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Volume 24 No. 158


The NHL is "looking to integrate its rights packages this year in both the U.S. and Europe," which "will allow use of highlights across all platforms," according to Bruce Dowbiggin of the GLOBE & MAIL. Fans can "expect an announcement by this spring on both" rights packages. NHL COO John Collins: "The NFL is so advanced that it can slice off tiny slivers of its rights package for great sums of money. We're not there yet. But integrating our rights holders gives us a chance to package our product in new and exciting ways for fans." Collins also "emphasized that a global initiative is in the league's plans." Collins: "We're definitely talking about how the best (club) teams from the European leagues play the best in North America, like in the soccer model. A World Cup where the best national teams have a chance to compete. It's all part of how we'll drive the business across all our (media) platforms. With a third of our players coming from (Europe) it's a great opportunity" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/24).

: NBC drew 1.9 million viewers for Penguins-Blackhawks on Sunday, marking the most-watched non-Winter Classic NHL regular-season game since January '06. Meanwhile, Versus averaged 608,000 viewers for Sunday's Canadiens-Flames Heritage Classic, making it the fifth most-watched NHL regular-season game in the network's history. The Heritage Classic also ranked as the most-watched regular-season game between two Canadian teams on cable since NHL viewership became available in the '93-94 season. Versus also averaged 681,000 viewers for the Penguins-Capitals telecast on Monday, marking the net's third most-viewed NHL regular-season game ever (THE DAILY).

ESPN hires Brandt as
NFL business analyst
ESPN has hired National Football Post President Andrew Brandt to serve as an NFL business analyst, according to Bob Wolfley of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Brandt, who spent nine seasons in the Packers' front office and also teaches at the Univ. of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, said yesterday that he "will continue to write for and teach at Penn, while adding his new ESPN duties." Brandt negotiated player contracts and managed the Packers' salary cap during his time with the franchise, and he said, "I’m to provide insights, from my experiences in football, about short-term, the ongoing labor negotiations and potential lockout. Beyond that, the business of football and everything involved with that." He added, "Kind of everything beyond the games, trying to look beyond who is winning and who is losing, into what goes on behind the curtain." Brandt noted that he "already has appeared a few times this week on ESPN platforms talking about the mediation in the collective bargaining between NFL owners and players" (, 2/23).

MLBAM late last night released the Spring Training versions of its '11 At Bat mobile applications for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android platforms. Each app, priced at $14.99, will be further updated just prior to Opening Day, and carry through the '11 season. But within a matter of hours last night and this morning, the iPhone version quickly lept to No. 44 on iTunes among all paid applications, and No. 38 for the iPad version. Both the iPad and iPhone version are already the top-grossing sports applications on iTunes as well, largely through word of mouth and social media buzz. New features for the At Bat app include favorite team customization options for the iPhone and Android versions and a free MLB.TV live game preview on the Apple platforms.

Digital sports content company Perform is "buying up the soccer site, as it looks to add a direct-to-consumer division to its business," according to Robert Andrews of Perform is acquiring from the site's investors, including Bessemer Venture Partners, for an undisclosed sum. Perform will add the soccer site to its "GSM data streams, Omnisport video news bulletins, ePlayer sports video highlights and live streaming service -- the company’s main products, which it sells on to news portals’ sites to give them video content." co-Founder Michael Simpson will become Perform Senior VP/Product & Content, VP/Global Sales Jonathan Gamble will become Senior VP/Sales and Chief Technology Officer Scott Rothrock will remain in his role. "claimed 19.4 million" unique visitors in January (, 2/23). 

Mississippi State Univ. radio play-by-play broadcaster Jack Cristil last night announced he will retire following Saturday’s MSU-Tennessee men’s basketball game. Cristil has called football and basketball games for the school for 58 years. Analyst Jim Ellis will take over Cristil's duties for the rest of the basketball season. An announcement on a permanent replacement will come at a later date (MSU). In Jackson, Veazey & Marcello in a front-page piece report the 85-year-old Cristil "as part of a two-minute monologue" at the conclusion of last night's game against LSU "cited a 'deteriorating health situation' that will require kidney dialysis." Cristil called MSU AD Scott Stricklin on Monday "to tell him of his plans" (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 2/24).

HELP ME HELP YOU:'s John Clayton noted NFL GMs and scouts "groused for years about thoughts of televising the scouting combine workouts," but "televising the combine has prompted more players to work out, making the jobs easier for scouts not having to fly to schools to get 40 times." As late as '03, 98 of the 307 invited players "didn't work out." But the "influence of television has cut that number of non-workouts to between 45 and 59 in years since then." The competitive aspect of the running and jumping drills "has turned the combine into one of the most watched track meets on television" (, 2/23).

: Comcast SportsNet Chicago has hired Basketball HOFer Scottie Pippen as a Bulls game analyst. Pippen will join Neil Funk and Stacey King as an additional game analyst for the network's coverage of Bulls-Magic on March 4. He also will handle game analyst duties for every Bulls playoff telecast on CSN Chicago beginning in mid-April (CSN Chicago).

HE'S ALL BUSINESS:'s Laura Lane noted Golf Channel's "Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf" in its second season "has steered away from featuring celebrities going head-to-head, like in its first season, and is focusing more on the business side of Trump's running his 12 golf courses, with a 13th on the way in Scotland." Trump: "People seem to like that formula even better. I hope (viewers) get some knowledge in business, and the golf business in particular. I only do really high-end and I think I have 12 of the best courses in the world. I think it's a way of showcasing those courses in addition to everything else" (, 2/23).