Turner and CBSSports.com have brought in approximately $60M “for ad sales around digital viewing of NCAA tournament games this year,” according to sources cited by Jason Del Rey of AD AGE. Ad sales for web streaming of March Madness “has grown each year, to nearly double the $32 million sold for the 2009 tournament.” The $60M “does not include revenue from the one-time fee of $3.99 that the companies charged for March Madness Live.” Turner said that NCAA.com and March Madness Live “registered 31.3 million visits across all platforms (flat with last year) from Selection Sunday through the first Sunday of tournament games.” Time spent mobile streaming “was up 40% year-over-year for the first two days and 36% for the first weekend of play.” The company “did not release details on total hours of consumption, as was the practice in the past” (ADAGE.com, 3/29).
COACHES UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes in no other sport "does a coach get as much TV face time than in college basketball." For many years, "members of the media ... have focused on successful college basketball coaches, no matter their personality." Former coaches Dean Smith, Bob Knight and the late John Wooden all "brought a consistent performance and storyline, which translated into megabucks for universities and TV networks airing big time college basketball." All through this year's NCAA tournament, Kentucky coach John Calipari, has put two previous Final Four teams on probation, but he has been "anointed as the singular coach who acquires players for a year and magically gets them to sacrifice individual styles for the good of the team." Louisville coach Rick Pitino also "has been deified," and the school's run in this year's tournament "has seemingly erased [the] part of Pitino's life from his permanent record" that includes an extortion attempt in '09 by a woman with whom he admitted having an affair (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/30). USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand notes that syndicated radio host Jim Rome appears Saturday on CBS' Final Four with a "taped joint interview" of Calipari and Pitino (USA TODAY, 3/30).
PICKING THE BETTER GAME: In Las Vegas, Ed Graney writes it "became obvious when Final Four matchups were set which semifinal the NCAA and TV executives believed to be the better game for college basketball's largest annual party Saturday." While Louisville-Kentucky "is personal" and has "everything such a moment desires," it is "just not the best game." Kansas-Ohio State will be the second game shown Saturday, "and there is a reason for such prime-time placement." Graney: "For as much hatred as fans of the Wildcats and Cardinals feel for each other, this is about showing the premier matchup when most people are watching" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 3/30).
In a move designed to “increase pressure on Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse,” FS San Diego indicated that it “does not expect either provider to be televising Padres games at the start of the 2012 season,” according to Jay Posner of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. The Padres begin their next Thursday with a 4:05pm PT game against the Dodgers. Fox Sports has “a 20-year agreement to televise Padres games beginning with this season.” The deal has “not been formally approved” by MLB, but the new FS San Diego channel “is proceeding as though it will televise at least 157 games this season.” FS San Diego has reached carriage deals with Cox Communications and DirecTV.TWC Media Relations Manager Ann Kelsey said, “Negotiations are still ongoing. I don’t have much of an update for you.” AT&T could not be reached for comment (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 3/30). TWC’s website states that it “serves more than 200,000 cable customers in the San Diego area” (NBCSANDIEGO.com, 3/29).
The Brewers and WTMJ-AM Thursday announced that they have "agreed to another extension" of their radio rights agreement, according to Bob Wolfley of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said that there were "'several' other stations that had expressed interest in acquiring Brewers radio rights, but WTMJ Radio and the team reached agreement before serious discussions with other parties took place." Schlesinger: "The conversations were, I would say, spirited. We had a lot of thoughts, as they did, about what they wanted to see out of the relationship. It’s not just economics these days. There is a whole range of marketing, branding, programming, production and financial arrangements. From those discussions we found enough common ground that we were able to forge a new extension. It was somewhat of a different environment than the last time." Schlesinger did not disclose whether the rights fee for the games increased. He added that the team is "pleased with the placement of the games on 620 AM and was not interested in having them also air on one of Journal Broadcast’s FM stations, except in cases of programming conflicts." Schlesinger: "From our perspective, the signal strength of 620, the continuity of 620 and the overwhelming impact of that signal, we are in a very good situation in Wisconsin. We think staying on 620 AM gives us the broadest appeal" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 3/30).
