SBD/Issue 236/Sports Media

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  • SEC May Announce More Revisions To New Media Policy By Today

    Gannett Directs Its Newspapers Not To
    Sign On To SEC's New Media Policy
    The SEC "continues to look into its new media policy amid mounting complaints from news organizations and is expected to announce additional revisions this week, possibly as early as today," according to David Paschall of the CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS. SEC Associate Commissioner for Media Relations Charles Bloom yesterday confirmed that the conference "continues to review its policy," but declined any further comment. Several organizations, including the AP and Gannett, "refuse to comply with new league guidelines that limit audio and video usage on newspaper Web sites" (CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS, 8/26). EDITOR & PUBLISHER's Joe Strupp reported Gannett has directed its daily newspapers that cover the SEC "not to sign on to a controversial new credential policy," while the AP also has "declared it will not agree to the new rules." Gannett owns about a "dozen newspapers that would cover SEC teams in nine states," including the Nashville Tennessean and Louisville Courier-Journal. Gannett Senior Associate General Counsel Barbara Wall said, "We are reviewing the credentials and have several objections. We are hopeful that the SEC will revise them further." AP Associate General Counsel Dave Tomlin: "We are not signing. We don't want to agree to this. We don't want to go into a stadium under these credential terms" (, 8/24).

    OUT OF BOUNDS? In Louisville, Eric Crawford writes while the SEC is "well within its rights to sell broadcast rights to its games, there's a legitimate question over whether it can restrict news coverage of its events." Crawford: "If it wants to operate like a pro league, let it be treated like one. If it persists in this hardball policy -- some of which applies to ticketholders and amateur bloggers -- the SEC will take a big step in that direction. But as a college sports entity, it also has taken a big step out of bounds" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 8/26).

    FRUITFUL PARTNERSHIP: In Virginia, Bob Molinaro wrote with ESPN "providing the money and coverage, the SEC is poised to become the most widely disseminated, wealthiest college football league in the country." The conference ranks "second only to the NFL in brand appeal," and now is putting "even more daylight between itself and its so-called competitors." By partnering with ESPN, the SEC "gets to enjoy the fruits of endless hours of hype on all sorts of electronic devices" (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 8/24). Meanwhile, the SEC and ESPN have launched the SEC Academic Network, a new Web site designed to promote classroom endeavors of its member schools. The network, powered by technology, will feature content from each school ranging from research and economic development to civic engagement and service. The network launch will include five videos from each SEC school, and the videos will be updated throughout the year (SEC).

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  • CBS Sports' McManus Does Not See NFL RedZone As A Ratings Threat

    McManus Thinks RedZone
    Will Have Select Audience
    CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus expects the NFL's new RedZone channel to have limited distribution and to have little effect on his network's NFL ratings. The channel will provide live look-ins at NFL games when either team is inside the other club's 20-yard-line, the so-called "red zone." The NFL is launching RedZone this fall, and so far has distribution deals only with Dish Network and Comcast. "I think it will have a pretty select audience and I think the distribution will be limited, so I don't expect it to affect us that much," McManus told reporters yesterday during CBS' annual media NFL roundtable. Some have worried that if more widely available, the channel could attract viewers of the network games. Questioned if the issue of RedZone came up before CBS' recent two-year extension of its NFL deal, McManus replied, "We were pretty adamant that as long as it is a relatively small distribution, in other words it's on a premium channel, and that people have to pay a premium to get that service, I don't think it is going to hurt our numbers at all. But we are monitoring it very, very closely" (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

    WHAT IS NEXT FOR REDZONE? MULTICHANNEL NEWS' Mike Reynolds noted both Comcast and Dish Network last spring were "knocking helmets in different legal venues" with NFL Net, and he asked, "Who would have bet the over ... that Dish and Comcast would be the first carriers to put NFL RedZone into play?" While it "certainly is good news for NFL Network that these top players are in its RedZone huddle, the question at this writing remains: Who's next?" Distributors such as Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Charter and Suddenlink, which have kept NFL Network "on the sidelines over pricing and positioning issues, were expected to get in the game following Comcast's announcement last spring." But that "hasn't happened yet" (, 8/25). In Albany, Pete Dougherty noted cable companies that add NFL RedZone "must assign it to a sports tier." The NFL is "trying to secure a monthly fee on par with the Golf Channel, but many operators are balking at paying the same price for a seasonal, once-a-week channel opposed to a 24-hour network" (, 8/25).

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  • Big Ten Network, Atlantic Broadband Agree To Carriage Deal

    The Big Ten Network (BTN) and Atlantic Broadband "have come to a carriage agreement, ending a two-year impasse," according to Cory Giger of the ALTOONA MIRROR. BTN will be available on Atlantic Broadband's "value level of service, and other more expensive levels, beginning Sept. 1." Atlantic Broadband Senior VP & Regional GM David Dane indicated that the two sides "reached a multi-year agreement for the value level of service." Other BTN deals with cable operators "have called for a one-year commitment on the value or basic level." Dane said that about 90% of Atlantic Broadband subscribers "have at least the value level of service." Giger noted the deal comes "just in time" for Penn State Univ. (PSU) football fans, as the school's first three games this season will air on BTN (ALTOONA MIRROR, 8/25). Atlantic Broadband had been the "last major cable provider in the area that did not carry" BTN (Johnstown TRIBUNE-DEMOCRAT, 8/25).

    DOWN TO THE WIRE: In Pennsylvania, Derek Levarse notes Service Electric Broadband Cable in Wilkes-Barre "does not have a deal to carry" BTN, and BTN President Mark Silverman and Penn State AD Tim Curley yesterday said that it "looks 'extremely doubtful' that a deal will be reached with Service Electric in time for the start of the football season." Silverman said that a deal "would likely have to be in place by Friday or Monday in time to have" the September 5 Akron-PSU game available to Service Electric's approximately 65,000 subscribers (Wilkes-Barre TIMES LEADER, 8/26).

