SBJ/April 3 - 9, 2006/World Congress Of Sports

Media figures puzzle out what — and who — fits where

Sports and the Mighty Media Puzzle

Jeff Shell of Comcast (left), Phil Kent of Turner
(center) and Leo Hindery of InterMedia Partners
Comcast’s Jeff Shell was not overly optimistic that the buildup of sports properties at OLN would include an acquisition of MLB rights, as a part of the league’s cable package is up for bid. “If something is available at the right price, we’ll take a look at it, but that’s the question: Is it the right price?” Shell’s remarks came during a session discussing media rights and media ownership of sports properties.

CBS Radio Chairman and CEO Joel Hollander criticized the decision of the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Redskins, who have opted to own directly more of their radio distribution and as a result have moved their games to smaller stations. “I think they’re going to anger some fans,” Hollander said. “There’s no substitute for being on a big, booming 50,000-watt station.” Hollander also had stern words for Mel Karmazin, his former boss at CBS. “I think Sirius got very little bump [in subscribers] from the NFL. It was much more about Howard Stern and the Playboy Channel. Conversely, I think XM did well in acquiring Major League Baseball [content].” As for Karmazin’s comments on the less-than-bright future of terrestrial radio: “Any time Mel says something like that, he’s really directing it to Wall Street.”

Turner Broadcasting System’s Phil Kent also picked up on a prior discussion about what sports kids are playing and watching. “A child today does not identify one medium as primary and another as a secondary medium,” Kent said. “I definitely don’t think kids today will look at TV in first position [among media] in 20 years.”

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