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NASCAR on Fox Coordinating Producer Artie Kempner prior to yesterday's Sprint Cup FedEx 400 apologized "during the pre-race driver's meeting attended by drivers, crew chiefs and top NASCAR officials" for the broken camera cable during last week's Coca-Cola 600, according to David Newton of ESPN.com. Kempner said, "It's a personal project for us, cause we work with these guys every week. We want to let them know we don't ever want to be the story. That's the bottom line.'' He added that the investigation by Fox Sports into what "caused the cable to break and fall onto the track and grandstands continues." Kempner said that no determination has been made for "when the CAMCAT system that provides overhead shots across the track will be used again." Kempner: "It was a great tool and it malfunctioned. The company is still working on trying to find out exactly what caused the situation" (ESPN.com, 6/2). Fox' Chris Myers also apologized during the network's on-air coverage of yesterday's race, saying, "At Fox Sports we pride ourselves on bringing you the best race coverage and being a part of the NASCAR family. We regret what happened and we apologize to our partners at NASCAR, the drivers, our friends at Charlotte Motor Speedway and most of all, the fans" ("FedEx 400," Fox, 6/2). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell noted ESPN had "planned to string an overhead camera" at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the July 28 Brickyard 400. But those plans "are on hold, pending NASCAR’s approval" (CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.com, 6/2).
THAT'S A WRAP: Fox finished its slate of NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts with a 3.5 overnight Nielsen rating for yesterday afternoon's FedEx 400, down slightly from a 3.6 rating last year (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
OUT OF FOCUS? In N.Y., Viv Bernstein noted NASCAR entered the '13 season with "high hopes and a publicity blitz" for the new Gen-6 car, which was "supposed to improve racing." But the "talk this season has not been so much about the racecars, or even the races." Bernstein: "It has been about NASCAR and safety. Or NASCAR penalties and appeals. Or NASCAR's decisions to fine drivers -- or not." NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France said, "We always want it to be on the racing action and the drivers and the teams. I think we have had great story lines if you look throughout the first part of the year, with different rivalries popping up, very, very close racing action at a number of venues. California in particular was just a spectacularly good event for us." Bernstein wrote another "odd story" this season came when NASCAR's appeals panel "overruled the organization after major penalties were handed down to Penske Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing in separate incidents in April" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/2).
NBC earned a 2.5 overnight Nielsen rating for Game 1 of the Bruins-Penguins series Saturday night, marking the net's best overnight on record for an NHL Conference Final telecast. That overnight is up from a 1.3 for the comparable Devils-Rangers Game 1 last year, which aired on a Saturday afternoon. Saturday night's game earned a 19.6 local rating in Boston, setting a record in the market for a non-Stanley Cup Final game on NBC. The game also drew a 23.2 local rating in Pittsburgh (THE DAILY). In Ohio, George Thomas wrote NHL execs "probably are breathing a sigh of relief this week because apparently their lockout of 2012-13 didn't do much damage to the sport with fans." But the reality is that "even with that ratings mark, hockey remains a secondary choice during a time of year when the NHL and NBA both are playing their postseasons" (OHIO.com, 5/31).
LET THE GAMES BEGIN: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Mickle & Botta report the NHL has "secured initial approval from Olympic broadcast rights holders CBC and NBC for access to players for the NHL Network at hockey venues" during the '14 Sochi Games. Sources said that the league is "expected to receive the same approvals" from the IOC and IIHF. The NHL Network also will "receive limited Olympic content, under the tentative agreement with NBC and CBC." Sources said the content could be "highlights, interviews or other footage collected by the broadcasters." Access for the NHL Network was "one of the changes the league has been seeking from the IOC and IIHF before agreeing to send its players back to the Olympics" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/3 issue).
THE TORTS REPORT: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote if John Tortorella, who last week was fired after five years as Rangers head coach, "does not receive an offer to coach next season, and he decides a TV job is his best bridge to another coaching gig, his condescending, foul-mouthed style would be a consideration for any prospective employer." But a source said that the "prevailing feeling is he will be back coaching during the 2013-14 season." Raissman wrote there may be "some reluctance" for TV execs to hire Tortorella, as it would be "a controversial hire." The case could be made that a "national media outlet airing hockey, or regional sports network for that matter, should not hire a guy who treated the media like dirt" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/2). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Tortorella would be "a perfect fit at the NHL Network, which desperately needs a studio analyst with an edge." But he "might be wasted there." It would be "great if NBC hired him as a studio analyst." But networks might be "leery of putting their efforts into making him part of their broadcast only to lose him halfway through a season" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 6/3).
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and Yahoo Sports on Friday announced a partnership to produce "Yahoo SportsTalk Live," a new hour-long sports roundtable discussion show airing Monday-Friday at 5:00pm PT. The show, hosted by Jim Kozimor, will debut live today from the Yahoo campus in Sunnyvale, Calif. (CSN Bay Area). In S.F., Eric Young reported Yahoo replaces the S.F. Chronicle, which had sponsored the "Chronicle Live" show since '09. CSN Bay Area President & GM Ted Griggs said that "Yahoo SportsTalk Live" will have "more interactive elements shaping the show." Young noted the Yahoo deal is the "outgrowth of a content sharing deal between Yahoo and NBC Sports begun last year" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 5/31). Also in S.F., Benny Evangelista reported the deal "doesn't involve any exchange of money." For Yahoo, the deal is "another move to increase the visibility of its brand." Griggs said that the show will "include Yahoo's own sports staffers and fantasy sports experts, plus a greater use of social media and other technologies to get the latest trending topics among sports fans" (SFGATE.com, 5/31). EWEEK.com's Chris Preimesberger wrote the deal is the "first of its kind between a television network and a top-tier web services provider." It is "possible that if this all works out the way it's intended to work, that it will be a de facto pilot program for the 12 other Comcast regional sports networks in the U.S." Griggs said that under the deal, "most of the same Chronicle writers will continue to work alongside the Yahoo sports staff." Griggs added that in addition to the TV show, the deal with Yahoo "will make available extra exclusive content -- such as continued conversations from the broadcast show, additional interviews, and so on -- on both CSNBayArea.com and Yahoo.com's sports site" (EWEEK.com, 5/31).
PRO FOOTBALL WEEKLY's Hub Arkush on Friday announced the publication will be closing, writing, "In my final act as the voice of Pro Football Weekly, it is time to say goodbye. Pro Football Weekly, as we’ve all known it since the first issue rolled off the press in late August of 1967, is no more." He continued, "Over the last five years our majority owner and each of the minority partners invested a tremendous amount of money, time and effort to try to build a bridge for PFW from the rapidly deteriorating world of old media to the new, exploding market of digital media and glitzy, new products. ... There comes a time when there is just no more money to lose, and now we are forced to close the doors" (PROFOOTBALLWEEKLY.com, 5/31). SI.com's Peter King writes, "Everyone in our business owes a debt of gratitude to Pro Football Weekly." King: "The mass of information, never-ending and free, killed PFW. Sad but true" (SI.com, 6/3).
Burkhardt worked as the Cowboys' radio voice on Compass Media Network
OFF THE SET, ONTO THE FIELD: In S.F., Eric Branch cited sources as saying that the 49ers will hire former Jets and Browns coach Eric Mangini "as a senior offensive consultant." Mangini, who has "spent the past two years as an ESPN analyst, has not signed a contract, but his hiring is imminent" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/2).