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SBD/December 19, 2013/2013 Year In Review
On The Airwaves: The Sports Business Year In Media
Published December 19, 2013
DENIAL OF SERVICE: ESPN makes the decision in August to back out of its partnership with PBS over the “Frontline” documentary “League of Denial.” The move immediately causes critics to assail the net for what they perceive as a capitulation to the NFL, as the league was not happy with how it was being portrayed. ESPN President John Skipper vehemently denies the charges and says the move was merely about a lack of editorial control over the doc. The headlines created by the decision has the unintended consequence of raising the profile of the special, as it winds up rating much higher than most “Frontline” segments.
THE 1 TO WATCH: After months of heavy build-up and marketing, FS1 makes its much ballyhooed launch on August 17. The channel’s heavy emphasis on being the “fun” alternative to ESPN is exemplified by moves such as having Regis Philbin host the panel show “Crowd Goes Wild” and by the hires of comedic-yet-cogent hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole for its flagship “Fox Sports Live” highlight show. While ratings have been meager during the net’s first four months, Fox execs have repeatedly stated launching the project is a long-term play.
* The USGA shocks the golf world by signing a 12-year deal with Fox that moves the U.S. Open off NBC.
* ESPN brings Keith Olbermann back to the net after a 16-year hiatus to host a late-night show.
* SI's Peter King launches The MMQB, an NFL-focused website that brings in several pedigreed writers.
* Longtime MLB analyst Tim McCarver leaves the national broadcast booth after calling 29 World Series.
* Deadspin breaks the story that the dead girlfriend of Manti Te'o did not really exist.
* Another Grand Slam tennis event is set to move exclusively to cable as ESPN gets the entire U.S. Open package.
* Brent Musburger's on-air comments about Katherine Webb largely overshadow the BCS title game.
* The N.Y. Times runs a blank page to represent the fact that no players were inducted into the Baseball HOF.