SBD/November 10, 2011/Media

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  • Big Ten Net's Mark Silverman Defends Coverage Of Penn State Scandal

    Silverman happy with BTN's
    coverage of Penn State story
    Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman participated in a Q&A with SI’s Richard Deitsch, discussing the net’s coverage of the Penn State sex abuse scandal. Below is an excerpt from the interview.

    Q: Have you been told by any league partners, any Big Ten officials, any Penn State officials, to go soft on this story or mitigate your coverage?
    Silverman: "No, and we have never gotten a call on any topic we have covered."

    Q: Should the Big Ten Network be judged by the same standards as an ESPN, or Sports Illustrated or Yahoo! Sports on this story? Or should the standards for covering a story like this be different for a league-owned network?
    Silverman: I think we are a different network than ESPN and others. We obviously are branded. What I think is a fair evaluation of us is less about how much of it are you doing, and what is it we are doing. … I think you will see our guys are giving fully candid, true views that frankly are not often times making the conference look the way we would prefer to make them look. … We are not CNN. We are not ESPN. We are not able to go to that length. But if you look at what we have out there and how often we are trying to re-air our content, I think most people would find it relevant and appropriate for who we are.

    Q: How would you assess your coverage, so far, of the Penn State story?
    Silverman: It is hard to imagine a more difficult story for a branded network to cover, and I think given that incredible sensitivity around this type of story, I am really proud of the fact of how we covered it. We have covered (the story) since it launched in all of our shows. We have not shied away from it. Our challenge is we don't have a 24-hour operation. We are rarely live.

    Q:
    How would you assess your coverage plans going forward?
    Silverman: We are looking at doing regular updates and we will continue, for the most part, with our regular programming, breaking in with updates as we think they are relevant to our audience. I think that is the appropriate way to cover it (SI.com, 11/9).

    Poynter feels ESPN was slow to grasp
    full implications of Penn State story
    REVIEWING ESPN'S COVERAGE: In the latest entry for ESPN as part of the Poynter Review Project, Fry & McBride wrote the net was “slow this week to grasp the full implications of the recent criminal indictments" at PSU. With the “biggest staff of sports journalists in the world, ESPN should have been leading the charge to ask tough questions and shed light on this scandal.” Instead, it “was the tiny Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. out in front of the journalism pack.” The tone of the early ESPN coverage “was spotty -- sometimes getting it right, but more often seeming inappropriate.” It was not until “mid-afternoon Tuesday that ESPN finally seemed consistently to ask the right questions and find the appropriate moral outrage.” That is “72 hours after the story first broke.” ESPN Senior VP & News Dir Vince Doria “defended the network's coverage, pointing out that from the outset managers were sensitive to the victims in the story.” Doria did not “articulate a specific strategy that would have ESPN steering the story, rather than simply reacting to it.” Fry & McBride noted they were “hoping to see more of the former early on in the news cycle,” but now that football coach Joe Paterno has been fired, “the network is clearly hitting its stride.” Earlier in the week “that was not the case.” Fry & McBride: “We were particularly dismayed Tuesday morning, when ESPN and its vast resources seemed to be behind the curve, failing to turn up new information or advance the story and instead sounding tone deaf to the nature of this story.” Fry & McBride continued, “Where's the reporting designed to hold the powerful accountable? Where are the sources and the witnesses close to the case?” ESPN's lineup of former Penn State insiders “aren't capable, especially in the dawning of a brutal reality, of doing that work.” That is where ESPN “has to call upon its heavy hitters” (ESPN.com, 11/9).

    WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG? In Las Vegas, Mark Anderson writes the national media "rightly has been aggressive in covering the travesty at Penn State involving alleged sexual assault of minors by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky." But "what took so long?" The story, which resulted in the firing of Paterno and PSU President Graham Spanier "hasn't been a secret." Local media "were digging for answers long before ESPN, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and CBSSports.com moved in." News of Sandusky's alleged "appalling acts have been around for a while, and it shouldn't have taken his arrest Saturday and the grand jury report to get the national media's attention" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 11/10).

