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CBS and the PGA of America have extended their 20-year relationship with a new eight-year contract for the network to broadcast the third and fourth rounds of the PGA Championship through '19. The current contract runs out this year. An announcement is expected later today at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said the PGA Championship is an important piece of the network’s golf programming, which includes The Masters and 19 PGA Tour events. “We pride ourselves on being the premier golf network,” McManus said. “Having the first and final majors of the year is an important part of our golf strategy. The PGA has been a terrific partner and we had no intention of letting the PGA Championship go anywhere else.” Financial terms of the deal were not available. McManus said that nearly half of the advertising inventory for the tournament is occupied by the PGA of America’s partners, which include American Express, Mercedes-Benz and RBC at the highest “patron” level. “The way the PGA has worked with our sales team has been instrumental in the growth of our revenue for the event,” said McManus, who handled negotiations for CBS along with Exec VP/Programming Rob Correa. PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka led the negotiations on his side. The PGA earlier extended its deal with Turner Sports for first- and second-round coverage and digital, which also runs through '19.
A year after shifting to uniform 1:00pm ET race start times, NASCAR and ESPN agreed to move the time of Chase for the Sprint Cup championship races to 2:00pm and 3:00pm in '11. Those races begin in September, and shifting the time of the races will differentiate the start time from NFL games that begin at 1:00pm. ISC President John Saunders said, "Adjusting start times so you're not up against the NFL kickoff times is a better long-term strategy for the sport." ESPN executives said last fall that head-to-head competition with the NFL, which shares many fans with NASCAR, contributed to declining ratings. Viewership on ESPN/ABC during the Chase declined more than 18% in '10. Moving the start times also allows ESPN to schedule its pre-race coverage on ESPN at 1:00pm, right before the race. Pre-race coverage last year was on ESPN2, while "Sunday NFL Countdown" was on ESPN before Chase races. NASCAR Senior VP Paul Brooks said the later times, especially the 3:00pm start time for the final four races of the season, is more in line with big-event moments the sport believes its postseason provides. Brooks: "In Miami this year it felt a little early to have a Championship (at 1:00pm)." NASCAR will keep consistent 1:00pm and 3:00pm start times for East and West Coast races, respectively, throughout the rest of the season.
Magnus hoping for decision on high
school programming in 3-4 months
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: In Dallas, Chuck Carlton notes Byrne was the "first official to publicly question whether the new Texas TV network agreement with ESPN might run afoul of NCAA recruiting rules," and he "probably won't be the last." A school network "remains largely uncharted territory ... for Texas, for the Big 12, for ESPN and for the NCAA." BYU has its own cable channel, but programming "consists mainly of an academic or church nature." One "early challenge will be defining the Texas network." Schools "can't talk about prospective recruits until they sign national letters of intent," and "any publicity of oral commitments by colleges is strictly forbidden." However, cable networks including ESPNU, FSN and CBS College Sports "routinely mention recruiting news and information." Carlton writes of highly recruited Aledo High School RB Johnathan Gray, "What happens if the Longhorn network features Aledo and Gray in a game telecast? More than one telecast? In a half-hour feature? What happens if the people interviewing him aren't wearing ESPN logos, but Texas-centric network logos?" Carlton: "It's a good bet the NCAA by-laws will undergo significant fine-tuning by the time the network debuts, sending ripples throughout the membership" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 1/27).
SI's Peter King was profiled on Tuesday night’s edition of HBO “Real Sports,” and HBO's Mary Carillo said of King's “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, “Three million readers click on King every week, which is as many subscribers as there are to the entire Sports Illustrated magazine.” Carillo added King’s “blend of exclusive up-to-the-minute news and commentary has also made him the marquee info man” for NBC’s “FNIA.” He also was named the ’10 Sportswriter of the Year. Carillo: “Perhaps more impressive than any of it is how the middle-aged former print reporter transformed himself into a blogging, Twittering and Facebooking sensation.” King: “I’m better in this media age because I get this business: The immediacy, the volume with some quality in it and the ability to write a lot.” Former NFL coach Bill Parcells said of King, “I’ve come to learn over the years that I was probably wrong about him in that he wanted the story but he would not compromise everything personally to get it. That’s why people are willing to engage with him and to help him because I found him to be a very trustworthy person.” King: “While I want to break as many stories as I can, I don’t view that as my absolute primary job. I think my primary job is to try to put the game and the people in it in some perspective, and in trying to help people understand the game a little bit more.” Following the taped segment on King, Carillo told “Real Sports” host Bryant Gumbel in-studio, “He knows that there are some people who don’t care about some of the stuff he writes about and he accepts that.” Carillo said “there’s no offseason in football, and that’s the whole point” of King’s "MMQB” column (“Real Sports,” HBO, 1/25).
In N.Y., Bob Raissman cites sources as saying that Stephen A. Smith is "closing in on a deal" with ESPN that would "initially have him doing a radio talk show" on ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y. A station official "would not offer any comment concerning Smith, including if he's on the verge of signing a contract." Raissman notes Smith first appeared on ESPN in '03 and had a show on ESPN Radio1050 from '05-08 before he left ESPN in April '09. However, Smith "didn't completely burn his bridge to ESPN," which is "why he appears so close to returning" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/27).
PAYING THE PRICE: The GUARDIAN's Matt Scott notes ESPN used analyst Andy Gray during its U.S. coverage of Euro '08, but following Gray's firing from Sky Sports over sexist comments ESPN has "given a strong hint that it will not offer Gray a route back into football commentary" either in the U.K. or the U.S. Gray also appeared on Fox' U.S. UEFA Champions League coverage, as Fox Soccer Channel "used Gray through a Sky feed." Last season's UEFA Champions League final carried the Sky Sports broadcast, and a Fox spokesperson said, "We plan to do it again this year, whoever they are." Meanwhile, Gray "has been the voice of EA Sports' FIFA franchise of football games for a number of years without interruption." An EA spokesperson said, "EA Sports has not made any announcements about our in-game commentators for FIFA for 2011. Those announcements will be made later this year." Scott: "That is far from a ringing endorsement for an organisation that has previously used Gray's services as a matter of routine" (GUARDIAN, 1/27).
OVER THE TOP: SI.com's Jon Wertheim in his Australian Open mailbag fielded a question from a reader who found ESPN's Chris Fowler's "mocking" of Stanislas Wawrinka during his quarterfinal against Roger Federer to be "unprofessional and disrespectful." Wertheim agreed it was "completely excessive," as losing to Federer is not like "squandering a golden opportunity by playing subpar tennis [against] some qualifier." Wertheim added it was not Wawrinka's "best day at the office ... but it didn't look to me as though he [was] tanking." He also wrote that for a "tomato can," as Fowler described Wawrinka, beating Andy Roddick and Gael Monfils "still makes for a solid tournament" (SI.com, 1/26).
SHOWING HOW IT'S DONE: FOXSPORTS.com's Brian Lowry wrote Fox NFL analyst Troy Aikman "has become a kind of template for deftly transitioning from the field to the broadcast booth." He "specializes in covering games in a manner that seldom draws attention to himself." Lowry: "'Colorful' certainly isn't a term that applies to Aikman. ... 'Staid competence' is more like it -- somebody who doesn't get in the way of the action and even dares to be a little bit boring" (FOXSPORTS.com, 1/25).
GET WELL SOON: TSN host James Duthie is "on the sidelines with post-concussion syndrome after a recent ski accident." His "estimated time of recovery in unknown" (GLOBESPORTS.com, 1/27).