NBA Poised For Big Season With Eyes On Superteams Under Armour Has Slowest Sales Growth In Six Years Axe Bat Completes Corporate Realignment Knight Commission Chair Predicts Grim FBS Future World Series Tickets Still Setting Price Records Yankee Stadium Adding Social Gathering Areas Dolan, Manfred To Discuss Chief Wahoo Logo Cubs Poised For Marketing Opportunities MLB Postseason Viewership Down 8% NHL, Players Set Escrow Withholding Rate At 15%
SBD/February 15, 2013/MediaPrint All
DirecTV Chair, President & CEO Mike White Thursday said that the company will expand its RSN surcharge "in the spring to include existing customers,” according to Mike Farrell of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. DirecTV “began implementing a $3 monthly surcharge in August for regional sports networks in markets that had multiple RSNs," including N.Y., and L.A., but "only to new customers.” Verizon FiOS TV began “implementing a $2.42 monthly charge for RSNs in California, Texas and Florida in February, with plans to expand to its remaining states in March.” and analysts have “expected other distributors to follow suit to help offset the high costs of RSNs, but so far no cable operators have taken the bait.” DirecTV has “balked at carrying the Pac-12 regional sports networks and CSN Houston, and still does not carry CSN Northwest.” It also was one of the last distributors to “sign on to Time Warner Cable Sportsnet and Time Warner Cable Deportes in Los Angeles” (MULTICHANNEL.com, 2/14). White during the company's Q4 earnings conference call Thursday "slammed rising sports rights fees." He said, "The sports business model is broken." He added that if DirecTV was "to carry sports programming in the few markets that are 'completely out of control' and 'unaffordable for the average consumer,' the only solution is through some kind of surcharge." White said that the surcharge does not "even come close to covering the total costs for sports in those markets" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 2/15).
SPORTS CHANNELS ON A PAY TIER? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts on Wednesday said the idea of placing sports channels on a premium pay tier on cable providers “is a conversation that is going to be had, and we have to be a constructive participant.” Roberts said, “It’s time that we’re part of that dialogue and try to help come up with solutions that are good for the various stakeholders, and we shouldn’t shy away from that.” He added, "Costs are rising and not everybody wants that to happen, and yet we have to create more value to justify those cost increases. So that’s strategy we’ve been employing” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 2/13).
Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim on Thursday provided his "recollection of the episode that led to" his calling ESPN's Andy Katz "an 'idiot' during his media briefing" after Wednesday night's loss to UConn, according to Bud Poliquin of the Syracuse POST-STANDARD. Boeheim said, "It’s really simple. I went to New York last year to play in the (NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off) Tournament in November and he (Katz) asked if he could interview me about the tournament. And I said, ‘Yeah, but I can’t talk about the (Bernie Fine) investigation.’ We got in the room and he put me on camera -- there were several witnesses there -- and he asked me what I’d told him I couldn’t answer. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t answer that.’ And he asked me, like, 10 times on camera. He never took the camera off me." Boeheim added, "Two or three people in the room were so disgusted they walked out of the room. The producer came over and apologized afterward. And I told Katz right then and there, ‘Don’t talk to me. Do not try to talk to me again.’" When told that the exchange has "become big 'news' in some precincts," Boeheim "suggested otherwise." He said, "This is not a story. It was something, to me, that was out of bounds and I told Katz I would never talk to him again." Asked if he had any regrets about the exchange, Boeheim said, "I probably shouldn't have called him an 'idiot.' That slipped out" (SYRACUSE.com, 2/14).
KATZ DEFENDS HIS REPORTING: Katz on Friday morning refuted Boeheim's recollection about the initial incident, calling it "not accurate." Katz said after the molestation allegations against Fine, a former Syracuse assistant coach, came to light, “whoever was sitting in that seat representing this company was going to ask those questions” to Boeheim about what he knew and about Fine. Katz said of speaking with Boeheim, “We never made an agreement at all. ... There was no precondition to the interview.” Katz noted that “there are certain coaches that if you keep asking them, they’re going to keep talking, and I knew that Jim Boeheim had just talked” about Fine at a press conference. He reiterated Boeheim was “inaccurate" from claiming Katz "said that you can’t ask these certain questions." Katz: “I think this is true for all of us here that we don't get into those kinds of agreements, especially when there's a news story.” He noted during the interview, Boeheim “got very ... demonstrative, but we said, ‘Look, we're going to ask these questions.’ And by the way, we ran two of the bites on ‘SportsCenter’ that night because he did actually answer a couple of them.” Katz said he has “tried and I will continue to try” to make amends with Boeheim, as college basketball "is my primary beat." He said of Boeheim, "He’s obviously made a decision that he does not want to talk to me. I will still try in a professional manner to do that” ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN Radio, 2/15).
