IOC Wraps Up Beijing Inspection Latest In Rays' Quest For Ballpark Audi, Cubs Announce Sponsorship Deal Shooting For "Fantasy Life" Starts Today Beckham-Branded Products Headed To China Rousey Signs Multi-Fight Deal With UFC Vikings Increase Stadium Contribution Coyotes' Boynton On Leave Of Absence NCAA's Emmert Addresses Indiana Law NASL Expands Deal With ESPN
SBD/January 6, 2011/MediaPrint All
ESPN and the NFL have agreed to broad terms on a new media rights deal that will be worth nearly $2B per year. Specific numbers still are difficult to confirm, but multiple sources say ESPN has told the NFL that it will increase its annual rights fee by 65-70%, which means it will pay the league a record fee, between $1.8-1.9B a year. Despite agreeing to pay the league nearly $2B per year to extend its rights to NFL content, including “MNF,” neither ESPN nor ABC will be in the rotation to carry the Super Bowl, according to several sources. In fact, it appears that ESPN still will not have the rights to televise any NFL playoff games, at least not initially. The league has long been unwilling to move playoff games off of broadcast television. But during the negotiations, ESPN has been pushing hard to pick up at least one wild card game, and the NFL has shown signs that it is willing to consider moving a playoff game to cable eventually. The contract extension still has not been finalized and could be several weeks away from completion. But many of the bigger deal terms -- including money and length -- essentially have been worked out, sources said. ESPN will wrap up “MNF” rights well into the next decade. The deal length is for nine or 10 years, which would take it up to '22-23. Both ESPN and the NFL issued separate statements this morning saying conversations between the two parties continue, but no agreement has been reached.
ESPN PUSHING FOR BROADBAND RIGHTS: As is part of all ESPN negotiations these days, the network is pushing forward on a “TV Everywhere” concept that includes broadband and mobile rights. The two sides still have not reached an agreement on mobile rights, however. Last year, Verizon signed a four-year, $720M sponsorship deal that includes the exclusive mobile rights to stream “Sunday Night Football” and NFL Network games, as well as the NFL RedZone channel. The NFL sees significant value in these types of rights and is guarding them jealously. The two sides have agreed that ESPN will hold onto key rights, including highlights and the NFL Draft, which has grown in stature since ESPN first started covering it in '80. The NFL had toyed with the idea of making the first few rounds of the draft exclusive to NFL Network, but ESPN will continue to carry it through the new deal. The potential deal comes as the NFL enters its CBA negotiations and sets up consistent and profitable revenue streams for the league. It comes after the league last year extended current partners NBC, CBS and Fox through '13.
INSIDE THE TALKS: The NFL and ESPN started talking about extending the deal around Labor Day, when an exclusive negotiating window opened in ESPN’s current 8-year, $8.8B deal. The window originally expired around Thanksgiving, but talks progressed far enough that the two sides agreed on an extension. Talks have reached the highest levels of both companies, with ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer visiting NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at the league’s Manhattan offices several times this fall. Teams led by ESPN Exec VP/Content John Skipper and NFL Exec VP/Media Steve Bornstein have handled most of the negotiations. Even before this negotiation, ESPN was paying the league much more than any of the NFL’s other TV partners. ESPN’s annual payout of $1.1B dwarfs the annual rights fees paid by Fox ($720M), CBS ($620M) and NBC ($603M). DirecTV pays about $1B a year for exclusive access to Sunday Ticket.
TWITTER REAX: Reaction to news of the prospective deal reached Twitter this morning, with the National Football Post’s Andrew Brandt writing, “Reports of $2B/yr ESPN-NFL deal, per @SBJSBD, show continuing power of NFL programming. Players' share in haul is key issue of CBA talks.” The AP’s Dave Goldberg wrote, “ESPN $2 bil SHOULD make labor agreement closer. But knowing way it works, it might divide 2 sides even more.” ESPN’s Ross Tucker: “Let's have a lock-out and screw this thing up!” But NFLPA Assistant Exec Dir for External Affairs George Atallah wrote, “Filed to the NFL is Having Cash Flow Problems Department: $2B MNF extension.” Meanwhile, Newsday’s Neil Best wrote, “Wow. Your cable TV $$$ at work. …Please don't blame your cable or satellite provider when bill rises to reflect ESPN (and others) paying big rights fees to sports entities.”
