The NHL Jets have signed a 10-year deal with Bell Media, awarding the club's regional TV broadcast rights to TSN and its radio broadcast rights to Sports Radio 1290. TSN will broadcast more than 60 regional regular-season and preseason games on its new part-time TV channel dedicated to Jets games, "TSN Jets," which will launch Sept. 20. TSN will also broadcast five of the Jets' games across Canada as part of the net's national broadcast agreement with the NHL. Meanwhile, Sports Radio 1290 will broadcast all 82 of the Jets' regular-season games, in addition to preseason and postseason play (TSN). TSN also announced that a "permanent TSN bureau is being set up in Winnipeg." In Winnipeg, Tait & White note the deal between the Jets and TSN is "worth substantial coin to the club, although the financial details were not released." True North President & CEO Jim Ludlow said, "It's a major turning point for us moving forward in terms of our ability to expose the hockey club" (WINNIPEG FREE PRESS, 8/31). TSN President Stewart Johnston said, "Like we've done in Montreal with TSN Habs, we wanted to create a channel where folks know where to go when it's game-time" (TORONTO SUN, 9/1). The GLOBE & MAIL's Susan Krashinsky writes the agreement is a "boon for Bell Media as the hockey season gears up and the highly-anticipated return of the Jets approaches" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/1). In Toronto, Ken Wiebe profiles new Jets play-by-play announcer Dennis Beyak (TORONTO SUN, 9/1).
London Olympic organizers and Panasonic yesterday announced that the '12 London Games "will be the first to be broadcast" live in 3D, according to David Meyer of the GUARDIAN. Organizers plan to distribute "more than 10 hours of 3D Games footage around the world every day." Olympic Broadcasting Services Managing Dir & CEO Manolo Romero said that the "opening and closing ceremonies will be broadcast in 3D, as will more than 12 sports" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/31). Panasonic Managing Exec Officer Takumi Kajisha said that Panasonic will "provide all of the professional 3D equipment including new recording machines and 3D monitors as well as a technical team to enable the Olympic production to proceed." The 3D broadcast has to be filmed separately from the "normal Olympic broadcast which will be captured in high definition by 1500 cameras." Romero said that "14 broadcasters including the BBC will be involved in the 3D production, which will use 300 specialised staff." Romero added that "NBC in the United States, as well as host broadcasters in Korea, China, Australia, France, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand were committed to the 3D broadcast." However, for broadcast to the UK public, BBC "will limit the total 3D hours to 'an experimental level,' which is yet to be determined." BBC London 2012 Dir Roger Mosey said that the net "was interested in ensuring the Olympic Games was captured in 3D," but that the "audience demand for the product was far less than in high definition." Mosey added, "More of the audience want high definition rather than 3D and there is a tradeoff because we would lose some HD to produce 3D" (London TELEGRAPH, 9/1).
Cablevision and Verizon’s FiOS will offer CBS Sports' broadcast of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in 3D, joining Comcast and DirecTV, the USTA said. CBS Sports’ six days of coverage encompasses this Saturday through Monday, and then the following Friday through the Sunday men’s final scheduled for Sept. 11. DirecTV in conjunction with Panasonic began 3D coverage of CBS’ broadcast last year. Comcast had previously said it would make the 3D coverage available to its subscribers, who need 3D equipped TV sets to access it. Cablevision’s home territory encompasses the site of the U.S. Open. On midnight of the first day of CBS’ coverage, Cablevision’s deal with Tennis Channel is set to expire. Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon told reporters yesterday that it is up to Cablevision whether it wants to keep running Tennis Channel. Cablevision has been running Tennis Channel on a sports tier, a deal it won by two years ago joining the National Cable Television Cooperative. NCTC has signed a deal for basic digital distribution with Tennis Channel, but its members can decide whether to opt in. Last year the 3D coverage only covered the main court, but this year it also includes the second show court.
