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Television networks "stand to lose broadcasts that attract millions of viewers and generate millions of dollars in advertising revenue" if the NHL lockout carries into the regular season, according to Monte Stewart of the CP. CBC President & CEO Hubert Lacroix "acknowledged this week that a delayed or cancelled season would be 'a cash flow challenge for us.'" Lacroix said the CBC has replacement programming, but it is "still not fully clear how networks will fill the void created by a lockout." Stewart noted during previous lockouts, networks "aired more major junior and American Hockey League games." However, "HNIC" play-by-play announcer Jim Hughson said that the "ratings and revenues do not justify the production costs, which are about on par with NHL telecasts." TSN VP & Exec Producer of Live Events Paul Graham said that his network "is not worried about what will happen in the short-term because it has plenty of programming tied to CFL, NBA, NASCAR and other events." TSN also could "expand its slate to include additional live events, news, talk shows and documentaries." A TSN spokesperson said that some "potential additions include expanded Major League Soccer playoff coverage, more NFL programming and increased world junior hockey championship coverage." The CBC and Sportsnet reps said that with their first regular-season telecasts "not scheduled until Oct. 11 ... their networks are taking a wait-and-see approach and will be prepared to roll out a different programming plan if necessary." Stewart noted Hughson is "not worried that lost games will harm long-term ratings in Canada," but he "is concerned about the potential lasting impact on American TV ratings." Hughson is "worried the NHL will lose audience gains that resulted largely from a new NBC contract, the annual Winter Classic game played outdoors and the HBO documentary '24/7'" (CP, 9/26).
GAME OF WHAT IF: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote analysts only need to look "at the Nielsen ratings to assess how crucial hockey is" to NBC Sports Network. Although the net's NHL "deliveries remain modest ... those numbers are a huge improvement when compared with periods in which the net is hockey-free." Despite the "inevitable loss of GRPs and advertising dollars it faces in the event of a prolonged work stoppage, NBC will still be on the hook for its $200 million annual rights fee." If the entire season "is a wash, the NHL will be obliged to tack on an extra year after NBC's contract expires in 2021, at no additional cost to the network." NBC and NBCSN last season "generated $150 million in NHL inventory" (ADWEEK.com, 9/24).
WHEELS IN MOTION: In Toronto, Lance Hornby cites a report that German-based UFA Sports Agency, which represents the KHL’s marketing arm outside Eastern Europe, is "hearing from ... North American broadcasters facing a huge hole in their hockey programming." Sportsnet's John Shannon "wonders how quickly the KHL novelty would wear off on these shores." He said, "There’s a curiosity, but just a curiosity. I don’t think it will turn people’s cranks. Shannon: "There's an old adage that sport is tribal. People watch the Leafs because they’re the Leafs. I’m not sure how many Magnitogorsk fans there are. ... I think there is a chance for better success with special events, such as the Memorial Cup and world junior tournament" (TORONTO SUN, 9/27). Meanwhile, ESPN's "SportsCenter" this morning showed highlights of Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin in his first KHL game (THE DAILY).
EUROPEAN GAINS: In Vancouver, Tony Gallagher notes there are dozens of NHL players signed to play in the KHL during the lockout, and if the NHL "keeps turning a blind eye to what's happening over there, they may find all the work they've done cultivating the game in Europe being capitalized on by this expanding league hungry for a long-term fix to what is now their unsustainable business plan." A European television contract is "really the only barrier that stands in the way of the KHL being a long-term financially viable operation." What this "influx of NHL talent is doing for the league now is essentially showing potential Western European owners and television executive what might be possible some day if they could get their act together." The NHL is "naive if they think Western Europe isn't next on the KHL agenda" (Vancouver PROVINCE, 9/27).
FSN today announced it has signed a multiyear media rights deal with the Big West that makes Prime Ticket, FS West and FS San Diego the conference's exclusive regional TV partners. Deal terms have the three RSNs carrying at least 20 events, including men's basketball, four men's basketball tournament quarterfinal games, the women's basketball tournament championship game, and championships in soccer and track and field. In the ‘13-14 season, when San Diego State joins the conference, that commitment will increase to 32 events, including at least 12 SDSU men's basketball games. The SDSU games, in particular, are critical for Fox Sports, which is trying to increase distribution of FS San Diego. The net does not have carriage on one of the biggest distributors in the region, Time Warner Cable. FSN will stream 800 live events per year on a soon-to-launch website, including all men's and women's basketball games and women's volleyball. As part of the deal, Fox Sports will get in-arena signage, recognition on all conference websites and a sponsorship for the Big West Basketball Tournament. SportsBusiness Journal first wrote about this deal in August.
