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The Univ. of Kansas and IMG College have signed a long-term deal with Time Warner Cable for KU's Tier-3 TV rights that will see regional distribution of more than 300 hours of original programming. TWC Metro Sports will air live games from various sports as well as non-game programming such as pre- and postgame shows for football and men's basketball. The channel will show a weekly magazine show, a social media-centered show, live press conferences and quarterly KU academic specials. The non-game programming will be available nationwide to all TWC customers via VOD (IMG College). In Kansas, Matt Tait reports TWC Metro Sports beginning with the upcoming school year will air "more than 50 live KU events on the revamped Jayhawk Network and also provide 600 hours of additional 'shoulder' programming." Due to the Big 12 Conference's deals with ESPN and Fox, live-game broadcasts on TWC Metro Sports "will be offered only to viewers in the state and the Kansas City metro area." The Jayhawk Network this year will "provide coverage of one football game, six men's basketball games, as many as 16 women's basketball games, nine volleyball matches, eight baseball games and up to 12 live softball, soccer and track and field events." KU was the "final Big 12 Conference school to sign a contract concerning its Tier-3 television rights." KU AD Sheahon Zenger said that the deal to "expand KU's broadcasting efforts had been in the works for a while and added that being the last university to sign on the dotted line did not hurt KU in any way" (LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD, 6/18).
Nick Cellini, Chris Dimino and Steak Shapiro, the hosts of Atlanta-based WQXI-AM's "Mayhem in the AM," were fired "after doing a mock interview that made fun" of former NFLer Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed in '11 with ALS, according to Carla Caldwell of the ATLANTA BUSINESS CHRONICLE. During the on-air segment, the hosts "pretended to interview Gleason and inserted a fake robotic voice." WQXI posted a statement on their website that read in part, "We suspended the three individuals involved immediately following their comments and have since terminated their employment. 790 The Zone, our owners, sponsors and partners in no way endorse or support this kind of content." All three hosts subesquently apologized either on Facebook or Twitter for the skit (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/18). In Atlanta, Rodney Ho reported the audio bit features Cellini "pretending to be Gleason doing not terribly funny 'knock knock' jokes and 'interviewed' by Shapiro and Dimino." Shapiro "co-owned the station for 13 years," but it was sold to Lincoln Financial in '10, and Shapiro has been a "paid employee ever since." Cellini said that the bit "was an excuse ... for the station to cut salary and insert a cheaper syndicated morning show." Meanwhile, Shapiro said that the clip is "not representative of what they had done four hours a day for years" (ACCESSATLANTA.com, 6/17). In New Orleans, Katherine Terrell noted WQXI-AM has "the rights to broadcast Falcons' games." Although the Falcons "weren't involved with the incident, they later issued a statement about it." The segment came "on the heels of Gleason guest writing" Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback Column for SI.com (NOLA.com, 6/17). Meanwhile, the Times-Picayune's Jeff Duncan noted the Falcons made a "classy move" by issuing a statement "condemning Atlanta radio hosts for making fun of Steve Gleason" (TWITTER.com, 6/17).
TWITTER REAX: SI's Thomas Lake wrote on his Twitter feed, "Sometimes we take offense too easily. But audio clip shows Steve Gleason radio bit was even worse than you thought." The N.Y. Post's Mike Vaccaro: "I like to think of myself as impossible to offend. Those Atlanta radio mouth-breathers who mocked Steve Gleason pulled off the impossible." NBC's Michele Tafoya wrote, "Finally heard Steve Gleason radio 'bit' from ATL. Gleason is a courageous, smart, funny, beautiful person. Radio 'bit' an unfunny disgrace." MSP Sports Founder Tim McGhee wrote, "Sometimes, I can't fathom some people's cruelty." USA Today's Dan Wolken wrote, "After hearing the Atlanta radio bit, I'm not sure how someone could come up with that and think it was anything but cruel." Director of Tulane Sports Law Program Gabe Feldman wrote, "Shame on 790 for making fun of a horrible disease. Shame on us if it distracts us from @team_gleason's powerful words." The National Post's Bruce Arthur: "From @itsdeanblundell mocking a dead Oilers prospect to an Atlanta radio station making fun of Steve Gleason, shock radio should be proud." FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez: "In honor of @team_gleason I will not appear on @790thezone in atlanta for the 2013 nfl season. Other media types are welcome to follow suit."
