SBD/August 31, 2012/MediaPrint All
Longhorn Network signed its biggest carriage deal to date, inking a contract with AT&T U-verse late Thursday night. The deal comes just before Saturday's Wyoming-Texas football game that will be carried exclusively on the channel. LHN also has the New Mexico-Texas game on Sept. 8. The network, which is owned and distributed by ESPN, has had trouble convincing cable and satellite operators to carry it. Remaining holdouts include Time Warner Cable, Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network (John Ourand, THE DAILY). In Dallas, Trey Scott notes the move is a "major win for the ESPN brainchild that has been mostly a mystery since its launch" last August. U-verse is available in 22 states and claims it has added "more TV subscribers in the last three years than any other major cable WV provider" (DALLASNEWS.com, 8/31). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel writes, "This is a major, and necessary, move for the network that previously had been available to precious few viewers" (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 8/31). Orangebloods.com first reported the likely deal between LHN and U-verse.
The NHL on Thursday announced the '12-13 season TV schedules for its national partners. NBC Sports Group will air more than 100 games across NBC and NBC Sports Network during the regular season. NBCSN will air NHL games three consecutive nights each week on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday nights will be exclusive, and the net will add a second exclusive night on Sundays in January. NBC's coverage launches on Nov. 23, with the Bruins-Rangers '12 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown. Meanwhile, NHL Network will televise 78 live games in the U.S. this season. In Canada, the CBC's "Hockey Night In Canada" returns for its 60th season, highlighted by 101 regular-season games. TSN platforms will broadcast 237 regular-season games, its most extensive broadcast package ever. RDS will once again have French-language coverage of all 82 regular-season Canadiens games (NHL).
BACKUP PLANS: In Toronto, Kevin McGran notes the networks on Thursday "were reluctant to talk about the possibility of a lockout." CBC Head of Media Relations Chuck Thompson in an e-mail said, "CBC has contingency plans in place and, like everyone else, we're hoping the season starts on time." He added that the CBC "won't reveal its contingency plans until a lockout is formally announced." McGran notes during the '04-05 lockout, the CBC filled its "HNIC" slot "with movies and poker increased in prominence on Canada's sports networks." York Univ. Sport Marketing Lecturer Vijay Setlur said, "It could be an opportunity for another sport that would otherwise be relegated to a secondary channel to get prime viewing. It may not be doom and gloom from the point of view of quality programming" (TORONTO STAR, 8/31). Meanwhile, NBC Sports Group President of Programming Jon Miller said, "I'm not a big Twitter follower, but I do follow the NHL on Twitter to find out as much as I can about the situation. It's very important for us for the two sides to come together and for the season to start on time. The NHL is our most important property. To not have a start of the season would be tough on us." Miller added that the net is "examining contingency programming." He said, "There are a lot of things we're looking at. We're having conversations with groups. We're looking in-house. You never know. It's a hard position to be in" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 8/30).
The Yankees have signed a one-year extension with WCBS-AM through '13 to serve as the team's flagship radio station. WCBS has aired the team's games since '02. Announcers John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman are expected to return to the booth next year (CBS Radio). In N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes the "surprise" move by the Yankees shows "how eager CBS Radio is to keep them from ESPN." The deal also "adds likelihood to a major move into the New York market of the new CBS Sports Radio Network." Sources said that CBS is "shopping for an N.Y. station." That could be a precursor to a station dedicated to CBS Radio's national programming while CBS "prepares a long-term deal for that station to carry the Yankees." Meanwhile, the Mets "will be in position to benefit from a bidding war" between WFAN-AM and ESPN Radio 98.7 N.Y. There also are "possibilities that could create shared programming between WFAN and CBS Sports Radio and cable's CBS Sports TV Network, essentially creating an all-day rival to both ESPN's radio and TV" (N.Y. POST, 8/31).
