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Time Warner Cable, the country's second biggest cable operator, has agreed to carry SEC Network as of its Aug. 14 launch. Bright House Networks also will carry the channel, bringing its distribution footprint up to 60 million homes. The deals leave DirecTV, Charter and Verizon as the only big SEC-area distributors that have not cut a deal. DirecTV and Charter sources say they expect to carry the channel before its first regular-season SEC football game, Aug. 28. Distributors are paying $1.40 per subscriber per month for the channel within the SEC's 11-state footprint and $0.25 per month outside of it. The channel will be on expanded basic tiers within SEC territory and digital basic outside of it. Just last week, the country's biggest distributor, Comcast, signed a deal to carry the channel, joining a roster that includes AT&T, Cox and Dish Network (John Ourand, Staff Writer). Bright House Corporate Communications Dir Donald Forbes said that carrier subscribers, of which there are about 2.5 million, "won’t have to write a bigger check" for the SEC Net. Forbes: "The SEC Network will be available to all Bright House Networks customers with standard TV packages and above. Basically, if you have a cable box, you’re going to get it" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 7/25). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Alex Ben Block noted carriage deals for Bright House, the sixth largest U.S. cable system operator, are "negotiated by Time Warner Cable, so it was not a surprise they are part of the announcement" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 7/24).
Pac-12 Networks on Thursday announced that it will distribute its sports programming to international audiences through a new pay YouTube channel scheduled to launch in late August. The outlet will become the first live streaming 24/7 subscription sports channel on YouTube. The new channel at launch will distribute the Pac-12 Networks feed as well as VOD content to 27 countries, expanding to additional countries over time (Pac-12 Networks). Pac-12 Networks President Lydia Murphy-Stephans: "Our goal is to be wherever our fans are, at work, at home, on the road, even in sports venues when they’re watching live games and events." In L.A., Thuc Nhi Nguyen noted the YouTube channel "will be geoblocked" in the U.S. (DAILYNEWS.com, 7/24). The net this football season is slated to air 35 games and will "document UCLA on 'The Drive,' the network’s all-access documentary-style program that featured Arizona State last season" (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 7/25). Meanwhile, Murphy-Stephans on Thursday also announced new carriage deals with Cox Network and Time Warner Cable, expanding the net "to roughly 20 million more homes in the U.S. from when it began two years ago." The deals will "mostly make the Pac-12 Network more available in the Midwest and East coast" (DESERET NEWS, 7/25).
NESN recently informed Boston-based WEEI-FM and parent company Entercom that its simulcast of the "Dennis & Callahan" radio show "will not continue after their contract comes to an end in September," according to sources cited by Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Sources added that the decision to cancel the simulcast "is not specifically related to the controversies" surrounding show co-host Kirk Minihane’s comments about Fox' Erin Andrews. NESN had been "considering going in a different direction -- possibly with more localized programming featuring its own on-air talent" -- prior to Minihane's remarks. NESN Marketing & Communications Manager Gary Roy in a statement said, "NESN has absolutely no editorial control of WEEI’s ‘Dennis and Callahan Morning Show,’ and completely disapproves of Mr. Minihane’s disparaging statements. Furthermore, we feel it’s unfortunate that his comments aired on our network." Finn notes there has been "backlash to the recent controversies." Fox Sports personnel "have had internal discussions on the possibility of banning its talent from appearing on WEEI programming, or at the least 'Dennis and Callahan,'" following the initial tirade against Andrews. Fox Sports baseball writer Ken Rosenthal already has said that he "will no longer appear on D&C." ESPN’s Keith Law during his chat on ESPN.com Wednesday added that he "will no longer appear on WEEI programming" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/25). In Boston, Gayle Fee cites a source as saying, "This divorce has been in the works for weeks and weeks and weeks. It had nothing to do with Minihane. It was a done deal before that" (BOSTON HERALD, 7/25).
MLBAM has submitted a formal opposition to a proposal by the FCC to create digital “fast lanes” that would allow ISPs to offer different speeds to various online services. MLBAM Senior VP & General Counsel Michael Mellis, in a letter dated last week, said the FCC proposal “would serve only one purpose: for broadband ISPs to receive an economic windfall. ... Fast lanes would create new economic barriers for start-up entrepreneurs and innovators that have been critical to the growth of the Internet economy. As bad, since fast lane would necessarily mean there are slow lanes, they would amount to ‘picking winners and losers online,’ with broadband ISPs acting as fast lane ‘gatekeepers,’ precisely the opposite of the commission’s past policy.” MLBAM’s support of Net Neutrality was part of an open comment period for the much-debated FCC proposal. Numerous other technology companies have also decried the “fast lane” proposal, including Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Yahoo.
