ESPN Begins Laying Off Around 100 Personalities Where Does NASCAR Go With Dale Jr. Leaving? Manfred: Bush-Jeter Deal For Marlins Not Done David Abrutyn's Career Intertwined With Caps History FedEx Signs Multiyear NFL Extension Learfield Brings On Gil Beverly, Jack Patterson Officials Break Ground On Pro Football HOF Village Hotel Woods' Endorsement Deals Suffer From Layoff Minding My Business: Williams Martini Racing's Richard Berry ESPN Cuts Drive Discussion On Twitter
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The Pac-12 Conference at 6:00pm PT today “will turn on its much-anticipated television networks and instantaneously transform the viewing experience for fans of a league that has long wallowed in the broadcasting shadows,” according to Jon Wilner of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The Pac-12 “isn't the first college conference to have a dedicated television network,” but the S.F.-based Pac-12 Networks, with “their seven feeds, are unprecedented in scope, complexity and control of the content.” The Pac-12 “won't release its total but has already signed carriage agreements with cable companies capable of reaching 48 million homes.” Industry sources estimate that the Pac-12 Networks “could distribute $10 million per year per school in a few years, when distribution and advertising are fully ramped.” The Pac-12 Networks currently “don't have carriage agreements with either of the major satellite operators, DirecTV or Dish Network.” But negotiations “are ongoing, and commissioner Larry Scott is optimistic a deal will be struck with at least one of the satellite carriers.” The conference was able to “create the networks it wanted, not the networks it needed” because of the “financial cushion provided by the ESPN and Fox deals” (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/14). In Arizona, Patrick Finley writes the Pac-12 Networks will help Scott “accomplish a long-time goal: to make every single football and men's basketball game available live, without regional pre-emption, across the country.” Scott said, "It's near-impossible to quantify the impact, in terms of exposure, recruiting and brand positioning, for our schools athletically." The league “stands to gain what Scott called ‘long-term value,’ financially and otherwise” (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 8/15). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes the launch of the networks is “built to be one of those game-changing moments.” What will “force most TV partners to finally relent in one way or another is when college football games locked into the Pac-12 Networks schedule start arriving, and viewers begin complaining they can't see them” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/15).
COX CARRIAGE: Cox PR Dir of Residential Products & Services and Corporate Social Responsibility Amy Quinn confirmed that the cable provider “will only show the Pac12Nets/Los Angeles feed on its Southern California systems.” The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS’ Wilner noted that means the national Pac-12 network “won’t be available in Orange County, Palos Verdes, Santa Barbara or San Diego.” However, Quinn noted, “With TV Everywhere, customers can get the other games online. There’s not a lot of value-add for us to use two channels.” Quinn also confirmed that Cox “will only show the regional feed in Arizona -- no national network, just like in Southern California.” Quinn confirmed that Cox “won’t show any of the Pac12Nets feeds outside the league’s six-state footprint, with the exception of Cox systems in Las Vegas, Sun Valley, Kansas, Arkansas and Omaha” (MERCURYNEWS.com, 8/14).
WHO’S GOING TO WATCH? In L.A., Joe Flint wrote the new channels for USC and UCLA fans “are great news,” but for the “rest of the region, it's just more sports programming driving up costs.” L.A. already has “Prime Ticket and Fox Sports West.” Time Warner Cable in the fall “launches its two sports channels -- one in English and one in Spanish.” TWC secured the rights to the Lakers and the MLS Galaxy and “is hoping to snag the Dodgers as well.” The price tag is “just under $4 per subscriber and Time Warner Cable wants the channels distributed to everyone as opposed to putting them in a package for sports fans.” This means that “in just a few months, Los Angeles will go from having two regional sports networks to five.” If the Dodgers “decide to start their own, then there would be six” (LATIMES.com, 8/14). In Oakland, Monte Poole writes, “Not enough folks in the Bay Area and California care deeply about local college sports. Non-alums, locally or nationally, rarely identify with the schools. Almost no lives revolve around their athletic programs.” The “same applies, for the most part, to folks from Los Angeles and Phoenix and, to a lesser extent, even those in Seattle and Eugene, Ore.” Young athletes on the West Coast “tend to dream not in the colors of local colleges but those of teams in the NFL or the NBA” (OAKLAND TRIBUNE, 8/15).
