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CBS is "tweaking its fall schedule to better accommodate NFL overage on Sunday nights," according to Michael O'Connell of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. The net yesterday announced that it will shift start times for its Sunday series "by a half-hour on days that it airs an NFL doubleheader." The affected shows are "60 Minutes," "Big Brother," "The Amazing Race," "The Good Wife" and "The Mentalist." The change begins this Sunday and "will only affect viewers on the Eastern half of the U.S." CBS has opened up Eye-lerts, an SMS text alert system to inform viewers of adjusted start times (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 9/11). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the shift "should give CBS Sports breathing room." When events "run long, such as Serena Williams winning the U.S. Open on Sunday ... CBS Sports regularly zooms off air to get to the iconic news show as quickly as possible." However, there is "an obvious solution that would serve sports viewers and those tuning in for '60 Minutes': As CBS airs '60 Minutes,' continue the sports event coverage on the CBS Sports Network cable channel" (USA TODAY, 9/12).
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL: NFL Network said that it is "working on putting tiny cameras in the pylons at the ends of each goal line, giving an up-close look at scoring plays." PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Michael David Smith noted the logistics of getting the cameras in the pylon "are still being worked on but could be in place" for tomorrow night’s Bears-Packers game. NFL Net Senior VP/Production & Programming Mark Quenzel said, "We’re still working out some kinks on the pylons, that allow us to see goal line stands, those types of things, and we’re going to add a couple of cameras for isolating players." If the "technology works, this is a development that would improve officiating, and should be adopted for every NFL game" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 9/11).
LEFT IN THE DARK: In DC, Sarah Kogod noted NFL RedZone channel customers all over the U.S. who "use Verizon for their cable service were getting error messages and splash screens instead of live football action" on Sunday. Some people who "attempted to activate the channel per Verizon's instructions were shown an error page, with a customer service phone number to call." That phone number "led to even more problems." Kogod: "I was sent other stories by readers who had the same issue. Waiting on hold, being transferred and then disconnected" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/11).
RECORD RATINGS: The Patriots' 34-13 win over the Titans on Sunday drew the highest daytime season-opener local rating in franchise history. The 33.5 local rating in the Boston market saw nearly 800,000 watch on WBZ-CBS. Sunday's game also was the third highest-rated regular season opener in franchise history (Patriots).
HBO and ESPN yesterday announced a multiyear boxing programming and marketing agreement. The deal includes coordinated support for major PPV events, including sharing programming content, cross-promotion elements and highlight packages across ESPN and HBO platforms. Per the deal, ESPN and ESPN Deportes’ news and information platforms, including “SportsCenter," will have access to content from HBO PPV boxing events. In addition, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3 will carry live fighter weigh-ins and pre- and post-fight press conferences for HBO PPV events. ESPN and ESPN Deportes also will air the HBO series “24/7” leading up to HBO PPV fights (HBO). The two networks' partnership will begin with Saturday's Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Sergio Martinez bout in Las Vegas (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 9/11). DAILY VARIETY's Stuart Levine wrote the two nets are “combining efforts because boxing has seen a sharp decline in popularity in recent years," and both "believe each can help the other drum up support for the sport” (VARIETY.com, 9/11).
GLOVES ARE OFF: In L.A., Lance Pugmire notes the two "most popular Mexican fighters will headline opposing cards in Las Vegas" Saturday, as rival promoters Top Rank and Golden Boy "continue to duke it out.” HBO PPV will air Top Rank's Chavez-Martinez bout, while Showtime will televise the Saul "Canelo" Alvarez-Josesito Lopez fight. Bob Goodman, a former matchmaker for Don King, said, "It's the greatest sport in the world, but the lousiest business because we're trying to kill each other. It makes no sense to be chesty and try to make it a point when it's going to cost everyone involved a lot of money.” Pugmire notes promoters typically like "to place big fights on dates free of both internal competition and obvious conflicts with important events in the sports world." There also are weekends "boxing believes it owns, with Cinco de Mayo and Mexican Independence Day weekend at the top." Top Rank Chair Bob Arum said that studies have found 33% of PPV fights in the U.S. "are purchased by Latinos between the ages of 18-29, with 60% of those audiences consisting of Latinos.” Boxing promoter Lou DiBella, who promotes Martinez, said, "Showtime's first response should not be to the sport. Their primary consideration is their network, their subscribers. That said, there's a lot of self-destructiveness that happens in this sport. Saturday night will be a great night of boxing. But there has to be more cooperation" (L.A. TIMES, 9/12).
The Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission yesterday was “very skeptical as it grilled Bell Media ... about its proposal to convert TSN Radio 690 (CKGM) from English to French, as part of parent BCE Inc.’s acquisition of Astral Media Inc,” according to Steve Faguy of the Montreal GAZETTE. The plan, which would see the launch of RDS Radio 690 in place of TSN, has “resulted in a surge of complaints from TSN listeners.” More than 700 comments, “most by individuals, were filed with the commission about this application.” Bell said that if the application is rejected, it “would be forced to either sell the station, which operates at a loss and would not have access to Canadiens broadcast rights under a new owner, or it would have to shut the station down and return the licence to the CRTC.” The CRTC until Friday will “hear comments from third parties” about the station license change and the larger application for the purchase of Astral, “after which Bell will get a chance to respond.” A decision on both applications “could take weeks or months” (Montreal GAZETTE, 9/12).
WELL, PILGRIM? Pilgrim Communications is jettisoning its XL 950 sports format from Indianapolis' WXLW in order to begin simulcasting talk "Freedom 95.9" WFDM-FM. Pilgrim said the move will allow its talk format to cover the entire market since the FM signal has only reached the south side of the metro area. The goal is to peel more listeners off from Emmis talker WIBC (93.1) (David Broughton, SportsBusiness Journal).
Atlanta-based CSE has partnered with CBS Sports and AT&T to create "You Call It," a mobile game designed to be a second-screen enhancement to the network's coverage of SEC college football. The free app will debut with CBS' broadcast of the Alabama-Arkansas game Saturday. "You Call It" enters an increasingly crowded space of predictive sports games, which also includes N.Y.-based software developer PrePlay. In most of these games, users predict the next play in a live football game, and then can accumulate points for virtual and real-world prizes. The CSE-built product differs in that the user will predict the outcomes of entire possessions as opposed to individual plays. The game will carry extensive AT&T branding, and is aimed in part at further leveraging the telecommunications giant's longtime sponsorship of the conference. "You Call It" will be accessible on a variety of smartphone and tablet platforms. "Our aspiration, quite frankly, is to change how fans interact with football on TV," said CSE Exec VP & Digital GM Monty Mullig. "We're building games that truly accompany TV content and enhance TV content, as opposed to stand alongside it, or compete with it, and that certainly comes from our background in TV." The agency, which works extensively in client representation and traditional marketing, has sought to bulk up its digital efforts over the last two years. Twenty-five of the agency's 140 employees work on digital efforts, up from just eight in '09. Other digital client work includes a Final Four-related digital concierge service on behalf of Coca-Cola. It also helped create and power NBAHoopTroop.com, the NBA's official online kids club.
In DC, Dan Steinberg noted Nationals broadcasts on MASN, MASN2 and WDCW-CW through Sept. 6 have averaged a 2.52 local rating in the DC market. That is up 75% from last year. Ratings have "gone up every month this season." Meanwhile, the Orioles are averaging a 4.6 local rating in the Baltimore market for broadcasts on MASN, MASN2 and WJZ-CBS. That is up 44% over last year (WASHINGTON POST, 9/11).
NEWS FROM BRISTOL: THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre cited sources as saying that Tennis Channel's Cari Champion "has been selected as the new host for ESPN's 'First Take.'" Champion was picked ahead of Jemele Hill and Heidi Watney (THEBIGLEAD.com, 9/10). Meanwhile, NBCSPORTS.com's Kurt Helin noted Sports By Brooks' Twitter feed reported ESPN's Chris Broussard and Jon Barry "won't return" to the net's "NBA Countdown" studio show. ESPN's Bill Simmons and former Magic coach Stan Van Gundy would join Mike Wilbon and Magic Johnson on a "retooled ESPN NBA studio show in LA this season" (NBCSPORTS.com, 9/11).
SOCIAL OUTREACH: ADWEEK's Christopher Heine wrote the NFL Giants' "tech and social savvy are far-reaching." The team’s one-year-old mobile phone app "boasts 350,000 users," and the team also has "amassed 2.4 million Facebook fans and 550,000 Google+ followers." The Giants have a contract with NFL partner Buddy Media "for Facebook management while leaning on Mass Relevance to curate tweets -- i.e., to weed out negative messages." After every Giants touchdown, "real-time tweets from fans are displayed on ticker-style digital ribbons in the stadium." After each game, "four massive digital pillars outside the stadium encourage fans to vote for the most valuable player of the day via a Twitter hashtag." Jerseys "sporting the winning player’s number are then featured at 20 percent off at the team’s online shop" (ADWEEK.com, 9/10).