Touré has "not been thrilled with the artwork" or headline that accompany his ESPN The Magazine story on Eagles QB Michael Vick, but the controversy "has sparked a conversation," according to Bob Ley of ESPN. While Touré analyzed how race impacts Vick's life in the article, his editors at ESPN came up with the headline, "What If Michael Vick Were White?" Touré said, "You don't want the art or the headline of a story to detract from the story and the headline -- which I specifically objected to to my editor and the image which I had no idea about before it ran -- detracts from the story in that it makes people angry and come to the story with pitchforks where I think the story is much more reasonable." ESPN The Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman said it is "standard practice for the editors at the magazine ... to think about the piece as a whole and not just as the article, but as a headline and as artwork that accentuates the article." Millman said he was "disappointed" that Toure doesn't like the artwork, but added, "I'm happy with ... the impact it's had and what people's response has been to it." Millman also said he has been surprised "quite a bit" by the reaction. But he added, "That's part of what comes into play when you have an issue about one player who happens to be as controversial and has done as well as Michael Vick has done on the field." Ley asked about Vick's endorsement deals -- Nike, Fuse Science and Unequal Technologies -- and said, "To what extent is that list a truer barometer of where he stands in the American heart?" ESPN's Bomani Jones said that's a "tricky question to ask if for no other reason than what draws us to Michael Vick is that he has these incredible physical abilities and the things that he's got contracts for now -- Nike is a little bit broader -- are things that boil very specifically down to what he can do on the field" ("OTL," ESPN, 8/30).
MILLION DOLLAR BABY: In Toronto, Cathal Kelly wrote under the header, "Vick Is The Face Of The New NFL." The NFLPA "did not go to war with ownership so Michael Vick could sign" a $100M contract with the Eagles. Kelly wrote, "If the trend continues, NFL offences will soon be comprised of a $30 million quarterback, a $15 million receiver, a $10 million blind-side tackle and eight other guys who have to take part-time jobs in the summer." Baseball, basketball and hockey are "filled to brimming with overpaid mooks who snookered some desperate GM into signing them to an insane long-term teal, staggering from one underwhelming season to the next, getting richer each year." Kelly: "Not so in the ruthless NFL, which makes it appealingly like real life. Vick's rehabilitation -- both physical and moral -- is the ne plus ultra of this trend" (TORONTO STAR, 8/31).
Fox Sports officially announced its plans to show several EPL games on its broadcast channel this season, including a Manchester United-Chelsea game live on Super Bowl Sunday. THE DAILY spoke with Fox Soccer Exec VP & GM David Nathanson about the broadcaster's commitment to the sport and the next steps it is planning to take.
Q: Why is it a big deal to have Fox broadcast carry EPL games?
Nathanson: It's representative of the interest and growth of the sport in the U.S. Fox has seen significant growth in the sport throughout its platforms. The UEFA Champions League final broke a ratings record. Fox Soccer and Fox Deportes are seeing viewership growth. A natural transition is to take some of our marquee rights, like the Barclay's Premier League, and place it on the network where those opportunities are available.
Q: Is Fox committed to putting more soccer games on broadcast television?
Nathanson: We have already committed more than any other network. We have the UEFA semifinal now on FX and the UEFA finals on Fox broadcast through 2015. Couple this with what we call the "game before the game," which is the Premier League matchup, which we expect to be Manchester United versus Chelsea on Super Bowl Sunday. Super Bowl Sunday is the most watched television day in sports and Fox's broadcast will put soccer on the right path to gain a broader audience and to fit with the top sporting events in the U.S.
Q: I didn't hear a firm commitment from you about future games.
Nathanson: Unless we were able to make a formal announcement of our plans, which we're not prepared to do at this point beyond the three delayed events and the live "game before the game" event, those are the plans that we know about today. Over the past two years, we've made major in-roads in putting soccer on our most widely distributed platform. Couple that with the tonnage we deliver, with Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Deportes and all the other soccer we carry across Fox Sports Net, there's no other company that's making a broader commitment to the sport than we are.
Q: How will Fox know if the live Super Bowl Sunday game is successful?
