DirecTV announced that current NFL Sunday Ticket customers and fans who cannot get DirecTV will have the option of watching their teams play through a PlayStation 3 console. DirecTV also announced that its customers will have access to live streaming games with NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go on more mobile platforms including Motorola’s XOOM and Samsung Galaxy tablets; Motorola’s Android phones; the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Blackberry devices with 3G or wifi, Palm Pre/Pixi, and other Droid-branded phones. In addition, DirecTV will partner with NFL.com to launch an NFL.com Fantasy Football TV app that will allow NFL.com fantasy players with connected set-top boxes the opportunity to view their NFL.com Fantasy Football teams and scores directly on their TV screen (DirecTV). MULTICHANNEL NEWS’ R. Thomas Umstead noted DirecTV joins MLB and the NHL in offering live game distribution through PlayStation 3. DirecTV said that non-subscribers “will pay in the neighborhood of $350 for the subscriber-authenticated based PlayStation offering while subscribers of the $300 Sunday Ticket package will get the service as part of the additional $50 NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go service.” DirecTV Senior Dir of Sports Marketing Alex Kaplan: "It's our attempt to open up the universe a bit to people that can't get DirecTV -- students, people who live in big apartment buildings and people who live in New York City -- and it's a new revenue stream for us." Kaplan would not disclose “how many PlayStation users DirecTV expects to sign up, but did say that the company has ‘control’ over the number of Sunday Ticket PlayStation viewers.” Kaplan: "We're not going to let it go to an unlimited number. We're trying to figure out what is the market for this at that price point" (MULTICHANNEL.com, 8/17).
Grizzlies games will be simulcast on both ESPN Radio 92.9 Memphis and ESPN Radio 680 Memphis "for at least the next three seasons,” according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. The new multiyear agreement “brings to an end" the Grizzlies' deal with WRBO FM, which had “offered a stronger signal (100,000 watts),” but the team was “enticed by the sports programming ESPN (10,000 watts) will provide surrounding its broadcasts.” Grizzlies radio play-by-play announcer Eric Hasseltine will “continue to team with color analysts Hank McDowell and Elliot Perry” on game broadcasts during the season. Hasseltine additionally “will host a new show" on the station from 2:00-4:00pm Monday through Friday (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 8/18). The stations also broadcast MLB Cardinals and Titans games (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/17).
ESPN.com's Chad Dundas wrote MMA fans can "expect better results" from the new UFC-Fox partnership than from the sport's previous stints on network TV, which "has long been the white whale of the MMA industry after a couple of lesser companies -- EliteXC and pre-Zuffa Strikeforce -- both chased it, with disastrous consequences." One thing UFC officials "can do successfully is produce live MMA shows that look great on TV." Zuffa has the "capability to be far more consistent and far more professional than EliteXC or Strikeforce ever were and if a marriage between an MMA company and a television conglomerate ever had a chance to work out, it’s this one" (ESPN.com, 8/17).
A WORD TO THE WISE: In London, Tim Walker examines ESPN's decision to launch Grantland.com, which is "more than" a sports website. In addition to "giving sport its cultural, intellectual and emotional dues -- unlike so much of the sport blogosphere -- Grantland also places sport in the context of popular culture." The site employs writers and editors "from some of America's finest magazines," and the layout features a "clean, attractive design." Furthermore, Grantland is "written and edited from a fan's-eye-view." Still, Walker writes, "It should be said that not everyone is drinking the Grantland Kool-Aid. Despite its skilful attempts to disguise it, the site is backed financially (if not editorially) by ESPN. ... As such, any suggestion that Grantland represents the voice of an esoteric outsider needs to be taken with a pinch of salt" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/18).
LOSING THE HANDOFF? CABLEFAX DAILY notes while a Time Warner Cable-Insight deal is "months away from closing," it can be assumed that Insight customers "will lose" NFL Network if TWC does not strike a deal to carry the net. Insight has a carriage agreement for NFL Network, while TWC does not. A TWC rep said that it "was premature to discuss programming issues before the deal is complete," and NFL Network said that it "doesn't disclose terms of confidential contracts." But TWC dropped the net "in its acquired Adelphia markets in '06" (CABLEFAX DAILY, 8/18).
MORE DAYS AT THE RACES: In N.Y., Joe Drape reports horse racing "will get much-needed television coverage this fall when the NBC Sports Group broadcasts live from Keeneland Race Course for two weekends beginning Oct. 7." Under terms of the agreement, "four hours of horse racing will be broadcast over NBC and Versus, concluding with the $400,000 Grade I Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup as well as a stakes celebrating Keeneland’s 75th anniversary on Oct. 15 on NBC" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/18).