SBD/December 3, 2013/Media

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  • "MNF" Overnight Down 9% As Seahawks Deliver Blowout Win Over Saints

    Saints-Seahawks earned a 55.2 local overnight rating in New Orleans

    ESPN earned a 10.6 overnight rating for the Seahawks’ 34-7 win over the Saints on “MNF” last night, down 9% from an 11.6 rating for Giants-Redskins in Week 13 last year. The game earned a 47.2 local rating in Seattle-Tacoma (21.3 rating on ESPN and a 25.9 on KONG-Ind). In New Orleans, the game earned a 55.2 local rating (18.0 rating on ESPN and a 37.2 on WDSU-NBC). The top five markets were rounded out by Sacramento (16.0), Charlotte (15.4) and Las Vegas (15.2) (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

    A CHIP ON THEIR SHOULDER: In Philadelphia, Jimmy Kempski noted Eagles coach Chip Kelly on Sunday was "profusely criticized for his clock management" by the Fox broadcast team of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa. Their "beef with Chip was that he wasn't letting the play clock run all the way down before snapping the ball, thus wasting the opportunity to milk as much time off the clock as possible" (PHILLY.com, 12/2).

    CAT SCRATCH FEVER: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted the Panthers for the third week in a row "attracted more than 500,000 viewers" locally on WJZY-Fox with Sunday's win over the Buccaneers. The game was "watched by 504,920 people, almost dead-even with the 507,200 who tuned in" for Panthers-Dolphins a week earlier. The Nov. 18 "MNF" game against the Patriots, shown on ESPN and local affiliate WSOC-ABC, "accounted for the most viewers of a Panthers’ game, with 656,320 people watching." The Panthers next week "could set a new TV benchmark" as they face the Saints, the first-place team in the the NFC South, on "SNF" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/2).

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  • Fantasy Sports Net Slated For March '14 Launch In U.S., Canada

    Anthem Media Group CEO Leonard Asper said that he "received a license in Canada to start a fantasy-sports broadcast network," and will "be starting FNTSY Sports Networks in both Canada and the United States next March," according to Kent Gibbons of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. Asper is "pursuing carriage deals with U.S. multichannel distributors and Anthem has already acquired a pair of Web sites, RotoExperts.com and SportsGrid.com, to tie in with the channel and provide content." He said that "video-on-demand and streamed video programs are key components of the FNTSY plans." Asper said, "We don’t need a big carriage deal to launch." Asper "envisions studio and on-location shows related to major sporting events." He added that the net will be "a combination of CNBC and CNN for fantasy sports, with some reporting, 'a lot of predictions' and on-air personalities." Pro Football HOFer Chris Doleman is "on board for on-air and development roles." FNTSY Sports Networks could face "potential competition" from another fantasy-sports net "with launch plans." Former Paxson Communications President of Cable Distribution Steve Friedman and former Paxson President & CEO Jeff Sagansky are backing Fantasy Sports Zone TV, which "also would target 35 million fantasy-sports players, with 3,000 hours of original programming" (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 12/2 issue).

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  • Maffei Concerned Rising Cost Of Sports Channels Threatens Current Cable Setup

    Liberty Media President & CEO Greg Maffei said while the current process of bundling for cable channels “has been a great success, the rising price of a lot of content -- particularly sports content -- threatens the success of that bundle and threatens the success of the cable ecosystem.” Appearing on CNBC's "Squawk Box" this morning, Maffei said, “I don't think that's in the long-term interest of either the industry or consumers." CNBC's Joe Kernen noted ESPN earns $5-6 per subscriber compared to $0.20 “for everybody else" and asked, "Wouldn't it be easier to just separate out sports?" Maffei said the proliferation of RSNs has “driven up the cost of cable dramatically." Maffei: "I don't know how you look at what the cost of that sports programming is. I don’t want to pick on ESPN, but if you offered consumers the choice of saying you could (pay) $100 or $200 less a year – and it's certainly got to be at least that kind of number -- and not get some of that sports programming or not get all of that sports programming, I think a lot of consumers might make that choice." However, he noted a "pure a la carte" setup is "very problematic.” Maffei: “How do you manage all those channels? How do you manage the choice?” But he continued, “I do look and say you've got sports programming rising on unsustainable levels.” Maffei acknowledged that is “not the only programming rising on unsustainable levels," but repeated it “doesn't look like a sustainable world to me" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 12/3).

