SBD/Issue 245/Sports Media

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  • Disney, TWC Deal Includes Creation Of New ESPN-Branded Services

    TWC Will Be Able To Offer Some
    ESPN3 Programming On Its Sports Tier
    Sixteen hours after its midnight deadline passed, Disney and Time Warner Cable have signed a long-term deal that will see the cable operator launch at least several new ESPN-branded services. In addition to renewing deals for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classic, ESPN News and ESPN Deportes, Time Warner and Bright House Networks agreed to launch ESPN3, ESPN 3D, ESPN Deportes HD and two RedZone-style services centered on college sports, ESPN Goal Line (college football) and ESPN Buzzer Beater (college basketball). (Time Warner Cable negotiates programming deals for Bright House.) The ESPN3 deal is particularly interesting, since it marks a significant change in ESPN's financial model for the broadband service. ESPN has sold the service to ISPs based on their total number of broadband subscribers. Time Warner Cable agreed to buy it, but only if it could limit its access to its broadband subscribers that also subscribe to video. This means that a Time Warner Cable sub who subscribes to DirecTV, for example, will not have access to ESPN3 programming. In another first, Time Warner also convinced ESPN to allow it to make some ESPN3 programming available on its sports tier. Neither Time Warner nor ESPN could say when the service actually will be available to Time Warner subscribers. "We've been flexible consistent with the needs of our distributors, in this case Time Warner Cable," an ESPN spokesperson said. "Every negotiation/deal is different and we continue to make ESPN3.com a better overall service for distributors and customers." To that point, sources said ESPN recently signed a deal that charges Comcast a flat fee, rather than per subscriber, for access to ESPN3.

    COST ANALYSIS: The companies are not commenting on press reports that Time Warner is paying $0.40-0.50 per subscriber per month for ABC's O&Os. Sources told THE DAILY that Disney was seeking one fee for all its programming.

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  • Fox Using Wider Angle HD Shot For NFL Coverage This Season

    HD Viewers Will Be Able To See More
    Of The Field, Especially Horizontally

    Fox this season is aiming to present all its NFL telecasts "in the 16-by-9 screen aspect ratio for high definition format, instead of the 4-by-3 ratio for standard definition format, which has been the norm," according to Bob Wolfley of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Viewers with HD "will be able to see more of the field, especially horizontally, hence getting a better look at a developing play." Viewers without HD "will get the wide look, but in compressed letterbox form -- black strips along the top and bottom of the screens." Fox President Eric Shanks noted the majority of the net's ratings, "60-plus percent, will come from HD viewership." Shanks: "It's time to actually ... start producing for the majority, which has invested in HDTV. Up until now, we have still been producing for old television sets. People with HD haven't gotten the full effect of us producing in a full 16-by-9. So we decided to make the switch." Shanks noted that some cable companies "on the standard def side don't have their equipment set correctly to provide the wide format in letterbox." In those cases, viewers will get a "chopped frame where, for example, all of the score box cannot be seen" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/3).

    WORKING ON A GAME PLAN: Fox has produced three preseason NFL games in 16-by-9 and is working on a strategy with the league to roll it out for the regular season. Shanks told THE DAILY: "We're working with the NFL between now and week one on how we're going to proceed with 16-by-9 as soon as we get all the data back from viewers and data back from the league." Fox has produced MLB games in 16-by-9 for the past two months, during which time the broadcaster has been able to figure out which cable operators are not doing the letterbox correctly. Shanks said, "By us doing baseball for the last six or seven weeks, then these preseason games, with the viewer feedback we really narrowed in on the cable systems that aren't doing letterbox correctly on the standard def side. ... If the cable systems would do the letterbox correctly, nobody would have an issue at all" (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

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  • Tennis Players Taking Offense To Criticism From Commentators

    Roddick Told Analyst
    To Stop Being So Critical

    As the U.S. Open heads into its second week, there is a "feud brewing on the courts: player versus commentator," according to Hannah Karp of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. With Tennis Channel and ESPN "only covering the U.S. Open for the second year, the number of talking heads has mushroomed at the Grand Slams lately, and they're not announcing matches in the hushed, respectful whispers still favored by British tennis fans and golf enthusiasts." Many announcers are "taking a chattier, more irreverent and in some cases just plain louder approach, and their commentary is zooming back to the players ... thanks to text messaging and social-networking tools like Facebook and Twitter." That chatter is "rankling some of the tour's more sensitive players, like Maria Sharapova and Andy Roddick, not to mention purist fans accustomed to watching points in silence." Roddick told Tennis Channel analyst Justin Gimelstob to "stop hammering his forehand." Roddick this week sent Gimelstob a text message while watching his analysis on TV, saying, "I'm enjoying watching you sweat all over yourself." Similarly, Sharapova "recently became so sick of the relentless criticism and dissection of her serve on the air that [her] coach, Michael Joyce, begged the ESPN crew to lay off." Karp notes the tension "came to a head earlier this summer when James Blake heard ESPN commentator and former pro Pam Shriver criticizing his play from the sidelines at Wimbledon." ESPN's Chris Fowler noted that he "offended one top player recently with a comment that he was 'in denial' about the state of his career." The player subsequently told Fowler in an interview, "By the way, I am not in denial about anything" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/3).

