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Sky Deutschland "beat out heavyweight challenger Deutsche Telekom in an auction for broadcast rights for German Bundesliga soccer matches," according to REUTERS. The rights "cover the four seasons starting" in '13-14, and are worth US$3.3B. Sky Deutschland won the rights "to show Bundesliga matches via cable and satellite -- which it already held for the last three seasons -- as well as the mobile and IPTV rights previously held by Duetsche Telekom" (REUTERS, 4/17). DOW JONES' Harriet Torry reports shares of Sky Deutschland "soared over 20%" early today amid reports that the pay-TV operator would continue to hold the Bundesliga broadcast rights. Analysts have said that keeping the exclusive national TV soccer rights is "crucial for Sky Deutschland to lure customers to pay-TV services." A German market analyst said that the channel "wouldn't be much" without the Bundesliga. Commerzbank analyst Sonia Rasbussier said last week that "retaining the rights would mean Sky Deutschland keeps its buy rating, and losing them would mean a downgrade to sell" (NASDAQ.com, 4/17).
Heat F LeBron James' LRMR Marketing & Branding has struck a partnership with SapientNitro, an interactive marketing division of Boston-based Sapient Corp., to expand James' digital and social media platforms. The deal will include brand strategy, communications planning, website design and social media integration. SapientNitro and LRMR are collaborating on a forthcoming re-launch of LeBronJames.com. SapientNitro will also aid in the development of content and community development aimed at enlarging James' profile on Twitter and Facebook. James currently holds more than 10 million Facebook fans and more than 4 million followers on Twitter. The deal is for one year with options to expand. "LeBron was one of the first sports stars to understand the power of digital and social media and create two-way dialogue with his fans," said Sapient CMO Bill Kanarick in a statement. "We look forward to working with LeBron and his team to further build community and fan engagement in innovative ways."
THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre noted ESPN "SportsNation" co-host Michelle Beadle as of yesterday is able to "negotiate with other networks." Beadle said she has "no idea" how negotiations with ESPN have gone recently, adding, "I'm not in the room, I'm not on the phone. That's all CAA stuff. ... I haven't even had a chance to make a decision." McIntyre noted rumors indicate that "SportsNation" co-host Colin Cowherd is "only doing the show for the rest of the year." Beadle said, "Without him, the show could still be what it was ... maybe a different guy would come in, I don't know how much of a say I'd have in that. Maybe it would go in a different direction ... we've started to talk about life after Colin. I think everyone right now is trying to figure it out" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 4/13).
CHARMED, I'M SURE: In Phoenix, Bob McManaman wrote ESPN "MNF" analyst Jon Gruden is "starting to develop a John Madden-like charm about him," as he is "folksy hip." Not only can he "break down a play as well as anyone, but his affable way of doing so offers a fresher perspective that better connects with younger viewers, including women." Gruden is a "ratings bonanza who is beginning to stand alone in his field," and that has never "been more evident than by watching his latest QB Camp series that wrapped up last week." His film sessions and chalk talk with 10 of the top QB prospects in this year's NFL Draft "are like entertaining fireside chats with your favorite uncle" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 4/16).
COLORFUL COMMENTATOR: In San Jose, Daniel Brown noted S.F.-based attorney Angela Alioto Sunday "denounced" KNBR-AM for what she "deemed a wrongful termination of longtime host Ralph Barbieri, setting the stage for a lawsuit." Barbieri was fired last Tuesday, ending a "colorful and sometimes tumultuous 28 years at the station." Alioto said that Barbieri was dismissed from the station "because he is a 66-year-old with Parkinson's disease, and she vehemently disputed KNBR's given reason that Barbieri was fired for showing up late." Cumulus, Inc. S.F. VP/Market Manager Bill Bungeroth, whose company owns KNBR, responded in a statement, saying Alioto's version of the events was "filled with inaccurate statements and baseless accusations" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 4/16).
FACE THE NATION: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted MASN sideline reporter Kristina Akra was "hired this spring after MASN elected not to bring back Debbi Taylor, making her the only new addition" to the Nationals' radio and TV broadcasts. Akra said, "I'm not claiming to be an expert or an analyst, but I want to do my best to ask questions that the fans want to know, to get the players talking about what the fans want to know. That's the ultimate goal." Akra came to MASN from FS South, where she "was a sideline reporter" for SEC football coverage and also hosted an SEC studio show (WASHINGTON POST, 4/13).
BREAKING OUT: USA TODAY's Gary Levin reports NFL Network's Rich Eisen will host TNT's first reality show, "Escape," which will pit "pairs of amateur Houdinis against each other." The show marks a departure from the net's "steady drama diet," and is due to premiere June 24 at 10:00pm ET (USA TODAY, 4/17).
Media research firm Enders Analysis yesterday said that the London Games for U.K. TV networks and pay TV operators, “particularly satellite TV giant BSkyB,” are “shaping up to be a win-win situation." The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s George Szalai noted this year is the “first occasion in modern times when the Olympics broadcast licensee in the host country is a public broadcaster.” Some observers “originally thought BSkyB and cable giant Virgin Media might see negative effects.” But earlier this month “two deals with Olympics implications were struck as the BBC unveiled a deal to bring 2,500 hours of Olympics coverage to 10 million homes of BSkyB, and Eurosport struck a second deal with BSkyB to showcase more than 100 hours of 3D content on a 3D channel during the Olympics.” Enders yesterday suggested that Virgin Media “could soon reach similar deals” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 4/16).
EARLY BIRD: CBS announced that the Navy-Notre Dame game scheduled for Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland, “will kick off at 2 p.m. local time -- and therefore 8 a.m. for any viewers in the Central Time Zone.” CBS’ Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson “will handle broadcast duties from Aviva Stadium” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 4/16).
READY TO RUMBLE: WWE's WrestleMania XXVIII “set a new pay-per-view purchase record, with 1.3 million homes worldwide buying the show.” The record “beats 2007's WrestleMania 23 as the most-watched WWE pay-per-view of all time.” The mark is “especially impressive given the growth of illegal pirate streams over the last five years” (NEWSDAY.com, 4/16).