SportsNet N.Y. is "on pace for the lowest Mets ratings in its eight-season history, stuck with a team out of contention earlier than any other in that span, and suddenly has been gifted with a marquee attraction" in Ps Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler starting in today's doubleheader, according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. SNY's Ron Darling said of Wheeler, who is making his MLB debut, "I think this team, fan base, organization, and maybe a little bit the announcers, need a jolt of excitement, and he provides that." No matter "what the young pitchers do over the next 3 1/2 months, it is unlikely to lift the Mets into playoff contention." That "presents an ongoing challenge for SNY's announcers, who are trying to tell it like it is while trying to keep viewers interested." Darling said that the SNY team "spoke last week about not over-talking through Wheeler's first start, letting the game breathe and giving fans a chance to 'watch and enjoy, or not enjoy, whatever the case may be'" (NEWSDAY, 6/18). In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes the "emphasis on Wheeler’s first start puts the Mets in an unaccustomed spotlight" and "puts the organization in a precarious position." While it is "just one start, whatever result Wheeler produces will immediately be totally blown out of proportion." WFAN-AM and SNY broadcasters "should maintain a balance," as they "will be the first line of analysis" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/18).
NBC Sports Network averaged 3.96 million viewers for the Bruins’ OT win over the Blackhawks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday from 8:30-11:34pm ET, marking the net’s best NHL audience on record and the most-viewed Stanley Cup Final game on cable TV in 11 years. The audience on Saturday night is second on NBCSN all-time, behind only the 4.35 million viewers for the U.S.-Japan Gold Medal women's soccer match from the '12 London Games. Game 2 on Saturday peaked with 4.82 million viewers during the 10:30-11:00pm window. Ratings for Game 3 will be available later today (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).
THE P-WORD: In K.C., Sam Mellinger notes former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli is "making the predictable career move to join" NBC's "Football Night In America" studio show. But he is "kidding himself if he thinks this is the fix to a diminished reputation around the NFL." Pioli's name is "a virtual curse word for many in the place he still calls home." The man who "never saw much use for the media is now a member of the media." Pioli was "generally awful with the media, especially in his last year with the Chiefs" (K.C. STAR, 6/18).
IT'S A MAD, MAD WORLD: In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported Sirius/XM host Chris Russo is "still in negotiations with SXM suits for a show, which will likely be reduced to four hours." His previous show, "Mad Dog Radio," will be "history, and the channel will be re-branded." There have "been casual conversations" between Russo and ESPN Radio 98.7 N.Y. The "concept of Russo doing a 98.7 show (not afternoon drive) and still doing his SXM program was proposed." With a "little more than two months until Russo's SXM deal expires, his radio future is up in the air." The "safe play has him staying at SXM, likely making less than" the $3M per year he earns in his current deal. ESPN Radio 98.7 N.Y. has been "beaten to a pulp in the afternoon ratings" by WFAN and Mike Francesa. If 98.7 execs are "actually in the business of trying to win that valuable time slot, they are likely considering the value of Russo in the afternoon drive" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/16).
RETURN OF THE CHIEF: In K.C., Randy Covitz noted KSHB-NBC has "acquired over-the-air broadcast rights to televise" the Chiefs-Eagles game on Thursday, Sept. 19. The game, which will be "produced and carried nationally by NFL Network, will mark the return of new Chiefs coach Andy Reid." KSHB will "produce a pregame show leading up" to the 7:25pm ET kickoff, "as well as a postgame show" (K.C. STAR, 6/14).