SBD/Issue 232/Sports Media

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  • NFL Approves Two-Year Extension Of NBC TV Deal Through '13

     NBC Will Continue To Broadcast 16 Regular-
    Season "Sunday Night Football" Games Annually
    The NFL and NBC Sports yesterday announced a two-year extension of their broadcast partnership through '13. NBC will continue to broadcast 16 regular-season "Sunday Night Football" games annually; each season's "NFL Opening Kickoff" Thursday Night primetime game; both playoff Wild Card Saturday games; and preseason primetime games. The flex scheduling system also will remain in place for the final seven weeks of the season. The agreement brings NBC's deal in line with those of CBS, Fox, ESPN and DirecTV, which also run through '13 (THE DAILY). BROADCASTING & CABLE's John Eggerton reported NBC's rights fees will jump about 2% from the current approximately $600M annual payment, "in line with what CBS and Fox paid for their extensions" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 8/19). Colts Owner Jim Irsay said, "It's a good thing to see that we're able to continue with our network partners and be on free TV and go forward. It's a challenge. ... You look at all the other sports and we're looking at our league and getting games sold out and dealing with the new economy and those sorts of things. I think that's where the challenge is right now. In terms of the NBC deal, and Fox and CBS and all the deals, we're very fortunate to be able to move forward and get deals done." Texans Owner Bob McNair added, "It just speaks to the strength of our brand and the popularity of the sport and the competitiveness of our teams, top to bottom" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/19).

    FUTURE PLANNING: In L.A., Joe Flint writes the NFL is "making a big bet on 2014," when its four major TV deals all are set to expire. The league either will have "incredible leverage or find itself in a deep hole, depending on what the media landscape looks like five years from now." While the NFL has "always been shrewd at negotiating steady increases in the rights fees it gets from its TV partners, having four major deals expire at the same time is not without risk." Some believe that it is "better to stagger your renewals as a hedge of protection should the economy go south or there is a big drop in ratings that could make the property less appealing." There also could be "fewer bidders in 2014, as broadcast networks are under extreme pressure to cut costs" (L.A. TIMES, 8/20). CABLEFAX DAILY notes there is going to be a "bidding bonanza surrounding pro football games" in '14, "setting the stage for possibly more games on cable" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 8/20).

    "Sunday Night Football Extra" Returning
    For Second Season
    STREAMING GAMES AGAIN THIS SEASON: The NFL and NBC Sports this year plan to stream all 17 "SNF" games live to NBCSports.com and NFL.com, marking the second consecutive season the two have produced "Sunday Night Football Extra." The effort consists of NBC's broadcast feed plus video from four other camera angles. The biggest change this year will come from the back-end technology being used to power the service. "Extra" will use an HD-quality player using Microsoft Silverlight. The video player will allow users to pause, rewind and slow the speed of the video. The Web sites will include analysis and in-game chats from NBC's talent. A source said Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio is slated to host one of the chats weekly (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

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  • Media Groups Send Joint Letter Of Protest To SEC Over New Policy

    Several News Organizations Protest SEC's
    Control Over Media Under New Policy
    The presidents of the Associated Press Managing Editors, the Associated Press Sports Editors and the American Society for News Editors yesterday "sent a joint letter of protest" to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive regarding the conference's new media policy, according to Scott Hotard of the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE. The presidents in the letter said they "still see significant problems with the most recent version" of the policy, despite the SEC's recent revisions. Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Managing Editor David Bailey: "It's still unreasonable. They basically softened their language a little bit, but they didn't really soften their restrictions any." AP Associate General Counsel David Tomlin: "The SEC and some other big college conferences want to become publishing and broadcasting businesses. It is constructed so the leagues can run their own publicity machines, make money and control their message, control their brand. What that means for fans is less opportunity to see independent, objective exposure. The leagues will cover themselves." SEC Associate Commissioner for Media Relations Charles Bloom "has answered several calls from editors and reporters in the past two weeks," and he said that "most of the complaints focus on the league's protection of in-game video and the reselling of photos" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 8/20).

