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The key elements of the PGA Tour's new nine-year TV agreements with CBS and NBC "were the length of the deal and the flexibility to expand digital products," according to Ron Sirak of GOLFDIGEST.com. The Tour's agreements with CBS, NBC and Golf Channel all expire after the '21 season, and the nature of the new deals give the Tour and its TV partners the "opportunity to explore new forms of media together." Now that NBC and Golf Channel are "both owned by Comcast, there will be increased cross-programming and simultaneous programming involving those two operations." The new agreements include a "wide range of simulcast coverage of live tournament action on various PGA Tour digital platforms starting with PGATour.com, as well as CBSports.com, NBCSports.com and GolfChannel.com." Sirak noted "some of these innovations will be implemented in 2012 and all will be implemented by 2013." Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed, but PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem "did say that the yearly revenue the tour receives will increase." CBS and NBC will retain "pretty much the same programming schedule they had under the current deal -- about 20 events for CBS and 10 for NBC -- and the deal ensures that the Players, the tour's flagship event, will remain in May at TPC Sawgrass" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 9/1). Finchem said Thursday, "It will generate more value to the broadcast carrier, it will generate more value to our sponsors because there are a variety of uses that tie into sponsorship, and it certainly will result in a much more robust way of programming and communication that's available to our fan base" (CBSSPORTS.com, 9/1). CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said, "I don’t like the expression ‘win-win-win,’ but I think in this case, for the tour and for CBS and for NBC I think it really is. And I think it’s going to prove to be probably an even better deal nine years from now than we think it is today" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/2). NBC Sports Chair Mark Lazarus said, "I think I can say with some certainty that it’ll be profitable in each of the nine years." McManus: "I would agree with that" (BOSTON GLOBE, 9/2).
TIGER WATCHING: McManus said that "nobody got bogged down fretting" over Tiger Woods, who hasn't won a PGA Tour event since '09. McManus: "Our business model does not anticipate any golfer being as dominant as Tiger once was. If that happened, it would just be an upside" (USA TODAY, 9/2). On Long Island, Mark Herrmann writes the PGA Tour's move to secure TV rights through '21 "refutes the idea television networks are interested in only one golfer and that they would be wary until Tiger Woods returns to form" (NEWSDAY, 9/2). The AP's Doug Ferguson noted the networks are "relying on the next generation of stars, even if none of them can come close to Woods' appeal." McManus: "Tim went into this negotiation with his team with a set of goals, as did we, and our goal quite simply was to renew the PGA Tour to keep our best tournaments, to keep the schedule intact, and come out with a deal that made sense for both us and our partners at the PGA Tour. And I'm pleased to say that I think we did that. And I could not be happier" (AP, 9/1). Finchem said, "The fans clearly have taken increasingly to the nature of our competition over the last couple years and in doing so reinstilled confidence in our sport that might have been waning when our No. 1 player was not that active. There is such a tremendous buzz and focus on this juxtaposition of Tiger and Phil (Mickelson) … against this huge increase in young players who are coming forward and able to win tournaments at every level" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 9/2).
LANDING ON THE GREEN: Finchem said the deal is the “continuation of a great partnership.” Finchem: “CBS, NBC and Golf Channel have worked together to be our partners for the last number of years and it has worked really well, both from a production standpoint and from a marketplace standpoint. It has created more value for our sponsors, better viewing for our fans and to be able to extend all that for 10 years, it is a terrific day for the PGA Tour.” Finchem added, “Our partners will continue to make money. It will be profitable. We will be able to grow our financial benefits to our players to some extent over five or 10 years. We will be able to take advantage of the new digital telecommunications aspects to reach people differently and excite fans. … For us, our television partners are stakeholders in the sport, that’s why they’re there, and we have been with our partners for a long time. They continue to invest more and more, in making the production quality better and promoting it more, and that is what you are going to see these next five to 10 years” (“Golf Central,” Golf Channel, 9/1).
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: In Jacksonville, Garry Smits noted Finchem "has had his share of critics," but "few can doubt one thing: When it comes time to deliver on TV contracts, he calmly walks up to buried lies and blasts them out to the edge of the cup." Finchem landed the new deals in a "horrible economic climate and with Tiger Woods in decline over the last two years." The commissioner "apparently has convinced TV executives that the young, internationally diverse stars emerging such as Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley, Jason Day and Gary Woodland are enough to carry the Tour for the balance of this decade" and into the next. Finchem also "has stubbornly proved a point to the many critics of the FedEx Cup: The season-long points race that has been the backbone of the Tour’s competitive structure since 2007, is here to stay." The players and "obviously the TV networks have warmed to it much faster than the armchair critics in the media." Smits noted Finchem's contract is set to expire in '12, and if he "decides to retire, he’s left the Tour’s TV situation in marvelous shape" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 9/1).
