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As the Dodgers “continue talks with Fox Sports and Time Warner Cable over a television contract that could be worth at least $6 billion, the team also has opened discussions” with MLB “over the revenue-sharing implications of any such deal,” according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. Sources said that Dodgers Chair Mark Walter has been “personally involved in the discussions.” The Dodgers with the talks “hope to avoid a U.S. Bankruptcy Court showdown with MLB." Sources said that as part of the settlement under which former Owner Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers, the “court -- and not MLB -- has the final say over distribution of the team's television revenue.” The discussions with MLB “center on whether all of the Dodgers' guaranteed television revenue should be subject to baseball's revenue-sharing program.” The Dodgers “must contribute 34%” of their annual rights fee to MLB's revenue-sharing program. The team “plans to launch its own” RSN, in part to “avoid the prospect of Fox or TWC paying a much higher rights fee” (L.A. TIMES, 12/18).
ESPN earned a 7.9 overnight Nielsen rating for last night’s Jets-Titans “MNF” telecast, down 27% from a 10.8 overnight for Steelers-49ers in Week 15 last year. In N.Y., the game earned an 8.1 local rating on ESPN and a 3.7 rating on WWOR-Ind. In Nashville, the game earned a 9.8 local rating on ESPN and a 17.2 rating on WKRN-ABC (Austin Karp, THE DAILY).EFFECTS FROM NEWTOWN: In Akron, George Thomas wrote NBC made the “proper call” in pre-empting the start of “Sunday Night Football” so that its news department could broadcast President Obama’s remarks on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Thomas: “Make no mistake. NBC made the right call in temporarily moving” the start of the 49ers-Patriots game to the NBC Sports Network and CNBC (OHIO.com, 12/17). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes reporting news of “senseless deaths isn’t exactly part of the job description for cast members of NFL pregame shows,” but they have “had to deal with it more than ever this season.” Whether it was ESPN’s Chris Berman, CBS’ James Brown or Fox’ Curt Menefee, they “all chose their words carefully, delivering them in somber, but moving, tones” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/18).
Accolades for NBC’s dynamic broadcasting duo on "Sunday Night Football" and appreciation for the CBS team of Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts were among the sentiments from an editorial roundtable assessing the announcing teams of the NFL’s network partners. THE DAILY spoke to four members of the media who comment often on the presentation and announcing of NFL programming -- Newsday’s Neil Best, the Tampa Bay Times’ Tom Jones, Sports On Earth’s Will Leitch and the Houston Chronicle’s David Barron -- about their favorite, most underrated and overrated announcing teams. This comes after a separate panel weighed in on the network’s NFL pregame shows in yesterday’s issue. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Best, Jones and Barron agree with recent SBJ poll
that Collinsworth and Michaels are the top combo
Neil Best, Newsday: The combination that I like the best is NBC’s Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Primarily because, as much as I like CBS’ Jim Nantz and Fox' Joe Buck as play-by-play guys, I just think that Michaels still -- after all these years -- does the best job of not only calling the action but also staying on top of the larger narrative of these games. I like Collinsworth for his blunt opinion.
Tom Jones, Tampa Bay Times: Michaels and Collinsworth. Collinsworth is the most interesting analyst on TV. His analysis is humorous; at the same time it’s also spot on. And I don’t think he’s afraid to call anybody out either. Michaels is pretty much the perfect announcer. Almost never makes a mistake; the economy of words that he has is perfect.
David Barron, Houston Chronicle: Michaels and Collinsworth. Their style is relaxed but also I think generally they have moments where they can conform their style of broadcasting to the importance of the game that they generally have. In other words, they bring the casual fan into the game well, but they also have sufficient knowledge and sufficient skill that they can get you involved in the game just by the matter of their exchanges once it gets into a tight game.
Will Leitch, Sports On Earth: I tend to like the NFL Network guys: Mike Mayock and Brad Nessler. They’re pretty good. As a team, NFL Net does a really good job. For CBS, a lot of people used to rip on Dan Fouts when he was on “Monday Night Football.” But I actually think he’s pretty good on CBS. He’s with Ian Eagle and Eagle’s very good too.
Q: Who are some others you like and why?
Best: I like Joe Buck’s occasionally-sarcastic sense of humor. It turns some people off, but I find it makes the game seem not all that serious. Jim Nantz brings his own kind of style, which wears well over time. I like ESPN’s Mike Tirico because he’s also worn well into doing a lot of different things for ESPN and I never really hear criticisms of him. My favorite might be Ian Eagle, also because of his ability to work humor into what he’s doing and not always take himself seriously.