Rogers-owned Sportsnet is “moving beyond basic broadcasting, forming an events division that will own and produce the sports events it televises,” according to Steve Ladurantaye of the GLOBE & MAIL. The company's shift began with Thursday's purchase of the “troubled Grand Slam of Curling from iSport Media and Management.” The CBC dropped the series last year after a “financial dispute with its previous owner.” Leagues have “grown increasingly demanding about how their content can be used when striking television deals, and Rogers wants to make sure it can repackage its programming across different platforms to reach the maximum number of viewers.” Sportsnet's move “opens a new front in the battle for sports viewers with rival BCE Inc." Both companies are “now involved in producing events -- TSN owns both the Dominion All-Star Curling Skins Game and Canadian NASCAR events” (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/31). In Toronto, Doug Smith writes, “Sportsnet’s purchase -- and it will parcel off some of the coverage of the events in an agreement it hopes to work out with CBC -- lends an air of financial stability to the series that attracts the top teams from around the world.” Sportsnet will "assure at least three days of multi-draw coverage in three of the four Slam events this year with a chance to increase the investment in the coming years” (TORONTO STAR, 8/31).
Notre Dame radio color analyst Allen Pinkett has been “bumped” from Saturday’s season-opening Navy-Notre Dame game in Ireland after comments he made on a Wednesday radio show, according to Bob Wieneke of the SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE. Pinkett on Wednesday said, "I've always felt like to have a successful team you've got to have a few bad citizens on the team." Wieneke notes Pinkett “later apologized” for the remark. Jeff Jeffers will replace Pinkett in the radio booth and will work with play-by-play announcer Don Criqui. Wieneke notes Pinkett made the trip to Ireland “on the team charter Wednesday afternoon” (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 8/31). USA TODAY’s Nicole Auerbach notes the reaction to Pinkett's comments “was overwhelmingly negative.” Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick said he "could not disagree more" with Pinkett's assertion. Football coach Brian Kelly told reporters in Ireland he could not "wrap (his) brain around it" (USATODAY.com, 8/30). Swarbrick on Thursday emphasized that Pinkett “is not an employee of the school.” Swarbrick: "We want the people who comment on our games, whether it's on NBC or, in the case of radio, IMG College, to be independent voices, so they are hired by those media partners. We don't have any say in their employment.” He added, "It's important for me to make Notre Dame's position known and express our unhappiness with what was said, but we don't have any role to play in deciding what, if any, sanctions will be imposed" (ESPN.com, 8/30). The Chicago Tribune’s Dave Van Dyck said he would “have certainly suspended” Pinkett and “then see what kind of mea culpa he wants to do.” Van Dyck: “I don’t know if you fire him or not, but you certainly got to give him a chance to try to get out of it” (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 8/30).
ESPN’s business model is featured in a cover story by Karl Taro Greenfeld of BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK under the header, “ESPN: Everywhere Sports Profit Network.” Research firm SNL Kagan found that ESPN’s revenues are “growing at 9 percent a year, with a projected $8.2 billion in revenue in 2012.” Meanwhile, the net “earns one out of every four dollars earned by cable stations in America,” while it charges its cable affiliates "an average $5.13 per month for each of its 100 million subscribers (the industry average is about 20¢ per subscriber.” ESPN also is "taking in $2 billion a year in advertising revenue." Its projected '13 revenue of close to $9B "dwarfs cable players like Liberty Media and Tribune and puts it on par with traditional broadcast networks like CBS.” Through multiple platforms, ESPN “shapes the ways in which leagues, teams, and athletes are packaged, promoted, marketed, and consumed by the public.” In a “real sense, ESPN no longer covers sports,” but rather “controls sports.” ESPN President John Skipper's “most pressing priorities" were extending ESPN’s deal with MLB, which was agreed upon last week, and "crafting a bid for the newly created college football playoffs.” Skipper said both are “really, really important … but nothing is a must-have. You can’t think anything is a must-have, or you’re dead in negotiations.” Greenfield writes ESPN "has been unique among traditional media businesses in that it has flourished on the Web and in the mobile space, where the number of users per minute, which is ESPN’s internal metric, reached 102,000 in June, an increase of 48 percent so far this year.”
