Leagues "always talk about young stars bolstering fan interest," and "that's happening" with Thunder F Kevin Durant and T'Wolves F Kevin Love in Oklahoma City and Minneapolis, respectively, according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. At the All-Star break, TNT's NBA ratings are up 26%, ESPN's are up 15% and ABC's are up 32%. However, ratings for TNT broadcasts in Oklahoma City are up 150%, "its biggest jump among NBA cities," while ESPN is up 59% in the Twin Cities, "its biggest boost among NBA cities." Hiestand writes "having good teams in big markets helps" the NBA's overall ratings, "as does having a not horrible team in New York." Hiestand: "Networks will no doubt try to turn Carmelo Anthony's trade to the New York Knicks into a ratings booster rocket." There also is some "ratings luck," including ESPN televising Sunday night's Knicks-Heat game, which it "might hype a tad" (USA TODAY, 2/23).
IN TALKS WITH YOUTUBE: BLOOMBERG NEWS' Jun Yang reports Google's YouTube "is in talks" with the NBA and NHL "to show live games, building on the popularity of cricket's Indian Premier League last year." Google Dir of Content Partnerships for Asia Pacific Gautam Anand said that YouTube "aims to show more live sports in the second half of the year." YouTube Partnership's Brian Suh said that Google "is in talks with 'most pro sports leagues' including NBA and NHL, as well as soccer leagues in Europe." Yang writes adding live sports broadcasts "may help YouTube expand revenue by keeping viewers on its site longer to woo more advertisers." NBA Senior VP/Marketing Communications Mike Bass: "We're pleased that YouTube recognizes the value of live sports" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/23). NHL COO John Collins said "classic games and highlights" could be part of a YouTube deal, as the league wants to "get our product out to fans as easily as we can so we stress the latest technology." But he added the league's current "subscription" model for out-of-market games is "probably where we'll put our focus" (Bloomberg TV, 2/23).
Officials for England's Football Association (FA) today confirmed that they "would veto any deal that would see television rights for some England games sold collectively by UEFA if it meant their broadcast revenue being slashed," according to Ben Rumsby of the PA. The FA is in talks with UEFA, "who want to centralise the awarding of such rights for European Championship -- and possibly World Cup -- qualifiers." That could result in a "reduced cashflow for the FA, who are insisting upon being compensated for any shortfall." The FA today "played down reports" that could be as much as $162M (all figures U.S.), but the "black hole is significant enough for them to dig their heels in over the matter." The football associations of Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the Netherlands also are "reportedly seeking assurances about compensation for any shortfall they might suffer." Rumsby notes TV rights to England games are "currently bundled in with those for the FA Cup and were worth" about $690M in the U.K. and a further $240M in overseas contracts. If FA officials "surrendered their broadcast rights to competitive England matches, the FA would only be able to market less attractive friendly matches." The value of FA Cup games "might also plummet if meaningful internationals are not included as part of any deal" (PA, 2/23). In London, Paul Kelso notes UEFA President Michel Platini "wants all 53 member federations to sign over their broadcast rights in time for the annual congress in Paris next month." The measures "have proved popular with small and medium-sized federations that will receive guaranteed income levels, and UEFA insists the move will increase revenues and that guaranteed income streams will benefit all federations" (London TELEGRAPH, 2/23).
DAILY VARIETY's Stuart Levine cited sources as saying that CBS "has been in early discussions about televising" a new poker tour being formed by poker pro Annie Duke, former WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and Federated Sports & Gaming. The four-tournament series "will take place in August, September, December and January, followed by a championship round." All tournaments will be played at the Palms Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. NBC since '07 has aired "Poker After Dark" six days a week at 2:00am, and the network also "telecasts the Heads-Up Championship from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in the spring" (VARIETY.com, 2/22).
NO LONGER FIT: In N.Y., Keith Kelly reports Men's Fitness Editor-in-Chief Roy Johnson is "out ... following a 9 percent ad-page tumble." There will be "no replacement." Johnson said that he is "reviving his consulting business, RSJ Media." Seth Kelly, "who signed on as editor-in-chief of Muscle & Fitness and recently added Flex to his roster, will also oversee editorial at Men's Fitness." American Media Inc. Chair, President & CEO David Pecker, whose company publishes Men's Fitness, said, "It was an economic-driven decision" (N.Y. POST, 2/23).
UTE OUGHTA KNOW: In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce reports the Univ. of Utah is "scrambling to try to get its game on TV" for the '11-12 academic year as the school moves to the Pac-12. Local stations, "to varying degrees," have expressed "interest in picking up Ute games." Details are pending, but Utah AD Chris Hill said that "he's 'optimistic' that a deal ... will be worked out for local telecasts of games that aren't picked up as part of the Pac-12's deals with ESPN and FSN" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/23).
PACKAGE DEAL: In Milwaukee, Bob Wolfley reported Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has joined ESPN Radio 540 Milwaukee as a "regular weekly guest" during the NFL regular season and playoffs. Good Karma Broadcasting President Craig Karmazin said that the deal with Rodgers is "for more than two years," though he "declined to say how much the station is paying Rodgers." Karmazin said that the "time and day of Rodgers' spots has not been set" (JSONLINE.com, 2/22).