Jones: I like Tirico and Jon Gruden on ESPN. Tirico is really good, and Gruden is interesting and funny. I’m a big Ian Eagle guy as far as a broadcaster play-by-play guy. He’s really strong. John Lynch is getting there for Fox; he’s a pretty decent analyst. And then I like Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on Fox. I would rank them my third favorite team, behind Tirico and Gruden who are number two and Michaels and Collinsworth as my number one.
Barron: I like Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. One play-by-play guy I really enjoy is CBS' Kevin Harlan. Kevin is good on television, but I think he’s particularly effective doing radio broadcasts for Westwood One.
Leitch: I like Joe Buck more than most people. I’ll take him over Nantz and Simms. I think the general issue with Nantz has always been it’s pretty obvious he’d rather be doing The Masters.
Q: Who is underrated when it comes to the NFL booth?
Best: In general, the team of Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts might be the most underrated. They work well together. Phil Simms might be the best of all in terms of talking about technical football elements in ways that people can understand.
Jones: Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts are very underrated. They are CBS’ best crew. Personally, I like them better than Jim Nantz and Phil Simms.
Barron: Fox’ Dick Stockton has been around for so long that you tend to forget about him.
Leitch: Dan Fouts is a little goofier than he was when he was on “Monday Night Football.” He’s better than I think he’s given credit for.
Q: Which announcers are overrated?
Best: I’ll say Gruden only because I do think that he has -- assuming he stays at it -- great potential to be a guy who does it forever, like a John Madden, if he chooses not to go back to coaching. But he still has to be careful about being too technical and too gushy as opposed to critical. The same could be said of Mike Mayock at the NFL Network, where he is also a guy who knows the sport inside and out like Gruden does and has to learn to strike that balance until you’re not overdoing it and fans don’t know what you’re talking about.
Jones: I’m not a big Nantz and Simms guy. I don’t think they’re bad at what they do, but I’m not sure I’d have them as my number one team on a network.
Leitch: I don’t think there’s any question that it’s Fox’ Gus Johnson. The problem with Gus Johnson is that it’s not real. All of it. All the screaming. He’ll use the same cadence for a Northwestern-Chicago State game in the middle of November as he will for a national championship game. It’s not real. It’s fake. It’s bluster. And frankly, the sports world has enough of that.
Q: Which announcing team do you find the most disappointing and why?
Best: I would reluctantly say the NFL Network only because of Mayock. Even though he’s extremely knowledgeable and works extremely hard, he has to stop talking in ways that people don’t understand. I have nothing against Brad Nessler at all, but I was a huge Bob Papa guy and I didn’t understand the decision to let Papa go a couple years ago.
Jones: I like Fox’ Kenny Albert a lot. His play-by-play is really good. But I’m not a big fan of Fox’ Tony Siragusa and Daryl Johnston. I just think they clown around a little too much.
Barron: I sometimes wonder if CBS’ Dan Dierdorf doesn’t fall back into accepted habits. He falls back more on clichés as opposed to adjusting to the times.
Leitch: I actually find the whole NBC production disappointing because they’ve got tons of talented people on there. I think Michaels is a professional and Collinsworth is good. It still feels somehow strangely more corporate than the other networks. It always feels like they are putting on a show for an advertisers’ benefit, kind of buffeted by Costas’ desperately-want-to-be-Edward-R.-Murrow routine at halftime during a sporting event sponsored by Ford Trucks and 5-hour Energy.
Bryant Gumbel tonight "puts a bow on his 18th season” hosting HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel." The show has now "won 23 Sports Emmy Awards, 15 of them for 'Outstanding Sports Journalism.'" Gumbel sat for a Q&A with the L.A. TIMES' Lance Pugmire to discuss the show. The following is an excerpt of the Q&A:
Q: Did you believe at the start that "Real Sports" would last this long?
Gumbel: I was hosting “Today” at the time and had a conversation with my boss about it being on once or twice a year. It almost stopped when I went to CBS.
Q: What did you think of NBC's Bob Costas using halftime of "Sunday Night Footall" two weeks ago to speak out on gun control in light of Jovan Belcher's murder-suicide? Fair game?
Gumbel: It's always difficult in a limited time frame to take on issues that hotly contested. All you can do is say what you mean and hope to do it effectively.
Q: Your own commentaries have also been a magnet for debate. … How do you establish the subject?
