Hendrick Motorsports Renewing AARP, MAC Tools Rockets-Thunder Leads Weekend Ratings Sources: Marlins Using Jeter To Elicit Interest In Team Braves' First SunTrust Park Homestand Goes Smoothly USA Swimming's Chuck Wielgus Dies NFL Draft In Philly Requires Extensive Set Up MLB Stars Appear In New Sheraton Campaign NBC's Lead NHL Team Earning Kudos Tobacco Still Being Used In Some MLB Clubhouses Sabres Have No Timetable To Hire New Leadership
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U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson last night announced Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Webb Simpson would be the final members of the team during a "spectacularly cheesy announcement show" held at NBC's "SNL" studios, according to Alan Shipnuck of GOLF.com. During the "made-for-bad-TV" hour-long show, Watson and PGA of America President Ted Bishop "bantered awkwardly on a stage" before announcing the three captain's picks. The show proved that LeBron James' "Decision" in '10 "wasn't as bad as we thought" by comparison (GOLF.com, 9/2). GOLFWEEK's Jim McCabe wrote in what was the "silliest TV decision since 'My Mother the Car' polluted our airwaves in 1965, the PGA of America and Golf Channel teamed to present a prime-time presentation of something that lacks a prime-time audience." The picks "did not really hold massive suspense." The European team "getting right to it ... and blurting out the names" of their three captain picks earlier in the day "works wonders." McCabe: "No-nonsense, let's-get-right-to-business beats the look-at-me attitude every time" (GOLFWEEK.com, 9/2).
Bears WR Brandon Marshall last night made his first appearance on Showtime's "Inside the NFL" and "candidly weighed in" on the NFL's domestic violence issue "from a personal perspective," as he has twice been arrested on domestic violence charges, according to Ed Sherman of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Marshall was acquitted in one case and charges were dropped in the other. When panelist Boomer Esiason asked if the league's new policy "had been in place back then, would it have been a deterrent for Marshall, he replied he 'really didn't see fault in myself' as a young player." Marshall: "I went from being a problem in the locker room to being a guy where not only players, but coaches and executives come to me for advice. How can we change procedures to help these guys?" Showtime Sports Exec VP & GM Stephen Espinoza after the taping of the show said of Marshall, "As we expected, he was willing to take on all topics." Marshall during the show also "attempted to justify the commitment required to spend most of his Tuesday off days flying in and out" of N.Y. to tape the show. He said, "What's more detrimental to a team: a guy that is going out every Friday night, drinking, putting bad things in his body and has a game 36 hours away, or a guy on his day off flies to New York, an hour and a half flight, and talks a little football?" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/3). In Chicago, Dan Wiederer writes Marshall "was everything the network could have asked for in the season’s first episode." Marshall "was engaged, introspective and thought-provoking, bringing his unique voice and perspective to the program’s panel" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 9/3).
Morgan Stanley raised Disney's stock estimate to $95 based on SEC Network's successful launch. In a research report authored by Benjamin Swinburne, Ryan Fiftal and Thomas Yeh, the investment bank says the channel's "strong early penetration lifts our forecast." The bank views ESPN's business as a potential risk. "ESPN's affiliate renewal cycle has largely played out as expected. With the majority of ESPN¹s distribution renewal complete, we see more limited upside for ESPN affiliate rev growth and advertising risk skewed to the downside." Morgan Stanley also cited cord cutting as a potential risk, as well as ESPN's rights deals. "ESPN's programming rights costs may grow more quickly than expected" (John Ourand, Staff Writer).
WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? In Oklahoma City, Berry Tramel notes before former Big 12 Commissioner Kevin Weiberg "helped the Big Ten launch the Big Ten Network," and before helping the Pac-12 launch the Pac-12 Networks, he "tried to talk his Big 12 constituents into a Big 12 Network." Weiberg "tried to tell them that a conference television channel would produce financial bounty and exposure galore," and he could "never sell it enough to Big 12 schools." Now the Big Ten Network "flourishes, the Pac-12 Network is part of a huge bonanza out West and the SEC Network has launched in the last two weeks with flare and hype that eclipses both." Tramel: "And here in Big 12 territory, we’re keeping a stiff upper lip. Keeping our chin up and our gaze focused, all the while thinking, why didn’t we listen to Weiberg?" The Big 12’s "hits have been steady since Weiberg resigned" from the conference in "frustration seven years ago to help launch the Big Ten Network." Weiberg said, "In order to do a conference network, you have to have a very broad assignment of media rights. In the Big 12, there wasn’t a willingness to participate in the common conference approach. You lose a little bit of the glue that holds a conference together.” He added, “You can make the argument the Big 12 from a pure financial standpoint is doing just fine. But an additional value of those kinds of networks, they cause members to have to kind of throw in to a bigger common approach.” Weiberg: "I don’t know that we ever put it to a formal vote. But it was obvious you couldn’t get there.” Tramel notes conference bylaws "required nine votes," but there were "never more than eight in agreement, and even Kansas, wondering how it would affect its hoops, had serious questions" (OKLAHOMAN, 9/3).
