SBD/Issue 28/Sports Media

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  • Fox Praised For Camera Work, Booth Calls During ALCS Game Four

    Buck Receives Praise For Call Of
    A-Rod's Home Run In Fifth Inning

    Fox' coverage of Yankees-Angels ALCS Game Four last night marked the network's "best use of technology and human talkers yet," from having "replays that showed the umpires terribly wrong three times to Joe Buck's prescient call on Alex Rodriguez's home run" in the fifth inning, according to Diane Pucin of the L.A. TIMES. During Rodriguez' at-bat, Buck said Rodriguez "seems to be picking up the ball REALLY well as he hits one into left, back at the wall ... Rodriguez goes deep and it's 5-0 New York." Pucin noted "on the word 'Really,' Rodriguez clubbed the ball," and it was "as if he and Buck had rehearsed the entire thing" (LATIMES.com, 10/20).  On Long Island, Neil Best writes Fox provided "another sharp production, from its excellent shots of the umpires' three blown calls to Joe Buck noting Alex Rodriguez's positive body language seconds before A-Rod's latest home run." The audio between Angels manager Mike Scioscia and the home plate umpire "discussing the positioning of the Angels' catcher was great inside stuff -- especially when it immediately led to a change in Mike Napoli's catching style” (NEWSDAY.com, 10/21). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes that during Game Four it "seemed Fox cut down its use of the triple split screen, which includes the pitcher, batter and catcher going through the signs." The catcher box is "sponsored, so Fox is making some moolah off a needless distraction" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/21).

    CODE OF SILENCE? The DAILY NEWS' Raissman writes Fox "provided clear-cut evidence" of the missed umpire calls during the game, and both Buck and analyst Tim McCarver "acknowledged the mistakes and explained what happened." But while neither have "ever been shy about expressing a strong opinion," when it came to the umpiring last night, a topic that "has received national attention, the Fox voices hit the mute button." Raissman: "Maybe McCarver and Buck just did not want to raise an issue that has to be a tremendous embarrassment to Major League Baseball" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/21).

    BEHIND THE SCENES: In Philadelphia, Mike Mazzeo offers an "all-access" look at the TBS "production and broadcast teams" from Monday's Dodgers-Phillies NLCS Game Four. Mazzeo: "Ever wonder how a pregame show gets put on the air? ... Here is what we found out" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 10/21).

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  • Chase Carey Warns Of Battle As Fox Wants Cable Ops To Pay For Net

    Carey Wants Cable Operators
    To Start Paying To Carry Fox
    News Corp. Deputy Chair, President & COO Chase Carey warned that retransmission consent battles may be brewing as his company tries to convince cable operators to start paying to carry the Fox broadcast channel. "It's not about trying to pick a fight," Carey said during a session at Broadcasting & Cable's OnScreen Media Summit in N.Y. "It's about trying to get our business to a place where it can be a healthy, long-term business." In the past, Fox has used retransmission consent rules to help launch its cable channels, like FX and Fuel. Now, broadcasters want to get paid for their broadcast networks so they can better compete with cable networks. Carey specifically singled out sports rights as "a real challenge," adding that "it's not rocket science" to figure out how broadcasters can compete with cable networks. "It starts with making dual revenue." Referencing cable channels that are getting paid by cable operators, like ESPN getting about $4 per month per subscriber, Carey said Fox has to start relying on more than just advertising to afford sports rights. He said Fox is "not rolling over" on sports rights and plans to continue using sports content on its broadcast and cable channels. "We need to move that business to a place where we are getting fair value," he said, adding that he believes "right is on our side. ... You have to have conviction and do what's necessary to do." Elsewhere during the session, Carey said Fox is not looking to build an all-sports cable challenger to ESPN, saying he would rather sprinkle sports content into Fox' current cable channels. Carey also said News Corp. has not ruled out bidding on the Olympics. "We aren't doing our job if we are not evaluating big franchises like that," he said. Carey noted News Corp. is not talking with GE about buying a stake in NBC, saying that Comcast "has a pretty decent shot" to acquire a stake in the broadcaster.