Nathanson: The measurable factors are things like ratings, sponsorship and ad sales. We found that after breaking ratings records for the UEFA Champions League final, it led to a halo affect of growth and viewership on Fox Soccer Channel after the fact. The UEFA Champion's League and the Barclay's Premier League don't end Super Bowl Sunday. You still have another seven months in the season on Fox Soccer. The opportunity to drive that audience for the rest of the season is a huge opportunity for us and one that we hope to replicate in the years ahead.
Q: This type of commitment suggests that you'll be bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup rights when they are available.
Nathanson: We are a 24/7, 365-day a year network. That's an event that happens once every four years. Should we be lucky enough to acquire the rights, we'd do very well with it. Our business is more focused on the events that we carry day-in, day-out every weekend. It would fit very well with our strategy. But I wouldn't say that it's a shoe-in for Fox to get it. It's a competitive environment.
Q: MLS decided to move its package from Fox Soccer to NBC Sports Network, leaving the only English-language U.S. soccer channel without rights to the biggest U.S. soccer league. How does that affect Fox Soccer?
Nathanson: We supported MLS for 14 years. Although our agreement with MLS ends at the end of the season, we still will continue to support the growth of MLS. It's critical to have a strong league in the United States. We will do what we can to support them through our coverage and online. We don't view MLS' decision as negative toward Fox. We view it as a sign of the sport's growth. The fact that soccer is where it is today sparked interest in a competitor. Even without MLS, there's not an organization that's supporting soccer more in the U.S. than we are.
The PGA Tour today announced new nine-year TV agreements with CBS and NBC through '21. The expiration of these deals now coincides with the PGA Tour's deal with Golf Channel. CBS will continue its current broadcast package, an average of 20 tournaments each season through the life of the agreement, while NBC will continue to televise an average of 10 events per year (PGA Tour). THE DAILY's John Ourand reports on Twitter that PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem today said the deals allow simulcast coverage on PGATour.com, CBSSports.com, NBCSports.com and GolfChannel.com. Finchem would not give specific financial terms of the contracts, saying only, "Rights are increasing" (TWITTER.com, 9/1).
BEST FOOT FORWARD: Fox Sports formally announced yesterday that it will air several EPL games on Sundays this season, a first for U.S. broadcast television. Fox kicks off the effort with tape-delayed coverage of the Sept. 18 Chelsea-Manchester United match, followed by similar plans for Arsenal-Tottenham on Oct. 2 and Liverpool-Chelsea on Nov. 20. The network’s EPL coverage during the '11-12 season concludes with live coverage of a game with undetermined opponents on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5. Fox also announced the Oct. 30 launch of "UFC Primetime," a 60-minute show ahead of the MMA promotion’s network TV debut on Nov. 12 (Fox Sports).
IT'S A WRAP: Last night was the season finale of Showtime’s “The Franchise: A Season With the San Francisco Giants.” Giants P Jeremy Affeldt, when asked what his experience was during the filming of the series, jokingly said, “I didn’t really enjoy a whole lot. The cameras are always in our face and they’re always getting in the way of things. So I’m glad we’re done with you guys.” Giants P Matt Cain said, “They’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to be flies on the wall. We’re going to shoot, we’re going to be out of you guys’ hair.’ You hear somebody say that and then all of a sudden, you’re thinking, ‘Alright, they’re just going to say that to try to get us to do it.’ But it’s been actually really, really good” (“The Franchise: A Season With the San Francisco Giants,” Showtime, 8/31).
NOTES: Golf Digest signed golfer Paula Creamer as an exclusive playing editor to provide bylined instruction and feature content for the magazine on a regular basis. Creamer will provide instruction tips and articles for the print and online publications, including a regular “Paula Tips” column in the Golf Digest Women section (Golf Digest)….NESN announced two new original series to debut in September. “AT&T Schooled: NESN’s College Face Off” will begin a seven episode series on Sept. 6 and “Inside Roush Fenway Racing” will air weekly beginning Sept. 13 (NESN).