NBC saw 159.3 million total video streams during the London Games, more than double the 75.5 million during the '08 Beijing Games. There were 64.4 million live video streams, up from 14.0 million four years ago. The majority (70%) of total video streams were on the web, compared to 30% via NBC’s two Olympic apps -- NBC Olympics Live Extra and NBC Olympics. Those two apps were downloaded more than 8 million times. Live video streams were also viewed more on the web compared to the apps (63% vs. 30%). In the Apple Store alone, the Live Extra app was the store’s most-downloaded event-specific app ever. Visitors to NBCOlympics.com also spent an average of 30 minutes per visit, up from 12.3 minutes during Beijing.MOST-VIEWED LIVE OLYMPIC STREAMS ALL-TIMEDATE
SPORT EVENTLIVE STREAMS08/09/12 Soccer Women's final: U.S.-Japan (U.S. gold)1,467,46507/31/12 Gymnastics Women's Team finals (U.S. gold)1,462,83408/05/12 Track & Field Men's 100 meters (Usain Bolt gold)1,288,94108/02/12 Swimming Men's 200 meter IM (Michael Phelps gold)1,192,81208/02/12 Gymnastics Women's All-Around (Gabby Douglas gold)1,096,31907/30/12 Gymnastics Men's Team final1,067,67908/06/12 Soccer Women's semifinal: U.S.-Canada1,047,73307/31/12 Swimming Men's 4x200 meter freestyle relay (U.S. gold)1,010,41607/28/12 Swimming Men's 400 meter IM (Ryan Lochte gold)891,81907/29/12 Swimming Men's 4x100 meter freestyle relay (U.S. silver)823,194
FOLLOW ME: The dominance of the U.S. in swimming and gymnastics during the first half of the London Games was evident with the large number of new Twitter followers for the most-recognized medal winners. Michael Phelps gained nearly 1 million Twitter followers over the two-week Olympic period, while Ryan Lochte chalked up more than 750,000. Missy Franklin was the big winner among female swimmers with more than a quarter million new followers for the 17-year-old. The success of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team led to each of the five gymnasts seeing more than 100,000 new followers, with all-around champion Gabby Douglas leading the way with nearly 600,000 new followers. On the int'l side, some of the biggest Twitter stories have come from athletes who did not earn medals. The controversy surrounding the harassment of British diver Tom Daley led to a large spike in supportive followers, and South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius also has added nearly 100,000 new followers after his historic appearance in the Games. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt added more than 500,000 new followers even before his victory Thursday in the 200 meters. Listed below are the Twitter followers for the official pages of notable U.S. Olympians on the day of the Opening Ceremony on July 27 through Aug. 9 (Ryan Baucom, THE DAILY).
ATHLETEJULY 27AUG. 9FOLLOWERS ADDEDMEN'S SWIMMING/DIVING Michael Phelps292,2071,227,843935,636 Ryan Lochte143,674897,783754,109 Nathan Adrian13,124118,173105,049 Brendan Hansen10,19538,29028,095 Conor Dwyer8,43942,41033,971 Cullen Jones19,41945,18225,763 Ricky Berens12,33637,62225,286 Matt Grevers23,24239,10715,865 Tyler Clary6,18021,86015,680WOMEN'S SWIMMING/DIVING Missy Franklin82,342341,067258,725 Rebecca Soni18,10969,16751,058 Dana Vollmer9,69359,79550,102 Allison Schmitt3,57749,39745,820 Natalie Coughlin58,64488,39929,755 Elizabeth Beisel6,64720,39213,745 Jessica Hardy15,22926,28111,052MEN'S GYMNASTICS Danell Leyva13,70366,07652,373WOMEN'S GYMNASTICS Gabby Douglas35,754600,967565,213 Jordyn Wieber62,457438,030375,573 Aly Raisman39,966382,413342,447 McKayla Maroney35,612322,674287,062 Kyla Ross25,690183,912158,222MEN'S TRACK & FIELD Tyson Gay37,86553,73515,870WOMEN'S TRACK & FIELD Lolo Jones182,855287,350104,495 Allyson Felix51,86985,29833,429 Sanya Richards-Ross29,83058,73528,905 Kellie Wells7,39528,36120,966 Carmelita Jeter8,92421,23212,308WOMEN'S BEACH VOLLEYBALL Misty May-Treanor88,188133,98045,792 Kerri Walsh Jennings83,668110,08826,420INT'L ATHLETES OF NOTE Tom Daley (Great Britain/diving)344,6321,170,866826,234 Usain Bolt (Jamaica/track)634,0921,174,411540,319 Jessica Ennis (Great Britain/track)213,410602,247388,837 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain/cycling)296,782510,299213,517 Oscar Pistorius (South Africa/track)54,822125,19370,371 Yohan Blake (Jamaica/track)7,22264,14356,921
The Twins today are expected to formally announce that the team "will move to FM radio in 2013, leaving KSTP-AM for KTWN," which is owned by Twins Owner the Pohlad family, according to Ben Goessling of the ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS. The Twins will become "just the seventh major league team with an FM flagship radio station." The team has "spent their first 52 seasons on AM radio, leaving WCCO for KSTP after the 2006 season and renewing their deal with KSTP when their initial contract expired after the 2010 season." With the move to KTWN, the Twins could "alleviate the frustrations of some listeners who have trouble picking up an AM broadcast at night, when the stations are forced to power down their signal" (ST. PAUL PIONEER-PRESS, 8/14). In Minneapolis, Neal Justin notes the "only pro team" in the city on AM radio next year will be the T'Wolves. KFAN, the rightsholder for the Vikings and Univ. of Minnesota football, "switched its signal from AM to FM last year," and WNBA Lynx games are on KLCI-FM. Detroit-based Jacobs Media consultant Fred Jacobs said that sports stations "are moving to FM because adult males are turning away from AM radio." However, the "downside of FM" is that a weaker signal "may make it harder for fans in outlying parts of the Twin Cities to hear the broadcasts." KSTP "will continue to broadcast Twins' ancillary programs such as 'The Ron Gardenhire Show,'" as KTWN "plans to continue an all-music format" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/15).
