SBD/Issue 163/Sports Media

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  • David Hill Says Fox Will Make A Strong Play For Olympic Rights

    Hill Says Fox Will Make A
    "Strong Bid" For Next Olympic Rights

    Fox Sports Chair & CEO David Hill said that his network is "set to take a major run at landing" U.S. rights to the '14 Sochi and '16 Rio de Janeiro Games, according to Stuart Levine of DAILY VARIETY. Fox, the "only Big Four network never to have aired" the Games, made a bid for the '10 and '12 Olympics but lost to NBC. Hill indicated that NBC's "recent experience," including losing approximately $200M on the Vancouver Games, "hasn't dampened any of Fox's enthusiasm." Hill: "It's one of those great things to have. It's an iconic event. We will make a strong bid next time around. Last time, our bid was under NBC's bid, but we did what we thought was right for us." He said that Fox will "assess the upside versus a possible financial hit to airing the Games, and determine how important it is to the network." Hill: "We will bid what we bid. What we've always done is look at our economics and figured out what we were going to do. The problem is you don't know the economic conditions at the time of the Games. Were we too cautious last time around? I don't think we were. If (NBC) lost $200 million, what would we have done?" Levine noted the exact timetable for the IOC to open bidding for the '14 and '16 Games remains uncertain, but is "likely to begin in the fall." Hill said he would "open the bidding in October and November" if he were the IOC (DAILY VARIETY, 5/5).

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  • YES Network, DirecTV Unveil Details Of 3D Baseball Broadcasts

    Yankees-Mariners Games On July 10-11 Will Be
    First-Ever Baseball Games Produced Live In 3D

    YES Network and DirecTV yesterday announced they will produce two Yankees telecasts in 3D on July 10-11. The games, scheduled against the Mariners at Safeco Field, will be the first-ever baseball games produced live in 3D. The contests will serve in part as a trial run for a planned 3D production of the July 13 All-Star Game in Anaheim and will air within a new 3D tier DirecTV will launch in June. A 3D feed will also be distributed by FSN Northwest, now owned by DirecTV, within its footprint. DirecTV Exec VP/Entertainment Eric Shanks said, "This is important to learn not only to produce baseball in 3D, but also how to make it part of day-to-day baseball productions. Reaching home-team markets is essential for us to find a way to do ongoing 3D productions." The 3D production for the Seattle and N.Y. markets, led by Pace and NEP, will be separate from the standard 2D production and employ an additional set of announcers, as has been the case with every other major sports effort to date in the enhanced format. The 3D production will involve six to eight cameras. Exact locations have yet to be determined, but will involve some combination of the high home and centerfield spots typical to baseball TV production, as well as additional, closer locations designed to take fuller advantage of the 3D format.

    WHERE TO WATCH: YES is discussing extending the 3D availability to other distributors beyond DirecTV. Undetermined is what, if any, 3D availability of the games will be extended to other markets beyond N.Y. and Seattle, such as through the Extra Innings out-of-market package. That latter step would require MLB approval. Panasonic, already partnering with DirecTV on the satellite operator's forthcoming quartet of 3D channels, will join DirecTV as a presenting sponsor of the two Yankees 3D broadcasts. The channels for now will be offered as a free upgrade to DirecTV HD-tier subscribers, but will require a 3D-enabled television and 3D glasses. Public viewing events for the two games are additionally being determined, but will not involve Yankee Stadium as Sony, a key rival of Panasonic, holds a sponsorship with the club that includes extensive activation at the ballpark.

    STARS ALIGNED: The effort extends a history by both YES and DirecTV on technological innovation, as the companies have been previously among the vanguard of other initiatives such as HD, VOD, interactive TV and in-market streaming. But Shanks and YES Network COO Ray Hopkins said the move is foremost designed as an experiment designed to learn more about the 3D format as opposed to necessarily being first in baseball. Numerous personnel involved in the 3D production in Seattle will also work on the All-Star Game effort. Shanks said, "There will at least be some experience when the All-Star game is broadcast in 3D, and it will help make the All-Star Game coverage perfect. Getting two games under the production teams is key."

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  • Why Did LPGA, Golf Channel Not Air Lorena Ochoa's Final Event?

    Ochoa's Final LPGA Event
    Not Televised In The U.S.

    There were "ongoing discussions" between Golf Channel and the LPGA about getting weekend coverage of the Tres Marias Championship once Lorena Ochoa declared it would be her final tournament, but the event "was not televised in the U.S., or even streamed live on the internet," according to Len Shapiro of the WASHINGTON POST. The event was "never included as part" of the LPGA's package with Golf Channel, and Golf Channel Managing Dir of PR Dan Higgins said of adding coverage, "It was not our call; it was the LPGA's call." LPGA Chief Communications Officer David Higdon: "We did approach (the Golf Channel) to see if they would be interested. But the quality (of the international feed) was not acceptable to them. From our standpoint, we felt it was really important to get it on." Higdon indicated that the LPGA also "approached several companies about the possibility of streaming the international feed live over the LPGA Web site, and that fell through, as well." He said, "Ever since (Ochoa) announced her retirement, we were literally scrambling for two weeks to get something. But we just were not able to get it done." Shapiro notes Golf Channel, which "purports to offer blanket coverage of all things golf, did not even bother to send a reporter or a cameraman to the Tres Marias tournament." However, Golf Channel Japan "managed to dispatch a reporter and a camera crew" to Mexico once it was clear eventual winner Ai Miyazato was in contention. Shapiro wrote the LPGA would be "wise to start approaching other national American networks about the possibility of televising more tournaments in the future" (WASHINGTON POST, 5/6).