Fox, CBS, NBC and ESPN each saw year-over-year gains for NFL game coverage this season, with some nets seeing their best years ever. Fox finished with an 11.8 Nielsen rating and 20.1 million viewers during the regular season, marking the net's best viewership figure ever since gaining NFL rights in '94, ahead of the previous record of 19.1 million viewers set last season. The net's rating this season is also the best since a 12.5 average rating during the '95 season. Compared to last season, Fox' figures are up 3.5% and 5.2%, respectively. Fox also averaged a 15.2 rating and 25.9 million viewers for its nine national window telecasts, down 1.9% and 1.1%, respectively, from last season. CBS also saw big gains for its NFL telecasts, averaging an 11.1 rating and 18.7 million viewers, marking the best viewership for an AFC TV package in at least 23 years (CBS records only go back to '87). CBS' average rating also marks the best figure for the AFC package since '95. Compared to last season, CBS was up 6.7% and 8.9%, respectively. The net's nine national windows averaged a 14.3 rating and 21.9 million viewers.
PRIMETIME: NBC finished the season with a 13.0 final Nielsen rating and 21.8 million viewers for its 18 NFL telecasts, marking the net's best audience figures since it began airing "SNF" five seasons ago. This year's numbers are also up 11% and 12%, respectively, from an 11.7 rating and 19.4 million viewers for 17 telecasts last season. From the start of the current TV season (Sept. 20) through the end of the NFL regular season, "SNF" has been the No. 1 primetime show on all of TV among viewers and all key male and adult demos, marking the first such accomplishment for an NFL primetime program since Nielsen began its people-meter measurements in '87. NBC's 18 telecasts were also the No. 1 show in primetime on all of television for the night they aired. Seven of the top 10 most-viewed "SNF" games on NBC occurred this season. NBC also saw year-over-year growth for its "Sunday Night Football Extra" streaming on NBCSports.com. According to data from Omniture, "SNF Extra" delivered 2.5 million unique visits this season, along with 4.1 million video starts and 65.2 million total minutes on the feature. Those figures are up 26%, 16% and 18%, respectively, from the '09 season.
CABLE: ESPN averaged a 9.1 U.S. rating and 14.7 million viewers for its 17 "MNF" telecasts this season, marking the net's highest-rated and most-viewed "MNF" season since it began airing the series in '06. "MNF" was also the most-viewed series on cable TV in '10. For the five seasons that ESPN has aired "MNF," the net has registered nine of the top 10 largest cable TV audiences ever among viewers, including five from this past season. Compared to last season's record-setting TV numbers, "MNF" was up 1.1% in ratings and 1.9% in viewers. "MNF" also ranked No. 2 during the NFL season among all regularly-scheduled primetime programs among adults 18-49. Meanwhile, NFL Network's eight game telecasts this season averaged a network-record 5.7 million viewers, up 2.8% from last year's viewership.FINAL '10 NFL GAME VIEWERSHIPNETWORK'10
% +/-NBC21,84819,41812.5%16,63831.3%Fox20,10019,0975.3%16,99218.3%CBS18,74717,2118.9%16,21115.6%ESPN14,65714,3821.9%11,96222.5%NFL Network5,7055,5482.8%3,73852.6%
SHOULDER PROGRAMMING: NBC averaged 8.3 million viewers for its "Football Night in America" highlight show from 7:30-8:15pm ET, marking the best audience yet for the show. "Fox NFL Sunday" averaged 5.4 million viewers this season, marking the pregame show's best viewership in nine years and giving the net a win over CBS' "The NFL Today" for the 13th straight seasons. "The OT" on Fox also averaged 12.3 million viewers, down from last season's record-setting figure. "The NFL Today" on CBS finished with 4.5 million viewers, marking the show's best audience since the '98 season. ESPN showed gains for both of their NFL pregame shows, with "Sunday NFL Countdown" viewership up 6.0% and "Monday Night Countdown" viewership up 17.5%.NFL PREGAME/HIGHLIGHT SHOW VIEWERSHIPNETSHOWVIEWERS
(000)PREV.% +/-Fox"The OT"12,30012,700-3.1%NBC"Football Night In America"8,3007,40012.2%Fox"Fox NFL Sunday"5,4004,90010.2%CBS"The NFL Today"4,5013,74920.1%ESPN"Sunday NFL Countdown"2,6522,5026.0%ESPN"Monday Night Countdown"3,5323,00617.5%
Fox has secured the rights to the Pac-12’s football championship game in '11, giving the network a doubleheader of championship games on Dec. 3. Fox also has the Big Ten’s title game that day. Industry sources said Fox is paying the Pac-12 $25M for the championship game and other game inventory that is the result of the conference’s expansion from 10 teams to 12. The Pac-12’s championship game is valued at around $14.5M, sources said; the other $10.5M is part of a prior contractual obligation. An announcement on the deal is expected later today. The conference still is referring to itself as the Pac-10, but it will become the Pac-12 on July 1 when the addition of Colorado and Utah becomes official. Fox’ lineup on Dec. 3 likely puts the Pac-12 game in an afternoon time slot, with the Big Ten’s game following in primetime. Fox’ acquisition also puts a dent in ESPN’s lineup on Dec. 3, which will feature just one title game from the ACC. The Big 12, which lost Colorado and Nebraska (to the Big Ten) to drop down to 10 teams, no longer has a championship game. CBS carries the SEC’s championship game.
