NBA Poised For Big Season With Eyes On Superteams Under Armour Has Slowest Sales Growth In Six Years Axe Bat Completes Corporate Realignment Knight Commission Chair Predicts Grim FBS Future World Series Tickets Still Setting Price Records Yankee Stadium Adding Social Gathering Areas Dolan, Manfred To Discuss Chief Wahoo Logo Cubs Poised For Marketing Opportunities MLB Postseason Viewership Down 8% NHL, Players Set Escrow Withholding Rate At 15%
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ABC/ESPN Has Moved All But Three Of
Its 17 Sprint Cup Races To ESPN This YearDATELOCATIONNETTIMESunday, July 25Indianapolis Motor SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ETSunday, August 1Pocono RacewayESPN1:00pm ETSunday, August 8Watkins Glen Int'lESPN1:00pm ETSunday, August 15Michigan Int'l SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ET
Saturday, August 21 Bristol Motor SpeedwayABC7:30pm ET Sunday, September 5 Atlanta Motor SpeedwayESPN7:30pm ET Saturday, September 11 Richmond Int'l RacewayABC7:30pm ET Sunday, September 19 New Hampshire Motor SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ET Sunday, September 26 Dover Int'l SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ET Sunday, October 3 Kansas SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ET Sunday, October 10 Auto Club SpeedwayESPN3:00pm ET Saturday, October 16 Charlotte Motor SpeedwayABC7:30pm ET Sunday, October 24 Martinsville SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ET Sunday, October 31 Talladega SuperspeedwayESPN1:00pm ET Sunday, November 7 Texas Motor SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ET Sunday, November 14 Phoenix Int'l RacewayESPN3:00pm ET Sunday, November 21 Homestead-Miami SpeedwayESPN1:00pm ET
WORLD WIDE LEADER: ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Acquisitions John Wildhack: "There's really no delineation anymore between cable and broadcast per se. People watch brands, and fortunately, when people tune to sports first, they come to ESPN." Skipper added, "ESPN further strengthens NASCAR's consistent start times message for the fans, and with the strong support of NASCAR across our multimedia platforms, we hope to build on that momentum in 2010." Wildhack said with the 1:00pm ET start times, Sunday mornings are a "destination for sports fans on ESPN," with "SportsCenter" and then "Sunday NFL Countdown" in the fall as a lead-in to the races. Wildhack: "There's a built-in audience there and now we can take that audience and transition them to the race. The other thing that we will be doing when we get into the Chase is postrace is coming on (leading into a) SportsCenter that is going to be clearly NASCAR-centric" (SCENEDAILY.com, 1/13).
LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote the shift to more ESPN telecasts is "absolutely certain to send some NASCAR fans screaming that the sport has abandoned them and this is another excuse to make a buck and things were so much better back in the olden days." Busbee: "On one hand I get the complaint about the move -- ESPN may be in 90[%] of homes or whatever, but it still costs money to get it. ... But really -- it's 2010. Isn't it time that everybody started, you know, moving toward cable?" ESPN is the "right place for NASCAR" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/13). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the move "isn't surprising, given how Disney has shown that beefing up ESPN -- by giving it Monday night NFL games and, starting next year, all of college football's BCS games -- is its priority" (USA TODAY, 1/14).
Golf Channel Reportedly Still In Contract
Talks With Studio Host Vince Cellini
PENALTY BOX: Sports media writer William Houston cited sources as indicating that Leafs TV producer Mark Askin, "who profanely criticized" the CBC's "HNIC," will be "suspended." Askin was scheduled to work Tuesday's Hurricanes-Maple Leafs game, but Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment "will sit him out for two games in the future." Askin "had been sharply critical of Hockey Night on his Twitter account for several weeks," and his "harshest commentary was directed at Don Cherry whom he described on various tweets as arrogant, a buffoon and 'chicken shit'" (TRUTHANDRUMORS.net, 1/12).