The best reality TV ideally is “able to catch lightning in a bottle by being there when things get truly real,” and for NFL Films, producers of HBO’s "Hard Knocks" series, that “happened after Chad Johnson's recent domestic violence arrest, and the inevitability of his release from the Miami Dolphins,” according to Doug Farrar of YAHOO SPORTS. Last night's episode began with first-year Dolphins coach Joe Philbin “talking to the producers about how the scene would work, then explaining on the phone to someone -- most likely a team executive -- exactly what was about to happen, and saying that Johnson's ‘temperament wasn't good’ for the team.” Johnson then “entered Philbin's office, and he seemed to know what was coming.” What made the show “compelling television was that both men handled it about as well as could be expected, given the emotion surrounding the event.” Johnson knew “full well that he had made a mistake that could -- along with many other factors -- cost him his NFL career.” Philbin, “at this point, has to wonder what the heck he signed up for.” The show “ended with Johnson's gear removed from his locker, and his nameplate taken down.” Farrar: “It's hard to argue with the way Philbin handled this. And it's certainly easy to see why the Dolphins were the right team for this year's show” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/15). In Miami, Adam Beasley writes the “rare, compelling look at the star receiver’s ultimate fall from grace was the climax of Tuesday’s ‘Hard Knocks,’ a sensational hour of television that documented easily the most trying week yet of Philbin’s short time as a head coach” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/15). ESPN.com’s James Walker wrote HBO “did a good job of highlighting” Johnson's arrest and subsequent release by the team (ESPN.com, 8/14). In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes while the conversation between Philbin and Johnson “was what everyone came to see, the far more interesting insight came earlier in the show when it was revealed that Johnson was having a hard time picking up the Dolphins’ offense, just like he did last year” with the Patriots (PALMBEACHPOST.com, 8/15).
LETTING YOU GO: Philbin addressed the Dolphins after Johnson was arrested for domestic abuse and told them, “We’ve worked long and hard to make this a professional working environment and we got a lot of work to do.” Speaking on the phone, Philbin said, “His temperament isn’t great for us.” Philbin then met with Johnson, with Johnson saying, “I let you down a little bit. Well, a lot. I understand what you’re doing. You got the message across clear the first day we met ... and I apologize for embarrassing you and this organization.” Philbin: “I appreciate that, I respect that ... and I hope you know that everything I do -- to the best of my ability -- I attempt to put some thought behind what we do. ... I do my best not to fly off the handle and act irrational. It’s just I don’t know that this is working for the benefit of you, me and Miami Dolphins.” Philbin that it was “not really just last night” in regards to his arrest, but said, “I don’t see the mesh right now ... and I just think it’s best for both of us if we kind of part ways” ("Hard Knocks," HBO, 8/14).
PHILBIN'S LOSS: In Ft. Lauderdale, Izzy Gould notes HBO “cautioned viewers not to miss the first five minutes, going as far as saying the episode was one of the proudest moments in the training camp series,” and the “final product did not disappoint.” Viewers had to “wait until the end of the show to see the meeting” between Johnson and Philbin after Johnson was released from jail. Gould: “So what happened in those first five minutes? The show begins with the news of the death of the son of Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid. First-year coach Joe Philbin talks about the death of his son Michael, who died in January. Philbin's wife attended Reid's son's funeral. Philbin maintained his even demeanor throughout the reflection of his son's passing” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/15).
