SBD/Issue 152/Sports Media

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  • ESPN, NFL Net Draft Coverage Gives Sneak Preview Of Selections

    Viewers Of ESPN, NFL Network Saw Draftees
    Celebrating Before Goodell's Announcements
    Due to reporting and "cameras pointed at players wherever they are -- ESPN alone had 19 remotes Saturday" -- viewers of NFL Draft coverage on both ESPN and NFL Network "saw draftees with cellphones celebrating before getting official word," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. After a shot of OT Andre Smith "showed he already knew the Cincinnati Bengals would make him their first-round pick," ESPN's Chris Berman said, "These guys can't keep a secret. And why should they?" (USA TODAY, 4/27). In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley noted ESPN viewers saw DT B.J. Raji "with a cell phone connected to his left ear, surrounded by family and friends," and at some point Raji "told his brood news that made them leap out of their seats." The Packers selected Raji with the No. 9 pick in the first round, and viewers "got the news of the selection a good 5 minutes before Commissioner Roger Goodell called out Raji's name" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 4/26). In Albany, Pete Dougherty noted ESPN had cameras "on so many first-round draft choices, any shot of one talking on his cell phone means that he is about to be selected." Dougherty wrote, "Talk about taking the mystery out of the proceedings. ... I'm not sure of the best solution, but it is taking a lot of the drama from Goodell's announcements" (TIMESUNION.com, 4/25). In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote, "Give ESPN and the NFL Network credit for showing many of the draft picks getting their selection phone call right before they were picked, but knowing the pick before ... Goodell announced it took some fun out of the draft, didn't it?" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/26).

    TALENT REVIEW: In K.C., Jason Whitlock writes ESPN's Herm Edwards "turned in a disastrous and distracting performance during the two-day NFL draft." Edwards "spent two days on air making damn sure he didn't offer one opinion that could potentially put him at odds with an NFL owner, general manager or remotely talented player." Whitlock: "Edwards was so bad that my sources in Dallas reported that [former ESPN analyst] Emmitt Smith could be heard shouting: 'I would've have did a better job!'" (K.C. STAR, 4/27). But USA TODAY's Hiestand writes Edwards "showed he can avoid coachspeak" with his take on Vikings draft pick WR Percy Harvin. Edwards: "This is one of those guys ... he's going to have a wreck. So, you better have a good body-and-fender man" (USA TODAY, 4/27). Meanwhile, the ST. PETE TIMES' Jones wrote ESPN analysts Steve Young, Mel Kiper and Keyshawn Johnson "were outstanding all day" on Saturday. As for Kiper, "no one knows more, and no one delivered more." And NFL Network's Jon Gruden's "true calling might be as an analyst." The "most interesting moment was Gruden predicting" that the Buccaneers, his former team, would pick Kansas State QB Josh Freeman (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 4/26). THE BIG LEAD writes, "Really liked Jon Gruden’s work on the NFL Network set. ... He had a few great lines Sunday" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 4/27).

    Writer Lauds ESPN For Its
    Coverage Of '09 NFL Draft
    WORLDWIDE LEADER: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay notes ESPN has televised the draft for the 30 years, for which the net deserves "our praise and wonderment." ESPN "does it with vigor," as the coverage was "still cranking into Sunday" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/27). But in Indiana, Todd Golden wrote, "I can no longer abide the hype around an 'event' that basically boils down to an NFL flunky announcing names at a podium." The problem with "turning a news event into entertainment is that they continually have to feed the beast to make sure the draft continues to ... entertain," and "much of the draft overkill can be blamed" on ESPN (Terre Haute TRIBUNE-STAR, 4/26). Meanwhile, in S.F., Rich Lieberman wrote ESPN "has a blatant bias toward" the Raiders. After the Raiders picked WR Darrius Heyward-Bey with the No. 7 overall selection, ESPN's Chris Mortensen "did everything but a five-minute stand-up comedy act in response" (SFGATE.com, 4/26).

    UNINTENTIONAL COMEDY: In Philadelphia, John Gonzalez writes of all the "awkward, hilarious, train-wreck interviews conducted over the weekend, the best featured" ESPN's Erin Andrews, former Univ. of Texas WR Quan Cosby and comedian Bill Cosby. Every time Andrews asked Quan Cosby a question, "his cell rang and he answered it." Meanwhile, Bill Cosby was wearing a Temple Univ. jersey and helmet, so his words "were muffled by his face mask." Gonzalez notes the interview "went on for about five painful, amusing minutes" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/27). THE BIG LEAD wrote of the segment, "The potential was there for a decent segment, but geez, that was painful" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 4/26).

