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SBD/May 2, 2013/MediaPrint All
WFAN-AM execs have "decided to put upstart CBS Sports Radio on 660 in January," according to a source cited by Jerry Barmash of N.Y.-area media blog TUNED IN. There has reportedly been an "internal struggle between ‘FAN execs and the network honchos regarding what to do with WFAN," which since November simulcasts on 101.9 FM. A source "cautions the switch is tentative." The source said that "removing WFAN from its popular AM spot is a no-brainer, but everyone needs to tread lightly." The source said, "No one at the corporate level is stupid -- WFAN is the voice of sports in New York City and you don’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. But there is a place for an alternative voice.” Barmash reported WFAN's Mike Francesa was "apparently one of the lead voices in opposition to WFAN no longer living on AM." Long Island-based media specialist James Piccoli said that the "idea of trying to bring ball clubs on board at WFAN-AM ... is hardly the best selling point." Piccoli: "CBS Radio is in discussions with the Mets (WFAN) and Yankees (WCBS) to keep their radio rights and not lose them to ESPN NY. If the games are not broadcast over clear signal 50,000 watts, WFAN becomes less attractive.” Both teams’ radio contracts "expire after this season" (NEWYORKMEDIA.WORDPRESS.com, 5/1).
CBS’ Q1 profit rose 22% "after the media company commanded record advertising rates for its Super Bowl broadcast,” according to Mia Lamar of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Ad revenue rose 8% to $2.46B. CBS said that “excluding the impact of the Super Bowl, that ad revenue growth was in the low single-digit range.” CBS reported a profit of $443M million, "up from a year-earlier profit" of $363M. Revenue rose 6.4% to $4.04B (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/2). CBS said that revenue for its entertainment assets rose 10%. VARIETY’s Brian Steinberg noted the increases were “partially offset by having one less week of regular-season NFL games to telecast as well as the timing of the semifinals” of the NCAA D-I Men’s Basketball Championship, which aired during Q2 in ‘13 compared with Q1 in ‘12. The results “show just how powerful a catalyst the Super Bowl is for media companies” (VARIETY.com, 5/1).
Rockets games on Comcast SportsNet Houston during the regular season averaged a 1.1 local rating, a drop of "about one-third" from last year, when games aired on FS Houston and averaged a 1.6 rating, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. FS Houston is available in "all wired households in the market," while CSN Houston is in only about 40% of Houston’s 2.2 million TV households. If full distribution across the market is projected, it is "not unfair to speculate that Rockets games would have averaged in the 2.2 range." The "relatively good news for the Rockets is that the numbers were not down as much you would expect, given the limited audience." The "bad news is that the numbers also indicate the magnitude of the lost opportunity for current success and, perhaps, future growth as the distribution dispute continues." Meanwhile, Astros games on the net are "averaging a 0.4 rating, down from 1.0 for last year’s 107-loss team and down from 1.5 for 2010’s 106-loss team." Even "extrapolated to the full market, Astros ratings would still be down by at least a tenth of a percentage point from last year" (CHRON.com, 5/1).
WAR OF WORDS: Barron noted CSN Houston has "responded by letter to Suddenlink’s offer to carry the network for free through May 31, but only in its Houston-area markets and not across the five-state Astros market area, by accusing the St. Louis-based company of treating fans of Houston sports teams unfairly." CSN Houston President & GM Matt Hutchings wrote Suddenlink’s "desire for a limited free view 'is clearly a rejection of the offer.'” Hutchings wrote, “Your rejection not only continues to deny access to Astros, Rockets and Dynamo fans, but demonstrates how unfairly and differently you choose to treat this channel and your customers.” Meanwhile, there has been "no further movement on the CSN Houston free view offer." DirecTV has "yet to respond to the offer, and a Dish Network spokesman said the company 'is currently evaluating the offer'” (CHRON.com, 5/1).
FS Prime Ticket was forced to go to a split screen "on more than several occasions" Tuesday night in order to cover the overlapping Kings-Blues and Grizzlies-Clippers playoff games, according to Tom Hoffarth of the L.A. DAILY NEWS. The problem came at 7:30pm PT, when the Kings forced overtime "with a late goal" and the RSN then went "into a 10-minute intermission." That allowed the beginning of Grizzlies-Clippers "to appear full on Prime." However, when the Kings "returned, the Clippers went into hibernation." Prime Ticket then "went to the split screen, but kept the Kings' audio as Clippers viewers could at least see what was happening." When the Kings lost 6:35 into OT, Grizzlies-Clippers was "about two minutes into the second quarter." Prime Ticket and FS West had already "farmed out the Dodgers and Angels to other spots on the dial," and FS West was airing Red Wings-Ducks at 7:30pm. The Clippers game did air live on TNT, but both the national broadcasts of the Kings and Ducks games "were blacked out locally." An FS West spokesperson said, "We tried to make the best of a challenging situation. In similar situations going forward, we'll take a look at our plans and see if there's a way to serve all teams and viewers better." Hoffarth noted the scenario "could repeat again, but it doesn't seem likely in the next couple days" (INSIDESOCAL.com, 5/1). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Ken Fang noted while there is "no official overflow Fox Sports channel in Southern California for conflicts, one was created in April for the Dodgers and it was utilized twice" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 5/1).