NBCUniversal announced that it will surround its coverage of Super Bowl XLVI with programming on a variety of channels ranging from sports to news to entertainment. Numerous NBC properties and programs will have a live presence in Indianapolis to cover the game. NBC Sports Network will have more than 18 hours of live coverage including the first ever “Costas Tonight: Live from the Super Bowl” and daily editions of “NBC Sports Talk: Live from the Super Bowl.” For the first time ever, “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” will be on the road and have a total of four shows from Indianapolis. This includes the first-ever live "Late Night" show on Sunday night following Super Bowl XLVI. Golf Channel will also make an appearance with David Feherty hosting a special “Feherty Live” stage show from Indianapolis Friday night, which will air as a one-hour special Saturday at 10:00pm ET on Golf Channel. Other NBCU entities that will have a live presence in Indianapolis include "Today," "Access Hollywood," "E! News," and the Weather Channel. Meanwhile, Universal Parks and Resorts in L.A. and Orlando will help promote NBC’s coverage of the game by featuring NBC Sports-produced trailers and video on their CityWalk Astrovision screens throughout Super Bowl week. Signage for the game will appear on billboards throughout the parks (NBC Universal). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand reports G4 will "air a special on gadgets meant to improve Super Bowl viewing," while Telemundo will "report for days from Indianapolis." NBCU Television Group CMO John Miller said, "We said to all the marketing executives, we want to make this week 'Super Bowl Week at NBCU.'" Meanwhile, Hiestand notes NFL Network "plans a record 100 hours of Super Bowl shows next week" (USA TODAY, 1/25).
I WON'T BLACK OUT? ADWEEK's Katy Bachman noted the "potential blackout of the Super Bowl on DirecTV in Boston has got lawmakers fretting and dashing off letters." U.S. Senators Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) both "sent letters to DirecTV and Sunbeam Television," while the state's 10 U.S. congressmen "also sent a letter." In the letters, lawmakers "urge the two companies to put aside their differences and clear the Super Bowl broadcast on Feb. 5," which airs on Sunbeam's WHDH-NBC in Boston. Since Jan. 14, DirecTV and Sunbeam have been "unable to come to a carriage agreement." If the two "remain at loggerheads, about 200,000 DirecTV subscribers in Boston will be unable to watch the biggest sporting event of the year" (ADWEEK.com, 1/24).
Charlie Ebersol's production company, The Hochberg Ebersol Company, sold an NFL-branded show to USA Network. The NBC-owned cable channel will run "NFL Characters Unite" next month as part of its public service campaign against prejudice and discrimination. The 60-minute program profiles four NFL personalities -- Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez, Saints TE Jimmy Graham, Steelers WR Hines Ward and NBC analyst Tony Dungy -- detailing instances when they have had to fight through bigotry. Dungy in the documentary discusses encountering racism; Graham talks about the abuse he suffered in foster care; Gonzalez recounts being bullied; and Ward recalls dealing with bigotry. Each helps a teen facing similar problems. Ebersol, son of the legendary media exec Dick Ebersol, and Justin Hochberg are executive producers of the documentary. It was directed by Greg Frith.
A new golf and lifestyle focused TV network will announce its launch today at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The Back9 Network will have a programming and studio set at the show, providing visitors with a glimpse of its signature daily studio show, “The Scorecard.” The network has 10 pilots already in production and signed letters of intent from a handful of advertisers, said CEO James Bosworth. The former Callaway sales and marketing exec has been working on the concept for more than a year and brings with him backing from Celtics G Ray Allen; Pebble Beach Co. Exec VP Paul Spengler; Cleveland Golf CEO Greg Hopkins; interim Univ. of Connecticut AD Paul Pendergast, and others. Another name from Hollywood fame is expected to be added to the board in the coming days. Bosworth said that Back9 will be more of a complementary network to Golf Channel than a competitor. MMB, Boston, is working with Back9 on its branding and NeuLion will be its digital partner in the development of an accompanying website. Bosworth said he is in ongoing negotiations with distributors. His expectation is that Back9 would be best suited on a sports tier, even though its programming will be equal parts golf and lifestyle. “Most people look at golf through a narrow lens,” Bosworth said. “It’s a bunch of rich white guys who belong to private clubs trying to keep people out. Back9 is going to be all about inclusion, from women to kids and anyone who might have felt disenfranchised by the stigma of golf being an elitist sport. Our research shows that the golf audience out there is seven times larger than the actual audience watching tournament golf on a network. There’s enormous commerce in the golf lifestyle package and that’s what we want to celebrate.”
DAILY VARIETY’s Jill Goldsmith reported Cox Communications, “the nation's third largest cable company, said it's launching a new Cox TV Economy package for money-conscious consumers that's in between the pared-down basic and expanded channel offerings, but like basic doesn't include ESPN and some other networks.” The $35 option “is a midpoint between the $20 starter package and circa $60 expanded basic cable.” While still a “far cry from the ‘a la carte’ programming that content companies fear, the move is another sign that consumers are eager for alternatives in difficult economic times and with viewing options multiplying” (VARIETY.com, 1/24).
PEOPLE & PERSONALITIES: On Long Island, Neil Best reports YES Network’s lead pre- and postgame reporter Kimberly Jones “will not return to the network for the 2012 season.” YES had “offered Jones a new contract, and the parting was amicable.” Best wrote it is believed that the NFL Network has an “interest in her” (NEWSDAY, 1/25)....The Lakers yesterday announced they have hired Adrian Garcia Marquez and Francisco Pinto as the team’s Spanish play-by-play and TV analyst respectively, for the upcoming ’12-13 season. Time Warner Cable will launch a Spanish-language regional sports network. Garcia Marquez and Pinto will serve as the team’s Spanish TV announcers for the new network (Lakers).
GLOBAL EXPANSION: In Connecticut, Richard Lee reports WWE has “solidified its position in the Russian market by launching a local-language website supporting its presence there.” Developed by Tvigle Media, the site “will replicate content from the global WWE website (wwe.com) and also include localized content created for Russian fans” (STAMFORD ADVOCATE, 1/25).