NHL COO John Collins yesterday confirmed that there "will be a Season 3 for 'HBO 24/7: Road To The NHL Winter Classic,'" featuring the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs, and added that a formal announcement "is forthcoming," according to Greg Wyshynski of YAHOO SPORTS. Collins added that there are going to be "two significant changes for next season's production, beginning with the fact the NHL will be more involved behind the scenes." Collins: "We're going to work a little more closely with HBO on production. We've been in partnership with them, but now that we have an original productions group here, we're going to work a little more closely with them on the production side." He added, "I think it's going to be more of a collaboration. To the fan, they won't see any difference in production whatsoever. We're not going to limit access. We're not going to change any approval rights. There won't be anything different about this." Wyshynski noted the other "significant change: The NHL expects to have a Canadian network partner in presenting '24/7' next season." Collins said, "I think this is one of the benefits of having Toronto in the game. They're paying attention to this in ways that, frankly, they haven't previously in the market up there." There is "no word on which Canadian network, or production company, will join the fun" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/1).
ANOTHER ROUND: In Las Vegas, Taylor Bern noted boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. "feels like he’s carrying the entire promotion heading into Saturday night’s fight" against Miguel Cotto, and that is "most evident on HBO Sports’ '24/7' series, which debuted five years ago" for Mayweather's fight against Oscar De La Hoya. Including Mayweather-Cotto, there have been "13 boxing productions of '24/7,' six of them featuring Mayweather." The first episode of this season "opened with Mayweather discussing his own importance in the series’ success and saying he deserved 66 percent of the screen time." Mayweather said, "When it gets to this level, it’s a business. … You’ve got to continue to put (people) in the seats and do creative things to get people to tune in” (LAS VEGAS SUN, 4/30).
ESPN averaged 1.033 million viewers for the EPL Manchester United-Manchester City match on Monday afternoon, marking the most-viewed EPL match ever on cable TV in the U.S. The previous high was 610,000 viewers for Arsenal-Chelsea on December 27, 2010 on ESPN2. The match also marked the most-viewed EPL match ever for ESPN Deportes, with an average of 273,000 Hispanic viewers tuning in for the telecast (ESPN).
MOST-VIEWED EPL MATCHES ON U.S. CABLE TV
Manchester United-Manchester City
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS: FX averaged 627,000 viewers for the second leg of the Bayern Munich-Real Madrid UEFA Champions League semifinal last Wednesday, marking the most-viewed Champions League non-final match ever in the U.S., beating out the first leg of Chelsea-FC Barcelona on April 18 (592,000 viewers). Combined with the telecast on Fox Deportes, the second leg of Bayern Munich-Real Madrid averaged 1.236 million viewers. Meanwhile, the second leg of Chelsea-FC Barcelona on April 24 averaged 438,000 viewers on Fox Soccer, up 71% from the comparable second leg of FC Barcelona-Real Madrid last year. Combined with Fox Deportes, the match averaged 983,000 viewers (Fox).
CAN I KICK IT? In N.Y., Jack Bell noted that KickTV, the YouTube-based joint venture between Soccer United Marketing, Bedrocket Media Ventures and Google, “currently has more than 10,000 subscribers who have viewed nearly 2 million videos” since the channel’s launch on March 2. MLS Digital GM Chris Schlosser said, “We’re not trying to create ESPN. This is something for an audience that wants a lighter voice than the official MLS site. It’s intended to be fun and informative, with content you can’t get anywhere else.” Schlosser added, "All the content is original and exclusive to the channel and YouTube.” Bedrocket Media Ventures Founder & CEO Brian Bedol said, “At some point there could be live games on Kick. But for now we want to provide the ultimate destination for fans to hang out between games and get smarter about teams and the game around the world” (NYTIMES.com, 5/1).
Tiger Woods' video Q&A in which he answered questions submitted via social media continues to draw discussion, and in Albany, Pete Dougherty writes Woods “could use some help.” Whatever the “current components are of Team Tiger, they aren't working.” The latest edition “of ‘Where In The World Is Tiger's Brain?’ came Monday” when, in lieu of a news conference, Woods “went to the Internet to reach out to fans” (Albany TIMES UNION, 5/2). ESPN’s Michelle Beadle asked, "Have we learned nothing? What, you think the media goes away now because you decided not to talk this week?” ESPN’s Colin Cowherd said star athletes "don’t need us like they used to need us” due to social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. However, Beadle said Woods “is postponing the inevitable." Beadle: "Whatever questions these guys have now, they’re going to ask when you open it up for questions, so you might as well get it over with” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 5/1). In S.F., Ron Kroichick writes Woods and his handlers “are shrewd to embrace social media to connect directly to the public -- it's a logical and potentially engaging avenue.” Kroichick: “If he wants to occasionally shun traditional media for this sort of question-and-answer session, go right ahead. But it works only if Woods shows a little personality.” Monday’s video conference was a “smart move, in the short-term.” It would have been “even smarter if he showed his fans there’s a real human being lurking in there somewhere” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/2).
IndyCar announced it will begin posting its races on YouTube after they have been broadcast on NBC Sports Network or ABC. The races will be posted in their entirety and in customized formats on the IndyCar YouTube channel. The first race to be posted will be last Sunday's race from Sao Paulo, Brazil. IndyCar also plans to post archived video on its YouTube channel (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
NOT FEELING IT: In Austin, Cedric Golden wrote TNT’s “‘Inside the NBA’ used to be the best sports show on television, but the addition of Shaquille O'Neal has hurt the overall quality of the program.” O'Neal is “likable enough, but he just doesn't add to the overall chemistry.” Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and host Ernie Johnson “built the show into something special … with their incredible timing, and that can only come from years of working together.” But this year, they have “had to sacrifice air time for O'Neal, who just isn't that funny on live television.” The show was “much better with the terrific trio and an occasional guest like Reggie Miller, Gary Payton or Chris Webber” (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 5/1).
GETTING THE HYPE MACHINE READY: NBC once again is marketing this weekend's coverage of the Kentucky Derby across its broadcast and cable networks. That includes segments from Churchill Downs on NBC's "Today" show and "Today with Hoda and Kathie Lee," as well as Friday coverage on CNBC. Talent from Bravo (Cat Cora), E! (Catt Sadler) and Style (Jeannie Mai) will be featured during pre-race festivities. NBC and NBC Sports Network are planning more than 14 hours of coverage around the race (John Ourand, THE DAILY).
BROADENING THEIR PORTFOLIO: In London, Paul Newman reports ITV has signed a “three-year deal” to broadcast the French Open. John Iverdale “will be the anchor man for the on-screen ITV team, which will also feature Jim Courier … Mark Petchey, Sam Smith, Fabrice Santoro, Nick Mullins and Celina Hinchcliffe.” The team will operate “from a specially constructed studio at Roland Garros” (London INDEPENDENT, 5/2).