IOC Finance Commission Chair Richard Carrion said that all networks interested in acquiring U.S. TV rights to the Olympics have "approached the IOC about" bidding for the next four Games, "rather than the usual two-games deal," according to Stephen Wilson of the AP. The IOC had been "planning to auction only the lucrative rights" to the '14 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the '16 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. But Carrion, who handles U.S. broadcast deals for the IOC, said that the organization now is "weighing the possibility of widening the high-stakes bidding to include" the '18 and '20 Games as well. An Olympic official indicated that ESPN and Fox have been "among the most adamant for a four-games deal." NBC and a joint CBS-Turner bid also are said to be interested in bidding for the rights. Wilson noted adding two more Olympics to the package "could bring the total rights fee" to more than $4B. Since the IOC has yet to select host cities for the '18 and '20 Games, the networks could be "bidding on two Olympics without knowing where they will be held." IOC member Dick Pound, the committee's former negotiator of U.S. TV rights, said that the four-Games package "made financial sense to the networks as a long-term investment." Carrion said that he "would support the idea, which is expected to be discussed at IOC executive board meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, next week." The IOC has "postponed the U.S. rights negotiations for more than a year because of unfavorable economic conditions and a slump in the advertising market." Carrion said the organization now is "preparing to go ahead with the auction in the first half of the year" (AP, 1/5).
YOU'VE GOT THE WHOLE WORLD: AROUND THE RINGS selected Jacques Rogge as one of its "Golden 25," and Ed Hula wrote the IOC President "can shape the future of the organization beyond his tenure with a lucrative U.S. rights package for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics." Rogge has indicated that he would "like to see a deal worth $2 billion" for the '14 and '16 Games, and he will work with Carrion to "see that those bids generate the cash they believe the Olympics are worth in the U.S." Rogge said, "It’s important for us because we redistribute 94 percent of our revenue. What we redistribute to the IFs, the NOCs, the grass roots development, Olympic Solidarity, two-thirds come from the TV rights in the United States and the rest of the world" (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 1/3).
ESPN earned an 8.2 U.S. Nielsen rating and 13.635 million viewers for Tuesday night's Ohio State-Arkansas Allstate Sugar Bowl, which is up 20.6% and 25.3%, respectively, from a 6.8 rating and 10.879 million viewers for the comparable Iowa-Georgia Tech Orange Bowl on Fox in '10. The increase marks ESPN's first BCS window-to-window ratings/viewership gain thus far when compared to last year's games, and delivers ESPN its second-best non-NFL audience ever behind this year's Rose Bowl. Ohio State-Arkansas, however, is down 3.5% and 12.2%, respectively, from an 8.5 U.S. rating and 15.533 million viewers for the Florida-Cincinnati Allstate Sugar Bowl last year on Fox, which aired in primetime on New Year's Day (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).SUGAR BOWL RATINGS, VIEWERSHIP TRENDYEARMATCHUPNETDAYRAT.VIEWERS (000)'11Ohio State-ArkansasESPNTues.8.213,635'10Florida-CincinnatiFoxFri.8.515,533'09Utah-AlabamaFoxFri.7.813,369'08Georgia-HawaiiFoxTues.7.011,702'07LSU-Notre DameFoxWed.9.314,417
POWER OF THE PEOPLE: FANHOUSE.com's David Steele noted there is "no end of complaints and tirades directed" at the BCS, and "suggestions on how to tweak, alter, destroy or replace the system span the spectrum." Yet the "idea that gets the least mileage, it seems, is this: stop watching the games." Steele wrote that is the "only idea that can work," the "only weapon the public has in its arsenal." As long as TV ratings, "measurable interest and intangible buzz all remain high, the powers-that-be in college football will always be able to quantify their reasons for sticking with the system." There will "never be a concern that there won't be a bidder the next time the TV contract comes up," and there will "never be a shortage of corporate backers for the naming rights, commercials and other sponsorship" (FANHOUSE.com, 1/5).