SPORTS ON THE GO: Seventy percent of sports content consumed on mobile devices "comes from one of ESPN’s mobile apps.” Many games broadcast on its WatchESPN app “aren’t yet carrying advertising, showing instead a 30-second ESPN logo during breaks in the action, since advertisers weren’t offered those rights when they bought time on the network a few months ago.” ESPN has “invested in creating content for a platform before business exists to support it.” ESPN Exec VP/Digital & Print Media John Kosner said, “We weren’t afraid of cannibalizing our (television) business if the fan liked it … even though the ad-serving technology just isn’t ready yet. We’re not afraid to be ahead of the market.” Greenfield writes while the “culture of the company should ward off complacency, the primacy of live rights might allow a competitor to emerge.” Greenfeld: “Could, say, NBC Sports Network or Fox buy the rights to enough high-profile sports to become a viable alternative to ESPN? … Wouldn’t cable subscribers start clamoring for the NBC Sports Network, which might lead cable operators to negotiate lower rates with ESPN? It’s possible, but still remote.” Skipper “discounts” the risk that ESPN will “overextend itself, paying too much for live sports that fail to generate new revenue.” Skipper “stresses ESPN’s multiplatform advantage.” He said, “Print, radio, broadcast television, cable television, Internet, mobile applications. To date there are no competitors who have assets in all those media” (BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK, 8/30 issue).
It is “unclear” whether Al Jazeera's new U.S.-based network beIN Sport’s “buying spree is designed to make money, to raise its global brand or to perhaps provide leverage to get United States exposure for its news network,” according to Ken Belson in a front-page piece for the N.Y. TIMES. beIN Sport’s “bold entry into the American market befits its deep-pocketed owners, who appear committed to becoming a major player in soccer.” It could “make an even bigger splash if it bids in the coming months for the rights to broadcast England’s Premier League in the United States … as well as Major League Soccer, whose broadcast rights expire in 2014.” New beIN Sport announcer Phil Schoen said, “It’s not just the ethnics, soccer moms and urban singles. To make such a commitment really says something about how beIN Sport feels about the future of the sport in this country.” Belson notes the net “has reportedly paid Comcast to be carried to the cable company’s 22 million television subscribers, rather than being paid by Comcast.” But it may be “months if not years before fans throughout the country can see the network in their homes.” GolTV COO Rodrigo Lombello, whose company was outbid by beIN Sport for the U.S. rights to Spain's La Liga, said, “If the soccer industry in the U.S. remains a business driven by economics, I think everyone will be successful. But if the industry is going to be a toy for the sheik from Qatar, then I don’t know what will happen.” Fox Soccer Exec VP & GM David Nathanson said, “Bottom line, there’s always been competition in this field” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/31).
SOONER RATHER THAN LATER: In Philadelphia, Jonathan Tannenwald wrote Comcast and beIN Sport “agreed [to] a carriage deal last week, but it was never quite made clear when the channel actually would show up on local televisions.” A source said that Comcast “plans to have the channel up and running by September 6.” It will only be available “in standard definition, and you’ll have to subscribe to the sports channel tier to get it.” Tannenwald: “You can complain about the lack of a HD feed if you want, but I'd rather watch a game on an accessible cable tier in standard definition than have to buy it on pay-per-view” (PHILLY.com, 8/30).
Fox Sports has signed a multiyear deal with Facebook to create a series of content integrations between the net's college football coverage and the social media platform. The two will combine on a new Fox Sports Social Poll, tracking consumer sentiment on major college football topics each week. The poll, distributed on Fox Sports' Facebook page, Facebook's own sports page and other spots such as the Facebook pages for Fox RSNs, will be shown on air, particularly during Saturday night primetime game coverage. Fox is currently seeking an additional corporate sponsor for the poll. Also, Fox Sports is purchasing some advertising inventory within Facebook, and Facebook is supplying the network with exclusive consumer data related to college football fandom. The two outfits also are developing additional elements, including a fan-of-the-week contest. Financial terms were not disclosed. "We've wanted to be formally connected to Facebook for some time, and we now have a partnership that has a lot of levels and really allows [us] to get into content creation with them," said Fox Sports Media Group Senior VP Chris Hannan. "We see this as the beginning of a much larger relationship with Facebook." Fox Sports is developing some similar social media integrations for its coverage of the MLB playoffs in October, but plans are not yet finalized.