MLBAM tomorrow plans to conduct a single-day Beat The Streak contest in attempt to award a never-won $5.6M prize. The game, a popular element on MLB.com since its introduction in '01, calls for players to select an MLB hitter each day to get a hit with a goal of surpassing Joe DiMaggio's real-world record of hitting in 56 consecutive games. After 12 seasons and more than $16M in total offered prizes, no one has even reached 50 straight games in the Beat The Streak contest. The single-day format will allow players to enter in 57 picks on their own or have the site auto-select players for them. Scott's will be the presenting sponsor of the single-day Beat The Streak event, extending its prior support of the game. MLBAM has internally calculated the odds of someone correctly picking 57 players with a hit tomorrow at roughly 16 million to one.
McDonald’s is launching a “custom-made M Channel” in 700 of its restaurants, and the channel's aim “is to offer exclusive content to entertain customers,” according to Lynn Elber of the AP. ChannelPort Communications Founder Lee Edmondson, who has “spent more than eight years developing the concept for McDonald’s,” said that the M Channel is “akin to a broadcast network with its own news, entertainment and sportscasts localized for cities and even neighborhoods.” He said that the channel's goal is “to target different audiences at different times of day and be so area-specific that a restaurant could show high school football game highlights to hometown fans.” Edmondson said that M Channel “could expand to the roughly 14,000 McDonald's nationwide within 18 months of getting the ‘go’ from the company and franchisees” (AP, 9/26).
In Houston, David Barron noted Astros radio play-by-play announcer Milo Hamilton last night worked his final game "as a full-time broadcaster after almost six decades with seven major league clubs, including 28 years with the Astros." The Cardinals-Astros postgame broadcast included "tributes from colleagues Brett Dolan and Dave Raymond." Hamilton yesterday "burst into tears during a morning chat on KTRH (740 AM) as he and anchor Matt Patrick discussed his Astros memories" (CHRON.com, 9/26). MLB.com's Brian McTaggart noted Hamilton "won't travel with the team on its road trip through Milwaukee and Chicago to end the season, but he'll sign off the final broadcast of the season on Oct. 3." After the Astros-Cubs regular season finale is over, Raymond and Dolan "will throw the broadcast to Hamilton" in Houston (MLB.com, 9/26).
ANCHORS AWAY! FSN will use Erin Andrews as a sideline reporter for its "Battle on the Midway" game Nov. 9. She joins play-by-play announcer Dick Enberg and analyst Steve Kerr in calling the matchup, which will be produced by FS San Diego and distributed nationally to FSN and its affiliates. The San Diego State-Syracuse contest will be played on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum Aircraft Carrier, which is anchored in San Diego harbor. The assignment marks Andrews' second sideline reporting role since joining Fox over the summer (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
NATITUDE ADJUSTMENT: In DC, Rick Maese writes Nationals TV analyst F.P. Santangelo "has narrated a memorable summer in Washington as the team’s ever-present voice." Last year was Santangelo's first with MASN, which he "likened to a teenager who had just earned his driver’s license." But Santangelo this year is "more fluid and comfortable." He said that MASN and the Nationals "have given him no constraints." Santangelo said he can be “as critical as I want to be.” But Maese writes, "More times than not, that means not very." He is "prone to giving the Nats -- and ballplayers in general -- the benefit of the doubt" (WASHINGTON POST, 9/27).
NOTES: Pro Basketball HOFer Calvin Murphy said that he will "start as a new member of the Rockets' broadcast team on Comcast SportsNet Houston" for the '12-13 NBA season (CHRON.com, 9/25)....ESPN's new season of PBA coverage, set to begin in December, will feature the broadcast team of Lon McEachern and PBA HOFer Randy Pederson (PBA)....The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has moved Hawks beat writer Michael Cunningham to "a new role as general assignment sports reporter." Chris Vivlamore will replace Cunningham on the Hawks beat (AJC.com, 9/24).