Sunoco Debuts "Essence Of Racing" Campaign Executive Transactions Isiah Thomas Expected Backlash Over Hiring FanDuel Brings On Most Of Zynga Sports Team Georgia Approves Increased Athletic Budget Kentucky Adding Ribbon Boards At Rupp IndyCar Ponders How To Attract Fans Long Term Jeff Gordon Hired As Full-Time Analyst For Fox Danica's Sponsorship Status To Be Telling For NASCAR Classified Advertisements
SBD/August 12, 2013/MediaPrint All
CBS earned a 4.4 overnight Nielsen rating for the final round of the PGA Championship yesterday, which saw Jason Dufner hold off Jim Furyk by two strokes to win his first major. That overnight is up 13% from a 3.9 rating last year, when Rory McIlroy won the event by eight strokes and the final round aired up against the final day of the London Games. Compared to ’11, when Keegan Bradley won the event in a three-hole playoff over Dufner, this year’s final round was up slightly from a 4.3 overnight. CBS also earned a 3.0 overnight for third-round coverage on Saturday, up 30% from a 2.3 rating last year and up 15% from a 2.6 rating in ’11. Meanwhile, TNT earned a 1.6 overnight for its early coverage of the third round on Saturday, marking the net’s best rating for third round coverage since a 1.7 overnight in ’10. Through three rounds of coverage, TNT averaged a 1.4 overnight, the net’s best mark for the PGA Championship since a 1.5 in ’09 (THE DAILY). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes CBS was "good" in their broadcast of the tournament. Jones: "Not great. Not bad. Just good." However, the ratings show that a net "can have a good weekend even without Tiger Woods in contention" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/12).
Golfer Greg Norman has "already been offered the lead analyst's job" by Fox for when the net "starts broadcasting the U.S. Open in 2015," according to Tim Rosaforte of GOLFDIGEST.com. Norman in an e-mail wrote Fox Senior Exec VP David Hill has "reached out to me, we have spoken and yes, they have offered me the job." Rosaforte wrote the job "would be a perfect fit for Norman -- if he can agree to terms." Given his "various business interests," Norman "isn't looking for the type of schedule" analyst Johnny Miller has with NBC. However, the "one-week showcase would give him a highly-visible platform." As a "voice in the game, Norman has already shown he can follow in Miller's footsteps calling out players" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 8/10). Norman said, "I need to talk with David and see if it will work for me. One, I need to understand the time requirements and two, the expectations." GOLFWEEK.com's Alex Miceli noted the next step will be a meeting in L.A. "in the very near future with Hill to discuss with Norman his future with Fox." CBS in '05 "before offering the job to Nick Faldo ... offered the lead analyst role to Norman, who eventually declined because it would have required too much travel" (GOLFWEEK.com, 8/11). GOLF WORLD MONDAY's John Strege writes speculation on who will host Fox' golf coverage "has to start with Joe Buck, already the lead play-by-play man" on NFL and MLB games for the net (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 8/12 issue).
SHARK WEEK OR SHARK WEAK? GOLF.com writers and editors discussed Norman's potential hire in a roundtable. Joe Passov said, "Norman has serious cred, not just for his playing record, good and bad, but for his breadth of knowledge about the game, from golf swings to equipment to course design. ... That said, I'll take Brandel Chamblee in a heartbeat. He's the most concise, articulate and opinionated analyst in the game right now." Cameron Morfit said, "I'd keep Miller in for a while until I was sure Norman really wanted to do it the way it needs to be done." Mark Godich said, "I'm not sure I wouldn't stick with Miller. But I am nominating Gus Johnson as the play-by-play guy." Eamon Lynch said, "Norman is certainly a man of strong opinions, but that doesn't always make for a good announcer." Gary Van Sickle said, "Fox needs to hire the splashiest name it can, whether he's a good analyst or not. I'd try to get Paul Azinger or Brandel Chamblee, or see if I could pry Johnny Miller loose from his NBC contract" (GOLF.com, 8/11).
GOING INSIDE THE DEAL: GOLFWEEK.com's Adam Schupak wrote under the header, "USGA & Fox: Inside The Deal That Stunned Golf Media Landscape." Former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson said, "The USGA is joining a list of major sports properties working with Fox. They are in the business of growing a cable channel. They want to get maximum sub rates. They’d like to get $1 a sub. They want to get maximum penetration. They want to get in 100 million homes. The way to do that is to gather up some of the major sports properties available." USGA Senior Managing Dir of Business Affairs Sarah Hirshland said that the organization would "collaborate with Fox in selecting the broadcasters to cover its events." Hirshland: "Fox invited that. We didn’t have to force that. Quite frankly, I hope they push us a little bit. That’s one of the goals for us. We want to welcome the fresh perspective" (GOLFWEEK.com, 8/9). Fox Sports Media Group co-President & co-COO Randy Freer said, "Having FS1 was a huge help. For the number of hours committed to this, the only way that would have been possible is due to the addition of FS1. We’re here to compete for rights and you need to have fully distributed outlets to do that with" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/12 issue).