The success of HBO's "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic" has encouraged the network to "broaden its programming with other leagues in the heat of their regular seasons," according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg: "This might have been a game-changer and proven that we should pursue other leagues and other sports. We've talked to other leagues over the last couple of years. But now there's much more awareness of this kind of programming." The NHL, Penguins and Capitals "provided broad access to HBO." NHL COO John Collins: "We didn't put any parameters on them, and they took it to a level that I don't think anybody could have hoped for." Through the first three episodes, viewership of the series was "just below HBO's average of about three million for all showings of its boxing '24/7' shows." The first episode, the "only one that HBO has full numbers on," drew 2.8 million total viewers in a week, including 555,000 for the Dec. 15 premiere and the first repeat. The second episode "had the same number and the third fell to 549,000." Sandomir writes the series has been "funny, foul, revealing, ribald, bloody and gritty," and the "template would be the same if other sports followed the NHL's example: an all-access look at a short part of the season that leads to a climax." Greenburg: "You have to do high-profile events that hit the mark." Sandomir notes "one such event could be golf's Ryder Cup, which would move HBO into a new sport." An NBA spokesperson said that the league "had turned down several requests for teams to be in" a similar series, but an MLB spokesperson said that the league "would be interested in exploring opportunities" with HBO (N.Y. TIMES, 1/6).
FOND FAREWELL: HBO aired the final episode of the "24/7" series last night, and in N.Y., Jeff Klein wrote under the header, "A Bittersweet Farewell." The series is a "superb, engrossing documentary." Penguins coach Dan Bylsma's "halting description of his feelings at seeing the bittersweet end of the month-long '24/7' experience was hard to forget." Bylsma said of the HBO crew, "I feel a little let down seeing these guys go." Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau Monday said, "They were understanding that they are in every nook and cranny and bugging us when we didn't want to get bugged. But they were so professional about it and so polite that it made you want them to have all access" (NYTIMES.com, 1/5). In DC, Dan Steinberg writes, "Parts of the ending of HBO's incredible Caps-Penguins 24/7 series were a bit overwrought for me. Especially the whole 'hockey won't hold still for a portrait' bit." But Steinberg added, "The voice over during the final scene ... went on to say that hockey conveys 'a passion invulnerable to cynicism,' and I can't really argue with that. That, in fact, is what makes the HBO stuff so great -- it's all-access, and it's comfortable, and it's honest, and so it's not phony" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/6). In Pittsburgh, Maria Sciullo noted Post-Gazette readers "responded through e-mail and social media to say overwhelmingly, they don't want it to end." Readers said that they "enjoyed ... family moments, including holiday dinners and a scene where Pens coach Dan Bylsma is cooking dinner with his family." Sciullo: "Language aside, many readers said they enjoyed watching the series with their families" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/5).
Boudreau became one of the show's breakout stars due to his colorful language
PENS VS. CAPS, THE LOST FOOTAGE: Greenberg noted there is a "ton of footage on the floor" that was not used during the show, and if "there's a huge demand for a DVD of the series, we would have to oblige." He said, "I don't know how much of it we could scrape up and put together. I don't know how much of that will ever be seen. The NHL has all of this game footage at their disposal in the future. We retain the rights for a year. ... I hope we could put that together." Greenburg added, "Having seen all the cuts and putting it together this week, I've never seen hockey covered like this and it makes me real proud that ... this HBO Sports team could put this together" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 1/5).
