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Ebersol (l) And Jones (r) Present Madden
With Lifetime Achievement Award
HBO and its “24/7” series were the biggest winners from the 31st Annual Sports Emmy Awards in N.Y. last night. HBO walked away with nine statues, the network’s highest total in a single season, and its “24/7” series was the evening’s most decorated show, picking up five awards, including best edited sports special for “Mayweather/Marquez” and The Dick Schaap Writing Award for “Pacquiao/Hatton.” ESPN and its various entities (ESPN2 and ESPN.com) tied for second with CBS and its various entities (Showtime and CBS Mobile) with seven wins each. MLB Network made a strong showing for its first year, winning four awards, including three for its signature “MLB Tonight” program. One of the most anticipated categories was for sports documentaries, where HBO held off a challenge from ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. HBO’s “Assault in the Ring” took home the top sports documentary nod; ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentaries were shut out. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit took home a statue as the top studio analyst, and NBC/MLB Network’s Bob Costas won for top studio host. For the second year in a row, Cris Collinsworth and Jim Nantz won as top event analyst and play-by-play, respectively. The top sports shows awarded included ESPN’s “College GameDay” (top weekly studio show) and “PTI” (top daily studio show). NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was honored as the top live sports series, while NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl XLIII took home the prize for top live sports special. “E:60” performed well, winning two awards: best sports journalism and top long feature. NFL Films earned three Emmys, bringing its overall total to 100.
ESPN UPSET AT EBERSOL COMMENT: After the ceremony, many in the crowd were buzzing about a public shot NBC Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol took at ESPN over its handling of a cell phone video featuring Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones making disparaging remarks about Broncos draftee QB Tim Tebow and Dolphins Exec VP/Football Operations Bill Parcells. Ebersol and Jones went on stage to introduce John Madden, who was accepting a lifetime achievement award. With many ESPN execs, including ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer and Exec VP/Content John Skipper, in the audience watching, Ebersol took out a cell phone and pretended to record Jones. He then said, “I just wanted a call out to my friends at ESPN-TMZ.” At a party after the event, many ESPN execs were fuming at the remark.
This Season's Stanley Cup Playoffs Bringing
Increased Ratings To Both Versus And NBC
NHL ratings and advertising are "showing signs of growth," and the "uptick in hockey comes at a crucial time for the current rights holders," according to John Consoli of MEDIAWEEK. The NHL is "expected to start negotiations on its new television rights contract" later this year, and with its deals with NBC and Versus set to expire after the '10-11 season, ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper indicated that "he'd like hockey to return to ESPN and ABC." However, Versus President Jamie Davis said that the net "aims to hold on to the asset." Davis: "We took over the telecasts in 2005, the year after the lockout, and together with the NHL, as true partners, we have worked to bring the viewers back." Consoli reports Versus' regular-season viewership was down 6% this season, but since DirecTV started carrying the network once again in mid-March, "ratings have been booming." Versus averaged 365,000 viewers during the final four weeks of the regular season, up 28% from the same period last year, and its Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage through the opening week was up 21%. Likewise, NBC averaged a 0.9 rating and 1.32 million viewers this season, up 13% from the '08-09 season, while its first playoff telecast earlier this month was up 10% from last year. Despite ESPN's interest in acquiring NHL rights, one media buyer believes that the "completion of the proposed Comcast-NBC deal would make a joint NBC/Versus hockey buy just as potent as an ABC/ESPN buy" (MEDIAWEEK, 4/26 issue).
LOOKING AT THE COVERAGE: In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich wrote it is "pretty hard to top" the NHL playoffs. The caliber of play and the "excitement level have all justified the tremendous amount of air time the playoffs have gobbled up," and for the "most part, so has the television coverage." But Zelkovich wondered, "What is this fascination with guys in suits?" The CBC "focused on team executives endlessly during Saturday’s video reviews," while NBC earlier in the day "showed us the back" of Blackhawks Chair Rocky Wirtz' head during the team's game. Zelkovich: "Do they honestly think viewers are sitting at home dying to know how their team’s executives are reacting?" (TORONTO STAR, 4/26).
Mets Featured On ESPN's "Sunday Night
Baseball" Three Consecutive Weeks This Month
ESPN "loves the Mets," as the network is in the midst of featuring the team three consecutive weeks on "Sunday Night Baseball," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. ESPN featured Mets-Cardinals on April 18, Mets-Braves on April 25 and the network is scheduled to air Mets-Phillies this Sunday, before taking three weeks off and "picking up May 23" for Yankees-Mets. Sandomir wrote three consecutive "Sunday Night Baseball" games is "terrific for Mets' loyalists," but is it "good for the rest of the nation?" ESPN "cannot ignore that the Mets play in the nation's No. 1 market and have so many displaced fans outside New York, many of them in Florida." ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Mike Ryan: "You have the Mets, Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and to a certain extent, the Braves, who are popular nationally, especially when they're competitive and even more so, when they play each other." Ryan added that ESPN "calculated that the Mets games it chose would be better than others being played on those Sundays, and that the Mets would be a better team than the one that lost 92 times last year." Sandomir noted MLB teams are limited to a "contractual maximum of five Sunday appearances" on ESPN, but Ryan "rejected the suggestion that ESPN front-loaded its Sunday night schedule with Mets games as a hedge against another losing season" (NYTIMES.com, 4/26).
PLAYING TO THEIR STRENGTHS: In N.Y., David Waldstein writes the Mets "have developed a nice little home-field advantage in 2010" at Citi Field. When the team unveiled the ballpark last year, some fans "complained that the team's history was barely acknowledged." Waldstein: "Yet, from the start, Citi Field was in some ways an homage to the team's former digs. Like Shea Stadium before it, Citi Field was designed to accommodate pitching and defense. It is a formula that sometimes worked at Shea and for the moment is producing some decent results at the new stadium next door." The Mets are currently 10-9, one game behind the Phillies in the NL East (N.Y. TIMES, 4/27).
MSG.com Relaunches Today Primarily To Better
Align The Site Graphically With MSG Network
MSG.com relaunched today with a new design and content management system, designed largely to better align the site graphically with the MSG Network, which initiated its own new look back in January. The new site, carrying Budweiser as a relaunch presenting sponsor, features a dynamic TV schedule that allows for personalized updates on what is airing on the MSG-owned networks based on a users zip code and cable or satellite operator and a persistent, above-the-fold promotional bar that includes tune-in promotions and real-time scores. Also part of the new site are additional video and editorial content, a more pronounced social media strategy that extends MSG Media's existing "Stay Connected" campaign, and more behind-the-scenes material exclusive to MSG. The site was developed with the aid of N.Y.-based Omnigon Communications. "We are now connecting with fans in a true, seamless, multi-platform way," said MSG Interactive Senior VP & GM Scott Richman. "We've created a lot more content, a lot more tools for fans to connect and share with each other, and many more ways to integrate sponsors. And by having a brand new (content management system), we're operating from a much stronger foundation. We believe we can we really separate and differentiate ourselves from other sites out there."