NO HARM, NO FOUL? In New York, Ben Meyers wrote Boeheim "went over the top with his language and location" of calling out Katz. There are "better ways to go about a disagreement, of course, and this will be a major turn off for many, but 1) Boeheim doesn't care 2) Boeheim doesn't need to care ... 900 wins does that 3) ESPN will be back because they need SU and the ACC eventually 4) There is no such thing as bad publicity and 5) This is all a measured response by the coach to divert us from what actually happened" (AUBURNPUB.com, 2/14).
NBA game audiences are down on TNT, ABC and NBA TV through the first half of the season compared to the same point during both the lockout-shortened season in '11-12 and the normal schedule of '10-11. TNT is averaging a 1.4 U.S. rating and 2.1 million viewers, down 22% and 26%, respectively, from last season, and down from a 1.6 rating and 2.4 million viewers in '10-11. TNT last year was the beneficiary of a Christmas Day game to start the shortened season, and it did not have a game on the holiday this season. Additionally, the start to the '12-13 season came as several Northeast markets were without Nielsen ratings due to the effects from Hurricane Sandy. ESPN's games are averaging a 1.2 rating and 1.8 million viewers, flat compared to last season, but down slightly from '10-11. ABC's NBA games are also down 9.5% in ratings to date compared to '11-12, while also seeing a slight drop compared to two seasons ago. NBA TV's viewership is down 9% from last season, but still up from '10-11. However, the net's "Fan Night" on Tuesdays is on pace for a record-setting audience.---------- TNT -------------------- ESPN ----------
GMSRAT.VIEWERS (000)GMSRAT.VIEWERS (000)'12-13301.42,064471.21,824'11-12191.82,797241.21,824'10-11361.62,416471.32,009---------- ABC -------------------- NBA TV ----------
GMSRAT.VIEWERS (000)GMSRAT.VIEWERS (000)'12-1363.86,505580.2327'11-1244.27,435460.2358'10-1173.96,734n/a0.1235
The NBA and official business analytics software partner SAP Friday are debuting NBA.com/Stats, the new statistical engine months in the making. Available before to team personnel and credentialed NBA media, the advanced statistical database will now be free and available to the public. The site features boxscores for every game in league history and allows for advanced statistical analysis with a capability of more than 4.5 quadrillion computations. The site will be updated after each game, eventually will include links to video and feature a wide variety of links to social media platforms for fans to share data. "We think this will be a real breakthrough for fans," said NBA Exec VP/Operations & Technology Steve Hellmuth. "We're putting tools in the hands of our fans to do the same kind of detailed analysis of players and teams happening inside the game." The portal will be supported by advertising, like most other parts of NBA.com, and also is designed as an indirect driver toward consumption of other league content such as televised games. NBA.com/Stats originally was targeted to launch around the start of the season, but the league and SAP in recent weeks have conducted rigorous stress testing on the product to ensure it could scale reliably to a mass audience. "Scaling was a huge issue, but this has been a great project, something we see as really additive to the fan experience," said SAP Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Steve Peck. "We're hoping this is the beginning of something that also can get into ticketing analytics, merchandising and other business-side elements" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: In N.Y., Howard Beck reports the system “graphically displays every player’s shooting tendencies,” and allows fans to “analyze and compare lineup combinations.” The NBA’s site for the first time “includes advanced metrics -- like true shooting percentage, usage rate and defensive efficiency -- that have been available on other sites for years.” A version of the statistics tool “was created six years ago, for exclusive use by NBA teams.” The league last February “opened it up to reporters and bloggers who cover the league, as a sort of beta test,” and now fans “will have access.” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver, who will succeed Commissioner David Stern next February, was a “major driving force behind the project.” Hellmuth: “Adam wanted to surface all of this information so fans could digest it the way they wanted to, so they could have their own view of the history of the NBA and their own look into their favorite team. We didn’t want to keep it behind a curtain; we wanted to expose it” (N.Y. TIMES, 2/15).
