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SBD/August 8, 2013/MediaPrint All
The USGA and Fox Sports yesterday announced a 12-year deal that will see Fox and FS1 air the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open Championship, as well as the USGA's national amateur championship and other live content, beginning in '15. The deal runs through '26 and will see the USGA and Fox deliver a total of 146 hours of golf, including a minimum of 70 cumulative hours of live-event coverage of the three Opens. Financial terms were not disclosed (USGA). The AP's Doug Ferguson cited a source as saying that the Fox bid was "in the neighborhood of $100 million a year, more than double the previous contracts" with NBC and ESPN. NBC had broadcast the event since '95. USGA Managing Dir of Communications Joe Goode in an e-mail wrote that signing with Fox "was not a reflection on NBC or 'simply the financials.'" Goode wrote, "The decision is consistent with our strategy for delivering golf in new and innovative ways, which can be achieved with a partner that has a completely fresh perspective on the game." NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller said, "I feel bad for the USGA in a way that money was more important than basically a good golf crew." He said that it was "unlikely he would go to Fox even if offered a chance," and added that his contract with NBC runs through '15. Miller: "You can’t just fall out of a tree and do the U.S. Open. I guess the money was more important than the performance. No way they can step in and do the job we were doing" (AP, 8/7). In N.Y., Richard Sandomir cites sources as saying that the deal is "at least double" NBC and ESPN's combined $37M rights fee. Fox now must "build a golf crew from scratch, which might not be easy." The net could "find it difficult to lure" Miller and other NBC golf commentators "until it gets more than one tour event" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/8).
BROADCASTING BATTLES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes the deal is a "blow to NBCUniversal's NBC Sports, and its Golf Channel, which has tried to brand itself as the top destination for golf fans." USGA President Glen Nager indicated that in addition to the increase in rights fees over the roughly $40M the organization has been collecting, the USGA "decided to go with Fox because of the network's record of reaching a younger demographic and coming up with new ways to televise sports." He said, "You look at what Fox has done when [they] went into football and baseball. They have a record of innovation" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/8). ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi wrote, "The deal offers further proof that Fox is going to do everything it can to bolster its already deep sports roster." It also is a "wakeup call of sorts for NBC Sports and the Golf Channel" (ADWEEK.com, 8/7).
USGA CHIDED FOR TIMING : GOLFCHANNEL.com's John Hawkins wrote the USGA "violated a very sacred tenet" in announcing this news the day before the start of the PGA Championship. Hawkins: "You don’t release such information on the eve of someone else’s major championship." This is "just lousy manners, a transparent and selfish act directed at a rival organization, the PGA of America, ostensibly in retribution for the anchored-putter skirmish that arose between the governing bodies late last year." Golfer Brandt Snedeker tweeted, "Don’t know the relationship between @USGA and @ThePGAofAmerica but seems petty to announce new TV deal today USGA… Couldn’t wait??" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 8/7). Golf blogger Geoff Shackelford wrote the timing of the announcement was a "tacky decision" by the USGA. The agreement was announced in an "utterly low class, ungentlemanly fashion on the eve of the PGA Championship which happens to be run by the organization that did not support us on the anchoring ban. Coincidence?" Shackelford wrote this is a "dark day" for the USGA and "for the game" in general (GEOFFSHACKELFORD.com, 8/7). In Jacksonville, Garry Smits wrote, "It was a tacky move by the USGA, which professes to be the bastion of all things honorable about golf and its rules" (JACKSONVILLE.com, 8/7). Golf Channel's Rich Lerner said the move was a "monumental misstep of bad timing and poor judgment." Lerner: "The prevailing sentiment by the assembled golfing world here in Rochester is one of disbelief because golf's major ruling bodies have always respected each other’s big events, and adhered to an unwritten agreement to not overshadow one another" ("Live from the PGA Championship," Golf Channel, 8/7).
ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Dwayne Bray said that the net's football coverage "does not unnecessarily celebrate the kind of hard contact that can cause dangerous concussions," according to David Hinckley of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Bray was "part of a panel on a joint investigative series" between ESPN and PBS' "Frontline" exploring the concussion problem in the NFL. The two-part series, called "League of Denial: The NFL's Concussion Crisis," will air Oct. 8-15. When asked whether ESPN commentators and highlights single out hard hits for attention, Bray said, "That may have been true six, eight years ago. I think we've been very restrained on this issue. I mean, it is our job to report the news. So if there are hard hits, we report the news. But at the same time, I think even as the NFL and the parents are being educated, ESPN and other media entities are being educated." He added, "I think we've shown a lot of restraint, especially in recent years, in terms of showing the big hits. We have a lot of discussions and we don't show any of that footage willy nilly. There's a lot of thought and discussion that goes into our highlights." Bray also "defended ESPN in a discussion about whether the network can effectively cover an organization with which it also has a lucrative business partnership." He said, "We don't see this (Documentary) as ESPN going up against the NFL. People can in their soundbites, they are allowed their opinion. We just see this as reporting the story. We've been reporting the story for a very long time, and we're going to continue to report the story" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 8/7).
ESPN yesterday announced that it is "turning over day-to-day operations" of Dallas-based KESN-AM, better known as ESPN Radio 103.3 Dallas, to Cumulus Media, owner of rival station KTCK-AM, according to Barry Horn of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. ESPN will maintain "ownership of the station." ESPN Senior VP/Production & Business Divisions Traug Keller said this was a "smart business decision." Keller said Cumulus' ownership of eight radio stations in Dallas-Ft. Worth gives it "great scale in the market." Horn: "Translation: Cumulus more economically can run the ESPN station, which obviously didn’t produce enough revenue for the liking of ESPN corporate bean counters back in Bristol." Cumulus Exec VP & co-COO John Dickey said that he "doesn’t anticipate any immediate on-air changes at ESPN-FM but 'over time there will be a more integrated experience' for listeners." Horn writes of the transaction, "Pencil in Bristol ESPN and local ESPN the losers, while Cumulus and The Ticket are the winners in the transaction" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/8). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel cited a source as saying that KESN execs "were unaware of this merger" until Tuesday night. Both the Rangers and Mavericks call ESPN 103.3 their flagship station, and "how this acquisition affects their home on this signal is uncertain." Engel: "You can bet neither team wants their games carried on the weaker AM signal" (STAR-TELEGRAM, 8/7).
CNBC examined the impact of Twitter and how it has helped change the way we receive news in a special called "# Twitter Revolution," and the net's Carl Quintanilla noted Twitter has "turned TV into a new experience." The NBA Finals "generated more than 26 million tweets, all of them unvarnished and some unkind." The NBA "jumped on Twitter" in '09 and "today, two-thirds of the players are on the platform giving it the biggest presence of any sports league on social media." Heat F Chris Bosh said he likes to "put little tidbits out there about what I do and how I think" because people "appreciate that." NBA Senior VP/Marketing Melissa Rosenthal Brenner said, "If you aggregate the league, the teams, the players and retired players, you have over 130 million people following the NBA in one form or another globally and that's an audience that four years ago was zero." Quintanilla noted if Twitter has "helped boost the league's popularity, it's also created problems," like when players send out offensive or controversial tweets. Brenner: "Whatever you wouldn't say in a press conference you shouldn't be saying in social media." Spurs G Manu Ginobili said he "thinks a lot" before sending out a tweet because if "you think there's some chance that it could be misunderstood, I just delete it." Quintanilla said Twitter has become a "weapon of mass communication, controlled by everyone and no one" ("# Twitter Revolution," CNBC, 8/7).
