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MEDIA REAX: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Brian Powell writes, "It seems like a great hire on the surface, and while hiring Ohlmeyer is certainly a splash, you can't help but remember some of his more famous hires for Monday Night Football. Namely one, Dennis Miller. ... His credentials are obviously there, and while I would have rather ESPN hire someone who wasn't once on their board, he'll certainly know what he's talking about" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 7/14). FANHOUSE.com's Michael David Smith writes Ohlmeyer is "well respected in the sports media world," though he is "known to many as the man who was savaged by Norm MacDonald and David Letterman during a hilarious 'Late Show' interview" in '98 (FANHOUSE.com, 7/14). The Washington Times' Tim Lemke on his Twitter feed writes Ohlmeyer's "most notable accomplishment in broadcasting has to be the hiring of Conan O'Brien in '93" (TWITTER.com, 7/14). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio notes the ESPN ombudsman "typically posts a monthly column, which sometimes gets lost in the alphabet junkyard known as ESPN.com," but perhaps Ohlmeyer's "reputation and profile will prompt ESPN to publicize his work more aggressively" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 7/14).
IMG Will Sell Local Language TV Rights For
NFL Games, Including Super Bowl, Pro Bowl
WORLDWIDE LEADER: In Manchester, Owen Gibson writes ESPN, "due to launch a new UK channel in time for the beginning" of the EPL season, is "poised to sign a vital production deal." ESPN "will commission IMG Sports Media ... to make the studio shows and ancillary programming for its Premier League coverage and any other rights it wins." Sky TV cameras "will provide its on-pitch coverage but IMG will take responsibility for other content, some of which is also likely to be shared with its ESPN Soccernet website." The deal is the "latest manifestation of ESPN's efforts to keep costs down by outsourcing retail, customer service and production to third parties." The outsourcing is also "expected to extend to programming around other rights that ESPN is seeking" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 7/14).
Fox' Fantasy Games Will Be Promoted
During Tonight's MLB All-Star Game
WEB SITE RESTRUCTURING KEY TO DEAL: Levy credited the recent restructuring of FoxSports.com in which the operation reports directly to the network’s broadcast sports component instead of Fox Interactive Media as a significant breakthrough to striking the deal. Levy: “That was big. And you look at all the assets they bring to bear between the national reach, the regionals, the Web site and so forth, I think we reach 100% of football fans in the country now. So that’s absolutely huge for us. We think we can do great things together.” Open Sports, meanwhile, is completing a $4M private placement that will add to a prior $10M round of venture capital used to start the company. The new money comes from the original Open Sports investors who were asked to re-invest at 40% of their prior commitment.
Brennaman Plans To Keep
Working Through '13
KIND OF BLUE: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin wrote Rogers Sportsnet's Blue Jays broadcasts, led by play-by-play voice Jamie Campbell, are "unsatisfying." Campbell has "staked no claim to the team with either a flair for language or his keen insight into baseball," and the "patter with his analysts is painful." Perhaps a "permanent sidekick would help." The rotation of Pat Tabler, Rance Mulliniks and Darrin Fletcher as analyst is "tough enough for viewers; how must it be for Campbell to frame each analyst properly?" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 7/12).
RUFFLING FEATHERS: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes FS Midwest analyst Al Hrabosky “remained angry Monday that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had blasted him for critical on-air comments" about Cardinals C Yadier Molina not running out a pop fly during Friday's game against the Cubs. La Russa on his KTRS-AM program Sunday said Hrabosky “should be ashamed of himself.” Hrabosky said that he was “merely doing his job by bringing up the fact that Molina had stopped running, with bat in hand, on a popup that was dropped and resulted in a forceout.” Hrabosky said that he "hasn’t discussed the matter with La Russa since, and probably won’t do so until the Cards return to action Friday” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/14). La Russa said of Hrabosky criticizing Molina, "I think it's a bunch of malarkey. ... Nobody gives more effort than Yadier Molina" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/13).
NOTES: WGN-AM Cubs radio broadcaster Ron Santo missed the team's weekend series against the Cardinals after leaving Friday's game "with what later was diagnosed as a gall bladder infection." Santo is slated to return after the All-Star break (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 7/12)....In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote ESPN's MLB broadcasting crew is "full of mediocre talent." Fox' Tim McCarver is "probably the best in the bunch," and Fox' Eric Karros is "closing fast" (TAMPABAY.com, 7/12).
In Boston, John Powers writes while the USOC's new U.S. Olympic Network is a "worthy idea, the timing of last week's announcement is terrible." There was "no need to break the news now, not with the vote for the 2016 Games coming in October and before the awarding of the TV rights." With the USOC and IOC "still wrangling over distribution of those and other sponsorship fees, it was silly at best to provoke the Lords of the Rings, who now have a legitimate reason for another American smackdown, especially with Chicago a leading 2016 contender" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/14).
DYNAMIC DUO: GOLFWEEK's Martin Kaufmann wrote NBC and ESPN during their coverage of the U.S. Women's Open "gave viewers plenty of action, and that's never a bad thing." NBC's pairing of Dottie Pepper and Johnny Miller in the main studio was reminiscent of the net's "paradigm-shifting college basketball team of three decades ago: Billy Packer, Al McGuire and anchor Dick Enberg." Viewers are "not likely to see Pepper and Miller together again anytime soon, but they made for a winning combination" (GOLFWEEK.com, 7/13).
EARNING KUDOS: ESPN's Bob Ley examined South Africa's readiness for the '10 FIFA World Cup at the one-year-out mark on Sunday's "Outside The Lines," and SI.com's Richard Deitsch wrote, "Full marks go to features producer Nancy Devaney, who won't be seen on camera but whom Ley said was a vital part of an informative and visually sumptuous 30 minutes of broadcast journalism" (SI.com, 7/13).