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  • NFL To Look Into Use Of Twitter And Web To Reveal Draft Picks Early

    NFL Will Review How Teams Announce Picks,
    Determine If Policy Needs To Be Developed
    The NFL will look into teams "revealing their draft picks on their Web sites and through Twitter even before commissioner Roger Goodell might have announced the selections," according to the AP. The Patriots planned to "use Twitter to announce" their picks in real time, and the Chargers planned to "post their picks" on their Web site when they made a selection. NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello: "After the draft, we will review how the teams are announcing their picks and determine whether we need to develop a policy" (AP, 4/24). In Boston, Christopher Gasper noted the Patriots' three trades and four draft selections "were posted on their Twitter feed prior to being announced on television." Patriots Exec Dir of Media Relations Stacey James in an e-mail said: "The 5,000 Patriots fans following realpatriots on Twitter were the first outside the team draft room to learn of the team's three trades and four second-round draft choices. It was a great addition to what is always an exciting day for football fans." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy was tweeting from the Draft, but his announcements of picks "did not come prior to the television broadcast" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/26). The BOSTON GLOBE's Gasper on Saturday also reported the Chargers' Web site featured a "pick cam" located outside the team's war room. As soon as the Chargers made a pick, a team official planned to "bring a card" to the camera. The Chargers also offered a "service in which fans can sign up to receive a text message announcing each of the team's picks" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25).

    TROJAN HORSE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Hannah Karp reports the Jets Saturday, after trading for the No. 5 pick to select QB Mark Sanchez, revealed the pick on Twitter, "texted it to their Jets Wireless subscribers and posted it to their Web site, all before ... Goodell made it to the podium to make the pick official" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/27). Meanwhile, CNBC.com's Darren Rovell noted Sanchez is "briskly picking up followers at a 150-per-hour pace" for his Twitter feed following his selection Saturday (CNBC.com, 4/26). Sanchez has 7,993 followers at presstime (THE DAILY).

    WEEKEND TWEETS: More than 48,000 fans followed the Draft via the NFL's Twitter pages this past weekend. Tweeting for the first time, Goodell amassed 3,690 followers, second to NFL Network's Rich Eisen, who drew 4,383 followers. Eisen posted 309 updates during the two-day draft. NFL Network analyst Jamie Dukes had more than 1,500 followers (John Ourand, Staff Writer). NFL Network’s Fran Charles said of Goodell using Twitter durign the Draft, "What is this world coming to?” (“NFL Total Access,” NFL Network, 4/24).

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  • Is Lack Of Exciting Racing Driving NASCAR Cup Ratings Down?

    NASCAR's '09 Ratings Down
    Compared To Last Year
    The NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron's 499 from Talladega Superspeedway yesterday earned a 4.5/11 overnight Nielsen rating on Fox, down 13.5% from a 5.2/11 mark from last year (THE DAILY). In Florida, Mark DeCotis reported eight Sprint Cup races have been run this year and “not one has drawn a larger TV audience than it did a year ago.” NASCAR’s ’09 ratings prior to the Aaron's 499 “have slipped 13[%] compared to last year.” Morris Communications writer Don Coble, who has covered NASCAR since '79, said, "I truly believe ratings are down because of the COT (new race car), not the economy. If the economy is bad and people aren’t going to races, it should increase ratings, not kill them." Coble noted because of the COT, there is "no such thing as side-by-side racing on the 1.5-mile and 2-mile tracks." Racing Web site The Daily Planet blogger John Daly: “This is a sport that demands 38 of your weekends a year to be a regular viewer. Add on top of that the increased commercial load, it’s been difficult for the fans to digest the fact that when they get to the TV perhaps they’re seeing a little bit less of the race than they had in the past because of the increased commercials and sponsorships inside the program.” But NASCAR Managing Dir of Corporate Communications Ramsey Poston said, “We tend to look at ratings over the long term. We’re still at a place where we’re reaching about six and a half million households and about 10 million viewers per week. … It’s a little bit too early to be able to identify any particular trend” (FLORIDA TODAY, 4/26).

    CAUTION FLAG: In Charlotte, David Poole wrote the economy “can be used to explain a drop in attendance and sponsorship issues, but it doesn’t explain why television ratings have been down in recent weeks.” With the ratings down for Talladega, where racing is “almost guaranteed to be compelling,” it “will at least suggest a deeper, more systematic problem for the sport” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/26). In Alabama, Josh Moon writes Talladega “continues to dish out the best racing, the most exciting finishes and the best TV ratings.” If the “back-and-forth competition isn’t there, very few people want to watch,” and if “you need proof of that, look at the numbers for tracks like Chicagoland, Phoenix or Kansas City.” Those tracks “suffer in the ratings” because the “racing stinks” (MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER, 4/27).