    MEDIA MONITOR: Last night’s editions of ABC’s “World News,” CBS’ “Evening News” and NBC’s “Nightly News” all led with coverage of the fallout from the Penn State sexual abuse scandal, with all three broadcasts featuring live reports from the Penn State campus. ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap appeared in-studio with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. ABC’s “GMA,” CBS’ “The Early Show” and NBC’s “Today” also led with Penn State news. All three broadcasts featured live on-campus reports, with legal analyst Nancy Grace and Dan Abrams discussing the legal ramifications of the case on “GMA.” SI’s Jon Wertheim and former NHLer and sex abuse victim Theo Fleury appeared live via satellite on “The Early Show,”  while NBC’s “Today” featured commentary from N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica in-studio (THE DAILY).

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  • Ross Greenburg Hired To Produce Several Shows For NBC, NHL

    Greenburg will oversee a group for NHL patterned after NFL Films

    Seven months after ending his 33-year career at HBO Sports, Ross Greenburg has landed two high-profile production gigs: one with NBC and one with the NHL. NBC Sports Group retained the former HBO Sports President to produce several shows, including documentaries and the interview show "Costas Tonight." At the same time, the NHL is bringing Greenburg on to oversee a new group that will be patterned after NFL Films. The group will be called NHL Original Productions and will focus on producing documentaries, interstitials and one-hour specials. One of Greenburg's projects will be to focus on the NHL's 100th anniversary, which occurs in '17. "This move sets us up to do more original programming," said NHL COO John Collins. "We'll staff up for particular projects." Those projects include up to 10 player diaries ("mini 24/7s," Collins said). Greenburg also will advise NHL brass on the TV presentation of the game. Greenburg's first NBC effort, "Cold War on Ice: Summit Series '72," will appear on the net's cable sports station on Jan. 2 -- the same day it changes its name from Versus to NBC Sports Network. The documentary, which will run at 4:30pm ET, is about a hockey series between NHL All-Stars from Canada and the Soviet Union national team during the Cold War. Greenburg also will produce the monthly Bob Costas-hosted interview show "Costas Tonight," and its four annual Town Hall series. Greenburg also plans to do some projects for Golf Channel.

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  • NFL Network's Mark Quenzel Discusses Plans For Coverage Of Upcoming Games

    NFL Network Senior VP/Programming & Production Mark Quenzel joined the league-owned net in late ’10 after a stint as Six Flags Entertainment Corp. Exec VP/Park Strategy & Management. Since then he has had overall responsibility for programming and production decisions, acquiring content and managing on-air talent. With the net set to kickoff its sixth season of live regular-season games with tonight’s Raiders-Chargers matchup, Quenzel spoke about its coverage, programming and the new voices in the broadcast booth for the ’11 season.

    Q: How has the NFL Network broadcast evolved over the years?
    Quenzel: We’re better at what we do, and we’ve been doing it for a few years now. When the network started doing games, obviously the camera coverage was fine (but) we’re doing a better job now, and I think we’ll do a much better job this year at sort of getting to the next level, which is to tell the stories, to really inform people, keep context to what’s going on. It’s not just one play after another. We try to do more in terms of talking about where the league is. ... The game in front of us is important -- we have some great games but we try to give context to the league.

    Q: Will viewers see any new technologies/graphics/innovations in this year’s broadcasts?
    Quenzel: I wouldn’t say there’s anything groundbreaking. We’re always tweaking things. It’s not the technology itself. It’s how you use it, and we’ve worked very hard to make sure we use those types of technology … to make sure that we’re telling stories. That’s really what we’re focused on, to use the technology to tell the story, not just throw it up there so we can say we have it.

    Q: If you were uninhibited in terms of technology, is there an innovation or technology that you wish you had or could use?
    Quenzel: The thing that we’re always trying to do is to put the viewer at the line of scrimmage, right by the out-of-bounds lines I want them not to just see it. Everyone’s pretty good at showing you what’s happening. I want them to hear more of the sights, the sounds, try to become more intuned with the incredible speed of the game, size of the game. But I’d say a big thing is audio and trying to get audio on the field. Obviously, you have to be careful with that. That level of intensity is something that I’d really like to try and figure out how to do more of.

    Q: What are the challenges for the net’s new broadcast team of Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, who are often more closely associated with college football than with the NFL?
    Quenzel: Mike brings a level of technical expertise to the game that I’d say is unparalleled to some degree, in terms of the players and what they’re doing. I’m really looking forward this year to taking the viewers inside the game. He is incredibly plugged in to all these NFL coaches (and) the players themselves. Mike does his homework. Brad’s done some NFL games, but Brad is just an outstanding play-by-play broadcaster. One of Brad’s hallmarks internally is that nobody does more homework. From a play-by-play standpoint, he also believes less is more. He tries to give the game space. I’m not worried about either one of them. The challenge that we face, if anything, is to integrate their styles.