NEW ROLES: In DC, Leonard Shapiro profiled ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter, who has "become a frequent and valuable presence on all manner of NFL-related programming as an information specialist" thanks to his "plethora of well-connected sources all around the league." Schefter said he had "four-and-a-half great years and one miserable week" at the NFL Network, his former employer. The "bad week came last spring when negotiations on a new contract broke down and he was taken off the air." But Shapiro noted it "did not take ESPN very long to get him back to the ranks of the employed." Schefter: "ESPN is nonstop, and I'm nonstop, and we're both kind of crazy. It's a good match" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/13).
NOT HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE PAST: TNT's Charles Barkley appeared on TBS' "Lopez Tonight" last night, and host George Lopez's first question concerned what Barkley did on New Year's Eve. Barkley was arrested last New Year's Eve for suspicion of drunken driving, and he said, "I think that TNT didn't want to take any chances, so they made me work." Lopez: "They scheduled NBA games on New Year's?" Barkley: "We didn't want to take any chances." Lopez asked, "You going to work through spring break too?" (“Lopez Tonight,” TBS, 1/13).
LOOKING FOR A CAREER MOVE: Patriots LB Junior Seau announced his permanent retirement from the NFL yesterday, and appeared as a guest analyst on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" last night. Seau said he "would love to do TV" now that his football career is over. Seau: "You guys make it a lot easier." Collinsworth interrupted and said, "Well, this isn't TV really. We're not sure what this is” ("Inside the NFL," Showtime, 1/13)....In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich reported IF Management has signed former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi "as a client and will try to land him a broadcasting job." Zelkovich wrote one "might assume Ricciardi won't bother sending an application to Rogers Sportsnet," which is owned by Blue Jays Owner Rogers Communications, "though you never know" (THESTAR.com, 1/13).
News Corp. formally announced the restructuring of the company’s sports and entertainment operations. Fox Sports Chair & CEO David Hill will oversee all of the company’s sports operations, including Fox Sports, Fox Soccer Channel, Speed, Fox Sports en Espanol, Fuel TV and 19 RSNs. Hill also will supervise News Corp.’s joint venture sports businesses STATS, LLC and Big Ten Network. Fox Networks Entertainment Chair Peter Rice will oversee Fox and FX Networks. Both Rice and Hill will continue to report to Fox Networks Group Chair & CEO Tony Vinciquerra (News Corp.). CABLEFAX DAILY writes the restructuring "could signal that Fox is looking to return to the aggressive actions we saw from it in the mid '90s." Fox said that the changes are "to better align its creative executive leadership." But CABLEFAX DAILY asks, "Anyone wondering if Fox might try to make a serious run for Olympic rights?" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 1/14).
PASSING THE PUCK: In Philadelphia, Sam Carchidi reports the NHL yesterday said that it "does not have the power to fine or penalize" FSN Pittsburgh or the Penguins "for the withheld replay that cost" Flyers LW Simon Gagne a goal in last Thursday's Flyers-Penguins game. NHL Dir of Media Relations John Dellapina said FSN Pittsburgh is an "independent contractor who pays for the rights of the games." Dellapina: "They're not hired by the NHL. And the Penguins had nothing to do with what happened." Dellapina added that the NHL is "'at the mercy of the teams broadcasting the games' and that the NHL does not have the funds to supply more cameras other than the overhead shot it provides" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/14).
MARCH MADNESS: ESPN.com's Dan Rafael wrote one of the interesting elements of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. having separate fights on March 13 is how HBO "will handle it." HBO PPV "for the past several years ... has handled Pacquiao and Mayweather fights," and it is now "faced with the cold reality of making a decision on which fighter and promoter it will support." Top Rank is "prepared to go it alone with Pacquiao-Clottey, but it would like HBO's support," while Golden Boy "has been dependent on and enabled by HBO since its birth." Rafael wrote he knows it is a "rough situation because HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg ain't talkin' and he's ordered his staff not to talk either (ESPN.com, 1/13).