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Volume 24 No. 157

Media

The NCAA, with the aid of official partner and licensee T3 Media Inc., has created a new YouTube channel entitled "NCAA OnDemand," aimed at promoting the upcoming men's basketball tournament. The channel, tied into the 75th anniversary of the tournament, also features fan voting for the best teams, players and moments in tournament history. Winners of the polling will be announced during the Final Four. Advertising on the channel is minimal, as it is designed more as a tune-in and promotional device. The platform is likely to be replicated for the NCAA's less-widely-followed championships. "We don't see this as a one-time effort at all," said NCAA Managing Dir of Marketing & Broadcast Alliances Keith Martin. "We think this is a beginning of a sustainable format to help promote our upcoming championships." T3 Media, formerly Thought Equity Motion, has partnered with the NCAA since '05 and worked with the organization on digitizing and distributing its archival assets through prior efforts such as the NCAA Vault.

Dish Network attorneys yesterday told jurors that ESPN “offered more favorable rates for its sports programming to the satellite-television provider's competitors in violation of a long-running licensing agreement,” according to Chad Bray of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. However, a lawyer for ESPN said that Dish “wants to ‘cherry pick’ the best parts of agreements ESPN has reached with other cable providers and not take on the terms and conditions it finds unpalatable.” The trial is “the latest clash between cable- and satellite-television providers and TV networks over rising programming costs and addresses a federal lawsuit" in which Dish is seeking $152M in damages. Dish “claims a ‘most favored nation’ clause in the agreement, which Dish says entitles it to receive the same rates and cable-packaging options as other competitors.” The satellite-TV provider claims that ESPN “offered lower licensing rates for ESPN Deportes" to competitors and "offered Dish Network's competitors a better deal when it came to a cable-packaging placement for ESPN Classic.” ESPN claims that Dish is “essentially trying to use the most-favored-nation provision to renegotiate the deal in the middle of the contract” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/12).

BACK IN THE FOLD: Blogger Ed Sherman reported former FanHouse.com columnist Jay Mariotti is “returning to ESPN.” Mariotti wrote in an e-mail that he is “working ‘a freelance storytelling’ assignment.” He added the assignment is “potentially a longer-form piece the network does so well,” and he has "started working on a particular project." Sherman wrote it “isn’t a surprise that Mariotti hooked up with ESPN again.” Even though he was “dismissed, Mariotti still continued to speak highly of the network, lauding the work done at various levels” (SHERMANREPORT.com, 2/11).

PERTINENT INFO: In Tampa, Tom Jones wrote ESPN's Lisa Salters had a “nice update during Sunday's Lakers-Heat broadcast on a special undershirt" that Lakers C Dwight Howard "wore to help with his injured right shoulder.” Salters explained on the ABC telecast that Howard “had to get permission from the NBA to wear it.” She “described in detail what the therapeutic undershirt did." Salters "deserves a pat on the back for the report.” Salters “does a heck of a job on ABC's NBA coverage, particularly with in-game interviews” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/11).

ESPN in January fell to third among U.S. sports sites in the monthly comScore reach rankings for the first time since August. Yahoo Sports ended a five-month, back-and-forth battle with ESPN for the top overall spot, leading the list for the second straight month with a total of 41.24 million unique visitors. The January list does not include the digital content and marketing partnership between Yahoo and NBC Sports that will ultimately create a joint listing in comScore rankings. Fox Sports, ranking second with a total of 39.44 million unique visitors, branded its January total as its best non-event driven month ever, and its second-best of any month behind the London Olympics-fueled total of 44.98 million uniques posted in August. Deadspin.com, meanwhile, entered the chart at No. 14 with 5.18 million uniques, its total boosted significantly by breaking the Manti Te'o fake girlfriend story. ESPN again led in consumption among U.S. sports sites in January with an average of 72.9 minutes per visitor during the month.

RANK
SITE
UNIQUES (000)
1
Yahoo Sports*
41,244
2
FoxSports.com on MSN
39,438
3
ESPN
38,145
4
USA Today Sports Media Group**
23,510
5
Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network***
21,533
6
NFL Internet Group
21,182
7
CBS Sports
18,849
8
NBC Sports^
15,431
9
SB Nation
11,710
10
Sports Illustrated Sites
11,059
11
Sporting News on AOL
10,641
12
MLB
7,069
13
Active.com sites
6,433
14
Deadspin.com
5,180
15
Stack Media
4,432
     

NOTES: All numbers do not include wireless traffic. * = includes Rivals.com and ThePostGame.com. ** = Includes 81 local Gannett newspaper sites, 23 Gannett-owned broadcast TV station sites, USA Today High School Sports, BNQT Media Group. *** = Sites include NBA.com, PGA.com, NCAA.com and WNBA.com. ^ = Includes NHL.com.