby writes of Cherry, "Love him or hate him, you can't deny his huge popularity," as there is a "movie about Cherry's life currently in the preproduction stage." Cherry's passion for hockey and for his "Coach's Corner" segment "has not dwindled," and he is "as bombastic as ever." Two issues have Cherry "up in arms these days: He wishes the NHL would adopt no-touch icing to protect the players from serious injury, and he can't stand critics who want to rid the game of fighting." Cherry: "The only people against fighting are the people who don't pay to get in or the people who don't go to the games. I see that (survey) that said 54[%] of the people don't want fighting in hockey. But if you look at it closely, over 70[%] of the people at the games want to see fighting. So let's see, we're going to change hockey for the people that don't go or aren't involved in the games. That's the logic that these people put out there" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/5).

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  • MLB.com Begins Marketing Lower Rates For Game Packages

    MLB.com Reduces Price
    Of Game Packages By $10
    MLB.com last night began marketing its ‘09 video subscription offerings, lowering the price of both its premium-level and standard out-of-market game packages by $10 to $109.95 and $79.95, respectively. The premium package will include newly added live game DVR-type functionality, as well as options to select announcers from both home- and away-team feeds, as well as audio from radio announcers. The packages will also feature a new video player as a result of MLBAM’s new alignment with Adobe Flash after a long relationship with Microsoft. The DVR functionality, allowing for a pausing, rewinding and fast-forwarding of the video stream, is believed to be a first for mass-market consumption of live online video.

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  • Media Notes

    Many Boston TV Stations Not Sending 
    Reporters To Cover Red Sox Spring Training
    In Boston, Jessica Heslam reports some Boston-area TV stations are "scaling back their Red Sox spring training coverage" in part due to the economic climate. WHDH-NBC "isn't sending a sports reporter or anchor to spring training for the first time in the station's history," while WFXT-Fox "may not send anyone to cover spring training either." WBZ-CBS is sending a sports anchor and a reporter from February 16-18 and WCVB-ABC is sending an anchor "for six days next Thursday." Meanwhile, NESN, which is 80% owned by the Red Sox, is "expanding its spring training coverage" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/5).

    OFFENSIVE FOUL: OUTSPORTS.com's Jim Buzinski reported ESPN has "apologized for and stopped running an ad promoting its NBA coverage" featuring the net's Mike Breen attempting to give Suns C Shaquille O'Neal a "fist kiss." The ad was "really weird and problematic," mainly for O'Neal's "reaction to Mike Breen asking for the 'fist kiss.'" Buzinski: "Shaq's revulsion at Breen went on too long, which is why I can see the point of those who found it homophobic. It didn't bother me a great deal, but this stuff is all in the eye of the watcher, so kudos to ESPN for being sensitive" (OUTSPORTS.com, 2/2).

    NOTES: The AP's Eli Segall reported more than 12 baseball and New Jersey state officials attended MLB Net's new studio unveiling yesterday, including New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine. The studios are "expected to bring 200 new jobs to the state" (AP, 2/4)....HDNet will soon debut a new weekly television series, which will bring Ring of Honor Wrestling to a national television audience for the first time (HDNet).

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