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ESPN Radio NBA analyst and Basketball HOFer Jack Ramsay Thursday said that he "needs to begin immediate medical treatment and his broadcasting career is likely over," according to Barry Jackson of the MIAMI HERALD. The 88-year-old Ramsay "declined to discuss the nature of his medical condition." He was "diagnosed with prostate cancer" in '99 and "received treatment, several years ago, for melanomas 'all over my body.'” Ramsay said that the "looming treatment will prevent him from working the remainder of the NBA playoffs, including The Finals, for ESPN Radio." He had been "scheduled to announce" Game 3 of the Heat-Bulls Eastern Conference Semifinal on Friday. Ramsay said that he is "not planning to do broadcast work next season, barring a change of heart." Ramsay: “I’m not enjoying it like I used to, and travel is difficult. Before this season, I did the games mostly with Jim Durham, and then he passed away after the first game this season. ... I enjoyed working with him, which is why I extended my (stay with ESPN). I will miss the association with the players and coaches. It has been a great ride.” ESPN "hasn't named a replacement, but Chris Mullin will fill in Friday" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 5/9).
ESPN has had "discussions with at least one major U.S. carrier to subsidize wireless connectivity on behalf of its users," according to sources cited by Sharma, Ante & Troianovsky of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The company would "pay a carrier to guarantee that people viewing ESPN mobile content wouldn't have that usage counted toward their monthly data caps." ESPN is "considering arrangements with wireless carriers that would ensure their users can watch, surf and play as much as they want without being hit with stiff overage charges." The identity of the carrier in the talks "isn't clear, although both Verizon Wireless and AT&T have flagged their interest in such an arrangement." However, sources said that no deal is "imminent, and ESPN isn't sure if the economics will work out." There also are "concerns that deals of this nature could attract the scrutiny of telecom regulators." For content providers like ESPN that "generate revenue from showing ads on mobile phones and tablets, the new approach would ensure that carriers' monthly data caps aren't artificially restricting the potential of their business." Sources said that ESPN has received feedback from "at least one big carrier that significant numbers of its mobile users reach their monthly cap before the end of the month, after which their usage drops off" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/10).
PICK YOUR POISON: In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reports U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) Thursday "singled out" ESPN in his bid to "give consumers the option to cherry-pick channels rather than pay for a programming package." McCain said, "Whether you watch ESPN or not, and admittedly I do all the time, all cable subscribers are forced to absorb this cost." ESPN responded by "arguing it delivers more consumer value than any other programmer and reaches 115 million fans a week across TV, Internet and mobile devices." Although a similar effort in '06 "went nowhere, McCain seems to believe that cash-strapped consumers are now at the breaking point with their cable bills" (N.Y. POST, 5/10). DEADLINE.com’s David Lieberman wrote the bill “won’t pass,” because two things have changed since ‘06, the last time McCain “tried -- and failed -- to promote a la carte cable pricing.” He is “no longer on the Commerce Committee which likely would have to move the legislation forward” and the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 has a "provision that would strip licenses from broadcasters who move programming to pay TV.” The provision ensures that the broadcast lobby “will join cable to do everything in their power to defeat McCain’s bill” (DEADLINE.com, 5/9).
WFAN-AM has signed a multiyear deal with the NFL Giants, extending the station's exclusive rights to broadcast preseason, regular season and postseason games. WFAN has been the Giants' flagship station since '97. Elements of the agreement include a weekly 30-minute, Giants-themed segment as part of the station's "MNF" coverage and a one-hour live program one Tuesday each month during the regular season from the Giants' practice facility. The deal also includes weekly interviews with QB Eli Manning and other players to be named (Giants). In N.Y., Bob Raissman reports Bob Papa, Carl Banks and Howard Cross "will be back as the broadcast team." Manning's weekly radio spot will be with Mike Francesa, but there is "no firm commitment" as to whether CB Antrel Rolle "will be back, joining Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno on their midday show" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/10).
