ESPN has signed a deal to air the new Champions Bowl from '15-26 for an average of $80M annually, according to sources cited by Smith & Ourand of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal for the game, which will pit an SEC team against a Big 12 team, is "roughly the same rights fee that ESPN will pay the nearly century-old Rose Bowl." The bowl will be played "in prime time on New Year's Day each of the 12 years of the deal, a slot that typically draws strong ratings and enhances the value of the game." The SEC and Big 12 will "share revenue equally from the ESPN deal, which was jointly negotiated by the two conferences." ESPN's next move is to "go after the Orange Bowl, which would give the network all of the best games on New Year's Day." Once the ACC finalizes a deal for an opponent in that game, which is "expected in the next week or two, the conference will turn its attention to negotiating a TV deal for the Orange Bowl -- and there's every reason to believe that ESPN will be the front-runner there." However, sources said that the ACC "likely will not get the same rights fees" as the Rose and Champions bowls because the "matchup and the time slot aren't as attractive" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/30 issue).
The Suns announced the hiring of broadcaster Steve Albert as the team's new TV play-by-play announcer. Albert will call all Suns broadcasts on FS Arizona (Suns). In Phoenix, Paul Coro noted Albert signed a "five-year contract with the Suns after ending a 24-year run of calling Showtime boxing." He was "last a NBA voice" for the Hornets in '05, but also spent five years with the Warriors and 13 with the Nets. Tom Leander had been the Suns' TV voice for nine years and "will continue his 20-year Suns broadcasting tenure as the studio host." Analyst Eddie Johnson "returns for most games with a plan to use" Mercury/Suns VP Ann Meyers-Drysdale "on others" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 7/28).
NO NEED FOR RIVALRY TALK: Comcast Chair & CEO Brian Roberts said having NBC Sports Network become a “competitive threat to ESPN” is “not the realistic goal, and that is not the definition of success for us." Roberts said that NBC will "continue to find other properties” along with NHL and Tour de France on “that say, ‘You know what, you do something very special at this company that nobody else can do.’” Roberts: “Can we continue to expand and widen the breath of NBC Sports into its own network? I think it’s a long-term growth business for us” (“Power Lunch,” CNBC, 7/27).
CBS EXPANDING NFL COVERAGE: In N.Y., Bob Raissman reported CBS Sports Network is "on the verge of announcing a new hour-long NFL show." It will be "seen every Monday evening during the season on CBS Sports Net." Raissman: "Expect guys like Dan Marino, Phil Simms and Dan Fouts to make appearances. Should be very interesting" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/29).
HBO GOING FOR THE KNOCK OUT: ESPN.com's Dan Rafael wrote HBO is televising the Sept. 8 boxing match between Andre Ward and Chad Dawson, and is "treating it like its biggest non-pay-per-view bout of the year." HBO is, "for the first time, using its '24/7' brand for a non-PPV bout in a '24/7 Road to Ward/Dawson' special." The half-hour "documentary-style show previewing the bout premieres Aug. 25 at midnight ET/PT" (ESPN.com, 7/27).