The Nationals and the Orioles remain "deeply divided over the amount of TV money the Nationals should be paid” by MASN, and the dispute has “called attention to their unusual television partnership ... and whether the Nationals could get a higher fee on the open market," according to James Wagner of the WASHINGTON POST. A source said that the Nationals are “asking for between $100 million and $120 million a year, a least three times the $29 million they received" from MASN last season. The net “proposed paying $34 million this season.” With the two sides “far apart, a panel composed of representatives of three other teams has been charged with reaching a settlement.” The talks have “dragged on for months and have already missed two deadlines for a resolution.” The Nationals’ stake in MASN “currently stands at 13 percent and last year’s equity stake payment is said to have been close to $7 million.” Orioles and MASN counsel Alan Rifken said, “We have great optimism, and correctly so, that contracts are honored by the people who signed them.” A source said that although it is extrapolated over the next 20 years, the Orioles and MASN "have offered the Nationals a deal in which the rights fees would increase about 7.7 percent each year.” In total, the 20-year average for their proposed deal “calls for a rights fee average of approximately $71 million a year.” A source said that with the MASN equity “stake increases, the Nationals would receive an average of about $100 million each year, giving the overall proposal a value of over $2 billion.” One potential way to “help solve the dispute would be to allow the Nationals to buy into a larger equity stake of MASN, up to 50-50 split between the teams” (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/14).
The Izod IndyCar Series’ low Nielsen ratings this season across ABC and NBC Sports Network have “caused a drop in sponsorship valuation, and until the ratings start to increase, sponsors will be reluctant to pay top dollar,” according to Marshall Pruett of SPEEDTV.com. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said, “It has to continue to be our focus and we have to figure out better ways to skin that cat in my opinion. That's the thing -- we can't pretend that our TV is great, our viewership numbers are great, and I think that we need to just hit that fact over the head and say, how are we going to increase our viewership?” Pruett noted it is “clearly going to take more time to raise awareness about the series and its home” on NBCSN. Bernard indicated that the NBCSN/Indycar partnership "continues to evolve." He said, “IndyCar and NBC Sports Network have to be on the same page. I think that it's imperative that NBC Sports Network does off-channel marketing. I think that they're selling to the same people about IndyCar when they’re promoting us on NHL. And they need to grow that number.” Pruett noted any rise in IndyCar’s ratings “will most likely coincide with NBC SN’s addition of more popular sports to its lineup.” But until that happens, IndyCar “will have to deal with modest gains.” There are several other issues facing the series, including the cost of running in the series and engine problems, but “one thing is clear: If Bernard can find a way to improve IndyCar’s television ratings, the rest of the problems become much easier to handle” (SPEEDTV.com, 8/14).
NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said that, "Though NBC drew criticism for not airing more of the games live, showcasing taped events in prime time 'undeniably' helped ratings." He added that he "wondered if NBC should have tape-delayed more events, such as the U.S. men's gold-medal basketball game and the men's tennis finals between Andy Murray and Roger Federer, which were live." Lazarus: "It's undeniable we hurt our ratings by doing that. We have to balance what we're trying to do for viewers across the country and our business model." BLOOMBERG NEWS' Sherman & Fixmer noted NBC provided live online coverage of every Olympic event for the first time, "although web viewers needed to show that they were a pay-TV subscriber to get access." Lazarus said that the net "may allow more events to be seen by non-cable subscribers in future Olympics, but any new packages will have to be approved by NBC's cable operator partners" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/14).
OLYMPIC PROPORTIONS: The GUARDIAN's John Plunkett writes, "Such was the popularity of the BBC's coverage of the London Olympics that BBC1 took more than a third of all TV viewing and BBC3 overtook both Channel 4 and Channel 5 for the duration of the 2012 Games." BBC1 "had a 36.2% share of viewing across the 17 days of the Games." This was "more than four times ITV1's average all-day share of 8.3% (excluding ITV +1)." While BBC1's audience share "was up by nearly 40% on the figure it was attracting immediately before the Olympics, ITV1's share of the audience fell by nearly 40%, compared with 13.6% in the preceding three months" (GUARDIAN, 8/15).
AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL: Fox Soccer yesterday announced that is has signed a new four-year agreement CONCACAF to broadcast the CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONCACAF Champions League. The agreement runs through the '15-16 edition of the Champions League. The deal also covers the '13 and '15 Gold Cups (Fox Soccer).
INSIDE EDITION: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic hired J. Michael Falgoust as a Ravens Insider. Formerly of USA Today, Falgoust will lead coverage of the Ravens for CSNBaltimore.com and contribute to CSN's news and game-day programs. Additionally, CSN and CSNPhilly.com hired Geoff Mosher as an Eagles Insider (Comcast).