BROADCASTING & CABLE's John Eggerton reported George Washington Univ. professor John Banzhaf has "challenged the license" of Redskins Owner Dan Snyder's ESPN Radio 980 DC over the broadcast of the name "Redskins." Snyder's Red Zebra Broadcasting "owns seven radio stations," and Banzhaf "signaled last week that he was teeing up a challenge to one or all the stations." Banzhaf's challenge is "based in part on the argument by former FCC officials and others that the term is a racial slur and that 'the unnecessary and repeated on-air use of that derogatory racist word is contrary to current federal law and akin to broadcasting obscenity'" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 9/2).
ENGLISH CHANNEL: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Georg Szalai reports British broadcaster Channel 4 "will air" 21 live NFL games this season as part of its two-year contract with the league. The net said that this figure "will set a record for one season on free-to-air TV in the U.K." Channel 4 last year "aired 17 games." Channel 4 "will broadcast" the three London games as well as Super Bowl XLIX (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 9/3).
JET SETTERS: In N.Y., Justin Terranova cited sources as saying that former NFLers Erik Coleman and Chad Cascadden will join SNY's coverage of the Jets for this season. Cascadden will be "replacing Joe Klecko on the 'Post Game Live,' while Coleman will be on each Thursday’s 'Jets Game Plan.'” Sources said Klecko’s departure was a "mutual decision.” Meanwhile, former Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff "will now have a full-time role on the postgame show," and former NFLer Ray Lucas will "continue to be an analyst on 'Game Plan'" (NYPOST.com, 9/1).
THIRSTY THURSDAY: CBS Sports and NFL Network yesterday announced they will open each "Thursday Night Football" telecast with Jay Z's song "Run This Town," featuring Rihanna. The open also will include narration by actor Don Cheadle and be customized each week to highlight the teams playing and storylines around the game (CBS).
SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted ESPN tennis analyst Chris Evert joined the net three years ago "after a decade-long gap between broadcasting assignments, and her work has steadily improved each year she has been on ESPN’s airwaves." She is "never going to be an analyst on the Mary Carillo level -- and she certainly has her critics on social media -- but she’s become knowledgeable about the players on tour and an enjoyable and often-thoughtful voice." Evert said that her ESPN contract "is up next year and she would like to continue broadcasting." Evert: "I’m not looking to have [a] 10-year contract, but I would love to go another two or three years" (SI.com, 9/2).
NEAL'S DEAL: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman reports Florida Int'l Univ. "has decided to credential" the Miami Herald's David Neal "for the remainder of the season." Neal’s access to FIU coaches and athletes "had been reduced for months," and he was "not allowed to attend football practice or conduct interviews." The school in a statement last week explained its decision to deny Neal's credential, citing "concerns ... about the reporter’s interactions with our student athletes, coaches and staff." Kaufman notes the Herald "examined Neal’s coverage and found it to be fair and professional" (MIAMI HERALD, 9/3).
VIEWING HAB-ITS: Sportsnet yesterday announced a three-year deal with the Canadiens, becoming the official English-language regional TV rightsholder. The new agreement begins this season and includes 42 regional games. When combined with the national package of 40 Canadiens games, the NHL on Sportsnet will deliver to fans all 82 regular-season games across nine channels (Sportsnet).
BOOTH LOVE: In Chicago, Ed Sherman noted Northwestern on Saturday "named the Ryan Field radio booth" after alum and WGN Sports Dir Dave Eanet, who is "in his 25th year calling football and basketball games for the school." Meanwhile, the radio station will honor Cubs play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes "in what will be the station's last year with the team." He "will be enshrined in WGN's Walk of Fame on Sept. 24." Hughes "has called Cubs games for 19 years on the station." The Cubs "will begin a long-term deal with WBBM-AM 780 next year" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 9/2).
CLEVELAND CITY OF LIGHT: The Northeast Ohio Media Group yesterday named its new team of NBA beat reporters. Former Comcast Sportsnet Northwest Trail Blazers reporter Chris Haynes takes over the Cavaliers' beat, and former Columbus Dispatch government reporter Joe Vardon will cover F LeBron James exclusively. Vardon will "pay attention to James' basketball exploits," as well as his individual business and charitable work. Meanwhile, Chris Fedor joined the media group last fall and is the third member of its NBA team (CLEVELAND.com, 9/2).