Conference USA yesterday announced a five-year deal with FSN worth about $43M after having been on ESPN since '01, and the "pluses outweigh the minuses" of the move for the league, according to Jack Bogaczyk of the CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL. Through the new deal, C-USA "could get into" around 85 million HHs, compared to about 100 million HHs on ESPN, but if fans think the new contract is a "bad move … think again.” The conference's football teams "won't be playing any more Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday home games, other than the rarity,” though there “will be a few Thursdays thrown in.” Also, the financial terms nearly double the ESPN contract, which expires this school year and "was for $22 million over six years.” C-USA “wasn't going to get BCS conference money from ESPN,” and it “wasn't going to land more football appearances with crowded ESPN, unless they were on weeknights.” Bogaczyk notes the ’05-10 ESPN contract “originally was signed in 2001 as an eight-year pact worth about $90 million” to C-USA. But it was “renegotiated down to $22 million" when Louisville, Cincinnati, South Florida, Marquette and DePaul left C-USA for the Big East. The conference has since “rebuilt itself as an all-sports dozen,” but the league “lost plenty of telecast clout -- and money” -- from the departure of those schools. Bogaczyk: “The conference made a good deal. It doubled its money and appearances in its major package. After taking a hit when it lost big names and big bucks, C-USA prospered this time” (CHARLESTON DAILY MAIL, 1/6).
PLAYING ON SATURDAYS: Univ. of Memphis AD R.C. Johnson said that the new FSN TV deal “was a logical decision.” Johnson: “When you get right down to it, we’ve basically doubled the money and doubled the exposures. And we were able to hang on to CBS (College Sports) as well.” In Memphis, Phil Stukenborg notes the deal “also will eliminate the nontraditional football playing days that caused scheduling headaches" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 1/6). C-USA Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs Courtney Morrison-Archer said, “One exciting aspect of this agreement is the majority of our football games will be able to stay on Saturdays. It’s maximizing not only fans’ ability to attend games, but watch as well. There may possibly be some Thursday night games, but you eliminate other mid-week games that were part of the previous deal” (TULSA WORLD, 1/6). Marshall AD Mike Hamrick: “I’m very pleased. Any time you double your revenue and triple your exposure and have Olympic sports involved, as an athletic director you have to be pleased” (CHARLESTON GAZETTE, 1/6). Southern Miss AD Richard Giannini also is “pleased with the exposure that the partnership with Fox will give the league.” Giannini: “I think it’s huge. I think it’s tremendous. It’s a real breakthrough for us and for our league. I think it’s really, really positive” (HATTIESBURG AMERICAN, 1/6).
CHANNEL SURFING: In Orlando, Iliana Limon notes the new deal “could transform coverage of UCF in the state of Florida, opening the door for Fox regional network Sun Sports to carry more of the Knights football and basketball games.” C-USA officials confirmed that there will be “opportunities for third-tier television agreements with regional networks such as Bright House Sports Network” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 1/6). In Houston, David Barron notes the agreement “also will bolster FS Houston’s presence as the Rockets and Astros prepare to leave the network” in ’12 (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 1/6).
Despite considerable questions around 3D TV, complaints over the cost and bulkiness of the glasses, and sluggish sales in many pockets of the industry, the enhanced format is for the second straight year making a major showing the Int'l Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, officially beginning its '11 version today. Also making significant noise during a run of company previews yesterday were next-generation connected TVs and tablet devices designed to compete with Apple Inc.'s much-lauded iPad. Like last year, retail rollout of the new sets and devices is generally targeted for the late spring and summer. A look at some of yesterday's major announcements:
SONY: Among the most bullish proponents of 3D TV last year as the technology made its way into consumer TVs for the home, Sony this year more than doubled down on that initial investment, unveiling a dizzying array of 3D-enabled devices and services that included larger TVs, Blu-Ray players, digital video streaming, still and video cameras, laptops, video gaming, and a new nature 3D TV channel, 3net, in partnership with Discovery Communications and IMAX. The spate of announcements covered a wide range of genres and platforms, but sports was among the leading elements, in part through the company's continued support of ESPN 3D, now being expanded into a full 24/7 network. "In 2011, 3D becomes personal," said Sony Chair & CEO Sir Howard Stringer. "3D is far more than a science fiction gimmick. ... It simply mirrors the experience of reality itself." Stringer also unveiled prototypes of glasses-less 3D sets the company is experimenting with, but like Sony's competitors, there is no definitive timetable for that technology to be commercialized. Sony is additionally partnering with Time Warner Cable to offer Sony TVs that can show cable channels from the distributor without a set-top box.