The Hurricanes have reached a multiyear TV rights deal with FS Carolinas "that will bring the team added exposure and added revenue, and could enhance their opportunity to pursue some of the league's best free agents," according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER. Starting with the '13-14 season, all Hurricanes games will be televised by FS Carolinas "or by the NHL's national TV partners." Alexander notes that under the team's current deal, 65 of 82 regular-season games will air on FS Carolinas this season. Hurricanes President & GM Jim Rutherford said, "Based on where we started when we first came to this market (in 1997), it's big for us. ... It's a long-term deal with a nice increase in our rights fees. It helps strengthen our business." The net will "continue to produce the pregame and postgame shows" under the new deal. Of the Hurricanes' ability to sign top-end free agents, Rutherford said the new TV deal "helps us grow as a business and gives us that possibility." Rutherford: "We're not just going to sign anybody. The guy we're looking for will be a top-tier player" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 3/30).
MLBAM President & CEO Bob Bowman's team "sets the standard for broadcasting live sports -- or any live video, actually -- on web-connected devices, offering viewing options that make a DVR seem primitive," according to Chuck Salter of FAST COMPANY. It streams "more live video than any other sports entity -- and any other company," and MLB's digital arm "has quietly proven itself to be New York's top tech startup of the last decade." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said, "It's not only one of the great stories in American sports business in the past 12 years, but one of the great stories in American business." Salter reports a total of 2.2 million people last year "bought BAM's AtBat iPhone and iPad apps (among the top-grossing in iTunes) or paid BAM up to $120 to subscribe to MLB.tv, the service that airs every out-of-market" MLB game. MLBAM in '11 also "sold more than 35 million MLB tickets, more than half of the league's inventory." Perhaps the "least-known aspect of BAM is that it streams video for other companies." It streams "all of the live web video for ESPN, a major competitor, as well as Glenn Beck's online talk show." MLBAM broadcast 18,000 live events in '11, "including all 63 games" of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. However, there is "inherent tension between BAM and the clubs." This stems from MLBAM's "control over the clubs' digital rights and websites but also from its mission to be innovative." The teams often serve as "labs, but BAM reserves the right to say no to a team's experiments, often because an idea won't work for the other 29 teams." MLB Giants Senior VP & CIO Bill Schlough: "We have our fights now and then. It's just the way it is. We have to recognize that we're a one-thirtieth owner in this entity and we have to respect each other. I know the value and equity produced by BAM is worth any of the smaller struggles" (FAST COMPANY, 4/'12 issue).
European soccer bosses have "come up with a new business plan to sell their TV rights to international games, as they fight to stop fans reaching for the off button," according to Bill Wilson of the BBC. UEFA in '14 will "centralise the media rights for the European qualifiers of the World Cup and the European Championships." Broadcasters will now approach UEFA to "buy packages of international games, rather than having to run around contacting individual national football federations." UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said, "We will provide one point of sale for all matches. There will be lots of benefits -- including more revenues for European football associations." UEFA has previously said that it "believes it can increase the net revenue from media rights sales" by 67%. So far, 52 out of the 53 European national associations have "signed up to the plans, with only England's Football Association still to iron out final details." Various broadcasting packages will be "on offer, with a combination of live matches, delayed broadcast matches and highlights available." Both broadcasters and TV rights agencies "will be invited to bid for packages of games." Other commercial rights that UEFA "intends centralising include perimeter board advertising -- whereby national football associations can take all, none, or some of UEFA's sponsors as pitchside advertising during their games." Discussions are also under way with sports manufacturers to "come up with one uniform UEFA ball for use during international qualification matches, as is the case with the Champions League ball" (BBC.co.uk, 3/28).
ESPN is planning to run a block of programming focused on women's sports across five of its TV networks and its broadband service on June 23. The move comes at the end of the company's three-month initiative called "The Power of IX," commemorating the 40th anniversary of Title IX. ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN Classic will feature programming from a Title IX-themed set, where soccer analyst Julie Foudy will host. ESPN also plans to report from a celebration of Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary in Jersey City, N.J.'s Liberty State Park. ESPN's programming schedule will include two WNBA games, a U.S. Softball game against the Canadian national team and studio shows.