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  • NFL Sees Another Week Of Increased Ratings From TV Partners

    ESPN Draws 13.471M Viewers For Broncos-
    Chargers "MNF," Up 17.7% From Last Year
    ESPN earned a 9.6 cable rating and 13.471 million viewers for Broncos-Chargers "MNF," up 14.3% and 17.7%, respectively from an 8.4 rating and 11.442 million viewers for the comparable Giants-Browns game last year. Through six weeks, "MNF" is averaging a 10.9 rating and 15 million viewers, up 18% and 20%, respectively, over the same period last year. Meanwhile, CBS’ NFL national window telecast on Sunday earned a 14.6 final Nielsen rating, highlighted by Titans-Patriots (38%) and Bills-Jets (25%). The rating, which is up 2.1% from a 14.3 rating from Fox’ national window in Week Six last season,  marks CBS’ best national window since a 14.8 in Week 15 last year. NBC’s Bears-Falcons “SNF” telecast earned a 10.9 final Nielsen rating and 18.2 million viewers, up 32.9% and 39.2%, respectively, from an 8.2 rating and 13.1 million viewers for Patriots-Chargers in Week Six last season (THE DAILY).

    SEPTEMBER TO REMEMBER: With the start of the NFL season last month, ESPN posted its best month ever across multiple platforms in September. Move Analytics data indicated that ESPN360.com had its most-viewed month ever, with more than 250% growth in total hours of viewing and a greater than 180% increase in viewers, compared to September '08. comScore data indicated that ESPN.com also logged its best month ever in September -- the site generated nearly 2.2 billion total minutes and 28.8 million unique visitors, up 54% and 21%, respectively, over September '08. ESPN.com's September figures surpass previous all-time highs by 52% and 19%, respectively. Meanwhile, ESPN Mobile visitors for the month were up 82% compared to last year, while streaming audio for ESPNRadio.com reached nearly 8 million hours for the month, up almost 61% from September '08 and beating the previous record set in May '09 by nearly 40% (ESPN).

    NET IMPACT: ESPN.com's Gregg Easterbrook wrote the NFL Network's RedZone Channel is a "fabulous product," and it "raises some puzzling conundrums." The channel is a "huge missed opportunity for Fox and CBS," as each net "had the opportunity to whip viewers around to highlights of other games, but rarely did so." Not enough households receive Red Zone Channel "to assess its ratings impact," but Easterbrook wrote it is his guess that once the channel is "widely seen, many football viewers will prefer it to what's on the regular NFC and AFC broadcasts -- especially when the local affiliate chooses to show some awful woofer and a hot game is in progress elsewhere" (ESPN.com, 10/20).

    NEEDS COACHING: SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy wrote "MNF" analyst Jon Gruden is "totally unnecessary," and Levy blames "coach speak." Gruden during his pregame opening during Monday's Broncos-Chargers game utilized coach speak, and Levy wrote he understands it is "not easy to talk on live television, but this is the standup they can prepare days in advance" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/20).

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  • NHL Game Viewership On Versus Up 19% To Start '09-10 Season

    Versus is averaging 313,000 viewers through its first eight NHL game telecasts this season, up 18.6% from 264,000 viewers through the first eight games last year. This season's telecasts on the net began with two primetime games in the U.S. on October 1 which averaged 417,000 viewers. Last year's season began with two Sunday afternoon telecasts of games being held in Europe, which averaged 112,000 viewers. This year's Europe games were played on a Friday afternoon (October 2), averaging 189,000 viewers. The Capitals-Bruins season-opening telecast averaged 501,000 viewers. For the '08-09 season, only three telecasts on Versus topped a half-million viewers.

    '09-10 NHL RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP ON VERSUS TO DATE
    DATE
    GAME
    CABLE RATING
    VIEWERS (000)
    10/1
    Capitals-Bruins
    0.5
    501
    10/1
    Sharks-Avalanche
    0.4
    332
    10/2
    Panthers-Blackhawks*
    0.1
    100
    10/2
    Blues-Red Wings**
    0.3
    278
    10/5
    Rangers-Devils
    0.3
    269
    10/6
    Capitals-Flyers
    0.4
    405
    10/12
    Flames-Blackhawks
    0.2
    177
    10/13
    Red Wings-Sabres
    0.5
    467


    NOTES: * = Game was played in Helsinki, Finland. ** = Game was played in Stockholm, Sweden.