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  • App Review: Big Ten Network's BTN2Go Brings Lots Of Video, But Also Lots Of Ads

    Team-specific tweets are a positive for the Big Ten Network app

    Thanksgiving week with the Big Ten Network's BTN2Go uncovered an abundance of live games and archived video for the Big Ten's in-season sports -- including football, ice hockey, men's and women's basketball and volleyball. The app, developed by NeuLion, scores with social but also stumbles with excessive advertising and a poorly organized VOD library. BTN2Go focuses on live games, scores and full-length replays. Featured content is showcased upon opening. A full listing of Big Ten games is organized by week beginning on Sundays. Full game replays are available for all past games. A Watch Now button appears for live games, and a BTN Live section offers a 24/7 live feed of the Big Ten Network. Archived video is contained in a section titled Shows, and recent news can be found under Headlines. Team-specific sections bring scores, videos and headlines into a single location. Game alerts can be set for all games or for single matchups. The app was reviewed using an iPhone 5 version 7.0.4, with AT&T wireless and Xfinity service. BTN2Go is free to download, and authentication of the cable service provider proved simple.

    ALL-CONFERENCE NOMINEES: Live game feeds are clean, and the video player is wrapped with social media sharing tools. Small but clearly distinguishable Facebook and Twitter icons pre-populate tune-in messaging. Example: "I'm watching Minnesota vs. Michigan St. in the BTN2Go app!" Some live games offer a bonus Twitter integration where users can select the team they are rooting for, and then post and read fan tweets within the live-streaming environment. Aside from a single pre-roll advertisement on open, full-length game replays are commercial-free, offering the same basic social media sharing tools. Schedules, headlines and archived video are sortable by school and sport, making it easy for fans to find the content they want. Favorite teams can be added for a custom experience.

    REDSHIRTS: BTN2Go suffers from over-advertising syndrome. This is particularly noticeable on archived video, where the same ad plays before each video regardless of time lapse or number of videos viewed. In the same vein, while watching BTN Live, the same ad was served twice in a row during a commercial break. While it would appear that all games are available to watch live, some are not. Over the weekend, clicking on the Penn State-Wisconsin football game -- which aired on ESPN2 -- opened an error message saying that the game was not available because it was "an upcoming game." Clearly, this game was just unavailable due to broadcast restrictions. The Shows section contains high quality highlight and on-demand video, but this is not made obvious to users. Why would game highlights be hidden under a section called Shows? Furthermore, the app does not offer game highlights in a timely fashion. In most cases, and perhaps due to broadcast rights restrictions, highlights are not available until the next day. Lastly, the single-game alerts section is slow to update. On Monday morning, the app still showed alert selections for Friday's schedule.

    BOTTOM LINE: BTN2Go impresses with simple yet functional video features. Facebook and Twitter sharing tools inside live and archived video make this a standout social experience. Despite some confusing error messages for unavailable games, most Big Ten Conference matchups are available for live viewing. Some advertising cleanup is required along with better categorization of archived video. Adding some urgency and increased focus on the highlight offering is the main area for improvement.

    Amie Sheridan (amie.sheridan31@gmail.com) is a writer in Philadelphia.

    See Sheridan's previous App Review submissions for THE DAILY: 

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  • Media Notes

    In L.A., Steve Dilbeck cited a source as saying that former MLBer Nomar Garciaparra "has been hired as a new commentator by the Dodgers" for SportsNet L.A. Garciaparra "has been an ESPN analyst for the last four years." He is "expected to do pre- and post-game commentary and be utilized on both the television and radio broadcasts" for the Dodgers, but "roles are still being defined." The team also is "pursuing" ESPN's Orel Hershiser (LATIMES.com, 12/2).

    MORNING RUSH
    : In N.Y., Bernie Augustine notes WFAN's "Boomer & Carton" simulcast beginning on CBSSN in January gives the show "a national audience." But co-host Craig Carton yesterday said on the show that the content of the program "won't change as a result." Both MSG, which simulcast the show through September, and the YES Network also "were interested in having Boomer & Carton as the anchors of their morning programming." Adding Boomer & Carton, whose WFAN ratings "have been robust, to the lineup would've been a boon for either network" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 12/3).

    START YOUR ENGINES: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin reports Paul Page is "the new radio voice of the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series." Page held the position from '77-'87 "before moving to the television side of racing." He "replaces Mike King, who stepped down last month" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/3).

    AS THE BALL BOUNCES: ESPN will air the WNBA Draft Lottery live at 4:30pm ET Dec. 10. The show, which will be hosted by "SportsCenter" anchor Kevin Negandhi, will mark the second straight year that the lottery will air live on the net (WNBA).

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