Fox is preparing the "most direct challenge yet to behemoth ESPN in the battle for lucrative sports programming, one of the few genres with the power to draw strong live audiences ... in a world where viewers increasingly record their favorite shows, to watch sans commercials at their convenience," according to a sports section cover story by Reid Cherner of USA TODAY. FS1 has "started aggressively, but it remains officially an upstart." ESPN is the "pacesetter in the industry, and anyone hoping to change that will have to add patience to deep pockets and a roster of stars." Syracuse Univ. Bleier Center for Television & Popular Culture Dir Robert Thompson said ESPN has become the "generic term for sports programming," and they "dominate the market." But he added, "That was true of CNN and 24-hour cable news, and Fox changed that." Cherner writes Fox' agreement with the USGA to carry the U.S. Open beginning in '15 is "another shake-up to the sports TV industry." And the fact Fox is "converting an existing channel -- Speed -- into Fox Sports 1 means it does not have to start from scratch." But Fox "does have to show its upgraded channel is worth 80 cents per home." That is "more than triple the 20-25 cents Speed earned" (USA TODAY, 8/12). In L.A., Joe Flint wrote FS1 will be "starting this fight with one hand tied behind its back," as the net "still doesn't have distribution deals locked up with some of the nation's biggest pay-TV operators." Former ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Production CEO Mark Shapiro said, "It is not a hill they have to climb, it's the Grand Canyon. ESPN has built such a big moat around itself the Russian army of the Cold War couldn't get in." Fox Senior Exec VP David Hill: "The first thing we have to battle is inertia. For 30 years people have been watching ESPN. We understand that. We know it. We get it" (L.A. TIMES, 8/10).
ESPN FEELS CONFIDENT: ESPN President John Skipper addressed the launch of FS1 yesterday on CNN's "Reliable Sources" and said, "We have a great deal of respect for the News Corporation and for Fox. They’ve got some excellent rights, they make smart plays, News Corp. will make big bets, so we respect what they do and we’re cognizant. We, on the other hand, feel very confident in our strengths in the aggregation of rights that we have, our people, in our relationships with advertisers and our distribution deals. We are in a strong position” ("Reliable Sources," CNN, 8/11). Meanwhile, SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted several ESPN personalities have started to address the addition of a rival channel. Bill Simmons delivered a "straight right to Fox Sports 1 on Saturday night followed by a solid Fox Sports 1 counter followed by an uppercut from SportsCenter anchor John Buccigross mocking Fox Sports 1 executives for mentioning the word 'fun' in every interview" (SI.com, 8/11).
STRAIGHT CASH, HOMEY: PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio cited a source as saying that former NFLer Randy Moss "has a tentative deal" to join FS1. The agreement "isn’t finalized, but no glitches currently are expected." Moss is expected to contribute to FS1's "Fox Football Daily," a show that will feature Curt Menefee, Jay Glazer, and former NFLers Brian Urlacher and Ronde Barber. Moss also could "appear on the new all-sports network on Sundays, too" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 8/9). Meanwhile, Fox announced former MLBer Gabe Kapler is joining the net as an analyst for "Fox Sports Live" (Fox).
BIDDING WAR: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote with Fox willing to cut a 12-year deal worth $100M annually with the USGA, "double what NBC was paying, imagine what they will pay for a sport that actually attracts big-time eyeballs -- like the NBA?" With Fox "opening the vault to acquire product for Fox Sports 1 ... ESPN and Turner are going to be forced to pay more than they ever expected to retain their NBA packages" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 8/10).