    HOLES IN THE LPGA'S GAME? In Virginia, Tom Robinson wrote the LPGA as a "viable entertainment vehicle is sadly adrift," and it "wasn't exactly speeding down the relevancy highway" in the first place. The Michelob Ultra Open, which had "one of the biggest purses on the sputtering ladies' tour, is no more," and now Ochoa is "gone from the tour at age 28." The LPGA's "hole-filled schedule calls for one full-field event in the United States in the next six weeks," and after the U.S. Open in mid-July, it "disappears from domestic soil until Aug. 20 (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 5/4).

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  • People & Personalities: Harwell Continues To Be Remembered

    MLB Runs Full-Page
    Ad In USA Today

    In Detroit, Michael Rosenberg wrote former Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell, who passed away Tuesday, had "three qualities Detroiters love: He was great at his craft, he never acted like he was better than anybody else, and he never left for somewhere else." Harwell "would have been just as great a broadcaster if he'd spent his career in New York or Los Angeles or Atlanta." But Rosenberg wrote, "I don't think he would be quite as beloved, and I don't know if he would have been as happy" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/6). Also in Detroit, Laura Berman writes Harwell was "that rarest American man, a treasure saluted in his lifetime for all the right reasons." Berman: "If baseball is the American game, he was until the end the embodiment of its pure spirit" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/6). Meanwhile, MLB runs a full-page ad in USA Today honoring Harwell. The ad features the copy "His Voice Was Beyond Legendary. His Impact Went Well Beyond The Game." It is scheduled to run in tomorrow's edition of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News (THE DAILY).

    MADDEN-ESQUE: USA TODAY's Gary Graves wrote Fox NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip's "summations and recollections have drawn comparisons" to former NFL analyst John Madden and "helped create a similar cult-like following." His broadcast focus "resembles his racing strategy: finish better than you start and be honest." Waltrip said he is "really opinionated to a fault, and that gets me in trouble sometimes." But he added, "My role today is no different than when I was driving; there's people that love what I say, and some that don't." Graves writes, "It's hard to envision Fox's NASCAR coverage without Waltrip" (USA TODAY, 5/6).

    DOUBLE STANDARD? In N.Y., S.E. Cupp reported Indiana-based From the Right Radio last week "launched a Web site called RespectTheGreatGame.com to bring attention to the fact" MSNBC's Keith Olbermann "is blogging for MLB.com." Visitors to the Web site can sign a petition asking MLB Commissioner Bud Selig why the league is "working with hate speech merchant Keith Olbermann." Cupp writes Olbermann is a "menace lurking in the shadows of the dugout, someone so ugly, so vindictive, so polarizing that with every word he utters he is bastardizing whatever sanctity remains of the game." Cupp wonders if there is a "jarring double standard in sports and the media when it comes to political correctness." Cupp: "Olbermann gets paid to partner up with Major League Baseball -- and the National Football League, while he's at it, as a member of NBC's 'Football Night in America' team -- but a controversial conservative commentator like Rush Limbaugh can't even buy his way into the NFL" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/5).

    BACK IN THE GAME: In Boston, Jessica Heslam reports NESN Red Sox reporter Heidi Watney, who had been sidelined by a concussion, returned to the net "full time on Monday." Watney has "yet to reveal how she got the concussion" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/6). Watney is "getting mostly sympathy from Sox players as she recovers." However, a few players "kid her about the concussion," including Red Sox P Manny Delcarmen, "who teased her by signing 'If I Only Had a Brain' from 'The Wizard of Oz'" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/6).

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  • Media Notes

    Stats LLC has partnered with India-based mobile network Reliance Mobile to build and market iPhone apps for cricket audiences around the world. The deal, involving the Stats Global Network and a Mumbai-based network member Sportz Interactive, began with the development and release of an official iPhone app for the ICC World Twenty20 2010, a major international cricket tournament currently underway that includes live scoring, match video and other content. Reliance Mobile is a global partner of the International Cricket Council (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

    Writer Feels NBC Should Embrace Penguins
    Showing Away Games On Outdoor Screen

    SHORTSIGHTED POLICY? In Pittsburgh, Joe Starkey writes NBC's refusal to allow the Penguins to show games broadcast by the net on a large screen outside Mellon Arena is "hopelessly short-sighted." Starkey: "The big story here is that thousands of people are gathering to watch a hockey game on television. In this country, that is rarer than a roaming bison and should be celebrated, not eradicated." NBC "should accentuate the outdoor party during its broadcasts, paint the picture of how a traditional football market has embraced hockey to the point where 6,000 or so people watch from lawn chairs." Starkey: "Use it as promotional tool, NBC. Use it to sell the game" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 5/6).

    SUPER RETURNS: In N.Y., Brian Stelter notes CBS' posted Q1 total advertising revenue of $2.38B, up 17% from last year, and about half that percentage gain, more than $150M, "was credited to CBS's broadcast of the Super Bowl." CBS Corp. President & CEO Leslie Moonves added that the net is "on pace to collect at least" $100M in retransmission fees this year (N.Y. TIMES, 5/6). Meanwhile, Time Warner Chair & CEO Jeff Bewkes "didn't dismiss" speculation that CNN and CBS News are "looking into a collaboration." Bewkes: "We look forward to working with CBS. We have obviously a lot going together on sports, (and) there are some possibilities in other arenas" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 5/6).

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