In Boston, Chad Finn reports Ryen Russillo had “casually spoken to WEEI about a role at the station before reupping for three years with ESPN.” The conversations “never got to the point where there was an offer.” Russillo ended up “getting an excellent deal to remain at ESPN, including his name on ‘The Scott Van Pelt Show,’ more travel to cover college football, and more time on NBA-related programming” (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/31).
CASE OF THE MONDAYS: In Miami, Barry Jackson writes ESPN NFL analyst Jon Gruden in his three years with the net has “demonstrated that he’s a dynamic TV presence.” But Gruden "sometimes fell short last season, his work not necessarily warranting the larger role he inherits” with Ron Jaworski’s “demotion to the studio.” Gruden “struck a somewhat better balance last season but didn’t progress from being a decent analyst to an excellent one because of other shortcomings.” Gruden “loves to predict play calls, but he was wrong more often than right in 2011.” Still, it is possible Gruden will “thrive with the increased freedom of a two-man booth” on “MNF.” His analysis on this year’s NFL Draft “was very good -- concise, cogent and critical when appropriate.” Hopefully that will "translate to the booth, and Gruden will validate ESPN’s faith in him” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/31).
L.A. STORY: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes Time Warner Cable SportsNet's pending hire of Chris ‘Geeter’ McGee "as a studio host on its to-be-launched channel is separate from other reports that Heidi Watney will not be sticking around to be the Lakers' sideline reporter for the new cable channel.” Sources said that Watney “had not been approved by the Lakers for the TWCSN gig.” The team “wants its own employee, Mike Trudell, to continue as a sideliner as he did on the KCAL-Channel 9 coverage” (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/31).
DIAL CHANGE: The MIAMI HERALD’s Jackson reported Jorge Sedano, who left ESPN Radio WAXY-AM's morning show in April, on Thursday “agreed to become WQAM’s new afternoon host (3 to 7 p.m.) and the station's program director, beginning Tuesday.” Meanwhile, Sun Sports Thursday named Sedano its Heat pre- and postgame host for road games, "allowing Jason Jackson to report from the arena.” Sedano also “will remain a part-time fill-in sports anchor” for WBSF-CBS (MIAMIHERALD.com, 8/30).
NOTES: In Oklahoma City, Mel Bracht noted Miss Florida Laura McKeeman “will be part of FSN's broadcast crew” for the Oklahoma-UTEP game at 9:30pm CT Saturday. McKeeman is currently a reporter and analyst for “Rays Live” pre-game and post-game shows on Sun Sports. She also “covers football recruiting for several websites” (NEWSOK.com, 8/30)….Former NFLer Matt Chatham, who won three Super Bowl titles with the Patriots, is "joining the Boston Herald’s NFL coverage team this season.” Chatham "will be writing twice weekly for the Herald” (BOSTON HERALD, 8/31)….In Montreal, Randy Phillips announced his retirement and writes it is “the end of more than 36 years of writing full time for The Gazette.” Phillips: "Friday marks my last day at this grand old newspaper and I thank sports editor Stu Cowan” (Montreal GAZETTE, 8/31).
ABC earned a 3.7 rating and 5.9 million viewers for its telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race last Saturday, marking ABC/ESPN’s most-viewed summer race at Bristol Motor Speedway since the net acquired rights to the racing series. The mark was set despite the telecast being preempted for NFL preseason coverage in Buffalo, Detroit, Rochester and Tulsa, while Miami-Ft. Lauderdale was preempted for Hurricane Isaac coverage. Last year’s race earned a 2.9 rating and 5.1 million viewers and was not shown in many markets on ABC due to coverage of Hurricane Irene and NFL preseason games (ABC).
PLAYOFF PAYOFF: Golf Channel finished with 1.3 million combined viewers for its live and replay telecasts of the second round of The Barclays PGA Tour event last Friday, marking the most-viewed early round for the event in 17 years, dating back to when the tourney aired on USA Network. The telecast also marked the most-viewed early round for a FedExCup Playoff event on the net since the second round of the Tour Championship in ’09. GC also averaged a combined 849,000 viewers for its live and replay windows of the first round, marking the best opening round since the tourney became a FedExCup Playoff event in ’07 and the best for The Barclays since ’97 (Golf Channel).