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  • FSN Utah To Be Jazz' Exclusive Local Broadcaster Through '20-21

    FSN Utah Will Broadcast Record 77 Jazz
    Games This Season, All In HD
    The Jazz and FSN Utah have signed a contract extension through the '20-21 NBA season that provides the net exclusive local TV rights to the franchise. The agreement allows FSN Utah to televise all available regular-season games annually, and the 77 Jazz games the net will broadcast this season will be the most ever on the RSN. All 77 broadcasts will be in HD and will feature a 30-minute pre- and postgame show called "Jazz Live." Play-by-play announcer Craig Bolerjack will team with analyst Ron Boone on all FSN Utah broadcasts (FSN). In Utah, Tim Buckley notes the deal "means no regular season games will be shown" on KJZZ-Ind., which is owned by the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, and also "means no Jazz games will be shown free and over-the-air." Jazz Senior VP/Broadcasting Chris Baum said that there were "multiple reasons to make such a pact, but mainly it's the result of an established business relationship" between the team and FSN Utah. Baum suggested that the deal "does not stem from a dispute last season" between KJZZ and DirecTV that resulted in the satellite provider "not carrying the network, and as a result Jazz games, for a time." Buckley notes FSN Utah "aired 27 games during the 2004-05 season, 40 games the following season and 60 games last season" (DESERET NEWS, 10/21). In Salt Lake City, Ross Siler notes terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Baum "described it as helping provide the small-market franchise with the revenue to stay competitive into the next decade." With KJZZ televising only 16 Jazz games last season, Baum said that the team has been "'slowly migrating' from over-the-air broadcasts in recent years" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 10/21).

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  • Kevin McHale Joining NBA TV As Part Of Tuesday Night Studio Crew

    McHale Joining NBA TV's
    Tuesday Night "Fan Night" Crew
    NBA Digital has hired former T'Wolves VP/Basketball Operations Kevin McHale to be part of its Tuesday Night “Fan Night” studio crew on NBA TV, highlighting an extensive series of programming and content changes for both the cable network and NBA.com entering the '09-10 season. McHale will join Chris Webber and host Ernie Johnson for analysis and wraparound coverage on the “Fan Night” game telecasts, which are selected by fan voting on NBA.com. The Web site each Tuesday will also show a new live interactive show entitled “The Jump on NBA.com,” featuring Kyle Montgomery and former NBAer Dennis Scott. The show is focused on fan commentary with the pair airing and discussing various fan-submitted texts and videos on current NBA issues. Additionally, NBA Digital has hired five former newspaper columnists and reporters to buttress its editorial coverage: Scott Howard-Cooper, formerly of the Sacramento Bee and SI.com; Shaun Powell, formerly of Newsday; Steve Aschburner, formerly of the Minneapolis Star Tribune; Fran Blinebury, formerly of the Houston Chronicle; and Art Garcia, formerly of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. The initiatives add to a 96-game slate of live games scheduled this season on NBA TV and six days per week of live studio coverage. NBA Digital is entering its second league season of an eight-year deal in which Turner is handling the day-to-day management of NBA TV, the League Pass out-of-market package, and the Web and mobile sites for the NBA, WNBA and NBA D-League. NBA Digital Senior VP & GM Bryan Perez: “This year, we’re going to be focusing much more on product, and this is the year where you’ll see what we’re capable of” (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    BACK BEHIND THE MIC: In Minneapolis, Judd Zulgad notes McHale will make his debut next Tuesday on Opening Night, when NBA TV will “carry a two-hour studio show, leading into TNT’s coverage” of Celtics-Cavaliers. McHale has “previous broadcasting experience, having spent two seasons working on Wolves telecasts before taking over day-to-day basketball operations” in ’95 (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 10/21). McHale said, “It will be fun and keep me busy; I’m looking forward to it. They (Turner) are great people and have been fun to get to know.” It is unclear how long McHale will continue broadcasting (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/21).
    McHale, fired in the spring as T'Wolves coach, will also make occasional appearances on TNT’s NBA studio show. McHale on the “Fan Night” show will replace Gary Payton and Johnson replaces Ahmad Rashad, who will see his role at NBA Digital shift somewhat to creating more feature and behind-the-scenes programming (Fisher).