TNT's "Inside The NBA" studio show broadcasted live from Houston Thursday night in advance of NBA All-Star Weekend, and the HOUSTON CHRONICLE's David Barron reports for co-hosts Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal, "keeping things real has been very profitable" both for them and TNT. Smith said, "Our first and foremost goal is that you have to listen. A lot of times when I see other sport shows, everyone makes their point, but nobody talks about the point that the other guys are making." He added, "My concerted effort has always been to listen so I can react and have my own point, not just saying, 'You talk for 15 seconds, you talk for 15, and you get 16.'" Barron writes the real "spark plug" to the show is Barkley, whose "inherent gift for the sublime and ridiculous made the show a pop-culture phenomenon." Turner Sports VP & Exec Producer Tim Kiely said, "The show gets better the later it goes, because Chuck starts to lose his mind, and he gets better when he gets tired because he gets goofier." Smith's "freedom of expression attracted" Barkley to the show after he retired in '00, and the "free flow of conversation between them, in turn, attracted O'Neal" after former panelist Magic Johnson went to ESPN. O'Neal, who recently talked to THE DAILY about his post-NBA career, said, "It has all the elements I want to see. I'm a sports guy, but I don't want to see serious stats and mumbo jumbo all the time. Especially for 2013, it's a good mixture" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/15). SI's Jack McCallum writes there is "one tangible reason that the Charles Show has worked for the last 12 years." The show has a "wonderful supporting cast," but the "best answer is that it works simply because it works" (SI, 2/18 issue).
INFORMATION OVERLOAD: USA TODAY's Reid Cherner wrote NBA TV and TNT have "no worries about filling up four days of TV coverage" until the ASG tips off Sunday at 8:00pm ET. Last year's "All-Star Saturday Night" was the "third-most watched in the 27-year history of TNT's coverage," and that "builds up into interest for the actual All-Star Game on Sunday night." Johnson said that the skills challenges on Saturday night are the "lynchpin of TNT's coverage." He said, "Something always happens on that night that you never think will happen." Cherner noted that "keeps the host on his toes." Johnson: "I don't think you plan too much. It is the unscripted moments that you don't put in the run-down that make the day. That is the beauty of our show" (USATODAY.com, 2/12). In Atlanta, Chris Vivlamore notes this is TNT's 28th straight year of covering ASG festivities, and the net's coverage "has come a long way over nearly three decades." TNT will use 42 cameras and 16 mobile units "to deliver the sights and sounds." Turner Sports Senior VP/Production and Exec Creative Dir Craig Barry noted that the figure is "up from four mobile units 20 years ago." TNT also will incorporate "six Super Slow Motion cameras, six robotic cameras and one helicopter in its productions" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/15).
GLOBAL APPEAL: TV coverage for the ASG will reach fans in 215 different countries and territories and 47 languages on TV, computers, mobile devices and tablets. More than 312 int'l media members from 46 countries and territories also will be in Houston (NBA).
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports team are “launching a radio-style podcast called ‘The Dale Jr. Download,’ which will serve as the first program on a new online network as ‘Dirty Mo Radio,’” according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. The weekly podcasts “will be based at Earnhardt's personal website, DaleJr.com, but will also be available on iTunes.” All podcasts will be “free of charge.” The “Mo” in Dirty Mo Radio is “a reference to Earnhardt's hometown of Mooresville, N.C.” The broadcasts will be hosted by JR Motorsports Communications Dir Mike Davis and Charlotte-based WFNZ-AM's Taylor Zarzour. Earnhardt said that he will have “a major interest” in the programming. “The Dale Jr. Download” will air Mondays beginning next week and “will focus on recapping the previous weekend's race but also give fans insight on Earnhardt's life” (USA TODAY, 2/15). SPORTING NEWS’ Jeff Owens noted Earnhardt will be featured “in many of the podcasts, but other shows will feature teammates and friends from Earnhardt's life and will focus on events and developments on and off the track.” Earnhardt said that the show “would be similar to the XM Satellite Radio show -- ‘Dale Jr. Unrestricted’ -- for which he was once host.” He added, "But a little more professional than that" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 2/14).