    POLICY NOT AIMED AT CASUAL FAN: In N.Y., Belson & Arango in a front-page piece note the SEC's media policy is "aimed not at the casual fan who might post a few pictures of Saturday's football game on a personal Web site, but rather those who copy television broadcasts, create their own highlight reels and post them on sites charging for access or advertising." The SEC "did not identify specific Web sites that might have prompted its policy changes," but the rules are "part of an effort to protect a vast online video archive of games and file footage that the conference will market to fans this fall" as the SEC Digital Network. SEC officials said that they are "not trying to prevent fans from sending personal messages or brief descriptions of games to their Facebook pages or on Twitter, as some fans fear," as Bloom said that enforcing such a policy "would be impractical and counterproductive." Bloom: "We want to protect our rights to have video between the conference and its members, and ban the commercial sale of photo images. Fans can post photos on their site or Facebook page, but they can't be for sale" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/20). Bloom added, "We probably took traditional media rights language and tried to apply it in a new media world." In Birmingham, Jon Solomon notes the revised policy now says "personal messages of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 8/20).

    REVISIONS WERE NECESSARY: In Dallas, Jarrett Rush wrote an "all-out ban on something that you don't necessarily understand typically does more harm than good." Rush: "It seems to me, there is an opportunity here. The conference should Tweet near-continuous updates on the game for those who want it. For football update after each play. For basketball, same thing. Beat someone to the punch" (DALLASNEWS.com, 8/19). But YAHOO SPORTS' Holly Anderson wrote, "While it's entirely logical and sound for the conference (and by extension, the television networks), to shore up protections for this enormous revenue stream they've got control of, are they really going to bring the hammer down on bloggers like yours truly who want to share Eric Berry's latest interception with our audience?" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/19).

    MISSING THE LARGER POINT: CNBC's Darren Rovell notes the most popular bloggers are "writing up their relevant posts while watching the game on their couch, where the SEC's rules become moot." These blogs are "well written by the biggest fans, they are willing to talk about all the rumors that every fan wants to hear and, despite having less access, come off as being closer to the team and fan sentiment than most beat writers" (CNBC.com, 8/20).

    Rhodes One Of Several Jets That Have
    Embraced Idea Of Using Twitter
    NFL TWITTER POLICY IN THE WORKS: In DC, Mark Maske reported NFL owners yesterday "discussed the league's in-the-works Twitter policy," but the league "did not announce a new policy." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the policy is "not completed." He added that the NFL "views Twitter as a positive tool that can be used to promote the sport" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/19). Meanwhile, the AP's Dennis Waszak Jr. noted while some teams have banned players from using Twitter, the Jets "have openly embraced" the site. Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins: "We really made a conscious decision that we were going to embrace social networking because it's an outgrowth of our motto that we talk about internally: Remove the barriers. Football, more than other sports, probably has more barriers that you have to overcome. With the helmet, you don't really get to see players' faces or expressions. Twitter enables you to communicate with players directly, one-on-one." Higgins approached Jets S Kerry Rhodes and a "few others about a year ago about becoming involved with Twitter," and the Jets "set up accounts and let the players have fun -- while sticking to some house rules, of course" (AP, 8/17).



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  • Jay Glazer Upset With ESPN's Handling Of His Reporting On Favre

    Glazer Upset With ESPN's
    Handling Of His Favre Reporting
    Fox Sports' Jay Glazer appeared on WAXY-AM yesterday morning to discuss ESPN's treatment of the Vikings signing of QB Brett Favre, a story he first reported. Glazer said, "Two days ago I had to fight ESPN all damn day because they tried to put my story up as wrong." Glazer: "One of those guys -- I don't know which one it was -- kind of mocked me in the story." More Glazer: "I like a lot, an awful lot, of guys over at that network … but when you get petty and make fun of me, don't do that with me. If you're going to say something, just say something you'd be willing to say to me.” When it was suggested he take on the ESPN analysts in the octagon MMA-style, Glazer said, "I wouldn't mind punching one of these guys" (WAXY-AM, 8/19). ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys via e-mail wrote of the comments, "I don't know who he is referring to. We aggressively credited Fox Sports all day Monday on the report and Jay was praised on our air when it was officially announced" (THE DAILY). But the GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin wrote the "antipathy between" Fox and ESPN in reporting on the Favre story was "palpable." Reporting the story was a "major coup for Glazer against the 'four letters,' as some Fox employees label ESPN." Meanwhile, Dowbiggin wrote "expect the competition to get nasty," especially from ESPN's Adam Schefter, who "must justify ESPN's decision to snap him up after missing on the Favre story" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 8/19).

    STILL A NETWORK STAR: In Minneapolis, Scoggins & Zulgad note the Vikings' first three regular-season games are all slated to air on Fox at 1:00pm ET, and Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell said that the net is "looking to broaden the audience to which it sends Vikings games in those first three weeks" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/20).

