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"Hard Knocks" Featuring Division Rival Jets
Not Appealing To Brady, Belichick
Patriots QB Tom Brady during his regular Monday morning appearance on WEEI-AM yesterday revealed he has not been watching HBO's "Hard Knocks," which is featuring the Jets this season, according to Glen Farley of the Brockton ENTERPRISE. Brady: "You know, I haven't turned it on. I hate the Jets, so I refuse to support that show." Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of the show, "I missed it. ... I'm sure I'll probably see some of it. I don't even know when it's on." Belichick did say, "Anything NFL Films does is probably worth watching. Nobody does it better than they do in terms of making things interesting, making football interesting. ... If NFL Films does it, I'm sure it'll be good, entertaining, interesting, but I haven't seen it." Meanwhile, Patriots and former Jets LB Marquise Murrell said that it was "'not shocking' to learn that the dialogue on the HBO show, particularly when the lips of the Jets head coach are moving, can get rather colorful." Patriots LB Tully Banta-Cain "can't help but wonder if there might be some embellishment involved in the show." Banta-Cain: "I've seen the show before. I haven't seen this year's, but it's a cool show. It gives you a little in-depth look. I think the players and coaches kind of play it up a little bit." Farley writes, "Don't plan on seeing the show filmed in Foxboro." Banta-Cain: "I don't think that's a possibility. We don't allow that" (Brockton ENTERPRISE, 8/24).
CLEANING UP ITS ACT: In N.Y., Mike Hale noted during the season premiere of "Hard Knocks," Jets coach Rex Ryan's "language -- common on the field, uncommon in primetime -- was distinctive enough that the same producers who had edited the show to highlight it felt the need to make preemptive excuses for it." Jets Owner Woody Johnson during the second episode was "seen addressing the profanity issue by telling Mr. Ryan on the sideline: 'You know what, I love it. Whatever you're doing, do it again. Keep doing it.'" But Hale noted Ryan in the second episode "didn't keep doing it." He "still swore, but there was a qualitative difference from Episode 1 to Episode 2: the A-list words were replaced by B- and C-listers." The "sleight-of-mouth" is "emblematic of the NFL's careful tending of its image and the role that NFL Films plays in generating the league's self-constructed mythology" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/21). NFL Films Senior Producer Ken Rodgers said of Ryan, "His whole credo is not to spend any energy on being anything but himself." In L.A., Sam Farmer notes there are six "softball-sized 'robocams' positioned in the offices" of Ryan and Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, as well as the team's meeting rooms. No one "but those operating the cameras know when they're activated, and the sound is picked up with microphones hidden in the rooms." Ryan: "The technology is such that you really don't notice it. It hasn't been difficult at all. ... I hope it's an accurate picture of who the New York Jets are, how we do business and how we also have fun" (L.A. TIMES, 8/24).
REALLY REAL: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand noted Jets CB Antonio Cromartie last week said that "Hard Knocks" staffers "had him redo a take in which he noted the names of his eight children -- and appeared to have difficulty doing so." But HBO Sports VP/Sports Publicity & Media Relations Ray Stallone Sunday said that that there was "only one take and he 'emphatically' denied Cromartie's claim, adding 'Knocks' was 'the most real reality show on TV'" (USA TODAY, 8/23).
NBC's Vikings-49ers Draws Best NFL
Preseason Week Two Rating In Seven Years
NBC earned a 6.7 final Nielsen rating and 10.822 million viewers for its telecast of the Vikings-49ers game on Sunday night, marking the highest-rated NFL Preseason Week Two telecast since Buccaneers-Rams earned a 7.4 rating in '03. The game's 10.822 million viewers also marks the best preseason Week Two audience since 49ers-Broncos in '02 drew 11.3 million viewers. Vikings-49ers helped earn NBC the win among all nets in primetime on Sunday night, and also marked the highest-rated and most-viewed telecast on TV for the week ending August 22. NBC also won Sunday night among all nets in the adults 18-49 demo, averaging a 3.0 rating. Meanwhile, Fox earned a 3.5 final rating and 5.339 million viewers for its telecast of Eagles-Bengals on Friday night, which was down 18.6% and 19.8%, respectively, from a 4.3 rating and 6.657 million viewers for the comparable Titans-Cowboys game last year. The net's Patriots-Falcons game last Thursday earned a 3.7 rating and 5.785 million viewers, down 11.9% and 11.8% from the comparable Eagles-Colts game in '09 (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reports Fox' ratings for Eagles-Bengals were down in part "because the game didn't sell out, so the coverage was blacked out in Cincinnati and Dayton" (USA TODAY, 8/24).
