SBD/Issue 84/Sports Media

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  • ABC/ESPN Alters NASCAR Telecast Schedule; Most Races On Cable

    ABC/ESPN Has Moved All But Three Of
    Its 17 Sprint Cup Races To ESPN This Year
    ABC/ESPN is significantly shaking up its NASCAR broadcast schedule this year, moving all but three of its 17 Sprint Cup races to its main ESPN cable network. That leaves just three NASCAR races on its ABC broadcast network, all of which will be run in primetime. Nine of the 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races will be broadcast on ESPN. In the past, ABC has carried 11 of the 17 races, including all 10 Chase events. "Last year's performance showed us that ESPN provides the best home for NASCAR," said ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper. In '09, viewership for the four NASCAR Sprint Cup broadcasts on ESPN which were not affected by rain were up 6% over '08 with an average of 5.8 million viewers, while ABC's 11 races in '09 averaged 5.5 million viewers, down 8% from the ten comparable races the year before. "The network has the proven ability to attract younger viewers," said NASCAR Media Group President Paul Brooks. "Having more NASCAR races on ESPN will create more exposure." The three races on ABC -- Bristol, Richmond and Charlotte -- will each air on Saturday nights at 7:30pm ET. ABC's primetime lineup in '10 will also include 12 college football games and the August 28 Little League World Series title game, giving the network 16 straight weeks of Saturday night sports. ESPN's portion of the NASCAR schedule begins July 25 with the Brickyard 400 (Smith & Ourand, SportsBusiness Journal). 

    DATE
    LOCATION
    NET
    TIME
    Sunday, July 25
    Indianapolis Motor Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, August 1
    Pocono Raceway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, August 8
    Watkins Glen Int'l
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, August 15
    Michigan Int'l Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Saturday, August 21 Bristol Motor Speedway
    ABC
    7:30pm ET
    Sunday, September 5 Atlanta Motor Speedway
    ESPN
    7:30pm ET
    Saturday, September 11 Richmond Int'l Raceway
    ABC
    7:30pm ET
    Sunday, September 19 New Hampshire Motor Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, September 26 Dover Int'l Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, October 3 Kansas Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, October 10 Auto Club Speedway
    ESPN
    3:00pm ET
    Saturday, October 16 Charlotte Motor Speedway
    ABC
    7:30pm ET
    Sunday, October 24 Martinsville Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, October 31 Talladega Superspeedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, November 7 Texas Motor Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm ET
    Sunday, November 14 Phoenix Int'l Raceway
    ESPN
    3:00pm ET
    Sunday, November 21 Homestead-Miami Speedway
    ESPN
    1:00pm 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).

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  • People & Personalities: Golf Channel Makes Several Changes

    Golf Channel Reportedly Still In Contract
    Talks With Studio Host Vince Cellini
    GOLFWEEK's Adam Schupak cites sources as indicating that Golf Channel has "dropped some longtime members of its broadcast team and shifted other to contract status." Studio host and reporter Iain Page and reporter Adam Barr "are out," as their contracts "expired and were not renewed." Studio host Vince Cellini's contract also expired, but sources said that "negotiations have been ongoing." Meanwhile, Jerry Foltz' contract was "renewed for two more years," and Jim Gray "returns as a reporter for nine" PGA Tour events. Schupak also notes Billy Andrade "will work 15 tournaments -- 10 PGA Tour and five Champions Tour -- this season" (GOLFWEEK, 1/15 issue).

    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). 

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  • Media Notes

    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).

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