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  • People & Personalities: Jazz' Hundley Signing Off After Season

    Hundley Retiring After Calling
    More Than 3,000 Games
    In Salt Lake City, Ross Siler reported Jazz officials Friday announced that radio broadcaster "Hot" Rod Hundley, "one of the last of his generation of broadcasting greats," will retire following this season after 35 years. Hundley, is the "last remaining member of the original New Orleans Jazz staff," and he called his 3,000th Jazz game earlier this season. The Basketball HOF in '03 honored Hundley with the Curt Gowdy Media award (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 4/25). In Utah, Tim Buckley noted there are "two obvious in-house candidates" to replace Hundley: Salt Lake City's KFNZ-AM host David Locke and Triple-A PCL Salt Lake Bees announcer Steve Klauke. Jazz President Randy Rigby: "There will be myriad interested parties. We've got a great stable, I think, of talented people who work for us in various capacities in broadcasting" (DESERET NEWS, 4/25).

    MONDAY NIGHT HEAT: In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported Marv Albert's contract with Westwood One radio to call "MNF" games has expired, and the company wants to cut his annual salary of around $500,000 "in half, maybe more." Sources indicated that Albert's "initial reaction was to nix" the offer, and some are "already speculating about his replacement." WFAN-AM personalities Ian Eagle and Kevin Harlan have the "inside track." However, Raissman noted Boomer Esiason "definitely will be back" as the analyst for Westwood One's "MNF" broadcasts. A source said that Esiason's contract, worth about $600,000 annually, stipulated "if Westwood One kept its NFL package Boomer would return" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/26).

    QUITE FRANKLY: ESPN's Stephen A. Smith's tenure at the net comes to an end Thursday, and in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes, "What had been abundantly clear among ESPN's TV and radio audiences from the start -- that Smith was a self-promoting, race-based gasbag with almost no discernible sports credibility beyond maudlin genuflecting at the feet of big shots -- had finally become clear to ESPN's shot-callers." Smith said of his departure, "If this is where I stop, then at age 41, I'm not growing anymore, and I couldn't live with that" (N.Y. POST, 4/27).

    NOTES: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote if ABC/ESPN NBA announcer Jeff Van Gundy "called analysis of every NBA game, I would watch every NBA game" (TAMPABAY.com, 4/26)....Former Detroit News sports columnist Rob Parker, who left the newspaper after heavy criticism surrounding his questioning of then-Lions coach Rod Marinelli, today will start writing columns for WDIV-NBC's Web site (FREEP.com, 4/24).

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  • Media Notes

    FS Carolinas Broadcast Goes Out For About 20
    Minutes During Devils-Hurricanes Game
    In Raleigh, Luke DeCock reports Time Warner Cable customers "missed the final few minutes of the first period" of last night's Devils-Hurricanes Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game Six "after the standard-definition FS Carolinas broadcast was replaced by color bars." At approximately 8:10pm ET, the channel "went out for about 20 minutes." The broadcast was "restored late in the first intermission," and there were "no further interruptions." The HD feed "was uninterrupted" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 4/27).

    PLAYOFF RATINGS NOTES: CSN Bay Area's telecast of Thursday's Sharks-Ducks Game Four delivered an average 3.2 local rating, with more than 77,400 HHs in the S.F./San Jose market watching the game. Sharks playoff games on the net are averaging a 3.7 rating, up 164% from the 1.4 regular-season average (CSN)....In Dallas, Barry Horn reported the Spurs-Mavericks first-round Western Conference playoff series is "averaging a 10.0 rating locally" in the Dallas market. The series is averaging a 16.5 rating in San Antonio (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/25).

    PAY TO PLAY: In L.A., Jill Painter writes Lakers G Kobe Bryant's Web site, KB24.com, is "one of the premier athlete sites around." As a member of Bryant's fan club, you can "win a meet-and-greet" with Bryant or "design a pair of his shoes." There is a "blog, forum and all sorts of good stuff." Bryant also "will post at least once every couple of weeks" on the site. Fans can use these features "all for $49.95," as the "premium content is for paying customers only." Painter: "Wouldn't it be nice if those making millions recognized there are many who can't afford these luxuries anymore" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 4/27).

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