Royals broadcaster Bob Davis is "retiring from his role ... after 16 seasons," according to Jeffrey Flanagan of FOXSPORTSKANSASCITY.com. Davis said that he will "continue his duties as the voice" of Univ. of Kansas athletics throughout the remainder of this season, his 29th, "and beyond." Davis said that he will "have more time now to spend caring for his wife, Linda, who has been suffering from Parkinson's disease for some time." The Royals will "rotate" Ryan Lefebvre, Steve Stewart and Steve Physioc to pair with HOF announcer Denny Matthews this summer, "though Matthews' schedule has been pared back in recent years." Davis' radio role also was "scaled back to about 60 games last season" (FOXSPORTSKANSASCITY.com, 2/14). In K.C., Bob Dutton reported the Royals "plan to compensate for Davis' departure by shifting" Stewart to radio play-by-play duties when Matthews "doesn't accompany the club on some road trips." Davis filled that role last year "after the Royals shook up their TV and radio crews by hiring" Physioc and Rex Hudler following the "decision by FSKC not to retain analyst Frank White." The Royals plan for Lefebvre and Physioc to "split play-by-play duties on TV and radio for the second year." Lefebvre will "do 90 TV games and 72 radio broadcasts." Physioc will "do the remaining 50 TV games and 90 radio broadcasts." Matthews and Stewart will "split time as the club's other radio voice" (KANSASCITY.com, 2/14).
SI.com's Grant Wahl wrote of Gus Johnson's Fox Soccer debut Wednesday at calling games on Fox Soccer, "Was he perfect? No." But he "didn't make any colossal errors, and there were times he got the call just right as a scoring chance was building." He also was "better than soccer newbie Dave O'Brien ever was during his ill-fated foray into ESPN's play-by-play calling during World Cup 2006." Wednesday's Manchester United-Real Madrid UEFA Champions League match was "something Johnson can build on." Wahl: "If Johnson can help bring new fans to soccer in the U.S., I'm all for it" (SI.com, 2/14). In S.F., Bruce Jenkins wrote Johnson "actually did a measured, credible job, excitable only at the proper moments." Jenkins: "I was most alarmed when Johnson made a couple of references to 'the football'" (SFGATE.com, 2/14).
SHIPPING OUT OF BOSTON: In Boston, Chad Finn writes Glenn Ordway, fired on Wednesday by WEEI, was the "victim of declining ratings, a high salary, and whether he recognizes it or not, his own hubris." The news of his removal was "further confirmation that radio is a cold, vicious business populated by more than its share of people who could be described with the same adjectives." Ordway is "worthy of a respectful departure for a couple of reasons, starting with his important place in the historical landscape of Boston sports radio" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/15). Ordway Wednesday on-air said he has “nothing really that negative to say about the company or the people here.” But he added that he as "hoping we could deal” with his leaving the station “in a little bit more professional fashion.” He noted it is "obvious that we are not getting the ratings” that are needed, and "that’s what this business is all about” ("The Big Show, WEEI, 2/13). Meanwhile, WBZ-FM The Sports Hub "Toucher and Rich" morning show on Thursday announced that co-host Rich Shertenlieb will "be absent from the program in the immediate future after learning Wednesday that his wife has a form of leukemia" (BOSTON.com, 2/14).
ALWAYS BE PREPARED: In Tulsa, Bill Haisten wrote Thunder radio play-by-play announcer Matt Pinto, in his 23rd season calling NBA games, "makes it sound easy." During the Feb. 8 Suns-Thunder game, a transcripition of Pinto's call during the third quarter showed he used 4,259 words. When an opponent is facing the Thunder for the first time in a season, Pinto "does about eight hours of research and game preparation." If he is "familiar with the opponent, game prep is a three-hour project." If Pinto's prep "seems excessive, it is." He estimates that only about 10% of his information "will be imparted to the listeners" (TULSA WORLD, 2/14).
JAY WALKING? THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre noted the next ESPN on-air personality that "could be on the move" is college basketball analyst Jay Williams. Sources said that Williams has a contract "that runs through March." ESPN recently "passed him over" when a seat came open on the "College GameDay" set, with the spot going to Jalen Rose. ESPN has either seen a "mass exodus of high-profile talent ... over the last nine months -- Rachel Nichols, Steve Berthiaume and his wife Cindy Brunson, Doug Gottlieb, Michelle Beadle, Erin Andrews to name a few -- or that’s just the nature of the business at a time when networks are gearing up to compete with the Worldwide Leader in the coming years" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 2/12).