MSG Varsity Plans To Show 12
HS Football Games In HD
MSG Varsity GM Theresa Chillianis said that the net "will soft-launch in HD" today, making it the "only all high-school channel to transmit in the enhanced format," according to Mike Reynolds of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. The net, "devoted to all things high school," this school year also will "kick off a 'Friday Night Football' package, revamp its Web site and flanking interactive channel, and publish a magazine previewing the upcoming fall season." The net will "showcase its HD-quality images with its first live telecast" on Sept. 10, which will be one of 12 "Friday Night Football" telecasts that will "air across all of the network's four regions." The contests "will come replete with pregame and halftime segments," and MSG Varsity will "have a big presence on-site, with interactive booths and games to draw in the community." Reynolds notes MSG Varsity last year under its "High School Sports Showcase" banner aired 400 "professionally produced games, featuring multiple cameras and on-air commentators." Chillianis said that the net will "match that in the upcoming campaign." She also said that "digital enhancements will be unveiled on Sept. 7." In addition to "new looks and improved navigation, there will be improved search functionality, videoplayer and interactive photo galleries, as well as the ability to receive texts or alerts when new content about a school is added" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 8/23 issue). The N.Y. POST noted the "Friday Night Football" telecasts will feature the "best high school teams from throughout New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, Connecticut and Westchester." Coverage will include "live, on-location pre-game and halftime shows" and an "expanded, live version" of "High School SportsDesk," all in HD (N.Y. POST, 8/22).
Bloomberg Sports last night announced its new fantasy football analytics product, Decision Maker, will be integrated into NFL.com's relaunched fantasy game, the result of a new partnership with both the NFL and NFLPA. The application, free to NFL.com fantasy players, uses a proprietary algorithm to determine which players have the most likelihood for success in a given week, taking into account recent and historical performance, health, opponent, weather and numerous other factors. The product builds upon Bloomberg's existing fantasy sports efforts in baseball, and the NFLPA deal will enable the use of player images in Decision Maker, something that many other fantasy football games do not have. "There was a very good confluence of interests between our wanting to expand into football and the NFL relaunching their game," said Bill Squadron, head of Bloomberg Sports. "We're very excited, and think this is going to be the best fantasy football tool out there on the market." The online application will also be sold for $7.95 to players in any other fantasy league besides NFL.com, and Bloomberg is seeking additional partners to help distribute and promote Decision Maker. "We're leveraging a lot of assets to rebuild NFL.com fantasy, and this definitely helps us show another differentiated element to our game," said NFL Dir of Business Development for Digital Media Kevin LaForce (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
FANTASY FOOTBALL A BIG BUSINESS: CNBC’s Darren Rovell reported it is “hard to get the exact numbers, but people spend about $800 million in the fantasy business and that does not include entry fees." The most popular websites for fantasy football are ESPN.com (43%), Yahoo.com (31%), CBSSports.com (25%) and NFL.com (17%), along with the "fantasy football information business, about 20% of which is subscription based, the rest is supported by ads." Fantasy Sports Ventures CEO Chris Russo, whose company owns individual fantasy football sites, said for "consumers to want to pay for content of any kind in a day where so much is for free, the content has to be incredibly deep, incredibly rich, incredibly detailed." Rovell: "Many companies have started branded fantasy football games, and it's no wonder why given the incredible demographic that fantasy sports provides." Fantasy Sports Trade Association President Paul Charchian: "The profile is not what a lot of people think. The fantasy sports player is predominantly male … (and) white-collar. The average income for fantasy players is $90,000 a year and fantasy players over-index as spenders and consumers" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 8/24).
In Denver, Mike Klis reports Pro Football HOFer John Elway "will join Vic Lombardi and Gary Miller on their sports radio show" at 8:00am MT each Friday morning on KXDP-FM. Elway, who "agreed Monday on a two-year contract" with the station, was a "regular contributor last football season on a Monday-morning show" on a different radio station. Elway said of the role, "It helps keep me in touch with the team. Hopefully, I can provide a different perspective" (DENVER POST, 8/24).
GETTING UP OFF THE COUCH: In Lexington, Mark Story reports former Univ. of Kentucky QB Tim Couch will "begin a weekly gig as an analyst on Fox Sports South's 'SEC Gridiron Live,'" which will air live at 10:00pm ET on Wednesday nights. Couch also will work this fall as a color analyst for SEC football games shown on FS South, beginning with the net's telecast of the Sept. 4 Arkansas State-Auburn game. Couch said of the roles, "The difference with the studio show versus working a game, is that you have to be familiar with every team in the league. ... When you're working a game, you study two teams" (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 8/24).