    GIVE 'EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote ESPN "got burned by its conflicts of interest" while covering Roddick's second-round loss on Wednesday, during which he got into a heated argument with the chair umpire. The notion of ESPN analyst John McEnroe "offering measured analysis of a player-official conflict is absurd," and he "turns it into a self-referential joke instead." Patrick McEnroe, who "owes much of his Davis Cup success to Roddick, was in a compromised position," as was analyst Brad Gilbert, Roddick's former coach. Instead of "criticism or a suggestion that this ugly behavior is beneath Roddick, the discussion veered awkwardly into a ruminations on whether the challenge system should exist for foot faults" (SI.com, 9/2).

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  • Final Nielsen Ratings From Recent Sports Telecasts

    The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings (THE DAILY).

    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    RAT.
    VIEWERS
    (000)
    NFL Preseason: Steelers-Broncos
    8/29
    Fox
    8:08-11:10pm
    6.1
    10,127
    NFL Preseason: Cowboys-Texans
    8/28
    CBS
    8:00-11:00pm
    3.9
    6,441
    NFL Preseason: Chargers-Saints
    8/27
    CBS
    8:00-11:30pm
    3.7
    5,938
    LLWS Championship: Japan-Waipahu (HI)
    8/29
    ABC
    3:00-5:43pm
    2.0
    3,042
    PGA Tour: The Barclays: Final Round
    8/29
    CBS
    2:00-6:15pm
    2.1
    2,929
    LLWS: U.S. Championship:
    Waipahu (HI)-Pearland (TX)
    8/28
    ABC
    3:56-7:00pm
    1.8
    2,737
    PGA Tour: The Barclays: Third Round
    8/28
    CBS
    3:26-6:00pm
    1.7
    2,373
    LLWS: Int'l Championship: Japan-Taiwan
    8/28
    ABC
    1:00-3:56pm
    1.4
    2,062
    MLB: (regional)
    8/28
    Fox
    4:00-7:15pm
    1.2
    1,683
    Olympus U.S. Open Series: Pilot Pen Tennis
    Women's Final: Wozniacki d. Petrova
    8/28
    CBS
    1:00-3:26pm
    0.7
    948
    Diamond League Track & Field (taped)
    8/29
    NBC
    3:00-4:00pm
    0.7
    939
    Tennis: Arthur Ashe Kids' Day
    8/29
    CBS
    12:00-1:30pm
    0.6
    807
    "Training Days: Rolling with the
    Alabama Crimson Tide" (taped)
    8/29
    ABC
    2:00-3:00pm
    0.6
    n/a
    Tennis: U.S. Open Preview
    8/29
    CBS
    1:30-2:00pm
    0.6
    n/a
    "E:60"
    8/29
    ABC
    1:30-2:00pm
    0.5
    n/a
    Golf: U.S. Amateur Championship:
    Final Round
    8/29
    NBC
    4:00-6:06pm
    0.5
    699
    Maloof Money Cup: Orange County (taped)
    8/29
    Fox
    3:00-4:00pm
    0.4
    576
    Golf: U.S. Amateur Championship:
    Third Round
    8/28
    NBC
    4:00-6:00pm
    0.3
    438
    TELECAST
    DATE
    NET
    TIME
    RAT.
    VIEWERS
    (000)
    NFL Preseason: Colts-Packers
    8/26
    ESPN
    8:00-11:17pm
    3.6
    5,729
    NFL Preseason: Cardinals-Titans
    8/23
    ESPN
    8:00-11:10pm
    3.4
    5,060
    NASCAR Nationwide Series:
    Napa Auto Parts 200
    8/29
    ESPN2
    2:30-6:33pm
    1.5
    2,328
    MLB: Red Sox-Rays
    8/29
    ESPN
    8:00-11:07pm
    1.3
    2,001
    LLWS: Pearland (TX)-Auburn (WA)
    8/25
    ESPN
    8:07-10:18pm
    1.2
    1,851
    LLWS: Auburn (WA)-Fairfield (CT)
    8/24
    ESPN2
    8:21-10:10pm
    0.9
    1,460
    LLWS: Taiwan-Panama
    8/25
    ESPN
    6:16-8:07pm
    0.9
    1,310
    LLWS: Waipahu (HI)-Columbus (GA)
    8/26
    ESPN2
    7:00-9:16pm
    0.8
    1,270
    LLWS: Pearland (TX)-Auburn (WA)
    8/26
    ESPN
    4:00-6:27pm
    0.9
    1,264
    LLWS: Hamilton (OH)-Columbus (GA)
    8/24
    ESPN
    4:00-5:57pm
    0.8
    1,252

    HARD KNOCK LIFE: HBO averaged 947,000 viewers for the fourth episode of "Hard Knocks" on Wednesday night, marking the show's best audience this season to date. The episode, which featured the Jets' finances and the release of WR Laveranues Coles, is up 94% from the premiere of last year's fourth episode featuring the Bengals. Including replays and encores, "Hard Knocks" this season is averaging 4.1 million viewers per week (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).

    LIVIN' ON THE AIR IN CINCINNATI: Tuesday night's Brewers-Reds telecast on FS Ohio, which featured the debut of Reds P Aroldis Chapman, earned a 12.6 local rating in Cincinnati, marking a record for a Reds game on the network (THE DAILY).

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