SBD/Issue 238/Sports MediaPrint All
ESPN's "I Have Choices" Website Part Of
Advertising Around Carriage Negotiations
The Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner Cable in their carriage talks are "engaged in a classic game of chicken, building toward a Sept. 2 deadline," according to Brian Lowry of FOXSPORTS.com. Such negotiations are "invariably settled at the 11th hour," but what is interesting about these negotiations is that both sides are "trying to enlist the public's aid and sympathy, including radio ads and dedicated websites." Time Warner's competitors, including DirecTV and Verizon FiOS, also are "bombarding the public with a steady stream of 'Drop Time Warner, switch to us!' full-page ads." Lowry noted a SNL Kagan survey indicated that ESPN is "by far the most expensive basic-cable channel, earning $4.10 a month per subscriber," and it is "not just serious fans and 'SportsCenter' junkies who shell that out, but grandmothers who live alone." Both Disney and Time Warner "know there are alternatives -- among them dropping cable and relying on Internet connections or services like Netflix." Lowry wrote despite the "posturing and finger-pointing, Disney and Time Warner will eventually reach a deal, but their war of words has already invited consumers to consider where their money goes" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/24).
TAKING IT TO THE WEB: In Orlando, Sarah Lundy notes Time Warner also is negotiating for Bright House Networks in the talks, and both ESPN and Bright House said that they are "committed to reaching an agreement and that negotiations are ongoing." ESPN and Bright House "aren't saying much else, but they are using websites to 'educate' the public about what's happening." ESPN's site features a "countdown clock with days, hours, minutes and seconds left before the contract expires," while Bright House's site "tries to reassure viewers not to worry." Lundy notes ESPN also is "airing radio ads" about the talks (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/25).
NFL fans "who have coveted watching the NFL Sunday Ticket package, which has long been available only on satellite on DirecTV, can buy it starting next month online for $350," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The price is $50 more than "first-time buyers of the service on DirecTV are paying to watch the out-of-market games and $30 more than existing customers are being charged." The service "will send streaming video of the games and the Red Zone channel to computers and a range of mobile devices, including the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/25). MULTICHANNEL NEWS' R. Thomas Umstead reports the broadband Sunday Ticket is the "latest attempt by one of the big four pro sports leagues to play in the live-game streaming arena." DirecTV Senior Dir of Sports Marketing Alex Kaplan noted that the company in '07 "began streaming live NFL games as part of a premium, $99 upgrade for subscribers already purchasing its $300 linear Sunday Ticket package." Kaplan said that the service "has since generated 'fairly significant' growth in subscriber usage for the streaming package and has delivered incremental revenue for DirecTV and the league." Umstead notes Kaplan "still sees the broadband NFL Sunday Ticket package as a compliment to its linear package and not a substitute for watching the package on television." However, other leagues "see broadband packages more as revenue generators." The NHL's GameCenter Live online package "provides fans with multiple camera angles for one game a night," and NHL Senior VP/Direct & Digital Marketing and Fan Analytics Perry Cooper said that the league "experienced a 25% increase in subscription sales for the 2009-10 package compared to last season." Meanwhile, NBA Digital Senior VP & GM Bryan Perez said that the league "garnered 'significant' sales for its inaugural 2009-10 NBA League Pass Broadband Package." Umstead notes MLB "has been among the most successful thus far in pitching its online out-of-market package to consumers," as MLB.TV generated "more than 500,000 subscribers during the 2009 season" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 8/23 issue).
YET TO CROSS THE ATLANTIC: The GUARDIAN's Josh Halliday noted new research indicates a "distinct lack of appetite for internet streaming of football matches" in the U.K. Only 2% of respondents to a joint YouGov and SMG Insight survey of 2,122 British adults said that they were "likely to stream football over a home computer." The results come "just as the Football League looks to the web for new revenue streams." The survey also indicated that one-third of 18-to-34-year-olds plan to watch EPL games "outside the home this season, with 23% opting for a pub or club and 11% saying they are most likely to watch a game at a friend's house." Meanwhile, 51% of respondents aged 18-34 said that they intend to watch EPL games at home, compared with 84% of respondents aged 45 or older (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/23).
Kelly Requested Shorter Commercial Breaks
Due To Fast-Paced Offense
NBC during its Notre Dame football telecasts this season will "switch to the NFL TV model of five shorter commercial breaks per quarter instead of four longer commercial breaks," according to Whiteside & Farris of USA TODAY. The total advertising time "will be the same," as NBC Sports & Olympics VP/Communications Chris McCloskey noted the "commercial load this year will be identical to last year." The shorter breaks "will run about 1:45 compared with 2:30 last season." Whiteside & Farris note new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly runs a "no-huddle spread offense," and Kelly yesterday said, "We've talked to NBC about the way we like to play the game vs. maybe how it was played in the past. There's certainly a need for us to address it, and I think we're working with NBC to make certain that they get what they need from an advertising standpoint" (USA TODAY, 8/25). Kelly said that his conversations on the matter, which have included Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick and the NBC production staff, have "already taken place on how to find a compromise between what Kelly needs to accomplish on the field, and what the network needs to accomplish through advertisements." BLUEANDGOLD.com's Todd Burlage noted the average airtime for NBC Notre Dame telecasts last season was three hours and 28 minutes, which was "still at least 20 minutes longer than an average ABC or ESPN game that typically stays close to the three-hour mark" (BLUEANDGOLD.com, 8/24). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wrote one can guess that NBC is "getting nervous about how to get its commercials in if Notre Dame starts running 80 plays a game." Kelly's Cincinnati offense "averaged 77 plays per game last season," which was "10 more than the national average" (CBSSPORTS.com, 8/24).