    ENOUGH ALREADY: WFAN-AM’s Mike Francesa said the media members changing their opinions about Favre after he came out of retirement a second time is "one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen." Francesa: "Let me put it bluntly: it is a joke. It is an absolute joke. All you’re hearing now is the guys who kissed Favre’s rear end for years feel like jilted lovers now" ("Mike Francesa," YES Network, 8/19). Meanwhile, in Nashville, Joe Biddle wrote if he has to "ingest the hype that every TV or radio personality is spewing" related to Favre, he "may close the blinds, unplug the high def, throw my radios out the window" (TENNESSEAN.com, 8/19).

    COMEDY GOLD: CBS' David Letterman dedicated his Top 10 list last night to Favre's comeback. Letterman said of Favre, "He won a Super Bowl and was a revered legend in Green Bay and everybody said, 'When you're done, don't play anyplace else.' ...  Now, the most heinous thing he could have done is playing for the hated rival Minnesota Vikings." Letterman jokingly added, "He sat right here on the show one night and I said, 'Is it true you're not retired,' and he took a swing at me" ("Late Show," CBS, 8/19).

    10) “Blew his savings on a two-day taco binge.”
    9) “No reason to stay home every day now that ‘Guiding Light’ has been cancelled.”
    8) “Worried Obama’s death panels might try to take him out.”
    7) “In this economy, someone offers a job, you grab it.”
    6) “Wants to raise and then dash hopes of another city’s fans.”
    5) “Couldn’t take another trip to Pottery Barn with his wife.”
    4) “Lured by a lucrative contract and free jar of Icy Hot.”
    3) “‘Concussions made me krazy!’”
    2) “Who could resist chance to spend glorious winter in Minnesota?”
    1) “Oh oh, wait. He just retired again.”

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  • Versus To Air 54 Games During '09-10 NHL Regular Season

    Perennial TV Favorite Red Wings Making
    Eight Appearances On Versus This Season
    The NHL yesterday revealed its TV schedule in the U.S. and Canada for the '09-10 regular season. Versus will air a total of 54 games, and the net will have exclusive U.S. rights to the time slot for 26 of those games. The Penguins, Red Wings, Rangers, Blackhawks and Flyers each will appear eight times on the net. NBC will air 10 games, starting with the '10 Winter Classic featuring Flyers-Bruins at Fenway Park. For the Canada-based broadcasters, highlights include the CBC marking the 100th anniversary of the Canadiens with a special Friday night edition of "Hockey Night In Canada." Meanwhile, TSN will air 87 games, with 70 broadcasts including at least one Canadian team. TSN2 will air 35 games from non-Canadian market (NHL). The CP reported TSN is "carrying the lion's share of games among five national partners" in Canada.  TSN gets "three rounds of playoffs and will carry the NHL entry draft and lottery," and it will show 12 games featuring the Penguins. Meanwhile, the CBC will air 76 games, "including 25 Canadian matchups, as well as exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup final." RDS will broadcast all 82 Canadiens games, plus another 39 games, and the NHL Network will "televise up to 78 live games in the U.S. and up to 40 in Canada." Rogers Sportsnet Ontario yesterday also announced that it will show 28 Maple Leafs games regionally (CP, 8/19).

    NOT MAKING THE CUT: YAHOO SPORTS' Greg Wyshynski noted the Hurricanes are "going from one game" last season to "zero games on Versus during the NHL regular season." Wyshynski wrote the net should get the Hurricanes, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals last season, "on at least as many times as the Calgary Flames (once) or Phoenix Coyotes (once); but Versus is paying top coin for these rights, and believes it understands how to draw the numbers to justify it." Other teams without games appearing on Versus during the regular season include the Ducks, Thrashers, Oilers, Senators and Canucks (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/19). Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford said the team's lack of appearances on Versus is "disappointing." Rutherford: "I don't understand the people doing the scheduling when they say they're trying to promote the league. If they want a big-market team on, have a big-market team on, but have all the other teams on as well" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 8/20).

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  • Man Of Steal? Shaq May Have Taken Idea For Show From Nash

    Did Shaq Steal Nash's Idea For Reality Show?
    Suns G Steve Nash originally mentioned to then-teammate C Shaquille O'Neal around February '08 that he was pursuing a reality show in which Nash would be "taking on professional athletes in their own sport," which is the basis for O'Neal's current ABC show "Shaq Vs.," according to Paola Boivin of the ARIZONA REPUBLIC. The topic "didn't come up again until early" last season, when O'Neal "told the team he would be starring in a new reality show" with the same concept Nash had. A Suns official said he heard Nash reply, "You mean the idea you stole from me." Nash is listed as an Exec Producer of O'Neal's show, and Boivin reports Nash eventually "sought out an entertainment lawyer," which is why he has the on-screen title and the "compensation that comes with it." A source close to Nash said, "Steve was pissed. He couldn't believe Shaq's lack of integrity." However, the source added, "He's moved on. He really does want the show to succeed." Nash did not confirm the story, saying, "We collaborated on parts of the show." But Boivin notes the incident "set the tone for some shaky chemistry on the court" and might partially explain the "fractured relationships that defined the Suns' struggles last season" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/20).

