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CBS Sports Exec VP & Network President David Berson said that “replacing weekday reruns with talk shows ... is in the works” for the channel, according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Berson said that the first of those shows will be “The Tim Brando Show,” a “simulcast of the CBS announcer’s Sporting News Radio show that will now move to a TV studio.” Berson added that the show “will debut in August.” Berson also said that the net, which was recently renamed and previously called CBS College Sports Network, “will keep tying in with CBS’ announcers and events and look for more of its own events.” But he added, “The sports rights landscape is incredibly competitive now.” Berson noted that CBS Sports Network is “in about 43 million homes and available to an additional 52 million on pay tiers” (USA TODAY, 6/15).
NEW GIG FOR RICH ROD: CBS Sports Network yesterday announced that former Univ. of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez will serve as a college football game and studio analyst. Rodriguez will call games with announcer Dave Ryan and will be part of CBS Sports Network’s studio programming from N.Y. (CBS). In Detroit, Mark Snyder noted Rodriguez was “part of the network’s Signing Day special, working with analyst Tom Lemming to [assess] various recruiting classes, including Michigan’s.” CBS “doesn’t do much Big Ten coverage,” so there is “little chance of Rodriguez calling games involving Michigan or his other former school, West Virginia” (FREEP.com, 6/14).
LOGGING ON: The CBSSports.com College Network has added Army, Minnesota, Missouri State, Nevada and Ohio State to its network of schools for which it produces official athletic department websites. With the quintet of new schools CBSSports.com now produces official sites for 75% of universities in the six major conferences. CBSSports.com has spent much of the past year implementing improvements to the multimedia player used by schools in the network, and this fall will be rolling out a series of new mobile applications for the iOS, Android and Blackberry platforms (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
ESPN/ABC Sports President George Bodenheimer participated in a Q&A with Jon Lafayette as part of a cover story for BROADCASTING & CABLE. Bodenheimer discussed the "future of sports, the effect of technology on television and where the industry is going," and he "remains extremely positive about ESPN's prospects going forward." Below are excerpts from the interview.
Q: How disappointing was this Olympics outcome?
Bodenheimer: We were very comfortable with what we bid, and those were the terms upon which we would have been happy to get it, so conversely, we're not disappointed in the least.
Q: How does this affect ESPN's momentum going forward?
Bodenheimer: We put our best foot forward and we're comfortable with that, so not getting (the Olympics) will have zero impact on ESPN going forward.
Q: Where is ESPN's business and the business of sports heading? Where is the growth?
Bodenheimer: I see growth in all things digital, whether it be our traditional online ESPN.com types of businesses -- we have many now. But beyond that, from a distribution standpoint obviously mobile communications are continuing to grow.
Q: What would be your biggest worry about where the business is heading?
Bodenheimer: I think we obviously can't control -- nobody can -- the overall economic factors. I would say those are probably the biggest worry.
Q: At this point, can you measure whether or not your iPad app is cannibalizing ESPN on TV? How would that affect revenue?
Bodenheimer: The beautiful facts about all things digital is that when it comes to sports they are making the entire pie grow. All of the new products that have been created by ESPN over the last few years have done nothing but support the growth of the traditional television business (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 6/13 issue).
HOPING FOR AN NFL SEASON: Bodenheimer spoke with Fox Business’ Liz Claman at The Cable Show in Chicago yesterday and said “we're optimistic” there will be an NFL season. Bodenheimer: “There will be a deal. The only question is when, of course, and we're certainly hopeful that they will be playing this fall as scheduled. If they're not, we'll figure out how to program successfully without it. We got tons of college football that we can rely on, and we'll make the best of it if we have to.” Bodenheimer demonstrated the new “Watch ESPN” app which has a “great picture” and is a “live stream of ESPN” on mobile devices. The app has already been downloaded more than 2 million times since it was launched in April. Bodenheimer: “It's like having a portable TV. I mean, this device is a game-changer.” He also said he has read the recent book on ESPN, “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” and noted that it “tells an excellent story, or it tells the story of how ESPN grew from nothing into the business that it is today, and that's what the authors set out to do and told us they were going to do. I believe in large part they’ve effectively succeeded” (“Countdown to the Closing Bell,” Fox Business, 6/14).
The AP's David Bauder noted ABC's telecast of Mavericks-Heat NBA Finals Game Six Sunday was "seen by nearly 24 million people, leading ABC to its most-watched week during the slow summer season in nearly 10 years." ABC led in primetime for the week with an average 5.5 rating and 9.2 million viewers. Mavericks-Heat averaged 17.3 million viewers across the six games (AP, 6/14). In DC, Lisa de Moraes listed the Finals among her "winners" for the week. De Moraes: "LeBron James just keeps on giving to Disney" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/15).
RACING BACK TO NASCAR: Fox' 13-race package of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season concluded after the June 5th race at Kansas, and SCENEDAILY.com's Erik Spanberg noted the results "are encouraging." Fox averaged 8.6 million viewers for its telecasts, up 9.7% over last year. But "most important of all the numbers crunching for Fox and NASCAR is the resurgence of interest among males between the ages of 18 and 34, a coveted advertising target." Fox averaged 20% more viewers in the demo over last year. Fox Exec VP/Research & Programming Bill Wanger: "We're happy with where we finished. We and NASCAR still have a ways to go, but we're headed in the right direction" (SCENEDAILY.com, 6/13).
MY BUDDY AND ME: NASCAR.com's TNT Race Buddy made its debut for the '11 season during last Sunday's Sprint Cup 5-Hour Energy 500 at Pocono, and it set a single-day traffic record with 1.1 million streams. The previous record was 712,000 streams for a race in June '08. The 1.1 million streams also was up 187% from last season. Enhancements to TNT RaceBuddy this season include allowing fans to choose from a total of 10 camera views, twice as many as last year (Turner).
LISTENERS YANKED AROUND: Many South Florida Yankees fans are "getting frustrated when they try to listen" to the team's games on the radio. The games are "broadcast on Sports 640-AM, but there was no sound at that frequency" yesterday. The station in a statement on its website said, "Due to technical difficulties at our 640 AM transmitter site, we are currently broadcasting on AM 1400. We will resume broadcasting on AM 640 as soon as possible" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/15).