NOTES: HBO averaged a 0.6 U.S. rating and 890,000 viewers for the fourth episode of “Hard Knocks” featuring the Dolphins, marking the second-best audience for the series this season. It also marks the fourth-best audience for “Hard Knocks” since ’02, behind two episodes from’10 (featuring Jets) and the second episode this season (HBO)….YES Network averaged 527,000 viewers for the Blue Jays-Yankees telecast on Monday, marking the best Yankees game audience this season on the net. The previous high was 447,000 viewers for a matchup against the Rangers on April 24 (TWITTER.com, 8/28)….NBC Sports Network has averaged 23,000 viewers through the first two episodes of its MLB behind-the-scenes series “Caught Looking.” The premiere on Aug. 5 averaged 31,000 viewers, and the second episode on Aug. 23 dropped to 14,000 viewers (THE DAILY).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. All ratings listed are U.S. ratings.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NFL Preseason: Panthers-Jets8/24NBC8:07-11:05pm6.29,819 NFL Preseason: 49ers-Broncos8/24Fox4:15-7:30pm4.57,100 NASCAR Sprint Cup:
Irwin Tools Night Race (Bristol)8/23ABC7:30-11:12pm3.75,905
NFL Preseason: Bears-Giants8/22CBS8:00-11:19pm3.35,153 NFL Preseason: Texans-Saints8/23CBS8:00-11:21pm3.25,125 PGA Tour: FedCup Playoffs:
The Barclays: Final Round8/24CBS2:00-6:00pm2.5n/a
"NASCAR Countdown"8/23ABC7:06-7:30pm2.4n/a LLWS: U.S. Championship:
Goodlettsville, Tenn.-Petaluma, Calif.8/23ABC3:33-7:06pm2.1n/a
PGA Tour: FedCup Playoffs:
The Barclays: Third Round8/23CBS3:15-6:00pm1.9n/a
LLWS: World Championship:
"Madden NFL 13" Pigskin
MLB: (regional)8/23Fox4:00-7:15pm1.42,100 LLWS: Int'l Championship:
Horse Racing: Travers Stakes8/23NBC4:00-6:00pm0.7n/a "U.S. Open Preview"8/24CBS1:00-2:00pm0.7n/a U.S. Open: Arthur Ashe Kids' Day8/24CBS12:30-1:00pm0.6n/a Sailing: America's Cup World Series8/24NBC2:30-4:00pm0.6n/a Liga MX: Club America-Tijuana8/25Univ.5:55-8:02pm0.51,031 ATP World Tour: Winston-Salem
Open: Isner d. Berdych8/23CBS12:30-3:15pm0.5n/a
Liga MX: Chivas de Guadalajara-
USA Pro Cycling Challenge8/23NBC2:00-4:00pm0.4n/a USA Pro Cycling Challenge8/24NBC4:00-6:00pm0.4n/a TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NFL Preseason: Eagles-Patriots8/20ESPN8:00-11:22pm3.35,066 NFL Preseason: Cardinals-Titans8/23ESPN8:00-11:36pm2.33,362 LLWS: Goodlettsville, Tenn.-San Antonio, Texas8/22ESPN8:00-10:30pm1.11,793 NASCAR Nationwide Series:
Food City 2508/24ESPN7:33-10:11pm1.11,600
"Monday Night Countdown"8/20ESPN7:00-8:00pm1.01,433 MLB: Braves-Giants8/26ESPN7:58-11:05pm1.01,413 NFL Preseason: Colts-Redskins8/25NFLN4:00-7:21pm0.91,313 LLWS: Petaluma, Calif.-Fairfield, Conn.8/21ESPN28:00-9:52pm0.91,281 LLWS: Petaluma, Calif.-
San Antonio, Calif.8/23ESPN28:00-9:46pm0.81,251
LLWS: Petaluma, Calif.-Parsippany, N.J.8/20ESPN4:37-6:41pm0.91,168