TV distributors are "being financially compensated for missed NHL games in this season shortened by labor problems, but hockey fans and other pay-TV subscribers won't see any of it," according to Bob Fernandez of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. Neither the NHL nor TV distributors "disclosed the financials in what the parties are describing as rebates, citing confidentiality agreements." Comcast said that cable channels "continued to deliver programming even though it was substituting for the canceled NHL games." The NHL canceled 510 regular-season games, or 41% of its schedule. League and network officials at the time of the lockout said that an "additional year of TV rights could be added to an NHL contract if a full season had to be canceled." Comcast CFO & Vice Chair Michael Angelakis said that the net's "programming costs -- which are expected to increase in the low double digits this year -- rose only 8.5 percent in the first quarter, partly because of 'lower sports programming costs.'" Comcast Cable President & CEO Neil Smit said, "Programming expense growth we still expect in the low double digits for 2013. We had a few exceptions in the first quarter, one of which was the NHL lockout, which resulted in a rebate, a one-time rebate" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 5/10).
TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD? In Columbus, Michael Arace writes the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is "one of the great pageants in all of sports and it is being presented in all its glory," as every game is being carried on NBC, NBC Sports Network or CNBC. They also are "being streamed live" at NBCSports.com. It is "almost too intense to bear." NBC hockey analyst Daryl Reaugh said, "That’s what Gary Bettman set out to do -- make sure it was the No. 1 asset at whatever network it landed." He added, "No matter where you are, people understand NBC is NBC, and you can see every game" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/10). However, in St. Louis, Dan Caesar writes the NHL is "taking it to an extreme this year in trying to appease its big-bucks TV partners" and during the playoffs, the league's "kowtowing to the networks that televise it have come at a huge detriment to fans." The league in a move designed to provide TV programming "bungled the announcement of the starting dates and times of the first round so badly that it lost out on a full day to sell tickets in many locations." Some games in the Central Time Zone have had "extremely late announced starting times -- 8 or 8:30 p.m. in many cases." This is an "hour or hour and a half later than most teams normally begin games and creates an extreme hardship on many fans on weeknights" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 5/10).
MSG Network finished with a 3.68 local rating in N.Y. for its four telecasts of the Knicks-Celtics NBA Eastern Conference First Round series, up 40% compared to the net’s three telecasts from the comparable Heat-Knicks series last year (MSG)….Fox Deportes finished the month of April as the most-viewed Spanish-language cable sports network. The net also had the top five most-viewed, Spanish-language sports programs for the month (Fox Deportes)….FS Detroit’s telecast of Ducks-Red Wings Western Conference Quarterfinals Game 4 on Monday was the highest-rated program in the Detroit market for the night with a 12.9 local rating (FS Detroit).
The charts below list final Nielsen ratings from recent sports telecasts. Figures for ABC were not available at presstime.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) Kentucky Derby5/4NBC6:05-6:53pm9.716,200 Kentucky Derby Pre-Race: Part 35/4NBC5:00-6:05pm5.89,100 NASCAR Sprint Cup: Talladega**5/5Fox1:15-3:15pm;
