SBD/Issue 51/Sports Media

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  • And We're Live: Danielson Heads List Of Top Football Announcers

    A panel of reporters and editors from THE DAILY, SportsBusiness Journal and Sporting News has named CBS’ Gary Danielson the top football broadcaster, according to SBJ’s Rob Knapp, who writes Danielson combines “preparation, football smarts and an almost eerie ability to make observations just as they come into play in the game.” The panel took several different qualities into mind while making the list, and accuracy “was the baseline for professionalism.” Accuracy applies to “both positions in the booth, but the brunt falls on the play-by-play announcer, who communicates to the audience what is going on as it happens.” Announcers have the “least control” over their voice, but it is “no less important, and it’s something that all the other good attributes in the world can’t overcome.” Preparation is important, as those who know the “most about their teams and have the most related subjects and statistics to talk about will succeed even when the drama on the field fades.” The panel “liked analysts who are willing to call players out within the context of the game,” but it was “divided on how outspoken play-by-play announcers should be.” Meanwhile, a broadcaster’s on-air personality played a role, as the job “goes beyond words and delivery and extends to the connection that an announcer makes with a viewer.”

    1. Gary Danielson
    College analyst CBS
    Our No. 1 combines preparation, football smarts and an almost eerie ability to make observations just as they come into play in the game. If you can’t learn something from him, you’re not paying attention.
    4. Phil Simms
    NFL analyst CBS
    His extensive preparation shows in every broadcast. Don’t let the easy manner and the folksy charm fool you: He has no problem calling players out.
    6. Troy Aikman
    NFL analyst Fox
    A low-key booth presence, to be sure, but he’s nearly always right on target and stays away from silly stuff that can drag a broadcast down.
    8. Verne Lundquist
    College PbP CBS
    Avuncular, with a playful style and a distinctive voice. Always sounds like he’s having a great time calling the game.
    10. Jim Nantz
    NFL PbP CBS
    He’s a versatile Mr. Smooth, with a million-dollar delivery and great control of the game. Willing to leave the strong opinions to the analyst.
    12. Brad Nessler  
    College PbP ABC/ESPN
    Strong voice; when he’s doing a game, you know it. Calls a clean game, gets excited when it’s called for and sets up his analyst well.
    14. Jon gruden
    NFL analyst ESPN
    Made a big splash in his first year in the booth. Has fallen off a little after a fast start, but he delivers intensity, good details and a TV-ready personality.
    16. Ron Jaworski
    NFL analyst ESPN
    Does this guy love his job or what? The consensus was that we like him even better in the studio, but he’s entertaining and informative in the booth.
    18. Sean McDonough
    College PbP ABC/ESPN
    Forceful voice and active play-by-play presence; not afraid to put his two cents in. Like a guy whose voice carries the drama? He’s one of your faves.
    20. Dan Fouts
    NFL analyst CBS
    “MNF” alum ran rare crossing pattern from analyst to play-by-play on college games with ABC. Comfortable style, with a good sense of humor.
    22. Mike Patrick
    College PbP ABC/ESPN
    Brings excitement to play-by-play, which works well on campus. “Britney moment” of 2007 shouldn’t overshadow his body of work.
    24. Gus Johnson
    NFL PbP CBS
    Memorable calls make him perfect announcer for YouTube generation. Some questioned whether he should save excitement for biggest of big plays.
    2. Cris Collinsworth
    NFL analyst NBC
    NBC made the right call on “Sunday Night Football.” He brings some attitude to the mike, but he backs it up with astute observations and a little self-deprecating humor.
    3. Al Michaels
    NFL play by play NBC
    Nearly 30 years after “Do you believe in miracles?” he’s the gold standard for football play by play. Always accurate, with insight and some edge thrown in.
    5. Kirk Herbstreit
    College analyst ABC/ESPN
    He’s the matinee idol of the campus crowd, but he calls a good game, too. Thoughtful analysis and a likable presence without overdoing the college rah-rah.
    7. Ron franklin
    College PbP ABC/ESPN
    Southern gentleman with a polished delivery and a comforting voice. He has a great sense of when to have fun and when to get down to business.
    9. Joe Buck
    NFL PbP Fox
    Polished, professional multisport pro. Known as a baseball guy, but brings plenty of football knowledge along with a sly wit to every game he calls.
    11. Mike Tirico
    NFL PbP ESPN
    He has one of the most challenging jobs on the list: traffic cop in the three-man “MNF” booth. Knowledgeable, smooth and a total pro.
    13. Brent musburger
    College PbP ABC/ESPN
    You are looking live at a broadcaster who generates strong feelings. Backers say he’s a big-game announcer. Even his critics wouldn’t disagree.
    15. Daryl Johnston
    NFL analyst Fox
    Former fullback adds non-QB diversity (along with ex-receiver Collinsworth) to analyst spot. Never boring; his opinions hit nearly as hard as he did.
    17. Greg Gumbel
    NFL PbP CBS
    Another who gives a clean, professional call every time. Doesn’t take it upon himself to excite us about the game; that’s fine with us.
    19. Todd Blackledge
    College analyst ABC/ESPN
    High-quality commentary, solid delivery, good sense of context.Could be more colorful occasionally. We never miss “Taste of the Town.”
    21. Bob Papa
    NFL PbP NFL Network
    Do you know this broadcaster? Doesn’t get much play for a guy doing NFL for a national audience, but he always turns in a solid, professional job.
    23. Chris Fowler
    College PbP ESPN
    Known more as “College GameDay” host, he also runs Thursday booth for ESPN, adding edginess to mix with nice guys Craig James and Jesse Palmer.
    25. Dick Enberg
    NFL PbP CBS
    Makes more mistakes than he used to, but he’s an artist with the language and delivers his catchphrase “Oh, my!” with trademark good cheer.
    Panelists from SBJ/SBD: Rick Ellington, Betty Gomes, Bill King, Rob Knapp, John Ourand,  Paul  Sanford. From SN: Marcus DiNitto, Jim Gilstrap, Dan Graf, Bob Hille, Vinnie Iyer, Derek Samson