NFL Pregame Shows Could Eye
Revis If He Is Still Holding Out
STAYING BUSY? In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote if holdout Jets CB Darrelle Revis does not sign a contract before the Jets' regular-season opener Sept. 13 against the Ravens, he "would be must-see-TV." It "wouldn't be surprising -- especially to some TV sources with NFL connections -- if Revis shows up Sunday, Sept. 12 on one of the network pregame shows." And if his holdout continues "further into the season, it would not be stunning also seeing Revis become a semi-regular contributor" to one of the pregame shows. Raissman noted when former NFLer Keyshawn Johnson was deactivated by the Buccaneers in '03, Fox put Johnson on its "Fox NFL Sunday" show. Also, active players "appear regularly on pregame productions during their bye weeks." It would "stand to reason CBS' 'The NFL Today' would be the place [Revis] lands" due to the net's broadcasting of AFC games, but Fox has a "history of dialing up stuff like this" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/22).
NOT A FAN OF THE COWBOY: NBCSPORTS.com's Aaron Gleeman noted White Sox TV announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson "spent the bulk" of Sunday's White Sox-Royals game "complaining about home plate umpire Joe West, who he feels holds a longtime grudge against the team that led to the Royals getting favorable calls." Analyst Frank Thomas at one point noted that during his career, the catcher and pitcher "would intentionally get 'crossed up' on a pitch and let it hit the umpire." Thomas' comment "seemed to be mostly a joke," but Harrelson "liked the sound of Thomas' 'idea' and suggested the White Sox actually do it to West" (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/23).
TOP BASEBALL VOICES: In Louisville, Eric Crawford wrote Reds radio announcer Marty Brennaman is a "textbook example of a classic announcer at the top of his game." Reds broadcasts are "some of the best-listened-to as a percentage of their market of any" in MLB, and Brennaman is the "major reason" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 8/23)....In Toronto, Chris Zelkovich wrote it is "obvious" that new Rogers Sportsnet Blue Jays announcer Buck Martinez has given the net "what it was looking for: an upgrade on what it had." Martinez brings an "air of authority, something that has been lacking for some time." But "equally important, he has raised the level of those around him, namely his analysts," as there is "little doubt that Pat Tabler and Rance Mulliniks have improved by working with Martinez" (TORONTO STAR, 8/23).
In N.Y., Bob Raissman notes YES Network Sunday during a rain delay in its coverage of Mariners-Yankees discussed Roger Clemens' perjury indictment, but the network was "late, three days after the story broke." YES "had a chance to get into it Thursday afternoon, during its Tigers-Yankees telecast, but ignored the story." When YES on Sunday "finally recognized Clemens' indictment, it became an officially sanctioned piece of Yankees memorabilia." The Yankees franchise "has distanced itself from the Rocket," and he has "no current value, marketing or otherwise," to the Yankees or YES. Yet there is "still some affection." YES' Michael Kay: "I don't know if he lied to Congress but I'll tell you this, on a personal level I got along great with Roger Clemens. I liked him. I thought he was a great guy." YES' Ken Singleton "yanked on the same emotional thread," calling it a "sad situation" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/24).
Media Analyst Says Potential Big East Network
Could Generate $80M Per Year In Revenue
BIG PAYOFF: In Milwaukee, Don Walker notes Big East Conference Commissioner John Marinatto earlier this month "raised the possibility of the conference setting up its own television network," and Navigate Marketing officials said that such a network "could generate $80 million a year in revenue." Navigate Valuation Analyst Jeff Nelson: "We think Big East schools that play football and basketball can generate around $15.2 million a year in revenue, while the schools that only play basketball can generate around $7.5 million in revenue." Nelson said that his analysis "showed that the Big East can generate such impressive revenue because of its geographic reach, its quality of play and 'corresponding numbers in viewership'" (JSONLINE.com, 8/23).
MONUMENTAL UNDERTAKING: Monumental Sports & Entertainment Chair Ted Leonsis, when asked if he is looking to start his own network, noted the company has a "great relationship" with Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Leonsis: "They are tremendous partners." But he added, "It would make financial sense for us to be involved in the distribution of our assets. ... This certainly is an area of keen interest for us and our teams in the NBA, NHL and WNBA" (WASHINGTON EXAMINER, 8/22).
AIRING DIRTY LAUNDRY: In Vancouver, Yvonne Zacharias reports Calgary-based Shaw Communications "has accused Rogers Sportsnet of using back-door tactics and holding sports fans hostage in the stalled launch of Rogers' new national channel, Sportsnet One." The channel, which was "supposed to air starting Aug. 14 with a six-month free trial period, has yet to become available to a western Canadian audience that is serviced largely by Shaw." Shaw Cable VP Jay Mehr said that "price is a sticking point in the negotiations." Zacharias notes Rogers "plans to broadcast 13 Canuck games on Sportsnet One in addition to the 45 it will show on Sportsnet Pacific" (VANCOUVER SUN, 8/24).