    GAINING TRACTION: In DC, Tim Lemke writes college sports networks "have gained big traction among sports fans and cable operators." Silverman said of BTN, which launched in August '07, "We're further along than I thought we'd be. I feel pretty good about our progress." TV sports analyst & consultant John Mansell:  "Most new networks that are sports networks are going to reach the subscribers they expect to reach within five years. So it's getting to that point where they are getting a good saturation level" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/26).

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  • CBS Announces Broadcast Partnerships For '09 NFL Season

    CBS Sports yesterday announced the broadcast announcer pairings for its '09 NFL game telecasts. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms return as the net's No. 1 team (CBS). There are “few changes at the very top, but there are some more the rest of the way down the line” (, 8/25).

    Jim Nantz
    Phil Simms
    Greg Gumbel
    Dan Dierdorf
    Dick Enberg
    Dan Fouts
    Kevin Harlan
    Solomon Wilcots
    Ian Eagle
    Rich Gannon
    Gus Johnson
    Steve Tasker
    Don Criqui
    Randy Cross
    Bill Macatee
    Steve Beuerlein

    EYES ON THE FIELD: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes ESPN's "MNF" so far this season is "focusing on football." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Jay Rothman: "The goal will be to deliver the game. Fans are tuning in for a game. They want football." ESPN "MNF" analyst Jon Gruden said broadcasting is "a lot more pressure" than coaching. But Rothman said Gruden is "fabulous; he could be an all-timer in this business, really." Rothman added that he is "not worried about Gruden seeing TV as just a season-long pit stop between coaching jobs" (USA TODAY, 8/26).

    BETTER TOGETHER: CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said of NBC and the NFL extending their broadcast partnership and all the league's TV contracts now expiring after the '13 season, "The NFL has always had their deals expiring together. It’s always the best way to negotiate it." McManus: "When you have kind of an equal term for each of the networks, it allows you to have some flexibility, so if you want to move a package, as the NFL did last time, from ABC to NBC, or, the time before that, from NBC to CBS, it allows you a lot of movement. The NFL, especially in a down economy, just like CBS, is looking for security." Meanwhile, McManus said if the league had "come to us and said, ‘We want to do a 10-year extension,’ as long as it made sense for us financially, we would have done a 10-year extension." McManus: "Security’s a good thing in a good marketplace, but security’s even better in a down marketplace" (, 8/25).

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  • Quick Change: CBS Sports' Rapid Reports Already Over 17,000 Mark's Rapid Reports Edited Before
    Being Published On Site, Unlike Twitter said it has produced more than 17,000 of its Rapid Reports since launching its near-real-time, Twitter-like reporting at each NFL training camp four weeks ago. Additionally, the effort has run into fewer problems with NFL clubs compared to the ongoing controversies around credentialed reporters using Twitter during practices, a situation execs attribute to its editing structure in which each Rapid Report is copy edited before being published on the site. "I give the teams a lot of credit. They understand there's a big difference between just putting something out there and still having an editorial process," said Senior VP & GM Jason Kint. "We've run into some issues with only a few teams, and in those cases, we're generally just filing away from the [practice] field."

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  • Media Notes

    All Future Red Sox Games Beginning
    Tonight Will Be Carried On WEEI-AM
    Entercom New England yesterday announced that all future Red Sox games, beginning with tonight's game against the White Sox, will be carried on WEEI-AM. Red Sox games aired exclusively on WEEI from '95-'06, before they shifted the majority of broadcasts to Entercom sister station WRKO-AM in '06 (WEEI). Entercom New England VP/AM Programming Jason Wolfe said the company made the move to "add consistency" to the stations' lineups. Wolfe: "All of our sports assets will be consolidated in the same place." In Boston, Christine McConville notes the move puts Red Sox broadcasts back on WEEI "just days after" all-sports station WBZ-FM launched. But Wolfe said that the switch to WEEI "had been in the works for a while." Wolfe said the launch of WBZ "just expedited the process" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/26).

    TWEET ON: The SPORTING BLOG's Dan Levy noted several ESPN personalities, including Bill Simmons, Mark Schlereth and Jemele Hill, are still posting on Twitter despite the network's rules governing use of the site. Levy wrote it "will be interesting to see if ESPN further relaxes their edicts, puts the kibosh on the whole thing, or lands somewhere in between." Rumors "swirled that ESPN really only cared about breaking news on ESPN platforms instead of Twitter, and the rest of the guidelines were just window dressing." Levy: "Maybe the higher-ups are more concerned about Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter breaking news on Twitter than the Sports Guy ripping shock jocks" (, 8/25).

    NET GAIN: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Anthony Crupi reports USA Network last week "held on to win one of the final weeks of the ad-supported cable season, holding off surging ESPN to keep its hold on the two core demographics," adults 25-54 and 18-49. For the week ending August 23, USA averaged 1.5 million viewers in adults 25-54, ahead of ESPN's 1.3 million. USA averaged 1.3 million viewers in adults 18-49, leading ESPN by "about 19,000 viewers" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 8/26).

    CORNERED KICK: "World Soccer Daily" radio host Steven Cohen said that he ceased production of his show last week due to "death threats made against his family." Cohen "infuriated Liverpool fans earlier this year with his comments regarding the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster, the worst tragedy in English soccer history." Since Cohen made the comments, his sponsors "were bombarded by e-mails from Liverpool fans," and Cohen said that he "lost around eight advertisers" (WHITTIER DAILY NEWS, 8/26).

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