Fox Sports Net appears to be preparing to launch a San Diego feed that would most likely carry Padres games. A posting on a News Corp. website had the RSN looking for a Senior VP & GM for Fox Sports San Diego. "We're always looking for opportunities to grow our brand and serve the local sports fan," said FSN VP/Communications Chris Bellitti. According to the job posting, FSN is seeking a San Diego-based exec "for our newest region, San Diego. This position is responsible for the overall P&L, team relations, advertising revenue, programming, production, marketing, on-air promotions and public relations." Bellitti declined comment when asked if FSN had picked up the rights to the Padres. Sources said FSN was in discussions about the rights, which had been with Channel 4 San Diego previously (John Ourand, THE DAILY). In San Diego, Jay Posner cites a source as saying that the Padres and Fox Sports Regional Networks are "very close to an agreement in principle for a new network called Fox Sports San Diego to carry Padres games beginning with the 2012 season." The source indicated that the deal is "awaiting approval" from MLB. The source added, "It's just a matter of dotting i's and crossing t's and conforming to MLB's specifications." There is "no timetable for when the deal might be formalized" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 9/2).
College football reporter Bruce Feldman, whose reported suspension from ESPN in July "produced an uprising on Twitter, has joined CBS as a college football analyst," according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. While ESPN has denied that it suspended Feldman for his role in former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach's book, Feldman said network execs were "stopping me from being able to do my job." Feldman: "Let's put it this way, I was told not to blog, not to tweet, not to do any radio interviews. When I asked on that conference call (with ESPN officials), which was on a Thursday, about being scheduled to cover the SEC media kickoff in Alabama a week from then, I was told, 'No, you can't go.' The day after the conference call, when ESPN was claiming that there was no suspension, Chad Millman, the editor-in-chief of 'ESPN The Magazine,' actually added more restrictions." He continued, "What is unfortunate with all this is there was all this talk about whether I was suspended or not -- and ESPN spent so much effort to try to downplay that story -- but what is at the root of this is I was given permission to work with Mike Leach on the book." In response to Feldman, ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys said, "We have significant disagreements with his account. Beyond that, we are not commenting." Deitsch noted ESPN "let Feldman out of his contract early, which officially ended in September," so he could move to CBS (SI.com, 9/1).
HIS SIDE OF THE STORY: Asked Thursday morning what ESPN execs were "angry about," Feldman said, "I don't know. See, that's the thing. … You guys approved the book, you were told about it, you were told when there was a lawsuit going to happen. You were told about everything.” Feldman contends ESPN execs also "sent out a ‘do not book’ list to their talent producers," prohibiting him from appearing on network programming. Feldman then recalled a conversation with ESPN The Magazine Editor-at-Large Gary Belsky, who told the reporter, "We want to extend you for another three years, you'll get a raise." Feldman: "After that had happened, a week later I'm in Bristol and the three-year extension and the raise then all of a sudden became no extension, we'll offer you a one-year deal, no raise. Well something changed. There was some kind of disciplinary action that clearly was taken.” Syndicated radio host Dan Patrick, another former ESPN personality, said, "I know the feeling you're in and just so you know, it might get a little worse before it gets better because they fought me tooth-and-nail to try to put me out of business. Just understand that.” Feldman said, “In the last six weeks, I've seen what they are capable of. I'm glad I'm at a different place" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 9/1). Feldman added, "I’m leaving a place, at ESPN, where I had lost all faith in the management there" (WSJ.com, 9/1).
Univ. of Texas AD DeLoss Dodds Thursday said that Texas A&M “could have been a partner with Texas in a lucrative television network but wasn’t interested,” according to the Jim Vertuno of the AP. Dodds said that he first met with A&M AD Bill Byrne “about the idea of an Aggies-Longhorns network about four years ago but Byrne didn’t seem interested.” Dodds added that Byrne tried to “re-open discussions about a year ago, but by then it was too late.” Dodds: “I said we were too far down the road. We had to figure out how to do it by ourselves.” Dodds said that Texas “has been unfairly cast as greedy for pursuing a network that has been blamed for shaking up the Big 12.” Dodds: “It’s not about what we did. It’s about what they didn’t do -- create their own network” (AP, 9/1). Dodds said, “We did it for the right reasons, and we’re still doing it for the right reasons. We feel good and make no apologies. Should we apologize for someone paying us for it? I say no” (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/2). Byrne on Wednesday wrote, “Three or four years ago we talked about doing a joint flagship channel. I liked the idea, but our fans should know me better than to think I would pass on a $150 million for Texas A&M. That never happened” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/2).