Kentucky Derby Pre-Race: Part 25/4NBC4:30-5:00pm3.75,800 Kentucky Derby Pre-Race: Part 15/4NBC4:00-4:30pm2.84,300 PGA Tour: Wells Fargo Championship: Final Round*5/5CBS3:00-6:00pm2.1n/a PGA Tour: Wells Fargo Championship: Third Round5/4CBS3:00-6:00pm1.6n/a MLB: (regional)5/4Fox4:00-7:00pm1.21,900 NHL Western Conference First Round: Blackhawks-Wild: Game 35/5NBC3:00-6:00pm1.21,800 NHL Eastern Conference First Round: Penguins-Islanders: Game 35/5NBC12:00-3:00pm1.11,700 Liga MX: Club America-Tigres UANL5/4Univ.5:55-8:00pm0.71,247 NHL Eastern Conference First Round: Rangers-Capitals: Game 25/4NBC12:30-4:00pm0.91,200 CONCACAF Champions League Final:
Monterrey-Santos Laguna: Second Leg5/1UniMas9:55pm-12:02am0.5903
"Beyond Green: Transforming Lives Through Golf"5/5CBS2:30-3:00pm0.5n/a "PGA Tour 2012: Seven Days"5/4CBS2:00-3:00pm0.4n/a AMA Supercross5/5CBS1:00-2:00pm0.4n/a "Beyond Green: Building Future Leaders"5/5CBS2:00-2:30pm0.4n/a
NOTES: * = Event had already concluded due to inclement weather. CBS aired final round on same-day tape delay. ** = Race had a 3.5 hour delay due to weather.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NBA Western Conference First Round: Thunder-Rockets: Game 55/1TNT9:45pm-12:32am3.04,498 NBA Eastern Conference First Round: Bulls-Nets: Game 75/4TNT8:08-10:43pm2.74,436 NBA Western Conference First Round: Warriors-Nuggets: Game 65/2TNT10:51pm-1:29am2.84,361 NBA Eastern Conference First Round: Bulls-Nets: Game 65/2TNT8:10-10:51pm2.84,120 NBA Western Conference First Round: Thunder-Rockets: Game 65/3ESPN9:56pm-12:27am2.64,035 NBA Western Conference First Round: Thunder-Rockets: Game 44/29TNT9:45pm-12:39am2.63,802 NBA Eastern Conference First Round: Knicks-Celtics: Game 65/3ESPN7:00-9:56pm2.33,549 NBA Eastern Conference First Round: Knicks-Celtics: Game 55/1TNT7:10-9:45pm2.33,462 NBA Western Conference First Round: Grizzlies-Clippers: Game 54/30TNT10:47pm-1:33am2.23,149 NBA Western Conference First Round: Warriors-Nuggets: Game 54/30TNT8:09-10:47pm2.02,964
In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes FS West execs are tasked with having to fit "essential pieces like the Kings, Ducks, Dodgers, Angels and Clippers into the programming slots provided on FSW and Prime Ticket, with options available -- sometimes -- on Channels 9 and 13, KDOC and a Regional Sports Network spill channel." Hoffarth: "Who gets priority? Why is one team shuttled from one home to the other?" FSW and Prime Ticket Senior VP & GM Steve Simpson said, "We have no 'favorites' -- the goal is always trying to achieve a balance that's fair and impartial" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 5/10).
WELCOME TO THE TEAM: Fox Sports Media Group on Thursday announced that ESPNews anchor Don Bell, Celtics sideline reporter Molly McGrath and CTV on-air personality Julie Stewart-Binks are joining Fox Sports 1. Bell's primary new role includes anchor duties for Fox Sports Live, while McGrath and Stewart-Binks will serve as breaking news correspondents (Fox).
MAY MADNESS: In Omaha, Rich Kaipust noted ESPN is planning to cover all 16 regionals of the College World Series, and in doing so, the network will "add a Bases Loaded platform, which will include lead college baseball analyst Kyle Peterson in studio and feature 'whip-around' coverage during four days of regionals that start May 31." ESPN believes that the Bases Loaded feature will "be one of the best touches it puts on the NCAA regionals." It will "provide live cut-ins and highlights from around the country, plus commentary from ESPN analysts." Bases Loaded will "air in its entirety on ESPN3, and ESPNU and ESPN2 will simulcast at select times" (OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 5/9).
STORM CLOUDS GATHERING: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes some viewers were unaware that CBS' coverage of the final round of the PGA Tour Wells Fargo Championship last Sunday was "on tape -- the final round began early due to weather concerns -- thus they learned from other TV stops that Derek Ernst had won." If they had "known it was on same-day tape -- if that graphic had been displayed more often -- viewers would have been careful." Instead, they "left CBS, found out, and didn’t bother to return" (N.Y. POST, 5/10).