Just five days before the launch of FS1, Fox Sports still has yet to cut deals with at least three of the four biggest distributors: DirecTV, Dish Network and Time Warner Cable. The three distributors said they are still in discussions with Fox to carry the channel, which launches Saturday. Distributors that do not cut a deal for FS1 by Saturday will continue to carry Speed, though it will be a stripped down version of the motorsports channel. Fox Sports provided the Tribune listings service with the programming lineup for Speed for the first nine days after FS1's launch, and it features a mix of re-runs and paid programming. In the week after FS1 launches, Speed will open primetime at 8:00pm ET with shows like "Faster Than," "Car Science" and "Pumped." The 9:00pm hour has shows like "Drag Race High," "Stuntbusters" and "Wrecked." The 10:00pm hour has shows like "Pinks," "Speedmakers" and "Hard Parts." Primetime for Aug. 17, when FS1 launches, will feature re-airs of "Pumped," "Wrecked" and "Hard Parts." Fox Sports has little reason to make Speed a high-quality channel after Aug. 17, since it wants distributors to agree to take the more expensive FS1. Distributors pay around $0.23 per subscriber per month for Speed, according to figures from SNL Kagan. Fox is seeking $0.80 per subscriber per month for FS1 initially -- a rate that would increase to around $1.50 toward the end of the multiyear carriage deals it is seeking.
ESPN President John Skipper discussed the net's recent hiring of Nate Silver on CNN's "Reliable Sources" yesterday, noting Silver will officially begin on Sept. 1. Skipper said it will take a few months to get Silver's FiveThirtyEight.com "retooled and repositioned and re-launched, but you’ll begin to see Nate Silver across some of the platforms of ESPN.” Silver "brings a unique mind to this," and he "really is at the forefront of the analytics movement." Skipper: "We’ll look to use him where he can make a difference, help us understand big events better." He noted it was "helpful" that ESPN had already launched Grantland and allowed site creator Bill Simmons "the freedom to do the kind of site that he’s doing." Skipper: "When we went to Nate and said, ‘We’re going to let you range across things other than sports. We’re going to give you support and freedom to have opinions and to look at things,’ it gave us a real credibility.” He added, "We like having a Bill Simmons and Grantland, we like have Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight.com. If you or anybody else can point me in the direction of other singular talents around whom we can create businesses and opportunities, we’re ready for a go.” Skipper noted Silver likely will appear on Keith Olbermann's new ESPN2 show that debuts Aug. 26, but final decisions have yet to be made. Skipper: "Given the fact that the show is smart and that we are looking for smart guests and points of view, I suspect you’ll see Nate Silver on Keith Olbermann. I’m not prepared to say when yet.” He said ESPN has long "looked for smart talent and unique points of view," noting that David Halberstam, Ralph Wiley and Hunter S. Thompson were all featured on ESPN.com's Page 2 in '00 ("Reliable Sources," CNN, 8/11).
Since Time Warner Cable stopped carrying CBS-owned TV stations in N.Y., L.A. and Dallas a week ago, all three outlets "have experienced rating declines for both national programming and local news," according to Flint & James of the L.A. TIMES. Many of those cities' local newscasts "have bled viewers." In L.A., the "pain" for KCBS "has been felt particularly hard" in its 5:00pm and 11:00pm PT newscasts. From Monday through Thursday of last week, the 5:00pm news "averaged 73,000 viewers, down 33% from the previous week," while the 11:00pm news "averaged 119,000 viewers, down 25% from the previous week." CBS also owns KCAL, which "counts on Dodger games and local news for ratings. Although the "red-hot Dodgers are still a draw, KCAL's news ratings have taken a big hit since Time Warner Cable stopped carrying the station." If the blackout "drags on, the CBS TV stations could find themselves having to provide additional commercial time to make up for ratings shortfalls." CBS Television Stations President Peter Dunn said that so far that "has not been an issue" (L.A. TIMES, 8/10). Daily Beast Business Editor Dan Gross noted TWC "can't afford to be losing revenues the way they are." CNBC's Andrew Ross Sorkin said it "can't afford to lose customers the way I imagine they could" if this goes on goes past "when the Jets start playing" on CBS. Sorkin: "I imagine customers start calling up and saying, 'I'm cutting the cord.'" But CNBC's Scott Wapner was adamant when he said the dispute is "not going on past the NFL start" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 8/12).
FCC GETTING INVOLVED? In N.Y., Claire Atkinson reported FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn on Friday "fired a warning shot." Clyburn said that she "would take 'appropriate action' if the two sides can't end their spat." TWC customers were "set to miss out on the Jets’ preseason opener" last Friday against the Lions. CBS said that its ratings have "barely been affected by the loss of 3.2 million Time Warner Cable subscribers" in N.Y., Dallas and L.A. The net said that its primetime audience is "off by just 46,000 viewers, compared with the previous week" (N.Y. POST, 8/10).