HERE & THERE: Sportsnet has signed NHL analysts Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean to multiyear extensions. They will continue as two of the leading analysts on "Hockey Central" and CJCL-AM Sportsnet 590 The Fan's "Hockey Central @ Noon," while continuing to make regular appearances on "Connected" (Sportsnet)....Time Warner Cable Deportes announced that its on-air team for MLS Galaxy coverage will consist of Martin Zuniga, Elmur Souza, Enrique Anibal Gutierrez, Hipolito Gamboa, Ricardo Celis and Samuel Jacobo (TWC)....The St. Paul Pioneer Press hired former South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Mike Berardino "as their new Twins beat reporter" (TWITTER.com, 2/14).
Golfer Steve Elkington and several associates have "dove into the digital computing universe in ways no other athlete has attempted," according to Brett Avery of GOLF WORLD. They began in April '10 by creating SecretInTheDirt.com, a "distinctive golf instruction website with an iconoclastic audience mirroring Elkington's quest for swing-related discovery." They then "swiched gears in the second half of 2012 and, in a fevered rush, created an iPhone app, CapZoo, that propelled them into Sillicon Valley's social-media revolution." Elkington will "promote Secret, CapZoo and some of the best-known digital companies on his apparel and bag" as he makes his Champions Tour debut this season. Elkington's ventures have "five full-timers, and he is juggling the quest for venture capital and growth." The website currently "resembles a percolating grillroom or practice tee occupied by rank beginners and tour winners alike." The site's message board, "The Forum," features "everything from swing theory to on-course confidence builders." Another section called "The Vault" includes more than 1,000 instructional videos. Through "organic growth Secret has members from more than 125 countries." SecretInTheDirt co-Founder Mike Maves equates the site's "30,000 unique monthly visitors to Twitter, where a core stokes conversation and far more read and retweet." Avery notes CapZoo is available for iPhone users and "destined for other platforms." CapZoo aggregates "text, photos, video and sound into a quasi time capsule with its own URL for emailing or posting to Twitter, Facebook and other sites." The "magic was centralizing social-media technology more than inventing it." Elkington is traveling this year in a "massive two-story trailer," which will "serve as home and office." The trailer occasionally will host users of both SecretInTheDirt and CapZoo, as well as "business partners, including digital companies Elkington says are eager to sponsor golf" (GOLF WORD, 2/18 issue).
TRAVELING IN STYLE: GOLFWEEK's Forecaddie notes Elkington's "customized 1,200-square-foot Anderson Mobile Estate" RV features a "putting green downstairs and a full bedroom, master bathroom and sitting area upstairs." Then there are "multiple bars and TVs and a steam room." Expandable on the "sides and featuring one-way glass, the 46-foot-long trailer is similar to the one owned by actor Will Smith." Elkington "spent $200,000 remodeling" the inside of the RV. Elkington: "I'm going to try to host sponsor dinners in there and spice it up a little bit. I'm selling accessibility and branding in a whole different way" (GOLFWEEK, 2/15 issue).
After nearly a month of regular-season action, several NHL teams are seeing big gains on local TV. MSG's Rangers telecasts are averaging a 1.95 local rating in N.Y. through the first 11 games, up 187% compared to the first 11 games aired in October/November last season and 97% compared to the team’s final average last season. The net also is averaging a 0.56 local rating for Devils games, up 143% compared to the season average last season. The Penguins-Devils game last Saturday earned a 1.25 local rating, marking the net’s best Devils game rating since Rangers-Devils in March ’10. The Sabres also saw their highest-ever ratings on MSG for the month of January. The 10.9 local rating in Buffalo during January is 28% higher than the previous record for the month and second-best monthly rating overall since the ’05-06 season (MSG). In Dallas, Barry Horn noted the Stars are averaging a 1.0 local rating through their first 10 games on FS Southwest, up 94% over a 0.51 for the same number of games last season. Conversely, Mavericks games on the net are averaging a 1.7 local rating through 46 games, down 44% compared to last season’s average (DALLASNEWS.com, 2/10). Maple Leafs games also are doing well, as Sportsnet is averaging 920,000 viewers for its regional coverage to date, up 24% from the net's average last season. The team's season opener on the CBC's "HNIC" was the most-watched season opener on record, averaging 3.34 million viewers. Regional coverage on Leafs TV is averaging 474,000 viewers, up 53% over last year's final number (MLSE).
