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MLB today officially announced its media rights extensions with Fox and Turner worth $6.8B over eight years. As part of new deals, Fox will average $525M per year for its package, which includes the World Series, All-Star Game, one LCS and two LDS. Turner will average $325M a year for its package that includes one LCS, two LDS, 13 regular-season, exclusive Sunday afternoon games and more digital rights. Including the $700M per year deal that ESPN signed in August, MLB will make $12.4B from its media rights over eight years, more than doubling its annual media rights haul to $1.55B per year. MLB Network will pick up at least two games from Fox' LDS package. Sources said the net will pay Fox $30M per year for those games. Some changes in the new deal involve the LDS, which Fox and TBS now will split. Previously, TBS carried all four LDS. Sources say Fox also has the option to take some of its LCS to cable. The World Series will stay on broadcast.
CHANGES TO WEEKEND SCHEDULE: MLB's regular-season weekend schedule also will see some changes. Fox will wind up with two national windows for its Saturday games: one at 4:00pm ET and one at 7:00pm. One of those windows will be available to an undetermined cable channel, which is expected to be an all-sports channel (Fox Sports One) rebranded from Speed. The number of Turner's Sunday afternoon games will be reduced from 26 to 13. The nets will not have to black out national games in local markets any more. As part of this deal, blackouts will be lifted on Fox game broadcasts. Fox' Saturday windows were previously blacked out for MLB Extra Innings and MLB.tv viewers. Those games will be available for out-of-market viewers beginning in '14.
TV EVERYWHERE RIGHTS: All the network partners also will pick up "TV Everywhere" rights, which allows them to stream their games to their websites. Turner picked up more online highlight rights, which it will use for Bleacher Report and its Team Stream app. Turner also picked up interactive TV rights.
ESPN earned an 11.6 overnight Nielsen rating for last night's Bears-Cowboys "MNF" telecast, up 45% from an 8.0 overnight for Colts-Buccaneers in Week 4 last year and up 13% from Patriots-Dolphins in '10. The game peaked at a 12.8 rating from 10:30-11:00pm ET. In Chicago, the game earned a 17.3 local rating on ESPN and a 15.2 rating on WGN-CW. In the Dallas-Ft. Worth market, the game earned a 13.8 local rating on ESPN and a 12.3 rating on KTXA-Ind (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).
UNDER FURTHER REVIEW: In Tampa, Tom Jones reviewed NFL Network after its first week being carried on Bright House Network and he wrote, “It’s safe to say football fans would prefer a world with NFL Network than one without. However, to suggest the network is one you can’t live without is debatable.” NFL Network "feels too technical," as it is "NFL overload with an emphasis on X’s and O’s.” Some of the more “entertaining characters” such as analysts Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp and Deion Sanders are “fine when they’re serious." However, when they "turn into caricatures, it becomes hard to watch.” There is a "lot to like about the network.” Analysts Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk “are sensational.” Rich Eisen is a “top-notch studio host” and Brad Nessler is a “super game broadcaster.” Jones: “All the retrospective shows during the week are great” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 10/1)
AN INSTANT HIT: On Long Island, Neil Best profiled Fox NFL analyst Michael Strahan and his recent move to become co-host of "Live! With Kelly and Michael.” Best noted Strahan "never considered giving up his Fox NFL role, which requires him to fly to Los Angeles on Fridays and take the red-eye back Sunday nights.” Strahan said, “If I had to go back and forth for a whole year, that would be tough, but for four months? I know what a real job is. I’ve had one. To fly across the country, if that’s my biggest complaint, I need to get my priorities straight.” Best noted studio and TV audiences “have embraced him as Ripa’s much, much larger new partner.” Show Exec Producer Michael Gelman said, “Even though he’s a big, imposing sports figure, when he opens up his mouth and smiles, he’s like a big teddy bear and he comes off with a cuddling, reassuring persona as opposed to a big, scary sports guy” (NEWSDAY, 9/30).
DC's WJFK-FM will be “awash with baseball coverage" throughout the Nationals' playoff run, according to Dan Steinberg of the WASHINGTON POST. The station plans to air a "three-hour Nats pregame show before every playoff game.” Two-and-a-half hours will be hosted by Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier, while the final half-hour will be hosted by Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler. Following the games, there will be “three more hours of Nats talk” -- 45 minutes hosted by Phil Wood and the remaining time hosted by Bill Rohland. WJFK Program Dir Chris Kinard in an e-mail said, “Nationals coverage will take priority over any other programming. If the Nats play on the same day as the Redskins, we’ll mix our coverage to an extent, but will mostly focus on the Nationals.” Steinberg noted WJFK has been "criticized by a segment of DC fans for catering to the NFL crowd." WJFK's "local rival" -- ESPN Radio 980 DC -- also will be broadcasting Nationals playoff games, meaning radio listeners "will have their choice of local or national coverage during playoff games.” ESPN 980 is the local home for Orioles games, so the station “will also carry the O’s playoff broadcasts.” It additionally is the flagship station for the Redskins and airs NFL game coverage on Mondays and Thursdays. Steinberg wrote while the Redskins “would obviously not budge off 980, the Monday and Thursday night broadcasts could be shifted” to WSPZ-AM to "accommodate Nats and Orioles game coverage" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 10/1).