MISSING LINKS: In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wrote under the header, "Golf Fans Aced Out In Spat Between CBS, Time Warner" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/11). The AP's Ryan Nakashima reported N.Y.-based fan Nancy Keiter planned "to watch the PGA Championship ... on TNT on Saturday and Sunday" until 2:00pm, then "switch from the TV set to her computer." PGA.com was scheduled to "follow the featured golfers with live video coverage through the trophy ceremony" (AP, 8/11). Donald Trump on his Twitter feed wrote, "I can't believe that in New York we can't watch the PGA Championship on CBS. How much discount is Time Warner giving its customers?" (TWITTER.com, 8/10).
ESPN/DISH FACE-OFF COMING? VARIETY’s Todd Spangler wrote a "big contract dispute may be brewing” between Dish Network and ABC/ESPN, and it "could be every bit as contentious” as the CBS/TWC dispute. Dish’s agreement with Disney for ESPN is “set to expire” Sept. 30. Dish Chair & CEO Charlie Ergen said that the satcaster is prepared to drop ESPN and other Disney networks if the companies can’t reach a deal. “We’ll work first and foremost to find a deal with Disney that makes sense for our customers,” Ergen said on the company’s earnings call this week. “If we get that deal, we’ll do it. If we don’t get that deal, we’ll part ways -- simple as that” (VARIETY.com, 8/9).
Browns CEO Joe Banner has "reprimanded former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar for his 'personal and unprofessional approach'" during Thursday night's broadcast of the Browns-Rams preseason game, but he is "keeping Kosar on the remaining three preseason games," according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. The Browns have "reached out to the Rams, and Kosar has called Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who took umbrage with his Kosar's harsh commentary." Kosar during the game "ripped the Rams receivers, third-string quarterback Kellen Clemens and receivers coach Ray Sherman." It was Kosar's "comments about Clemens that seemed to most rankle Fisher." When Clemens came into the game, play-by-play man Jim Donovan "told a story about Clemens having his daughter blessed by Pope Benedict XVI and giving the Pope an autograph." Kosar said that he "didn't think he'd want the autograph himself." Then Kosar said, "Bless me father for I have sinned. I have to watch him the whole fourth quarter." Kosar also called the Rams' receivers "horrible," and when Donovan mentioned their parents may be watching, Kosar replied, "I'd be embarrassed.'' Kosar did praise Rams QB Sam Bradford, but said, "I see why Sam Bradford has been struggling watching how bad these receivers have been for him." Cabot writes Kosar's "sometimes erratic behavior on local TV and radio is no surprise to Browns fans, who've been hearing it for years." But Kosar has "attributed it to post-concussion syndrome, for which he's receiving treatment." (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 8/12).
RAMS DISAPPOINTED: Fisher said he was a "little disappointed" after hearing of Kosar's remarks. Fisher said, "I feel bad for them that they had someone doing their broadcast feel the need to speak that way about players, specifically on our team and coaches for that matter. I'm just surprised that Bernie has such a lack of respect for players and this game. To be honest with you, I lost a lot of respect for him. It's highly unlikely he knew anything about our football team, but felt the need to make those comments. I don't think they were justified" (ESPN.com, 8/11). Clemens said, "He gave us a lot of great examples throughout his career of what it’s like to play quarterback, and how to do it at a high level. Unfortunately, he also gave us a couple of examples in his commentating career of what not to do" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/12).
GOING TOO FAR? THE MMQB's Peter King writes he found Kosar's comments "pretty far over the top" and he asked on Twitter "whether Kosar had been drinking." King: "I don’t think I was over the top, but many of you felt I’d gone too far given the sea of trouble Kosar has had in his personal life. (None of which, from what I can tell, involve treatment for alcohol, or any admission of alcoholism.) My point was, I think there’s a way to be critical of players and teams, and analysts should definitely do that. But Kosar went too far, in my opinion" (MMQB.SI.com, 8/12).
WGNU-AM shortly after midnight Saturday morning "abruptly announced" that Kevin Slaten and Jack Clark "will not be returning -- after just seven shows" -- following Clark's on-air allegations that Angels 1B Albert Pujols used PEDs during his time with the Cardinals, according to Dan Caesar of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. During the first week of the show, which debuted Aug. 1, Clark "at least twice" said that Pujols' former trainer Chris Mihlfeld "told him in 2000 that he 'shot him up' with steroids." Pujols on Friday said that he "plans to sue" Clark and people connected to WGNU. He said in a statement, "I’ve been tested hundreds of times throughout my career and never once have I tested positive. It is irresponsible and reckless for Jack Clark to have falsely accused me of using PEDs. ... I am currently in the process of taking legal action against Jack Clark and his employers at WGNU. I am going to send a message that you cannot act in a reckless manner, like they have, and get away with it." Caesar noted WGNU "sells its weekday airtime to insideSTL Enterprises, which has a variety of employment deals with the hosts." A source said that the arrangement with Clark and Slaten "did not have them working directly for that company." InsideSTL in announcing it was ending its relationship with Clark and Slaten said, "As independent contractors, we want to make it clear that the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of insideSTL" (STLTODAY.com, 8/10).
