SBD/July 14, 2014/Media

LeBron Goes Home: Cavs' Local TV Rights Likely To See Huge Bump With James' Return

LeBron James' return to the Cavaliers will likely result in a "monstrous difference for the television audiences on Fox Sports Ohio" from the past four seasons, and that could mean a "significant bump in local TV rights," according to Kevin Kleps of CRAIN'S CLEVELAND BUSINESS. FS Ohio's current deal with the Cavaliers "runs through" the '15-16 season, and is worth an estimated $25M annually. During the last two seasons James played with the Cavs before leaving for the Heat in '10, ratings on FS Ohio "ballooned to 8.67 and 8.55," with the net drawing "more than 130,000 households for each game." The averages in last four seasons have been a 3.45 rating and 51,000 households per game (CRAINSCLEVELAND.com, 7/11). Meanwhile, on Long Island, Neil Best noted it is "fair to say the Cavaliers will be making a few more appearances on TNT and ESPN" this coming season than during the '13-14 campaign (NEWSDAY, 7/12). In N.Y., Bob Raissman noted the Cavs have "gone from a minus-zero TV attraction to maximum appearances next season on ESPN and TNT." Raissman: "What are the chances of ESPN setting up a bureau in Cleveland?" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/13).

PLAIN DEALER LOOKING FOR A BEAT WRITER: SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported the Northeast Ohio Media Group, which includes the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com, is "actively looking for a lead NBA/Cavs writer," and the position now is "one of the best in the country for a sports writer." Mary Schmitt Boyer previously was the team's beat writer, but the "respected voice ... left the paper this month after 18 years." NEOMG VP/Content Christopher Quinn in an e-mail wrote, "We're going to sit down again for some more brainstorming. The audience appetite for any news about LeBron is unlimited and dedicating resources to covering him would overcome, at least a bit, the tight control that LeBron and his coterie have on information about him." He added, "Part of my interest obviously is about traffic -- we've always had monster traffic with coverage of LeBron and did again last week -- but it's also about responsibility. We're the biggest local news team in Northeast Ohio, so it falls to us to responsibly provide as much information as we can about the biggest sports star/celebrity/newsmaker to rise in the region in recent history. This does remain a resource issue. If I do decide to dedicate someone full-time to covering LeBron, I'll have to adjust elsewhere." Quinn indicated that he has "already been contacted by several candidates outside of his area for the NBA job, and several people in-house are interested." He said, "We need someone in place long before the season starts" (SI.com, 7/13).

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: In N.Y., Phil Mushnick notes ESPN had the "gall to give 'Insider' Chris Broussard ... national credit for 'confirming'" the James story after his first-person account appeared on SI.com. Mushnick: "The one who deserved -- earned -- credit for the James scoop, former AP and former ESPN reporter Chris Sheridan, now self-employed -- was relegated to the balcony" (N.Y. POST, 7/14). NFL Network's Rich Eisen, who has a guest column on THE MMQB, discusses getting through the NFL offseason and writes, "Let's not forget LeBronCenter, brought to you by the famed, fickle Sources Family -- League, Unnamed and Close To The Situation" (MMQB.SI.com, 7/14). Meanwhile, AD AGE's Jeanine Poggi noted ESPN "went for more than two hours without breaking for commercial" on Friday afternoon after the James news broke. ESPN2 also went a "significant stretch of time without commercial breaks, with about 40 minutes of uninterrupted news" on James (ADAGE.com, 7/11).
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