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  • "Monday Night Football" Inducted Into Broadcasting & Cable HOF

    (l to r) Bodenheimer, Gifford, Goodell
    And Tirico Attend B&C HOF Ceremony
    The "MNF" franchise was inducted into the Broadcasting & Cable HOF Tuesday night in N.Y. in a ceremony attended by top NFL and ESPN brass. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Senior VP/Broadcasting & Media Operations Howard Katz attended the dinner event at the Waldorf-Astoria, as did many top ESPN execs, including President George Bodenheimer, Exec VP/Production Norby Williamson and Customer Marketing & Sales President Ed Erhardt. Bodenheimer accepted the award on stage with "MNF" announcer Mike Tirico and former analyst Frank Gifford, who worked 411 of the 616 "MNF" games. Asked on stage to recount his most memorable "MNF" moment, Gifford referred to the ‘80 Patriots-Dolphins game when Howard Cosell announced John Lennon's death. Fox Networks Chair & CEO Tony Vinciquerra also was inducted last night and peppered much of his speech with baseball analogies, including reminding the crowd that Fox was broadcasting the ALCS Game 4 as the dinner was taking place. "You should be watching that game," he said. Saying that "baseball has been a big part of my life," Vinciquerra said he learned business lessons from the game. "Either you make the plays, or you are cut from the team." NBC President & CEO Jeff Zucker was the last of 12 honorees to speak. He opened his remarks by saying that he realized he was the last obstacle left before the attendees could go catch the end of the Yankees-Angels game. He then made a tongue-in-cheek reference to reports that Comcast is looking to buy a stake in the broadcast network. "I want to thank Brian Roberts for everything that he has done for my career. Oh, those are remarks from next month's dinner."

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  • Media Notes

    ESPN Suspends Phillips One
    Week After Admitting Affair
    In N.Y., MacIntosh & Mangan cite a source as saying that ESPN MLB analyst Steve Phillips "has been suspended for a week" after confessing to his wife and Connecticut police that he "slept with ESPN assistant Brooke Hundley several times this past summer before dumping her." Phillips, who is "now being sued for divorce" by his wife, Marni, said that Hundley "became 'obsessive and delusional' after he dumped her." A police report indicates that "in retaliation" to the break-up, Hundley wrote Marni Phillips a letter detailing the affair and repeatedly called her, saying, "We both can't have him!" (N.Y. POST, 10/21). ESPN issued a statement today that reads, "We were aware of this and have already taken appropriate action. We have no further comment" (THE DAILY).

    KING OF THE COURT: In N.Y., Howard Beck reports Championist.com ranks the NBA's "top Twitter users," and Cavaliers C Shaquille O'Neal is the "undisputed king of NBA Twitterdom, with more than 2.4 million followers -- twice as many as his closest rival," Magic C Dwight Howard. Celtics F Paul Pierce is the "only other member of the million-follower club from the NBA, with 1.24 million." Lakers F Lamar Odom ranks fourth on the list with 201,781 followers, followed by Lakers G Derek Fisher at No. 5 with 149,354 followers (N.Y. TIMES, 10/21).

    NUMBERS GAME: The GLOBE & MAIL's Grant Robertson writes a "new method for tracking TV ratings has shaken up the television sector" in Canada, and sports "has emerged as a big winner." Randomly selected viewers "now carry pager-like devices on their hips," and Canada's three biggest sports networks -- TSN, Rogers Sportsnet and The Score -- "have each seen ratings jumps of about" 50%. Score Media President & CEO John Levy "believes this is because the pagers are better at counting groups of people at home or in bars where the audio signal is loud enough to be detected." Levy: "In addition to being more accurate, we're getting out-of-home viewing in these ratings. It has allowed us to vary our rates a little bit. We did take them up as a result" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/21).

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