    WHAT WE LIKE: SBD’s Rick Ellington writes Danielson “can be summed up in one word: homework,” as no other announcer “comes into a broadcast better prepared and with a better knowledge of the teams playing.” SBJ’s Betty Gomes writes while not everyone “appreciates Collinsworth’s commentary,” she would “much rather have a game analyst who’s willing to call someone out.” Gomes: “Keep the catchphrases and hyperbole. I’ll take Collinsworth’s honesty.” SBD’s Paul Sanford writes Michaels “brings a credibility to the broadcast that is unmatched in today’s world of sports broadcasting. When viewers hear Michaels’ voice, they know they’re about to watch a big game.” SBD/SBJ’s John Ourand writes Nantz “calls football games the way I want to hear them. He has perfected an understated delivery that shows a tremendous amount of respect for the events he covers.”

    WHAT WE DON'T LIKE: SBJ’s Gomes writes she does not have an issue with Johnson’s “level of excitement,” but she does “cringe at replays of Johnson’s call of Brandon Stokley’s tipped-ball touchdown” in the Broncos’ Week One win over the Bengals. Gomes: “Johnson’s call was so over the top that it was out of line with what I expect to hear as an NFL fan.” Sporting News’ Marcus DiNitto writes Gruden “shows promise as an analyst, but I was higher on Gruden in the preseason, before his constant use of hyperbole and coach-speak and his fawning over players and coaches began wearing thin.” Meanwhile, SBJ’s Bill King writes Tirico “would be fine on the second or third crew on CBS or Fox, but viewers deserve more on the NFL’s showcase games. They deserve a style. An angle. Maybe even the occasional moment of honest criticism” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/23 issue).

    DANIELSON PICK IS ON THE MARK: In Birmingham, David Knox wrote the selection of Danielson as the top announcer “gets no argument here.” Knox: “He makes the SEC broadcast the best of the day, maybe the best of the weekend” (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 11/21). The WASHINGTON EXAMINER’s Jim Williams wrote Danielson is “very entertaining and best of all speaks his mind.” Michaels has been “outstanding for a number of years and he remains the standard by [which] others are measured,” while “no one sells a game better” than Musburger (EXAMINER.com, 11/22). SPORTINGNEWS.com’s Dan Shanoff wrote, “I love the pick of Gary Danielson as the top football announcer – if you hate the SEC, though, he might not be for you” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/20). But in Dallas, Barry Horn wrote the list appears to “have a Southeastern Conference fixation,” as Danielson “is good with X’s and O’s but too often sounds like a SEC homer” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 11/22).

    Writer Says Herbstreit Gets "Better And
    Better Every Season"
    LET'S TAKE A SECOND LOOK: The BIRMINGHAM NEWS’ Knox wrote he would put Herbstreit above Simms, as he “gets better and better every season.” Musburger is “at his best” during a big game, but he “just hasn’t been his best in a while.” Meanwhile, McDonough is “very good, but I have no idea why his partner, Matt Millen, is not on this list.” Knox: “Lousy GM, great, great analyst” (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 11/21). In Albany, Pete Dougherty wrote his top announcers would “differ extensively from this list.” He puts Michaels in the top slot, followed by Simms, Collinsworth, Nantz and Tirico (TIMESUNION.com, 11/19). SPORTINGNEWS.com’s Dan Levy writes CBS' Dan Dierdorf “does a good job and [I] was a bit surprised when he didn’t make the ... Top 25 football broadcasters list.” Levy: “Sure he says a lot of things that are blatantly obvious. But it’s football. It’s not rocket science” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/23).

