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West Virginia Univ. on Thursday signed a 12-year deal worth more than $80M with IMG College. The two sides originally came to terms in January, but in February the process was halted because of complaints about the bidding. Once that was resolved, IMG and WVU went back to the table and finalized a 12-year deal that kicks in immediately for the '13-14 season. The school will have the opportunity to make more money from the deal through a revenue-share agreement if IMG hits certain sales thresholds. IMG will sell WVU’s rights in sponsorship and advertising across TV, radio and digital platforms, as well as in-venue signage and promotions. IMG Audio will manage WVU’s radio network, while the firm will work with West Virginia Media Holdings to develop TV ad inventory on coaches' shows and other programming. WVU AD Oliver Luck said, “WVU now has the opportunity to expand its revenue base by engaging new national sponsors, while building our athletic and university brand.” IMG’s WVU sales team will operate out of Morgantown (Michael Smith, Staff Writer).
ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL? In West Virginia, Jared Hunt in a front-page piece notes the deal "follows a bitter seven-month public feud between school officials and West Virginia Radio Corp. owner John Raese over an initial selection process tainted by what state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey called 'significant errors and sloppiness.'" WVU was one of "only a few schools that had continued to manage Tier 3 broadcasting and marketing in-house, mainly through its Mountaineer Sports Network" (Charleston DAILY MAIL, 7/12).
THE VOICE: In West Virginia, Eric Eyre in a front-page piece cites an IMG spokesperson as saying that the company "hasn't made any decisions about whether to hire Mountaineer Sports Network's stable of broadcasters, including popular play-by-play announcer Tony Caridi." IMG also "would not comment on what radio stations in West Virginia will carry WVU football and basketball games this fall." West Virginia Radio "owns and operates more than 30 radio stations across the state, but the Morgantown-based company's ongoing lawsuit against WVU and West Virginia Media could prompt IMG to sign broadcast agreements with other stations" (CHARLESTON GAZETTE, 7/12).
Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig continued his struggles in dealing with the media Thursday, as he and 3B Juan Uribe had a "heated confrontation with an ESPN reporter" prior to the team's game against the Rockies, according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. The incident "eventually became so loud," Dodgers SS Hanley Ramirez "turned the clubhouse stereo all the way up in an effort to keep Spanish-speaking reporters from understanding what the three men were arguing about." Puig has "not been shy in talking about his disdain for reporters, which apparently runs so deep the Dodgers media relations staff has adopted a special policy for him." While all other players "can be approached with questions before games, Puig is off-limits." That policy was "altered slightly Thursday after Puig finished second in voting for the All-Star Game, with the Dodgers arranging a pregame interview with a small group of journalists." But after a half-dozen questions, Puig "cut the session short and left the clubhouse for an adjoining room that is closed to the media." ESPN "had reporters following Puig on the Dodgers' recent three-city road trip," and Thursday's "confrontation stemmed, in part, from an incident in San Francisco on Sunday when Uribe urged Puig to either speak to reporters or tell them to leave" (L.A. TIMES, 7/12).
CAMERA SHY: Dodgers President & CEO Stan Kasten on Wednesday said of Puig, "He's very wary of the media. This is a brand new thing. ... Invariably when media come in they can't get too far into the interview before they want to know about the background, about Cuba, coming out of Cuba, how he got from there to here. Those are things he just does not want to revisit, probably for some very good reasons I suppose. So he's vary wary of the media -- learning what works, what doesn't work. We're working through those." Kasten added of ASG voting, "This past week, he could have really helped himself if he was really interested. As voting was going on, he could have been doing the morning shows, every interview -- but that's not him" (DAILY NEWS.com, 7/11).
EARLY DAYS YET: ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said Puig needs to be more mindful of the media, but "are we going to bring the hammer down on him because he's not? I'm not about to do that. He's 22 years old, he's only been in this country less than a year." ESPN's Pablo Torre said, "You must respect and be accessible to the public if you're a public figure and the press is, of course, the proxy for the public." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said the Dodgers have "Spanish-speaking people ... in the organization who can help him with this process. It really takes, what, three minutes after a game or before a game -- five minutes tops -- to answer a few questions and that's all people are really looking for." ESPN's Israel Gutierrez said, "None of us can really relate to what he's going through in this entirely different environment." Gutierrez: "Give him an adjustment period and eventually, I'm sure he'll be comfortable with the whole situation" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 7/10).
BRISTOL BIAS? USA TODAY's Ray Glier reports while media "waited in an auxiliary clubhouse under Turner Field" for news on the winner of the NL All-Star vote, a "mobile alert from ESPN was passed around." The alert read, "Breaking News: Yasiel Puig Not Voted to All-Star team." There were "snickers from local television hosts and immediate ridicule for ESPN for not mentioning the winner," Braves 1B Freddie Freeman. Braves 2B Dan Uggla said, "Are they not supposed to be impartial as a news outlet?" (USA TODAY, 7/12). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes if ESPN were broadcasting the All-Star Game, coverage of Puig "would have made Tim Tebow look like Tiny Tim." There are all "kinds of perceptions out there that ESPN can get things done when it needs to for its own benefits." Fox Sports co-President & co-COO Eric Shanks said he thought "it's interesting people perceive ESPN promoting a game that's on Fox as having some kind of push. ... It would be fun if he got in. But I don't think there's a particular pushing happening one way or another" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 7/12).