ESPN formally announced Thursday that former coaches Mack Brown and Butch Davis have joined the net as college football analysts, primarily working on Saturday studio programming. Brown will serve as a studio analyst every Saturday on ABC, appearing on "College Football Countdown" to provide pregame, halftime and postgame analysis. He will be joined by host John Saunders and analyst Danny Kanell. Brown retired following the '13 season after 16 years at Texas. Meanwhile, Davis, who most recently coached at North Carolina, will work every Saturday on ESPN2's day-long studio coverage. He will appear alongside host Adnan Virk and analyst Robert Smith (THE DAILY). USA TODAY's Paul Myerberg noted Brown began "casual conversations with ESPN about his post-coaching plans three years ago, after the network began a deep relationship" with UT via the Longhorn Network. Brown will make his "first appearance on Aug. 10, when he joins Kanell and studio host Rece Davis in reporting from Ohio State" (USATODAY.com, 7/24).
THE 'STACHE MAKES A RETURN: In Pittsburgh, Paul Zeise noted former Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt will "offer his expert analysis on Fox Sports college football pregame studio shows as well as co-host a weekly preview show on the Big Ten Network." Wannstedt said, “I reached out to several media outlets to see if I could get into the TV side of things and Fox offered me this job after several discussions." He added that he will "appear in the studio for a one-hour pregame show prior to all Fox college football broadcasts and then also do the halftime and post-game show." In addition, he will "co-host a weekly preview show each Wednesday on the Big Ten Network and will host an NFL/College football weekend wrap-type radio show in Chicago each Monday." Wannstedt: "Obviously, I’ll be busy but this is a good change for me. It was time to do something different" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/24).
The Big Ten Network has hired several former athletes that played for new conference members Maryland and Rutgers to serve as analysts for the outlet. Former UM football players Shawne Merriman and Scott McBrien, along with former men's basketball player Drew Nicholas, are joining the net as analysts, while ESPN's Christy Winters-Scott, also a UM alum, will "serve as both a studio and game analyst for women's basketball." Longtime ACC announcer Dan Bonner is "joining the network as a men's basketball game analyst" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/23). Meanwhile, in Newark, Keith Sargeant notes former RU football players Shaun O'Hara, Eric LeGrand and Ray Lucas will "be part of the on-air Big Ten Network lineup this season." Former men's basketball coach Bob Wenzel also is joining the net as "both a studio and game analyst." In addition, BTN announced that Josh Lewin will do play-by-play for basketball, while Tina Cervasio will report from the sidelines (NJ.com, 7/23).
ACES WILD: SPORTS ON EARTH's Tim Casey notes Andy Roddick after retiring from competitive tennis had "no intention of a full-time media career," but he "changed his mind last spring when Fox Sports 1 executives approached him about auditioning for a spot at the network prior to its August launch." During "test shoots with other ex-athletes and analysts, Roddick's knowledge of numerous topics outside of tennis impressed the bosses." He "fit in well with players from team sports and wasn't afraid to share his opinion." Roddick may be the "most impressive" former athlete on the net, as he is "opinionated and articulate, but doesn't come across as disingenuous or unprepared." He credits "Fox Sports Live" Exec Producer Michael Hughes and Fox Sports Exec VP/Studio Production Scott Ackerson for "helping him adjust to his new career" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 7/25).
PLATE APPROACH: In Albany, Pete Dougherty conducted a Q&A with MLB Network's John Smoltz, who said, "I never really envisioned this to be a full-time career for me." He noted he got a "sneak preview of what it was like when I was hurt in 2008, and got a chance to do a playoff series." That experience "really intrigued" him. Smoltz explained the difference between doing game analysis and working in the studio by saying, "When you're doing a game, you're basically preparing for those two teams and those nuances of what's going on in the game. You're looking for moments to talk about that would explain circumstances that maybe somebody wouldn't understand otherwise, but when you're doing studio you have a broad picture of everything. You have to look at everybody differently than just broadcasting two teams" (Albany TIMES UNION, 7/25).
STAY AS LONG AS YOU'D LIKE: In S.F., Bruce Jenkins noted MLB Giants TV broadcaster Mike Krukow has the opportunity to continue in his role despite suffering from a degenerative muscle disease called inclusion-body myositis. Krukow said, "Just the other day, out of nowhere, (Giants President) Larry Baer grabbed me by the arm and said, 'If you're worried about you're tenure, we want you as long as you can do it. If it comes to where you can't make road trips, or go up a stairway to the plane, whatever -- we'll take what you can give'" (SFGATE.com, 7/24).