    Quenzel says he is fortunate to be able to work
    with likes of Alex Flanagan, Mayock and Nessler
    Q: You manage and direct the on-air talent for the broadcasts. How do you handle the various personalities and how much direction are you giving leading up to a game broadcast?
    Quenzel: I’m pretty heavily involved in it, actually. I’m very fortunate. I’m not going to say I’ve never worked with divas. I have. I’m not working with any now. Mike is clearly the centerpiece of what we do on “Thursday Night Football.” We all have to be on the same page when the game starts. We have to discuss, which we do a lot leading up to the days before, very intensely. 

    Q: Being a league-owned property, does that afford you any special access or an advantage in any way compared to the other networks?
    Quenzel: I don’t see any difference at all, which I think is a good thing. We don’t get any additional advantages. None. The flip side of that is we don’t get any interference. We can say what we want to say, we can do what we want to do, and that’s the way it should be.

    Q: The Cowboys have appeared on an NFL Network broadcast every season. Is it necessary to have a marquee team on the broadcast or is the NFL brand powerful enough it doesn’t matter? 
    Quenzel: I don’t need the Cowboys games. I’m very thankful that I have a Cowboys game. They rate very well, but looking at this in this day and age I look at our schedule. … I’ve got six teams that are either in or tied for first place. It’s a quarterback-driven league and I go down the schedule: Philip Rivers, Mark Sanchez, Michael Vick, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Tony Romo. ... I’ve got nothing to complain about.

    Print | Tags: Media, NFL
  • Media Notes

    In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis reports the Marlins will officially become the Miami Marlins tomorrow, but will continue to use the Web address Marlins.com, "making them the only major league team to not use their full name" for their team website. The domain name MiamiMarlins.com "belongs to someone else," and as far as the Marlins are concerned "he can keep it." MiamiMarlins.com "has been owned since 1997 by a Miami Beach boat salesman Guido Blanco," who has said that he "intended it as a site for charter fishing and boat sales." He said, "No one from the Marlins or Major League Baseball has ever contacted me" about purchasing the domain name. Marlins President David Samson said, "Certainly not going to pay a squatter, I can promise you that. If he wants to call and offer the website, we'd be happy to take it" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 11/10).

    ON THE RISE: A record 32.1 million viewers watched NFL Network programming during the first nine weeks of the NFL season, eclipsing the '10 mark of 31.6 million. Also, the network's average weekday primetime viewership is 167,000, up 21% from last year to date. Viewership on Sundays, including the "NFL GameDay" pregame show, is up 17% to 250,000 average viewers. All of the net's Sunday programs are also on record viewership pace. The weekday news show "Around the League" is up 29%, and the weeknight show "NFL Total Access" is tracking for its best-ever season. The NFL’s digital media platforms (NFL.com and NFL Mobile) are also on record pace, posting a 64% jump in page views and a 37% uptick in unique users over last year at this time (NFL).

    PRICE CUT
    : The WINNIPEG FREE PRESS reported MTS has “altered its game plan when it comes to watching the TSN Jets channel in community clubs.” MTS has “agreed to lower its rates following negative publicity” over its “charge of $900 per season for the Jets channel to non-profit clubs.” MTS has “lowered its rate to $399 for community clubs.” However, it is “still more than Shaw is charging clubs.” Shaw’s rate is “$60 monthly versus $80 by MTS.” TSN Jets is a regional channel that “broadcasts all team games that aren’t carried on the main TSN network or CBC.” Home subscribers are “charged $9.95 monthly by Shaw and MTS” (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 11/9).

    TRYING TO HOOK 'EM
    : Beginning at 8:00am CT tomorrow, a “broadband simulcast of the Longhorn Network will be made available as part of All-Access Weekend presented by Grande Communications and Verizon FiOS.” Users will be able to “view LHN programming online through midnight Saturday, regardless of provider.” The “peek into LHN coincides with the tip-off of the men’s and women’s basketball season” (ESPNDALLAS.com, 11/9).

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