Leading media execs “know there's more of a consumer push this year to incorporate social media” into live NFL TV broadcasts, according to Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. Fox Sports Media Group Chair David Hill said, "We may have paid lip service to it in the past, but this season, we're really getting into it." NBC "SNF" Producer Fred Gaudelli: "It's part of the culture now, but like everything else, it's about presentation, the how-and-when to use it." ESPN "MNF" Senior Coordinating Producer Jay Rothman: "There is value to it. ... We'd be foolish to turn our heads to it, but you don't want it to take over a telecast." Fox Sports Media Group co-President & co-COO Eric Shanks: "We're seeing another bubble atmosphere around social media, and trying to figure out what to do with these buzzwords.” He added, “We are looking at how to instantaneously come up with topics for hashtags during a broadcast to drive a particular conversation, and if it starts trending, it raises the awareness of television and makes people realize there's a game they'll want to watch, or go to the website to read a story, which is the core part of the business" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/2).
BAN THE BIRD: In Phoenix, Bob Young writes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “should consider suspending the use of Twitter and other forms of social media by players.” Cardinals DT Darnell Dockett tweeted Wednesday that he nearly went to the Cardinals facility "with a handgun before realizing that his book bag was a little heavy." Titans RB Chris Johnson, who came to an agreement on a new contract Thursday, “reacted earlier in the week to fans who accused him of greed.” Johnson wrote, "Can these fake Titan fans STFU (shut the expletive up) on my timeline." On Wednesday, Texans RB Arian Foster, who is “nursing a twingy hamstring, tweeted out a photo of his MRI.” Young writes, “There seems to be no end to the dumb things athletes can convey in 140 characters or less” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/2).
ESPN averaged 1.366 million viewers in primetime this summer (May 30-Aug. 28), down 6% from 1.453 million viewers during the same period last year. The net ranked ninth overall among cable networks in primetime, just below FX and just above Syfy. ESPN2 also saw a 9% drop in primetime viewership over the summer, with the net ranking 37th among all nets with 496,000 average viewers. Among sports nets seeing gains in primetime over the summer were NFL Network (+17%), MLB Network (+28%), Golf Channel (+10%), ESPNews (+6%) and Fox Soccer (+62%). Galavision saw a 53% jump in primetime viewership on the back of matches from the Copa America and FIFA U-20 World Cup tournaments (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
NOTES: ESPN2 averaged 270,000 viewers for its WNBA regular-season telecasts this season, marking the net’s best figure since ’05. This year’s audience is up 4.7% from 258,000 viewers last year (ESPN)….NFL Network averaged 1.78 million viewers for the rescheduled Jets-Giants NFL preseason matchup on Monday night, marking the third-highest audience for a preseason game in the net’s history. Six of the net’s top 10 most-viewed preseason games have taken place this year (NFL Network)….NESN earned a 15.2 local rating in the Boston market for Wednesday's Yankees-Red Sox game, marking the net's highest game rating of the season (NESN)....FS Southwest earned a 7.0 local rating and 181,600 HHs in the Dallas-Ft. Worth market for Tuesday night’s Rays-Rangers game, marking the net’s highest-rated Rangers game this season and fourth-best rating all-time (FS Southwest).
