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Volume 24 No. 114


Thamel had been the N.Y. Times'
main college sports writer
N.Y. Times college sports reporter Pete Thamel is leaving the paper to join Sports Illustrated, according to Jason McIntyre of THE BIG LEAD. SI "recently made some cuts, but the addition of Thamel should put SI in a position to challenge CBS Sports for supremacy on the college sports front" (, 7/31). In N.Y., Keith Kelly notes Thamel and Fox Sports’ Thayer Evans “will reunite as part of a new enterprise team." SI is “beefing up its investigative team after cutting its staff by 8 percent just two weeks ago.” The duo “wrote groundbreaking pieces for the Times on college-sports abuses and high-school diploma mills.” The move by SI Group Editor Terry McDonell “to shore up the mag’s writing talent follows a number of defections in recent years.” Elsewhere, Managing Editor Paul Fichtenbaum “just moved from his office on the 32nd floor to a bigger office on the 31st floor, where most of the print writers and McDonell himself sit.” Eventually, McDonell and Fichtenbaum “plan to end the division between print and digital” (N.Y. POST, 8/1). SI's Stewart Mandel wrote on his Twitter feed, "A big day for SI and our CFB/CBB readers." Yahoo Sports' Graham Watson: "Congrats to @PeteThamelNYT and his move to SI. Great for SI, bad for NYT and even worse for schools like Coastal Carolina."

MORE MEDIA MOVES: News Corp’s daily digital national news publication -- The Daily -- yesterday announced content and personnel changes at the publication. A total of 50 full-time employees, 29% of the full-time staff, will be released. The sports and opinion sections, which saw the lightest traffic, are being reorganized. Sports reporting will now be provided by content partners, like Fox Sports, while existing features like photo galleries and the ability to track favorite teams via a customizable sports page will remain (News Corp.).

Doug Gottlieb said family considerations were a major factor in his decision to leave ESPN after a decade to sign a multiyear deal to join CBS Sports. Gottlieb will be based out of Southern California, and he said the opportunity to work 15 minutes from his children’s grandparents and boyhood home played a big role in his decision. “ESPN made me an offer that I nearly could not refuse, and it was only vested by some quality of life things in the CBS offer,” Gottlieb said. Some aspects of his new role will be similar to those he had at ESPN, including hosting a three-hour afternoon radio show beginning Jan. 2. He also will serve as a studio analyst on CBS’ regular-season college basketball coverage, as well as the net’s joint coverage with Turner Sports of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Additionally, Gottlieb will host a daily show beginning this fall on CBS Sports Network. “I get the rare chance to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do, and then do it as close to my hometown as I want,” he said. Following yesterday’s formal announcement, Gottlieb took a few moments to reflect on his tenure at ESPN and share some thoughts on new ventures with CBS.

Q: Talk a little bit more about how the opportunity to return home and be closer to your family influenced your decision.
Gottlieb: My only wish at ESPN was to not do the 4:00-7:00pm shifts. And it wasn’t because I didn’t like the 4-7 shifts -- it was making money, it was rating well, it was very popular, we had been promoted and just gotten a podcast, et cetera, et cetera. But I’m a dad of three little kids, and my girls get off the bus at 4:00pm next year and they’re gonna be in bed by 7:30 or 8:00pm. I don’t think being a good dad is putting them on the bus and not seeing them again until it’s time to tuck them in at night. I was willing to do it, and I would do it again, but if I don’t have to and can still fulfill all my professional desires, it feels like the smarter move. They’re going to be around their cousins and grandparents. I didn’t grow up around my grandparents, but I’d love my kids to be able to do that.

Q: How much did the opportunities with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament play in your decision and what will be your involvement with that event?
Gottlieb: As a player you dream of playing in the NCAA Tournament and as broadcaster you dream of broadcasting the NCAA Tournament. And I’m going to get that opportunity. I’m not sure how much I’m at liberty to share, but I’ve been told it’s a major role. I wouldn’t leave ESPN to be tucked away and not seen. They’ve been great. I know they like people who work hard, I know they like people who have an opinion, and I do have a name in the sport and I’m excited to be part of a team. I’ve been told I’m not replacing anybody, I’m simply joining the team.

Q: How do you see either the format or subject matter of your radio show changing?
Gottlieb: People who listen to my radio show know that I use personal anecdotes and references a great deal. I’m a complete open book. I like to tell stories and use those stories to draw opinions on the biggest topics of the day. I am highly opinionated. I think the only changes formatically will be making it more interactive. More calls, more texts, more tweets. … The CBS Radio idea and the ESPN Radio idea are two very different things and I’m going to try and blend the two as best as I can.

Q: What are you looking forward to about the TV show and what is the vision for that project?
Gottlieb: I’m getting a chance to do a TV show. And I understand the number of homes it’s in, as opposed to the number of homes ESPN is in, is a fraction. On the other hand, I don’t know anybody outside my friends at ESPN that have a TV show. So I’m fired up about it. It’s a blank canvas and we have some really good ideas about it. We’re not going to try to "out-ESPN" ESPN. That wouldn’t be smart. It will be different and it will be unique.

Time Warner Cable last night dropped NFL Network and NFL RedZone from former Insight subscribers, the network said. It remains unclear how many subscribers NFL Net lost. Insight had 679,000 video subscribers when TWC bought it last August for a reported $3B. It is not clear how many of those customers subscribed to a tier that had NFL Net, which Nielsen says is in 59.6 million U.S. homes in August. It appears unlikely the two sides will reach an agreement anytime soon. NFL Net Dir of Corporate Communications Dan Masonson said the channel offered to renew the same terms with TWC "at a 0% rate increase. ... Time Warner Cable refused." In his statement, Masonson notes that TWC is the only one of the eight largest distributors that has not worked out a deal for NFL Net. N.Y.-based distributor Cablevision also has not cut a deal. A TWC spokesperson said the cable operator "asked for a short extension so we could try to finalize an agreement, but they refused. Conversations are ongoing and we remain hopeful that we can reach a resolution. But we have been close before only to have it fall apart so we need to be cautious about predicting success."

CBS Radio's WZGC-FM in Atlanta will flip from adult alternative music to sports this coming fall. The station's move marks the latest embrace of the sports format by CBS Radio ahead of the launch of its new national sports radio network in January. WZGC ranked 16th out of 22 stations in Atlanta in June, according to figures from Arbitron. The station currently has radio rights to Falcons games. CBS Radio has also announced plans to launch a sports FM station in Tampa on what is today WSJT-FM. CBS says Pittsburgh's KDKA-FM (93.7) Program Dir Terry Foxx is heading to Atlanta to build "Sports Radio 92.9" on WZGC-FM.