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NBC today announced that it will "offer live digital streams of all its marquee sports events -- including action on its NBC Sports Network cable channel and Golf Channel," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. The net already has "extensive live streaming of its TV coverage," but it will "greatly expand the on-air TV tonnage it makes available digitally." NBCSports.com will go from "live streaming about 300 hours last year (excluding Olympic coverage) to about 4,000 hours this year -- and go from streaming about 110 events last year to about 1,000 events in 2013." NBC will stream all NHL playoff games, including the "first-ever streams of the Stanley Cup Final." That will be "up from just 12 NHL playoff games being streamed last season." Other properties to be streamed include the EPL, MLS, IndyCar and F1. The net's weekend coverage of golf's U.S. Open also might be streamed for the first time, but that hasn't been finalized." NBC Sports Group Senior VP/Digital Media Rick Cordella said that the TV industry "notion of live video streams eating into or cannibalizing TV ratings is long dead." Hiestand notes NBC's online streaming, which is "free to users who can verify they get paid TV through Cablevision, Comcast, Sudden Link or Verizon FiOS, will initially reach about 35 million of the 100 million total cable/satellite TV subscribers" (USA TODAY, 4/11).
Tiger Woods will "play the bulk of the first round of the Masters out of view of audiences with access via television or computer," according to John Strege of GOLFDIGEST.com. Woods teed off at 10:45am ET today, but "coverage of the Masters on ESPN begins" at 3:00pm. Live coverage of "two featured groups will be shown at Masters.com or via a Masters app, neither of them featuring Woods." Woods will not make his "first appearance on the web until he arrives at Amen Corner, and then at the 15th and 16th holes, each part of live coverage at Masters.com" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 4/10). USA TODAY's Nick Schwartz wrote missing Woods today "wouldn't be such a big deal if it wasn't completely avoidable." He is in a "featured group on Friday (players are allowed to be in a Masters.com featured group only once), but his late tee time of 1:41 p.m. means the majority of his round will sync with live television coverage anyway." By putting Woods in a featured group today, fans would have "been able to see just about every one of his first 36 holes as they happen" (USATODAY.com, 4/10). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Jay Coffin wrote Augusta National has "always struggled with the concept of giving the viewer everything they want vs. leaving them wanting more." This year is "no exception." It "doesn’t seem to make sense that Joe Viewer won’t get to see the prohibitive favorite, the No. 1 player in the world" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 4/10).
FAMILY MATTERS: GOLF.com's Sarah Kwak wrote since ESPN began televising The Masters' Par-3 Contest in '08, it has "turned into midweek must-see TV." The on-screen action at times is "unbearably cute," as scenes include kids "sporting white coveralls, taking putts for their dads or granddads; proud mothers standing by smiling while snapping photos of their sons signing autographs for fans." The event attracts fans because it "gives a glimpse into the players' lives, showing them interacting with their families, as if they were chipping shots in their backyard." The Par-3 is a "low-stake couple of hours where personality puts on a good show-and who knows what will happen out there" (GOLF.com, 4/10).
ALL HANDS ON DECK: In Augusta, Wayne Staats notes Golf Channel’s studio at Augusta National this week includes "three sets -- the patio that overlooks the practice facilities, the library and the fireplace." Golf Channel anchor Rich Lerner said, "It’s a beautiful set and location. It’s stunning. We’re able to sort of maximize the space here to represent different looks, but it’s in keeping with the club itself." When one set in the 23 foot-by-25 foot studio "becomes the stage, the other two become work stations or the place to oversee filming." The net will provide "about 70 hours of live news and coverage of this year’s Masters." Meanwhile, ESPN will have updates from Augusta began at 9:00am and will return "every 30 minutes" until live coverage begins. Scott Van Pelt and Andy North "work alongside the production team, watching the action together." If there is a "particular shot North wants for the night’s segment, he’ll share his thoughts, and the crew will try to work it into the show. Meanwhile, ESPN VP/Producation Mike McQuade said that there will be "almost as many segments exclusively for online as there are for television" (AUGUSTA CHRONICLE, 4/11).
IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS: Blogger Ed Sherman notes veteran golf writer Dan Jenkins is "back tweeting at the Masters this week," and he is a "must follow." You will "never read a better use of 140 characters in social media." Golf Digest Exec Editor Michael O'Malley "assists Jenkins with his tweets at golf's four majors and the Ryder Cup." O'Malley said of the World Golf HOFer, "He throws out a line and I'll plug it in, and if he's exceeding the 140-character capacity, we'll talk it out." He added Jenkins is "the wittiest, funniest, most knowledgeable golf writer of this or any other generation" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 4/11).
WWE plans to launch its TV network “this fall as a premium pay-TV outlet, akin to the NFL Network, which airs live games and vintage programming from a vast library,” according to Marc Graser of VARIETY. The reason to launch as a premium outlet is that carriers are “clamping down on the costs of basic cable and satellite channels.” WWE Network will “share its revenues with carriers, and executives believe it will need just 1 million subscribers to break even.” Given that WWE “already produces 12 pay-per-view events per year, priced as high as $60 each, and that it generated more than 4 million buys for those events, the wisdom is that fans will pay $15-per-month to subscribe.” The net “will be the home of most of WWE’s current PPV events," though WrestleMania, its largest event, will remain a PPV buy. The premium model “looks especially attractive in overseas territories like Canada and Mexico.” WWE “plans to continue to air its current shows on USA, Syfy, Ion and the CW, and not pull its current lineup from those channels.” The addition of shows, “even on lower-profile nets like CW and Ion, expanded WWE’s overall TV reach by 35%” (VARIETY, 4/9 issue).
In N.Y., Claire Atkinson cites sources as saying that Guggenheim Partners Exec Chair Alan Schwartz is "quietly shopping MSG’s Fuse network." While Guggenheim "hasn’t officially been hired, Schwartz is having informal conversations with various parties interested in the music channel." Schwartz is a "board member at Fuse parent MSG and is a friend of" MSG Exec Chair James Dolan (N.Y. POST, 4/11).
HEALTH SCARE FOR REMY: Red Sox analyst Jerry Remy "had a recurrence of lung cancer this past January." Remy yesterday said that a "tumor was discovered in a different spot than the original tumor, which required surgery that involved the removal of what he estimated was a third of his lung." He added that this time he "did not need surgery, but flew back from spring training in March for four days of radiation treatments at Massachusetts General Hospital" (ESPNBOSTON.com, 4/10). The Boston Globe's Chad Finn tweeted, "Spoke to Jerry Remy this morning. Believe him completely when he says he's in a good frame of mind. This did not blindside him"
UPPING YOUR GOLF GAME: The N.Y. TIMES reviewed EA Sports' "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14" videogame and noted the franchise "has become easier to play in recent years." But refinements to "gameplay and career advancement for a created golfer make this year's version ... more challenging and more rewarding." An interactive look at "golf history, featuring Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and a well-chosen Lee Trevino, is a new mode for this year." The inclusion of all four "major golf tournaments and the LPGA Tour -- both for the first time -- help make this edition the series' best ever" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/10).
MOVERS & SHAKERS: The K.C. Star hired St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Vahe Gregorian as a general columnist. Gregorian will cover "all aspects of the local and national sports scene, from the Chiefs and Royals to college athletics and beyond." He joined the Post-Dispatch in '88 and currently serves as the beat writer for the Univ. of Missouri (K.C. STAR, 4/9)....SI has hired Newark Star-Ledger NFL Giants beat reporter Jenny Vrentas as a staff writer, effective May 1 (THE DAILY)....Seattle-based KJR-AM reported on its website that former Browns President Mike Holmgren would work as a "regular contributor and NFL expert" (CLEVELAND.com, 4/10).