Samsung projects '10 global sales total of more than 1 million 3D TV set to grow sixfold in '11
PANASONIC: Like its competitors, Panasonic pushed bigger, thinner and cheaper 3D TV sets, and for the second straight year also complemented the display units with a push in 3D-enabled camcorders. But the company was also the one making the most noise toward a common platform for active-shutter glasses. Currently, each manufacturer's technical standards for the glasses are proprietary, meaning they cannot be used for competitors' sets, in turn often creating problems for group-viewing events common to televised sports. "It's not a matter of if, but when," said Panasonic Corp. of North America Chair & CEO Joe Taylor. "And when that happens, it's going to be transformative." Panasonic also had its own projections for 3D growth, predicting that the technology will have 32% of the total TV market by '14. The prior line of Viera Cast televisions with online media streaming functionality is being expanded to include Viera Connect, encompassing a new batch of IPTV-based services. Initial sports applications within Viera Connect include ones from MLBAM, the NHL, NBA, MLS and Fox Sports. A series of health and fitness applications, compatible with various exercise devices, will seek to stake out the individualized, TV-based workout space carved out by EA Sports and others.
CISCO: As expected, Cisco yesterday debuted Videoscape, a cloud-based effort that seeks to tie together traditional TV content, digital and mobile video, social media, Cisco's own efforts with TelePresence video teleconferencing, and other video. In action, Videoscape operates like a centralized dashboard, showing traditional TV, online content, and recent social media postings all at a single glance. Rather than put its efforts behind an over-the-top video service such as Roku or Boxee, Cisco instead is seeking to partner with existing cable companies, content owners, and Internet service providers, with those outlets serving as the primary means of distribution to consumers. And the effort internally ties together Cisco's previously disparate efforts in sports and entertainment, video conferencing, Internet routing and video delivery. "We think this is precisely where the market is headed and is going to completely transform what television is," said Cisco Chair & CEO John Chambers. Sports, not surprisingly, was a central feature in the Videoscape unveiling, with NBA All-Star Game behind-the-scenes video content, deriving from the league's deal with Cisco, among the elements shown.
Sharp touting Quattron technology at CES instead of 3d TVs or connected TV functionality
Columbus, Ohio, resident Ted Williams yesterday said that he “plans to take a gig with the Cleveland Cavaliers, which offered him full-time announcing work and a house,” according to a front-page piece by Joy & Saunders of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Williams “only days ago” was homeless and carried a sign that read he had a “God-given gift of voice.” A video of Williams uploaded to YouTube on Monday “has since attracted almost 8.5 million views and yielded for Williams numerous interview requests, as well as potential job offers” from MTV, ESPN and the NFL. Cavs Senior VP/Marketing Tracey Marek said that Williams’ “history of drug and alcohol abuse and theft doesn’t necessarily disqualify him for the opportunity” (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/6). Marek added that Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert, who also owns Quicken Loans, was “part of the committee that decided to extend the offer to Williams.” In Akron, Jason Lloyd notes part of the deal included “assisting with housing through Quicken Loans, although details of that are sketchy” (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 1/6). In Cleveland, Mary Schmitt Boyer notes the Cavs during last night’s home game against the Raptors “urged fans to visit their new Web site, WeWantTedWilliams.com, to send a note to Williams” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 1/6). Williams this morning appeared on NBC's "Today" and said the Cavaliers "said they were going to give me LeBron's old house" ("Today," NBC, 1/6).
INTERNET SENSATION: FANHOUSE.com’s Pat McManamon wrote Williams' story “illustrates the surreal power of the Internet, and how one video of just more than a minute can capture national attention.” McManamon: “Consider the average person laid off from his job walking into the offices of the Cavs or NFL Films and asking for a job while also admitting to alcohol and drug abuse as well as a criminal record. The receptionist might call security.” But “everyone loves second chances” (FANHOUSE.com, 1/5).