HAD ENOUGH OF IT: USA TODAY's Ted Berg notes former MLBer Chipper Jones is "leaving Twitter after more than a year spent actively using the social media site." Jones on his Twitter feed wrote, "No more twitter for me. Said I'd do it for one year and the time is up. Too much hate and too many trolls. Much love to Braves country!" Despite Jones' "eagerness to dole out criticism and earlier exhortations to followers to 'toughen up,' he spent his final weeks on Twitter appearing largely preoccupied with a growing, nebulous set of personal rules he established for users who wanted to interact with him online." Though Jones showed "a sense of humor throughout ... his exit came two days after he boasted of blocking 500 followers for breaking his rules" (USA TODAY, 8/8).
The Sabres today announced that play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret will retire following the ’15-16 season after he signed a new three-year contract with the team. Jeanneret will call an increasingly reduced number of games over the course of the contract before retiring. The ’13-14 season will be his 42nd with the Sabres. Maple Leafs broadcaster Dan Dunleavy has been added to the Sabres’ broadcast team and will substitute for Jeanneret before taking over primary play-by-play duties for the ’16-17 season (Sabres). Jeanneret said that he “expected to work 57 games this season, 47 games next season and half the games in his final season.” In Buffalo, Alan Pergament notes the Sabres “planned for this year to be his final season until the team persuaded him to continue.” Jeanneret, the “longest-tenured play-by-play man in the NHL,” will remain with the team “in an honorary capacity after he retires.” Meanwhile, the Sabres today also announced Rob Ray “will return as the color analyst on all games worked by Jeanneret and Dunleavy.” Brian Duff will return as pregame, postgame and intermission host (BUFFALONEWS.com, 8/8). Also in Buffalo, Mike Harrington notes Dunleavy “did one game in place of Jeanneret on a January 2010 road trip in Anaheim and earned good reviews.” Dunleavy will “serve as on-air talent for Sabres pre- and post-game broadcasts and will have a substantial presence on Sabres.com” (BUFFALONEWS.com, 8/8).
Mariotti gained notoriety for his Chicago Sun-Times columns, ESPN appearances
HAIL TO THE CHIEF: Former NFLer Chris Cooley made his debut on ESPN Radio 980 DC last Thursday on "The Drive With Cooley and Czabe." In DC, Dan Steinberg wrote Cooley "brought a certain locker room vibe to the studio." He was "honest, describing preseason games as 'a little bit of a joke,' and admitting that he's heard NFL players use the N word 'thousands of times' over the years" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/5). Steinberg wrote some people "might not have liked" Cooley's interview with Redskins Owner Dan Snyder Tuesday, as Cooley "offered friendly ground for the owner, repeatedly thanking Snyder for opportunities and mostly asking safe questions." But it was "likely the most relaxed that Snyder has ever sounded in a radio interview, and eventually that led to some pretty interesting quotes" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/7).
MY KIND OF TOWN: In Chicago, Bill Savage noted Chicago Tribune Cubs beat writer Paul Sullivan left the position Tuesday after "almost two decades." Sullivan said Mark Gonzalez will be "taking over the Cubs beat, and Colleen Kane will handle the White Sox, along with Fred Mitchell covering both when the regulars are off, and Phil Rogers still doing national stuff." Sullivan: "I’ll be a baseball generalist, writing longer feature stories about both teams, baseball in general. ... My new role will allow me to take more time and hopefully give a longer, more detailed, analytic take on a story that may have fallen through the cracks otherwise" (CHICAGOSIDESPORTS.com, 8/6). Mitchell will cover "the weekend home games" for the Cubs and White Sox (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/6).
NOTES: Houston sports radio host Barry Warner on Tuesday said that he "has resigned" from KILT-AM, bringing an end to a career that "began in the 1950s" (CHRON.com, 8/6)....CSN Bay Area on Monday announced Knoxville-based WATE-ABC reporter Fallon Smith had joined its roster of on-air talent as an anchor and reporter for its "SportsNet Central" program (CSN Bay Area)....SportsNet N.Y. UConn women's basketball announcer Andrew Catalon "will not return to the telecasts" for the '13-14 season. He has joined CBS Sports Network and "will take on a large schedule of college football and basketball games" (COURANT.com, 8/7).