SBD/Issue 176/Sports MediaPrint All
Comcast Is Front Runner To
Obtain Local TV Rights For Astros
Comcast has emerged as the "clear front-runner in the bid to obtain local TV rights" for the Astros and Rockets, according to sources cited by John Ourand in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Comcast officials are "expected in the next few weeks to fly to Houston, where they could finalize the deal," which would "lead to the launch of a new regional sports network in the market" starting with the '12-13 NBA season. In order to make the deal, the Astros and Rockets are expected to "exercise an out-clause to their long-term rights deals" with FS Houston. Exact terms of those deals are not known. Under Comcast's bid, the Astros and Rockets would own a combined 70-80% of Comcast SportsNet Houston, "with Comcast holding the balance." If the Comcast deal is completed, it would be a "blow to Fox Sports Net, which has held the rights to the teams for a decade." FS Houston will continue to carry Astros and Rockets games for the next two seasons. Ourand notes the teams also "considered selling their rights to a combined bid from DirecTV and AT&T," but sources "described that bid currently as a long shot" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/24 issue). Astros Owner Drayton McLane yesterday said that talks "continue and that he has no timetable to determine when a deal could be reached." McLane: "We're talking with three candidates. We're in the process of evaluating everything, but no decision has been made. It's not pressing. We do need time to prepare, but there's no real rush on this" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 5/25).
Yankees-Mets In Primetime Earns Fox Best
MLB Regular-Season Audience Since July '08
Fox earned a 2.7 final Nielsen rating and 4.309 million viewers for its Saturday primetime MLB regional coverage, marking the net's best Saturday MLB rating since Aug. 8 last year, when the net earned a 2.7 rating (3.962 million viewers) for its afternoon telecast featuring Red Sox-Yankees in 88% of U.S markets. Saturday night's telecast featured Yankees-Mets in 49% of markets, and Cubs-Rangers in 23%. The 4.309 million viewers also marks the top MLB regular-season audience since the Fox' coverage on July 5, 2008, when the net earned a 3.0 rating and 4.538 million viewers for its afternoon window also featuring Red Sox-Yankees. Saturday's primetime telecast is up 42.1% from a 1.9 rating on the comparable Saturday afternoon last year, which fell on Memorial Day weekend. Among all primetime telecasts on broadcast TV for the week ending May 23, Fox' MLB coverage ranked 68th, and also ranked as the fifth highest-rated program on Saturday night (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
ROLLING THE DICE: Red Sox P Daisuke Matsuzaka Saturday took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Phillies, and SPORTINGNEWS.com's Dan Levy wrote, "Any fan of the game had to be interested in a potential no-hitter, so why not flip the switch to let Extra Innings pick up the action from the seventh inning on? Why couldn't Fox throw that game on FX or another channel and alert fans to go there? Or, what seemed to make the most sense, why not throw the game on MLB Network for those not getting the game on Fox?" Fox Sports Senior VP/Media Relations Lou D'Ermilio said, "We provided each of our other games several cut-ins to the Sox-Philly game. We also planned to carry the bottom of the ninth nationally had the no-hitter been intact. Our exclusivity on Saturdays exists to protect our local affiliates. It's a contractual stipulation that was agreed to by MLB and by extension each of the clubs." Levy wrote, "In the case of a special baseball event -- like a potential no-hitter or perfect game -- Major League Baseball should be able to step in and put the Fox production on their network" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 5/24).
The 11:15pm ET start time for next Saturday's Miguel Cotto-Yuri Foreman fight at Yankee Stadium could make for a late night for viewers on the east coast, but it also stands to deliver great pictures for HBO. The late start was necessary because Foreman, an Orthodox Jew who is studying to be a rabbi, cannot fight or even travel to the arena until the Sabbath concludes after sunset on that Saturday night. To make the date work, Foreman will remain at his Manhattan hotel until about 9:15pm, when he will be met by a police escort that will lead him to the Bronx. HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg said, "We'll have a helicopter following him and cameras on him as he makes his way to Yankee Stadium. It should be great television."
Tennis Channel will provide a portion of its advertising inventory to Google TV Ads' system, effective immediately, making the network the first single-sport channel inventory partner of the three-year-old online-based television platform. Google TV Ads offers second-by-second measurement and data, which Tennis Channel will apply to its ad sales efforts. Tennis Channel joins a list of Google TV ad partners that includes CBS College Sports (Tennis Channel).
MISSING THE SPOT: U.K. broadcaster ITV said that it is “investigating a fault with its screening” of Nike’s new “Write the Future” TV spot, as viewers in the south of England and Wales "missed the climax of the three-minute commercial" during the net's coverage of Saturday's UEFA Champions League final. A Nike spokesperson said, “We have had over 5m views of the ‘Write The Future’ film in the last four days on our YouTube channel alone, so we are confident that the fans knew what they were watching. Having said that, it is disappointing if ITV cut the ad before the end and we’re waiting to hear back from them on exactly what happened” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 5/25).
POSITION UPGRADE: In Sacramento, Ailene Voisin wrote former NBA Kings courtside reporter Kayte Christensen "should craft a nice career ... with a few more years of seasoning." She "lacked the poise and presence of Kara Lawson but was a drastic improvement over her predecessor, Angela Tsai." But Jim Gray, who recently joined the team as a special correspondent, is an "immediate and major upgrade." He "operates in a different league," and as he "brings an important dimension to the Kings' broadcast crew, adding prime-time talent and a reputation as a probing, well-connected, occasionally aggravating reporter" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 5/23).
BOOTH REVIEWS: In Daytona Beach, Michael Lewis wrote it is "great to hear Ted Robinson doing matches for Tennis Channel" during the French Open. He was "sorely missed on the U.S. Open last year; a tremendous talent" (NEWS-JOURNALONLINE.com, 5/24)....YAHOO SPORTS' Doug Farrar wrote former NFLer Kurt Warner "did very well" Friday in his broadcasting debut during the AFL Arizona Rattlers-Iowa Barnstormers game on NFL Network. Warner "proved to be an engaging presence in the booth." Farrar: "At times, Warner would talk over the action; then he'd reverse field and seem to be too conscious of that timing to answer a question. But those types of things will be hammered out over time. I think Warner's deserving of the NFL broadcasting chance he wants, and I hope he gets it sooner than later" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/21).