Gumbel: I take it seriously and spend a lot of time with it. We're trying to make a point. Brevity is difficult. To do it in a minute, or 1:15, the economy of words is important and I go through a lot of angst about every word. Commentaries are intended to make people think. After all of them, I can't think of any I'd take back. I firmly believe what I say.
Q: Where did your edge, your push for the hard truth emerge? Has it always been there, or did it evolve?
Gumbel: I've been doing this for 40 years, and that's the first time anyone's ever asked me that. When I first joined KNBC, they started a two-hour newscast. Our news directors decided it wouldn't make sense to say the Dodgers and Angels won or lost both times. So they asked me, “What do you think you can do that's different?” So we talked issues, did sports book reviews.
Q: What more do you want to do in the business?
Gumbel: I take pride that whatever people think of me, they know I care about what I do. I'm serious-minded. As far as my career, I've been accused of having tunnel vision. I don't really use a rear-view mirror, I'm so preoccupied with what I'm doing (L.A. TIMES, 12/17).
Twitter yesterday announced that it is “tying up with TV ratings giant Nielsen Co. to create the ‘Nielsen Twitter TV Rating,’ a new audience metric based on the popular microblogging service,” according to John Letzing of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Nielsen said that the new Twitter TV Rating “will be used to gauge ‘the reach of the TV conversation on Twitter,’ and will start in the fall 2013 TV season.” Nielsen added that the new metric “will complement current TV ratings” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/18). The two companies will deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of the TV conversation. The Nielsen Twitter TV Rating will give TV networks and advertisers the real-time metrics required to understand TV audience social activity. These ratings will build on NM Incite’s SocialGuide audience engagement analytics platform (Nielsen). DAILY VARIETY’s Andrew Wallenstein noted the new rating will “gauge the activity on the social-media platform relevant to specific TV shows and commercials.” The multiyear, exclusive deal with Nielsen “will unlock a private portion of Twitter's otherwise publicly available data that reveals how many people see a given tweet as opposed to the usual metrics regarding the volume of tweets or those tweeting.” The new metric is “intended to provide advertisers an additional dimension for valuing the content in which they pay to embed marketing messages for both commercials and product integration.” CBS Chief Research Officer David Poltrack “characterized the deal as experimental but said it carries the potential to allow a network to offer an integrated ad buy that could enable a marketer to purchase a 30-second commercial on air along with a companion experience on Twitter” (VARIETY.com, 12/17).
TURN UP THE RADIO: In N.Y., Michael de la Merced reports Nielsen Holdings today said that it had agreed to acquire radio ratings company Arbitron for $1.26B. The offer represents a 26% premium to Arbitron's closing price on Monday. The two companies have a combined revenue of $6B (NYTIMES.com, 12/18).
In L.A., Meg James cited data from Kantar Media which showed that the London Games, combined with political campaigns, "pumped nearly $2 billion into the U.S. advertising market during the third quarter of 2012." The "largest beneficiary of the increased spending during the quarter was NBC." Estimates show that NBC and its sister cable channels took in $1B from advertisers "eager to tout their products during the 17-day" Olympics. Cable TV advertising "grew nearly 3%." But some cable nets "took a hit because advertisers shifted their spending to outlets that televised the Olympics." The "top advertisers" during the period were P&G ($770M) and GM ($472M) (LATIMES.com, 12/17).
APOLOGY ACCEPTED? In S.F., Bruce Jenkins apologized for his Sunday column, in which he "criticized NBA Commissioner David Stern for scheduling five games on Christmas Day, ruining the holiday for many participants." Jenkins: "I've made this point with regularity over the years, but this time, I pointed out that Stern is Jewish and wrote that he 'has no feel for Christmas in the first place.'" Jenkins added, "That statement is just plain wrong, not to mention arrogant, and I apologize for it. I should not have brought up the subject of Stern's religion. ... I shouldn't have addressed the issue of David Stern's faith in any manner" (SFGATE.com, 12/17).
TEEING OFF: The AP's Michael Marot noted Golf Channel starting in '14 will "televise the NCAA Division I golf championships" with three days of coverage from the men's tournament. Golf Channel also will "carry the men's and women's championships the following year." It marks the "first time since 1997 that the women's championship will be televised live" (AP, 12/17).
SAYING GOODBYE: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted about "three-and-a-half years after Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise launched a radio show for" WJFK-FM, that program "is ending." Steinberg reported the show "will be replaced by a four-hour program hosted by Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier." WJFK-FM Program Dir Chris Kinard said it was a "ratings-based decision." Wise in a statement said, "It's not by choice" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 12/14).