    ANOTHER OPINION: FANGSBITES.com’s Ken Fang presented his top play-by-play men and analysts in separate lists. He put Michaels atop the PBP list and wrote, “Probably the best all-around play-by-play voice ever. … There’s no one better at setting the scene, giving perspective and breaking down complicated moments than Al.” CBS’ Ian Eagle, who is not on the SBD/SBJ/SN list, ranked sixth for Fang, who wrote, “CBS would do everyone a favor in promoting him to the 3rd or 4th [NFL] announcing team next season.” Simms was the top analyst, with Fang writing, “He’s not afraid to admit he’s wrong. He studies tape every week and can spot things in the booth that other analysts cannot.” NBC’s Pat Haden is the highest-ranking analyst not on the SBD/SBJ/SN list, and Fang wrote, “It’s too bad that Notre Dame has fallen off the nation’s radar because Pat Haden would be considered one of the elite analysts” (FANGSBITES.com, 11/19).

     

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  • CBS' NFL National Window Up 4.2% In Overnight Nielsen Ratings

    CBS' saw its NFL Week 11 national window telecast jump 4.2% in overnight ratings from last year, and saw regional action up double digits. NBC's Eagles-Bears "SNF" was down double digits from Week 11 year, when the net carried Cowboys-Redskins. "SNF" was the No. 1 Sunday primetime broadcast for the ninth time in 10 weeks, and up against the "American Music Awards" on ABC from 8:30-11:00pm ET, NBC "SNF" was up 22%. Eagles-Bears earned a 29.6 in Chicago and a 27.2 in Philadelphia. Fox also saw its second-best singleheader of the season, trailing only a 12.5 overnight in Week Three (THE DAILY).

    NFL WEEK 11 OVERNIGHT NIELSEN RATINGS
    NET
    '09 GAME
    OVERNIGHT
    '08 GAME
    RAT.
    % +/-
    Fox
    (single)
    12.2
    (single)
    11.2
    8.9%
    CBS
    (regional)
    11.1
    (regional)
    10.0
    11.0%
    CBS
    Jets-Patriots (62%)
    14.9
    Chargers-Steelers (65%)
    14.3
    4.2%
    NBC
    Eagles-Bears
    12.1
    Cowboys-Redskins
    13.5
    -10.4%

    WORKING AROUND THE BAN: In Chicago, Kyle Koster notes while the Bears "denied NBC's request for access" to QB Jay Cutler, coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo prior to last night's game, NBC used comments from members of the Chicago media "to paint a picture of a season of great expectations -- both for Cutler and the Bears -- falling flat on its face during its 'Football Night in America' broadcast." The "only quote from Cutler came from a postgame news conference" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 11/23). Also in Chicago, Vaughn McClure reported Sports Illustrated also "came to Chicago with hopes of getting a one-on-one interview with Cutler, but the Bears quarterback was off-limits outside of his Wednesday news conference." Smith again stated that he "wanted his players to focus on the game" (CHICAGOBREAKINGSPORTS.com, 11/22).

    NO NEED TO CENSOR? YAHOO SPORTS' Matthew Darnell notes CBS during yesterday's Bills-Jaguars game "refused to show a replay of the injury" to Bills OL Eric Wood, who suffered a "sickening" broken leg. Darnell writes, "I'm philosophically opposed to CBS refusing to replay an injury because they've deemed it too graphic for me. ... The fact of the matter is that an injury to Eric Wood is a major part of the game. Networks are supposed to show major parts of the game" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/23).

    Writer Says Fox' Tim Ryan
    Is Underrated As Analyst
    REVIEW COURSE: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones writes it is "great that Fox has microphones on the field to pick up all the pad-cracking sounds of the game, but it needs to be careful," as "twice, the granddaddy of all curse words was heard" during the network's coverage of yesterday's Saints-Buccaneers game. Meanwhile, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth, Fox analyst Troy Aikman and CBS analyst Phil Simms "get all the accolades as the best," but Fox analyst Tim Ryan is "underrated and might be as good as any." Jones: "Few are better at immediately dissecting a play on replay, such as Sunday when Ryan pointed out how wide open Kellen Winslow was on a play in which Josh Freeman threw an interception by trying to hit Michael Clayton in triple coverage" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/23).