SLATEN SUING: Slaten on Saturday afternoon said that he will "sue over his termination," while Clark will make a decision today. Slaten: "I don't know what Albert Pujols' damages are, but there are a lot of damages for me. Albert Pujols didn't even mention my name. Why does this fall on me?" The POST-DISPATCH's Caesar reports Clark "wasn't backing down" from his allegations. Clark on Saturday said, "I stand by what I said. I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I'm doing something for sure." Slaten: "They teamed Jack Clark up with me so sparks would fly, then when Jack says something they run and hide under their blanket" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 8/12).
BACKING OFF: In St. Louis, Bernie Miklasz wrote Pujols "wins this round. Big." It is "fair to surmise" that insideSTL "feared getting entangled in legal proceedings and broke off the relationship with Clark and Slaten to appease Pujols." Slaten for years has "been saying he believes Pujols juiced up." If the company "thought it was unethical or improper for Slaten to say these steroids-related things about Pujols, then why was he put on the air in the first place? Why are his comments now suddenly out of bounds and unacceptable? What changed?" (STLTODAY.com, 8/10).
IMG College on Friday announced Univ. of Michigan announcer Frank Beckmann "will make 2013 his final season" after 33 years with the school, according to Mark Snyder of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. Beckmann succeeded Bob Ufer in '81, continuing "one of the great play-by-play stretches in college football," as the only two men have "held the post in the past 65 years." Beckmann has held various roles at WJR-AM "over the past 41 years, from sports director to the midday radio show he has hosted for the past decade." That show "will continue." Additionally, an IMG exec said that Beckmann "might be used in projects in the future." A possible "successor for Beckmann would be Matt Shepard, who already works for IMG, calling Michigan basketball games" as well as play-by-play for Eastern Michigan Univ. football. Beckmann's impending departure comes after UM football Equipment Operations Dir Jon Falk and Associate AD/Special Projects Bruce Madej have said that they will retire after the season, meaning the "old guard is leaving Michigan football -- seemingly all at once" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 8/10). Beckmann said, "The first conversations about this started a couple of years ago, so it's sort of been a gradual process leading up to it. This has been such a big part of my life, and I'm sure I'm going to miss it." In Ann Arbor, Nick Baumgardner noted UM "scolded" Beckmann for a Detroit News column he wrote earlier this year surrounding the Sergio Garcia-Tiger Woods fried chicken comment. But Beckmann said that it "had nothing to do with his decision to leave." He said the decision to step down was "absolutely" his call. Beckmann added that he has "talked with IMG College ... about having some type of role in the game going forward -- but no plans have been finalized" (ANNARBOR.com, 8/10).
The SEATTLE TIMES notes Thursday's Seahawks-Chargers game on KCPQ-Fox "drew a 40 percent share, meaning 40 percent of all households in the Seattle area." The game also drew a 21 rating, which is "roughly double what the Seahawks' exhibition opener received last year" (SEATTLE TIMES, 8/12).
DREADED GLITCH AWARD: In Houston, David Barron noted KTRK-ABC’s Friday-night broadcast of Texans-Vikings was "plagued by technical difficulties," leading the station to rebroadcast a "glitch-free replay" on Saturday night. The video signal for the game "failed on at least eight occasions during the second and third quarters." The longest outage included a "10-minute stretch that consumed the final two minutes of the first half, an eight-minute stretch during halftime and another glitch that lasted for the first minute of clock time in the third quarter" (CHRON.com, 8/9).
WORK TO DO: In Tampa, Tom Jones noted former NFLer Ronde Barber "made his broadcasting debut" during Thursday's Ravens-Buccaneers game but "still has some work to do before the regular season." His first game "was wobbly, but learning how to be a broadcaster is part of what this preseason is all about." It likely will "take a while before he finds his voice." But Barber as the game went on "sounded more and more comfortable." Jones: "He now just needs to work on taking the vast information he has and passing it along to the audience" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/12).
STAYING WITH WHAT YOU KNOW: The Chiefs on Friday announced a multiyear radio partnership with KCFX-FM that runs through '19. Mitch Holthus and Len Dawson will continue to serve as the team's announcers (Chiefs).