    THE GENTLE GIANT: ESPN's J.A. Adande said of O’Neal during Tuesday’s debut episode of “Shaq Vs.,” "He's fun to watch. I like the big entertainer. You have to appreciate the fact that he didn't stack the show so he's going to beat everybody.” FanHouse.com's Jay Mariotti asked, "How does Shaq lose at his own show? Ben (Roethlisberger) beat him, right? I guess that's part of the challenge of it” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 8/19). Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard said, "I'm impressed by his charisma, impressed by his ability to draw. … He's the most charismatic guy in sports." ESPN’s Michael Wilbon added, “He's the most charismatic guy in the sport where charisma matters most: in basketball" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/19).

    REALLY FOLLOWING IN SHAQ'S FOOTSTEPS? ESPN’s “PTI” discussed a recent article by Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi which wondered whether Magic C Dwight Howard might become "too preoccupied with non-basketball fame" in a similar vein to what happened with O'Neal when he left the Magic in ’96. The Herald’s Le Batard noted Howard is "already working on a movie and is interested in entertainment projects." ESPN's Wilbon said, “You don't have to be in a big market … to get rich and to have people notice you and to have endorsers come to you or to have movie deals come to you." But Le Batard added, "It helps. You can't say it doesn't help to be in Los Angeles" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/19).



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  • Madden Not Regretting Retirement, Still Focusing On Football

    Madden Says He Has Yet To Feel
    Full Effects Of His Retirement
    Retired NFL broadcaster John Madden said he harbors no regrets over his decision earlier this year to walk away after more than three decades behind the microphone. The 73-year-old Madden, making a tour of interviews to help promote the recently released EA Sports game “Madden NFL 10,” said he has yet to feel the full effects of his broadcasting retirement -- he was recently in Ohio for the Pro Football HOF induction ceremonies, has been at several practices recently for the Raiders and 49ers and watched every preseason game last weekend either live or on tape delay. “Things haven’t really changed yet. My routine, for now, has been sort of the same. I'm still around the game of football, and following what’s happening. But it’s going to be different. There’s no remorse, no regret, no wishing I was still there, though,” Madden said. “I did the right thing at the right time. I’m going to miss it, for sure. I enjoyed every moment of it. But that doesn’t mean you do it forever.” As for the new NBC announcing tandem of Madden’s longtime partner Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, Madden predictably praised the pair’s performance during the Bills-Titans HOF Game. Madden: “They did a great job. I enjoyed watching them. They’re going to be just fine. This is Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth we’re talking about.”

    I AM THE GAME: Madden, as has been his custom, consulted with EA on high-level strategic elements and the overall look of the namesake videogame, delving into particularities such as quarterback drops and the emergence of the Wildcat offensive set. But he remains uninvolved when it comes to business, marketing or technological elements of the game. “What I’m after is the overall look and the realism of the game, the way it plays. Does it reflect the current reality of the NFL? And I think we’ve done some really good things on the [quarterback] drops, how running backs finish runs, the gang tackling.” Meanwhile, EA Sports today will release results from its second annual survey of football fan intelligence in partnership with the Univ. of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center. And once again, the research showed players of “Madden” are demonstrably more versed in the strategy, rules, history and business of football. The latest survey, polling more than 9,000 players of “Madden” and football fans at large, also indicated “Madden” players are roughly three times as likely to consume at least 16 hours of NFL-related programming per week during the football season compared to non-players of the game, and are nearly four times as likely to not let other events interfere with watching a particular NFL game. “This is not surprising,” Madden said. “We’ve been around the game for a long time, and have been the No. 1 [sports] game [in the U.S.] for a long time. There’s a cultural resonance there, and we’re definitely a big part of building a deeper and more passionate fan.”

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  • People & Personalities: Jerry Remy Returns To NESN Booth Friday

    Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy will return to the NESN broadcast booth on a part-time basis beginning with tomorrow's game against the Yankees at Fenway Park. Remy in May took a leave of absence to recover from the effects of cancer surgery, including a battle with depression (NESN). Remy, who has not broadcast a game since May 30, will "ease back into his role alongside play-by-play voice Don Orsillo" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/20).