Howard Confident His Co-Hosts -- Fowler,
Corso And Herbstreit (l-r) -- Will Fill Extra Hour
ESPN’s veritable college football pregame show “College GameDay” is coming on the air at 9:00am ET this season, an hour earlier than in previous years, but there do not appear to be any internal concerns about filling the three-hour show. “If we didn’t think we could do it given the importance of this show to our college football franchise and the network as a whole, we wouldn’t do it,” ESPN VP/Programming & Acquisitions Dave Brown said yesterday on a conference call. “GameDay” co-host Desmond Howard cited his on-air partners Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso as having “too much pride in our show and what they do” to let the program become watered down at all. Howard is not concerned about being stretched thin when it comes to filling out the expanded show. “There are so many stories -- not even on-the-field, but off-the-field stories -- that I don’t think we’ll have a problem coming up with content.” He added story ideas that were discussed during weekly production meetings in the past but did not make it on air “could easily fill a three-hour show.” The opening hour, which will be hosted by Erin Andrews on ESPNU, will include appearances by other ESPN personalities, including Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz. “They’ll be very creative in the first hour,” Howard said. “We have a lot of different people contributing to that hour.” “GameDay” begins its 24th season Sept. 4 in Atlanta for the North Carolina-LSU Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. Meanwhile, the growth is not limited just to football, as ESPN today announced plans to expand the college basketball edition of "GameDay" to an extra hour. That show will now begin at 10:00am on ESPNU before moving over to ESPN at 11:00am. The season debut on Jan. 15 will feature the reverse, though, as ESPN will air the first hour. Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps and Bob Knight all return for the '11 basketball season (Rick Ellington, THE DAILY).
ADDITIONS TO BIG TEN NET: The Big Ten Network (BTN) today announced its lineup of on-air talent for the upcoming football season. Eric Collins and Tom Hart will serve as the new main play-by-play voices for football telecasts. Studio and game analysts will include former Big Ten players LeCharles Bentley, Rosevelt Colvin, Muhsin Muhammad, Derek Rackley and Amani Toomer. Pro Football HOFer Dan Dierdorf also will join the net as host of "Big Ten Film Vault." The net also will roll out new production elements like music, graphics, and the "Fox Box" (BTN).
The NHL and Versus will announce an enhanced TV schedule today that will see the league's cable partner air 13 more games than it did during the '09-10 season. Versus will continue its push to show more hockey in '10-11 by showing nine games in the first seven days of the season, including a tripleheader on Oct. 7, with one game from Europe during the day and two that night from North America. During the final week of the season, Versus plans to broadcast a game every night of the week leading into the playoffs. The net in total will air 78 regular-season games, a 20% increase from last year. Versus will complement its increase in games with an increase in pregame coverage by adding 30 "Hockey Central" broadcasts before games.
CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said that the U.S. Open would be broadcast in 3D, though it will be available only to viewers who own Panasonic enabled TV sets and who receive DirecTV. DirecTV has a U.S. Open package, so the CBS feed will be available in 3D for those with the Panasonic sets. The tournament gets underway on Monday (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). CBS Sports Senior VP/Operations & Production Ken Aagaard indicated that the net "plans to produce the middle weekend ... and the final weekend" in 3D. The coverage will be "broadcast on DirecTV's 'n3D' channel, which is sponsored by Panasonic, and there are ongoing discussions about distribution via other pay-TV outlets" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 8/24).
EYES ON THE PRIZE: CBS Sports yesterday released its NFL broadcast pairings for the '10 season, and play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle is now on the No. 3 team, replacing Dick Enberg, who currently is working Padres games. Eagle is paired with analyst Dan Fouts, who was Enberg's partner last year (CBS Sports).CBS NFL BROADCAST PAIRINGSPLAY-BY-PLAYANALYSTJim NantzPhil Simms
Greg Gumbel Dan Dierdorf Ian Eagle Dan Fouts Kevin Harlan Solomon Wilcots Gus Johnson Steve Tasker Bill Macatee Rich Gannon Don Criqui Steve Beuerlein Spero Dedes Randy Cross
PEOPLE & PERSONALITIES: The Oilers have tabbed ECHL Alaska Aces announcer Jack Michaels as their new radio play-by-play announcer, replacing Rod Phillips. Phillips is "retiring after 37 years at the microphone, except for 10 selected games he'll call this season against some of the Oilers longtime playoff foes" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 8/25)....Columbia State reporter Joe Person is moving to fellow McClatchy newspaper the Charlotte Observer to cover the NFL Panthers. Josh Kendall will replace Person as the State's Univ. of South Carolina football beat writer (THESTATE.com, 8/25).
THE AFTER PARTY: NESN on September 3 will premiere "After The Game," a new lifestyle program produced by Linda Pizzuti Henry, wife of Red Sox Owner John Henry. The show offers an inside look at athletes' homes, followed by a look at the charities that they are passionate about (NESN).