The chart below lists final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NFL Preseason: Saints-Raiders8/28NBC8:08-11:02pm5.69,270 NFL Preseason: Packers-Colts8/26CBS8:00-11:18pm4.16,740 NFL Preseason: Patriots-Lions8/27CBS8:00-11:12pm3.25,597 NASCAR Sprint Cup:
Irwin Tools Night Race^8/27ABC7:30-11:00pm3.05,067
Huntington Beach ,Calif.-Japan8/28ABC3:00-5:34pm2.43,866
"NASCAR Countdown"8/27ABC7:00-7:30pm2.2n/a LLWS: U.S. Championship:
Huntington Beach, Calif.-Billings, Mont.8/27ABC2:31-5:43pm1.82,765
Madden NFL 12 Pigskin Pro-Am (taped)8/28NBC7:00-8:00pm1.62,561 World Track & Field
LLWS: Int'l Championship: Japan-Mexico8/27ABC12:00-2:31pm1.21,685 MLB: (regional)8/27Fox4:08-7:23pm1.11,685 PGA Tour: The Barclays: Final Round*8/27CBS3:00-6:00pm1.11,542 World Track & Field
Arthur Ashe Kids' Day**8/28CBS12:00-1:30pm0.71,064 PGA Tour: The Barclays***8/28CBS2:00-6:00pm0.71,055 Horse Racing: The Travers Stakes8/27NBC5:00-6:00pm0.71,054 USA Pro Cycling Challenge8/28NBC2:00-4:00pm0.6931 Golf: U.S. Amateur Championship:
"U.S. Open Preview"8/28CBS1:30-2:00pm0.5n/a Golf: U.S. Amateur Championship:
ATP World Tour: Winston-Salem Open:
Isner d. Bennetea8/27CBS12:30-3:00pm0.4559
CHART NOTES: ^ = Many local stations on the East Coast pre-empted the race telecast for news about Hurricane Irene. The race also aired on ESPN in some eastern states as a backup for viewers in areas where hurricane news could pre-empt the race and on ESPN2 in eight markets where NFL preseason games were airing. * = Saturday of The Barclays was the final round due to the final 18 holes being cancelled ahead of Hurricane Irene. ** = Rained out. Coverage was from '10. *** = Coverage included highlights from '11 and '10 tournaments.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NFL Preseason: Bears-Giants8/22ESPN8:00-11:24pm3.85,853 NFL Preseason: Redskins-Ravens8/25ESPN8:00-11:25pm3.04,614 LLWS: Billings, Mont.-
Huntington Beach, Calif.8/24ESPN8:00-10:09pm1.42,280
LLWS: Clinton County, Pa.-
Warner Robins, Ga.8/23ESPN28:00-10:29pm1.42,138
LLWS: Huntington Beach, Calif.-
Clinton County, Pa.8/25ESPN28:00-10:00pm1.32,133
MLB: Angels-Rangers8/28ESPN7:58-11:24pm1.01,584 LLWS: Warner Robins, Ga.-
La Grange, Ky.8/22ESPN4:04-6:50pm1.11,547
"Monday Night Countdown"8/22ESPN7:00-8:00pm1.11,475 NASCAR Nationwide Series:
Food City 2508/26ESPN7:30-9:50pm1.01,439
"Monday Night Countdown"8/25ESPN7:02-8:00pm1.01,427
Dish Network started carrying MLB Network Thursday night, ending the biggest holdout among U.S. distributors for the baseball channel. The deal pushes MLB Network's distribution to 65 million homes, making it the most widely distributed sports league channel and ensuring it carriage on the country's top 10 distributors. The net said it has added 32 affiliates since Spring Training (mostly small distributors) and has seen more distribution growth than any sports cable channel. Dish Network is making MLB Network available on channel 153 via the America's Top 200 tier. It also is part of the Dish Latino Dos and Multisport packages (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
RAISING THEIR VOICE: In L.A., Helene Elliott reports the NHL Kings have agreed to a two-year deal with play-by-play announcer Bob Miller that "will take him to 40 seasons" with the team. Miller said Thursday, "We'll see how many years we want to go. They've been very cooperative and good to me." Miller turns 73 in October, "a few days after the Kings open" the '11-12 season. Jim Fox, Miller's broadcast partner, "is in the middle of a multiyear deal," and next season will be the 22nd they've worked together (L.A. TIMES, 9/2).
YES THEY CAN: YES Network has built a new set, graphics package and logo for its football studio show, "This Week in Football," which starts its 10th season Tuesday night. The show plans to add more interactive elements this year, taking viewer questions via Twitter (@TWIFonYES), e-mail and yesnetwork.com. The season premiere includes an interview with former Giants coach Jim Fassel on what it was like to coach the team in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. The premiere also will include interviews with current Jets coach Rex Ryan and current Giants coach Tom Coughlin (Ourand).
THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT: Chip Ganassi Racing Thursday launched a mobile application that allows users to access social media content, video and photography from races, driver statistics and other information. The application was developed by SapientNitro, an integrated marketing and technology services firm that works with companies like Coca-Cola and Target, a Ganassi sponsor. The application is available for download in the iTunes app store. In addition to the other content, it will include store location finder capabilities for sponsors and special sponsor promotions (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
WALL-TO-WALL COVERAGE: The ACC Network announced 71 TV affiliates from 27 states will air ACC football games for the '11 season, beginning with this weekend's opener. The ACC Network will syndicate conference football games outside the ACC footprint for the first time. Local affiliates have been added in more than 25 new markets, including L.A., S.F., Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Denver, Indianapolis, Cleveland and Green Bay. Meanwhile, the ACC Vault has expanded to include full-length ACC regular-season and championship football games from all 12 conference schools, as well as original video content and social sharing features. In its launch last season, ACC Vault featured more than 100 men's basketball regular-season and conference tournament games (THE DAILY).