    TRUCK PULL: SPORTINGNEWS.com’s Dan Levy notes seven of the 52 messages ESPN’s Tom Jackson has posted on his Twitter account since opening it in September have been about GMC. Jackson has tweeted “just six times since October 30 and two of them have been ads for GMC.” When asked if ESPN has an “issue with one of their lead analysts using his ESPN-sanctioned Twitter feed to plug sponsors,” ESPN Communications & Media Relations Dir Bill Hofheimer said, “While GMC does work with ESPN overall, it does have some individual deals beyond that with our commentators. I understand TJ does PSAs for GMC. This is probably tied into that.” Levy writes this is “not unlike something similar to what Howie Long does for Chevy with those constant TV spots, but it does open the door to look at ESPN’s Social Networking policy” (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 11/23).

    GO-TO SITE: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir profiled Pro Football Talk Founder Mike Florio, who "has turned his blog ... into a leading source of information" about the NFL. Florio works "from his house in a quiet subdivision" in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and he said, "I'm a product of the age. I can sit in my basement and be in touch with everyone." Sandomir noted NBCSports.com became ProFootballTalk.com's "home in July in a revenue-sharing deal that preserved Florio's independence and has vastly increased his traffic." Omniture data indicated that Pro Football Talk "had 2.9 million unique users in October, nearly tripling the 979,000 from the same month a year ago, before the NBC deal was made." In that same comparison, the site's "page views swelled to 32.4 million from 13.2 million." ComScore indicated that NBCSports.com, "helped by PFT," has "climbed six spots to be the 11th most popular sports Web site." NBC Universal Sports & Olympics Senior VP/Business Development Kevin Monaghan: "We thought we needed a keystone for the site, and Mike has provided that. He's been a much bigger help than we imagined" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/21).

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  • ESPN's Bill Simmons Discusses His Two-Week Twitter Suspension

    Simmons Will Only Tweet About
    Book Tour Over Next Two Weeks
    ESPN has placed columnist Bill Simmons on a two-week Twitter suspension for violating the network's social media policy. "We decided that it would be best for everyone if I took a 2-week break from Twitter except for tweets about my book tour," Simmons told THE DAILY today via e-mail. Simmons on November 10 tweeted that ESPN Radio affiliate WEEI-AM employed "deceitful scumbags," after the Boston radio station named him its "Fraud of the Week" on-air and on its Web site. Simmons wrote today, "That's why the situation escalated on my end. I kept waiting for ESPN Radio to handle its 'partner' and it didn't. I ended up handling things for myself, and poorly." See below for the full e-mail interview (THE DAILY).

    A FIRST FOR ESPN: ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys said that this is the network's "first Twitter suspension" (USA TODAY, 11/23). ESPN.com VP & Editor-in-Chief Rob King on his blog wrote, "We have internal guidelines designed to inform how we discuss the topic of sports media. These guidelines are important [to] us, because they help maintain the credibility with which ESPN operates. No one knows the guidelines better than Bill Simmons." King added while it is "unfortunate -- and sometimes painful -- that not everyone outside of ESPN chooses to play by such rules, we choose to hold ourselves to higher standards." King: "Regardless of the provocation, Bill’s communication regarding WEEI fell short of those standards. So we’ve taken appropriate measures" (ESPN.com, 11/20). FANHOUSE.com's Will Brinson wrote Simmons is "still apparently allowed to tweet about his book tour." The point of the suspension is not that Simmons was "offensive or even rude, it's that ESPN had to take some kind of action, otherwise they were opening the door for other employees to abuse social media and then having to dole out what might be perceived as unfair punishment" (FANHOUSE.com, 11/21).

    SIMMONS E-MAIL WITH THE DAILY: The following is the full e-mail interview with Simmons this morning.

    Q: Do you agree with suspension?

    Simmons: ESPN believed that some of my Tweets failed our new social media policy. I discussed it with Rob King. We decided that it would be best for everyone if I took a 2-week break from Twitter except for tweets about my book tour.

    Q: Did you personally feel you crossed the ESPN guideline?

    Simmons: I don't know. Did our "partner" WEEI cross ESPN guidelines by ripping me for 20 solid minutes on the day of my book signing in Boston -- my hometown, by the way -- making me their "Fraud of The Week" and proudly displaying this segment on its website? Or by lying to its listeners and claiming that I was scheduled to appear on their radio show on Nov. 10th and backed out because I was "afraid" to come on? What was worse? That's why the situation escalated on my end. I kept waiting for ESPN Radio to handle its "partner" and it didn't. I ended up handling things for myself, and poorly.