Broadcaster Dan Hellie has joined NFL Network to host its signature show, "NFL Total Access," beginning Aug. 5. Hellie joins the net after seven years at DC-based WRC-NBC, where he served as Sports Dir (NFL). In DC, Dan Steinberg noted Hellie "had other job offers, both inside and outside sports." Hellie said, "NFL Network came through with an opportunity I just thought was too good to pass up." In addition to "NFL Total Access," Hellie is expected to "host remote shows for the network, from the Super Bowl to the Draft to the NFL Combine" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/10).
MOUTH OF THE SOUTH: In Atlanta, Ken Sugiura reported new FS South play-by-play announcer Wes Durham "for his first broadcast" on the net will call the Florida Int'l-Maryland football game on Aug. 31. Durham will "do 14 ACC football games a year along with another 40 or so basketball and baseball games." He will "appear on broadcasts on regional sports networks throughout the ACC footprint." Durham will "continue his duties as play-by-play voice for the Falcons, a job he has held since" '04 (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 7/11).
CALLED UP TO THE MAJORS: In Providence, Tim Britton noted Aaron Goldsmith is in his "first year as the No. 2 radio voice for the Mariners," and although he "continues to refine his broadcasting style, Goldsmith hasn't found himself changing it just because he's now in the major leagues." After years doing games for the Triple-A Int'l League Pawtucket Red Sox, the travel is "undoubtedly easier" for Goldsmith and he can "focus on his broadcast during the day instead of putting together game notes or helping operate a team's social media account." Goldsmith said broadcaster Rick Rizzs "is the perfect guy for me to work with." He added, "Broadcasting can be a very territorial profession. He's taken me under his wing and helped me with everything" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 7/11).
HOMETOWN PRIDE: In Minneapolis, Rachel Blount notes Twins announcer Dick Bremer has lived in Minnesota nearly his entire life and "wears his provincialism proudly." Twins Senior Dir of Corporate Communications & Broadcasting Kevin Smith said, "Dick is a consummate pro, but I don’t know if he’d be as good if he wasn’t broadcasting his hometown team. In Minnesota, we like our local things and people, and Dick is about as local as you can get" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/9).
THE PEACHTREE REPORT: In Atlanta, Chris Vivlamore reported Hawks radio announcer Steve Holman "recently agreed to a multiyear contract and will return for a 29th season" (AJC.com, 7/11). Meanwhile, Atlanta's WZGC-FM host Rachel Baribeau has left the station "after eight-plus months" to join Raycom Sports and "will be working with the new ACC Network" (ACCESSATLANTA.com, 7/8).
ESPN2 drew a 0.7 rating and 1.1 million viewers for the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating contest on July 4, down from recent years as the telecast moved away from its traditional spot on ESPN. Last year's telecast earned a 0.8 rating and 1.3 million viewers.NATHAN'S FAMOUS HOT DOG EATING CONTEST VIEWERSHIP TRENDYEARNETRATINGVIEWERS (000)'13ESPN20.71,146'12ESPN0.81,299'11ESPN1.11,949'10ESPN1.01,677'09ESPN1.01,340
NOTES: FS Detroit drew a 13.0 local rating for the White Sox-Tigers on Wednesday night, marking the RSN's second-best Tigers game audience this season. The high remains a 14.9 rating for the home opener against the Yankees on April 5.
The chart below lists final ratings from recent sports telecasts on cable TV. Figures for broadcast TV were delayed due to an internal Nielsen issue.
TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS (000) NASCAR Sprint Cup: Coke Zero 400 (Daytona)7/6TNT7:30-10:48pm3.55,662 Wimbledon Men's Final: Murray d. Djokovic7/7ESPN9:00am-3:00pm1.72,456 NASCAR Nationwide Series: Subway Firecracker 250 (Daytona)7/5ESPN7:30-10:00pm1.31,927 MLB: Red Sox-Angels7/7ESPN8:00-11:09pm1.31,912 UFC 162 prelims7/6FX8:00-10:00pm0.81,363 Wimbledon Women's Final: Bartoli d. Lisicki7/6ESPN9:00am-3:00pm0.91,302 Wimbledon: Semifinals7/5ESPN8:00am-4:50pm0.91,243 Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest7/4ESPN212:00-1:00pm0.71,146 Wimbledon: Semifinals7/4ESPN8:00am-1:00pm0.91,137 "Breakfast at Wimbledon"7/6ESPN8:00-9:00am0.6831