ESPN finished with a 2.3 final rating and 3.3 million viewers for the final round of the British Open on Sunday, down from a 3.1 rating and 4.4 million viewers last year. Sunday’s telecast saw Rory McIlroy enter with a six-shot lead en route to a two-shot victory over Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia. Phil Mickelson last year came from behind on Sunday for the win. Tiger Woods also was well out of contention this year, while he finished tied for sixth in '13.BRITISH OPEN FINAL-ROUND AUDIENCE TRENDYEAR
COURSENETRATINGVIEWERS (000) WINNERTIGER'14 Royal LiverpoolESPN2.33,299 Rory McIlroy69th'13 MuirfieldESPN3.14,372 Phil Mickelsont-6th'12 Royal LythamESPN3.14,227 Ernie Elst-3rd'11 Royal St. George'sESPN2.33,246 Darren ClarkeDNP'10 St. AndrewsESPN2.12,966 Louis Oosthuizent-23rd'09 TurnberryABC3.85,545 Stewart CinkMC'08 Royal BirkdaleABC3.34,640 Padraig HarringtonDNP'07 CarnoustieABC3.75,147 Padraig Harringtont-12th'06 Royal LiverpoolABC4.66,364 Tiger Woods1st'05 St. AndrewsABC4.66,002 Tiger Woods1st
SUMMER CAMP: On top of setting attendance records, the Samsung NBA Summer League in Las Vegas set new audience records on NBA TV. The games averaged 116,000 viewers, up 28% from ’13. The cable net delivered six of its top 10 most-viewed Summer League games on record, led by Bucks-Cavaliers on opening night. The matchup, featuring the first game for Bucks F Jabari Parker and Cavaliers F Andrew Wiggins, drew 220,000 viewers, marking the net’s second-best Summer League telecast ever. NBA TV’s primetime viewership during the Summer League jumped 29% compared to the same period in ’13. NBA Digital (mobile+web) also saw an 80% increase in unique visits during the Summer League, while video views were up 70%. The NBA Summer League subscription package set a new record in ’14 and was up 73% from last year.
AWARD SEASON: The ESPYs averaged 2.21 million viewers on ESPN this year, marking the flagship net’s lowest mark for the awards show since ’11. This year’s event also was simulcast on ESPN2, drawing 354,000 viewers. Last year’s telecast on ESPN drew 2.27 million viewers....Nickelodeon averaged 2.32 million viewers for the inaugural Kids’ Choice Sports Awards on July 17 from 8:00-9:30pm ET.
NOTES: NBCSN drew 484,000 viewers for the second race in the Toronto Grand Prix doubleheader on Sunday afternoon, marking the net’s best Verizon IndyCar Series telecast in nearly three years. The first race of the Toronto GP was rained out on Saturday and run on Sunday morning, airing on CNBC....On top of new overall viewership records set by Univision during the FIFA World Cup, the net also saw strong growth among females. Univision saw viewership among adult females climb 39% compared to ’10. Female viewership also was up 34% in N.Y. and up 31% in Dallas-Ft. Worth....ESPN drew 1.03 million viewers for live coverage of the NHRA Mello Yello Series on Sunday afternoon, marking the drag racing series' best telecast for ’14 to date. The previous high was 673,000 viewers on ESPN2 on April 27. Most NHRA telecasts on ESPN/ESPN2 are shown on same-day tape delay. Sunday’s telecast had a lead-in from the British Open and an abbreviated “SportsCenter.”
The charts below list final ratings from recent sports telecasts. Figures for ABC were not available at presstime.
MLB All-Star Game7/15Fox8:13-11:33pm7.011,338 "The Open Championship Today"7/20ABC3:00-6:00pm1.21,741 "The Open Championship Today"7/19ABC3:00-6:00pm1.11,412 "World of X Games: 20 Years, 20 Firsts"7/19ABC2:00-3:00pm0.6876 Golf: American Century Championship7/20NBC3:00-6:00pm0.6865 Liga MX: Chivas de Guadalajara-Chiapas7/20UniMas5:51-8:00pm0.4797 Liga MX: Leon-Club America7/19Telemundo9:00-11:26pm0.4769 Golf: American Century Championship7/19NBC3:00-6:00pm0.6762 Liga MX: Cruz Azul-Pachuca7/19Univision5:55-8:00pm0.4664 Global Rallycross7/20NBC2:00-3:00pm0.5663 Tour de France: Stage 147/19NBC2:00-3:00pm0.3471 Dew Tour: Best of Ocean City7/20NBC1:00-2:00pm0.3382 "UFC's Road to the Octagon"7/19Fox5:00-6:00pm0.2359 TELECASTDATENETTIME (ET)RAT.VIEWERS
MLB Home Run Derby*7/14ESPN9:03-11:59pm3.45,402 British Open: Final Round7/20ESPN8:00am-2:04pm2.33,299 MLB: Dodgers-Cardinals7/20ESPN8:00-11:36pm1.52,322 "The ESPYs"7/16ESPN9:00-11:42pm1.42,205 British Open: Third Round**7/19ESPN6:00-11:09am1.21,558 NASCAR Nationwide Series:
EnjoyIllinois.com 300 (Chicagoland)7/19ESPN28:30-11:06pm0.91,483
British Open: Second Round7/18ESPN7:03am-3:00pm1.11,436 British Open: Third Round (extended coverage)**7/19ESPN11:09am-12:33pm0.91,272 British Open: First Round7/17ESPN7:00am-3:00pm0.91,157 NHRA Mello Yello Series: Mopar Mile High Nationals7/20ESPN2:30-6:31pm0.71,031
NOTE: * = Delayed by an hour due to rain. ** = Third round of British Open started earlier than normal to avoid inclement weather.