    Q: Do you feel the suspension was due to ESPN's business relationship with WEEI?

    Simmons: I sure hope that's not the case, since that would mean they valued ESPN Radio's 2-month partnership with a local radio station over their 8 and a half year relationship with me.

    Q: Will this stop you from tweeting as much?

    Simmons: I am in the process of figuring that out.

    Q: How/why did you get the exemption to tweet from the book tour?

    Simmons: I received an overwhelming amount of feedback from readers in every city about how they were keeping up with the tour through Twitter. To suddenly halt that process with 4 cities to go would have been an enormous mistake.

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  • Clippers Broadcasters Pulled For Game After Haddadi Comments

    Clippers Announcers Lawler (l) and Smith (r)
    Pulled From Friday's Telecast
    FS Prime Ticket pulled Clippers broadcasters Ralph Lawler and Michael Smith from Friday's Nuggets-Clippers broadcast after a fan "objected to an on-air exchange" the announcers had about Grizzlies C Hamed Haddadi, according to Diane Pucin of the L.A. TIMES. Lawler and Smith had a "40-second exchange" during last Wednesday's Clippers-Grizzlies game about Haddadi, the first Iran citizen to play in the NBA. The back-and-forth included "several instances in which Smith and Lawler pronounced Iran as 'Eye-ran,' and included the comparison of Haddadi to the fictional character Borat." FS Prime Ticket "issued a statement of apology but made no mention that Lawler and Smith had been taken off the air." Clippers halftime and postgame analysts Michael Eaves and Don MacLean called Friday night's game "but did not mention Lawler and Smith." Lawler and Smith are expected back for tonight's T'Wolves-Clippers game (L.A. TIMES, 11/21).  FANHOUSE.com's Brett Pollakoff wrote Lawler and Smith "likely meant no harm, and were probably just doing some late-game shtick to try to keep the audience entertained." But it is "never a good idea to start riffing on another player's ethnic background" (FANHOUSE.com, 11/21). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote Lawler and Smith "did cross a line, but nothing that is outlandish." However, the comments "should be reported, dealt with, explained, used as a teaching moment, and you shake your head and move forward" (INSIDESOCAL.com, 11/21).

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  • Media Notes

    TNT NBA announcer Marv Albert said reports of a scuffle involving himself and members of rapper 50 Cent's entourage while preparing for an appearance on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live" are "upsetting." Albert said that he "found various online accounts of things Albert says never happened." Albert: "I kept reading about new things that never happened. Maybe it will keep going until Jimmy Kimmel gets punched." He added, "Maybe I'll look back and think it's humorous" (USA TODAY, 11/23). More Albert: "As much as I value my street cred, my posse and his posse weren't even in the same room (N.Y. POST, 11/23).

    Oregon-Arizona On ABC (In Yellow) Not
    Shown To "Significant Chunk" Of Country
    DUCKING THE ISSUE: SI.com's Andy Staples noted ABC Saturday did not show the conclusion of the Oregon-Arizona game, which went into double overtime, to a "significant chunk of the country," instead electing to show the "entire Texas blowout of Kansas." The network following Kansas-Texas showed a "brief studio hit with John Saunders and Jesse Palmer," instead Oregon-Arizona. ESPN "paid a signifcant fee for the rights to broadcast Pac-10 games," and the net has the "means, the opportunity and the desire to allow its viewers to watch one of the most exciting football games of the season." The lack of coverage should "raise alarm bells for first-year Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott" (SI.com, 11/21).

    MISSING THE SPOT: In St. Petersburg, Tom Jones wrote ABC/ESPN "continues to show a blatant conflict of interest with its commercials for its NBA coverage." A new spot featuring Magic G Vince Carter with announcers Mike Breen and Mark Jackson is the "latest in a series of commercials featuring NBA players mixing with ABC/ESPN announcers who cover their games," which "makes the viewer question the announcers' comments every time they talk about a player who has appeared" in a TV spot with them (TAMPABAY.com, 11/22).

    THAT'S THE CABLE TALKING: In N.Y., Arango & Carter in a business-section cover story wrote under the header, "Unsteady Future For Broadcast: A New Economic Model Gives Cable Firmer Footing." Profit margins for cable nets are "much better compared with broadcast," and "illustrative of this is a comparison of NBC to ESPN." Revenue for the two networks last year was "roughly equal," as NBC generated about $5.6B in ad revenue while ESPN generated about $6B in revenue -- $1.6B from ads and $4.4B from sub fees. But ESPN was "vastly more profitable" with a cash flow of about $1.4B, compared to $304M for NBC (N.Y. TIMES, 11/21).

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