    BEST WISHES: Showtime boxing analyst Nick Charles yesterday announced that he is "taking time off to fight stage four urothelial carcinoma," a form of cancer (LATIMES.com, 8/19). Charles, who began treatment last week at the Univ. of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, said, "Having bladder cancer is clearly the greatest challenge of my life. ... I have a positive attitude, a strong Christian faith, and an amazing support system especially within the boxing family" (ESPN.com, 8/19).

    Kevin Millar Seen As One Player
    Best Equipped For Broadcasting
    LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: MLB Network Senior VP/Production John Entz said that Blue Jays 1B Kevin Millar and D'Backs 1B Tony Clark are the "current or recent ballplayers best equipped to succeed in the broadcast world," while MLB Net analyst Harold Reynolds chose Angels CF Torii Hunter, Tigers CF Curtis Granderson and Cardinals P John Smoltz. Twins analyst Bert Blyleven selected Twins RF Michael Cuddyer, while Giants announcer Duane Kuiper chose Giants 1B Rich Aurilia (MLB.com, 8/19).

    SAM I AM: On Long Island, Neil Best reported WCBS-TV sports anchor Sam Ryan will remain at the net, contrary to a report that she would leave WCBS "at the end of the month" and do freelance work for SportsNet N.Y. Ryan said that WCBS "offered her a chance to work three days a week -- Monday through Wednesday -- as its sports anchor, giving her the family time she desired." Ryan this fall will continue to work for CBS College Sports (NEWSDAY.com, 8/18).

    NOTES: In Lexington, John Clay wrote new ESPN "MNF" analyst Jon Gruden is "everything I expected him to be in the booth," interacting with fellow broadcasters Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico in ways that predecessor Tony Kornheiser "never could." Clay: "He's excited. He's knowledgeable" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 8/19)....Former U.S. gymnast Dominique Dawes currently is finishing a six-week internship with N.Y.'s WNBC-TV, "learning about behind-the-scenes TV work and editing her own pieces." Dawes covered the '08 Beijing Games for Yahoo Sports, and is "planning to help" with the '10 Vancouver Olympics (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/20)....Albany's WNYT-NBC's Andrew Catalon will handle play-by-play duties for WNBC's coverage of Saturday's Bears-Giants preseason game, filling in for Bob Papa, who has an "HBO boxing conflict" (TIMESUNION.com, 8/18).

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  • Media Notes

    Wilpon Reportedly Talks To SportsNet
    N.Y. All The Time About Its Coverage
    SportsNet N.Y. President Steve Raab, in a Q&A with the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman as part of the paper's Long Toss feature, said the network talks to Mets Owner Fred Wilpon, COO Jeff Wilpon and President Saul Katz "all the time about our coverage." Raab: "But a lot of that philosophical positioning or the actual basis for this network, that doesn't get talked about when difficult situations come up. Those discussions happened quite a bit earlier and our ownership has never wavered about what this business is about." Raab added of the Mets, "We'll be critical when they deserve it and we'll praise them when they deserve to be praised. ... They may ask us, 'Why did you take that angle?' Or they will tell us they find something interesting. But there is no hidden agenda" (WSJ.com, 8/19).

    SECOND DOWN: CINCYJUNGLE.com's Josh Kirkendall wrote the second episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" featuring the Bengals was "just as good" as the premiere, though "not as controversial." The show mostly "counted down until the team's first preseason game" against the Saints. However, Bengals Exec VP Katie Blackburn is "coming off very badly in the show" during coverage of contract negotiations with No. 6 overall draft pick OT Andre Smith (CINCYJUNGLE.com, 8/19). Smith's agent Alvin Keels said, "We want to be paid our slot. We want to be paid a little bit more than seven so that we can come in and play football." Blackburn: "It's just a lot of money, and at some point we feel that we have to keep the deal more in line with what's happened in the rest of the first round" ("Hard Knocks," HBO, 8/19).

    TEAMING UP: EDITOR & PUBLISHER's Joe Strupp reported "at least 49 daily newspapers, most with circulations of 100,000 or higher, have joined a new national sports content-sharing alliance that plans to begin trading stories and columns in September." The papers include the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, among others. Plain Dealer Sports Editor Roy Hewitt said that the "only restrictions are that stories be reprinted with the proper bylines and credit and any online use include just a few paragraphs and a link back to the home newspaper's site" (EDITORANDPUBLISHER.com, 8/19).

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