SEEING IS BELIEVING: In Baltimore, David Zurawik reported the audience on MASN for the Red Sox-Orioles game Sunday, during which the Orioles clinched their first postseason appearance in 15 years, "was almost twice as large as the one for last year's home finale." The game drew a total of 91,000 viewers, a 94% increase from the 47,000 for last year's final home broadcast (BALTIMORESUN.com, 10/1).
UEFA has signed a deal with a "newly created unit of Creative Artists Agency LLP to manage the sale of broadcasting rights to qualifying matches for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. UEFA in a release stated that CAA Eleven "will handle the sale of the rights" that UEFA took over after promising its 53 member associations $1.5B, “an increase on what they make through individual agreements.” UEFA did not "provide details about whether CAA Eleven has provided any financial guarantees or what rights are included." The organization announced the agreement following a meeting of its Exec Committee in St. Petersburg, Russia. Olivier Guiguet and Stephane Schindler, who last year left executive positions at the sports rights holder Sportfive, "led the negotiations on behalf of CAA Eleven." UEFA spokesperson Thomas Giordano said that "more information will be provided in a separate news release in the coming days" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/1).
CONTENT IS KING: DAILY VARIETY’s Marc Graser reported CAA has “quietly ramped up a client roster that now includes QVC, Best Buy, Chipotle, Experian, Southwest Airlines, Cirque du Soleil, Diageo and Mattel, alongside Coke and GM.” CAA's rivals are also “becoming more aggressive in signing more corporate clients as a new battle of the brands heats up in town.” The companies “see marketers not only as deep-pocketed sources for large monthly retainers but also as content creators that could provide more traditional talent with jobs” (VARIETY.com, 10/1).
The Atlantic 10 Conference has signed eight-year media rights deals with ESPN, CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network starting with the ‘13-14 season. Financial terms were not disclosed. Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures represented the A-10. The conference keeps a significant amount of digital and sponsorship rights, which it plans to use or sell separately. Under the new deals, the A-10 will double the number of national games it will have to 96 men's and women's basketball games (73 men's and 23 women's). ESPN will carry at least 15 games on one of its networks, including the championship games for both the men's and women's basketball tournaments. CBSSN will carry at least 27 games including the semifinals of both tournaments. The conference's newest partner, NBCSN, will have at least 25 games, including the quarterfinals of those tournaments. NBC Sports Group's RSNs will have rights to several games, too. Though the deal does not take effect until the ‘13-14 season, NBCSN picks up a six-game package for the ‘12-13 season.
ESPN’s coverage of Ryder Cup last Friday set a record for most-watched opening day in tournament history. The net's coverage from 8:00am-7:30pm ET averaged 1.68 million viewers. The audience peaked at in the 6:00-7:00pm hour. The previous high for the first day of a Ryder Cup was 1.39 million viewers on USA Network in ‘04 (ESPN). The GUARDIAN’s Jason Deans noted Europe’s comeback on Sunday drew a “peak audience of more than 2 million to Sky Sports 1.” The event drew a “five-minute peak of 2.235 million viewers.” The net’s total coverage Sunday “averaged 1.276 million viewers and a 6.8% audience share" between 4:00pm-1:00am local time. Sky Sports 1 had an “all-day audience share of 5%, compared to an average of 1.9% over the past three months” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 10/1).
MAKING THE ROUNDS: Members of the victorious European Ryder Cup team are making the media rounds, with Ian Poulter appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning. CNBC’s Joe Kernen said, “This will be replayed for the next 50 years and it's going to be you and those crazy eyes.” Poulter said the Europeans “had to go out there … and silence the fans” early on Sunday because “we were getting it pretty hard.” Kernen asked, “What’s the worst thing you heard? A lot of cursing?” Poulter: “They're Chicago fans. They're passionate about golf.” Kernen said, “You wear crazy clothes and pink colors and all that. You had a clothing line for a while.” Poulter noted, “I've still got it, IJPDesign.com.” Kernen: “It looks good too.” Poulter said the fashion line is a “young business” and added, “I've been passionate about my clothes and wanting to look good on the golf course and we’re doing that very, very well and hopefully we can continue to grow our business from a small business to a big business.” After the Ryder Cup win, the “web traffic I'm sure will go up” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 10/2). Poulter, Graeme McDowell and Justion Rose apeared on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight” last night and as the broadcast put Poulter’s and Rose’s names on-screen they also showed their Twitter handles. Rose said, “Collectively as team we were playing for silence out there on the golf course and it was an amazing feeling. Obviously, the U.S. team had great support and it was really sort of a fiery and feisty atmosphere for us to play golf in. I loved it. The Ryder Cup does sort of transcend the game of golf” (“Piers Morgan Tonight,” CNN, 10/1).