NOTES: In Detroit, Steve Schrader noted 350,000 viewers in the Detroit market watched the State of the Union address on Tuesday night across four local over-the-air stations. That same night, 263,000 viewers in the market tuned in for the Michigan-Michigan State game on ESPN (FREEP.com, 2/13)….ESPN Deportes' coverage of the Caribbean World Series (16 games) was up 38% from last year. The Mexico-Dominican Republic final on Feb. 7 was the net’s most-viewed Caribbean Series game ever among Hispanics homes, despite being an eight-hour telecast (ESPN).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA: Lakers-Heat2/10ABC3:29-6:11pm4.16,470 PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach
National Pro-Am: Final Round2/10CBS3:00-6:00pm2.7n/a
NBA: Clippers-Knicks2/10ABC12:56-3:29pm2.13,310 PGA Tour: AT&T Pebble Beach
National Pro-Am: Third Round2/9CBS3:15-6:00pm1.8n/a
FIFA World Cup Qualifier:
"NBA Countdown"2/10ABC12:30-12:56pm0.91,322 NHL: Kings-Red Wings2/10NBC12:30-3:00pm0.9n/a FIS Alpine World Championships2/10NBC3:00-4:00pm0.9n/a NCAA Basketball:
AMA Supercross special:
Ryan Villopoto profile2/10CBS12:00-1:00pm0.8n/a
Liga MX: Tijuana-Club America2/9UniMas7:54-10:07pm0.71,600 FIS Alpine World Championships2/9NBC3:00-4:00pm0.7n/a USA Sevens Rugby2/10NBC4:00-5:00pm0.7n/a "ESPN Sports Saturday"2/9ABC4:00-6:00pm0.6n/a USA Sevens Rugby2/9NBC4:00-6:00pm0.6n/a "75 Years of March Madness:
Top 10 Coaches"2/9CBS12:00-1:00pm0.5n/a
Major League Fishing2/9NBC1:00-2:00pm0.5n/a USSA Visa Freestyle Int'l2/9NBC2:00-3:00pm0.5n/a TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA: Lakers-Celtics2/7TNT8:00-10:39pm1.72,613 NCAA Basketball:
NBA: Clippers-Heat2/8ESPN8:05-10:41pm1.31,912 NCAA Basketball:
NBA: Bulls-Jazz2/8ESPN10:41pm-1:05am1.01,478 NBA: Spurs-Nets2/10ESPN8:00-10:27pm0.91,344 NCAA Basketball: Indiana-Illinois2/7ESPN7:00-9:08pm0.91,342
SI.com's Pete Thamel cited a source as saying that the Big East on Thursday "was scheduled to present ESPN the terms of its potential contract with NBC Sports." ESPN will have "a chance to match NBC Sports' offer, which a source confirmed is between" $20-23M per year for six years. ESPN has "seven days to responded to the terms" (SI.com, 2/14).
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS: In Houston, David Barron noted if Comcast SportsNet Houston "can't work a deal with Time Warner, the Astros become essentially irrelevant as they begin a daily competition with the Rangers for the hearts and minds of Texas baseball fans." The net is "in the midst of its 'I Want My CSN' campaign, but you can expect a harder-edged campaign as baseball season begins and as" MLS Dynamo games begin on the network. CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings said, "People are demanding the channel. They say to get the deal done, and that is what we are asking. Every day, every minute, that is what we are working on" (CHRON.com, 2/14).
N.Y. STATE OF MIND: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and his handlers should go to YES Network execs and "arrange an interview during which Rodriguez can tell his side of the story, whatever that might be, to Yankees fans." Rodriguez "doesn’t need the big '60 Minutes' moment," and YES provides a "totally different environment." Those watching it "are more accepting," as they come to "consume Yankee baseball and Yankee propaganda." Included in that audience "are plenty of A-Rod sympathizers." Raissman: "Does it do the Yankees, or YES, any good to turn A-Rod into a ghost when the network could keep viewers updated of his progress and do some image building in the process?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/15).