In Columbus, Aaron Portzline reports Blue Jackets play-by-play voice George Matthews yesterday "stepped down" from his full-time role to move back home to Prince Edward Island. Matthews said that he will broadcast "10 to 12 games per season for the Blue Jackets ... but hopes to stay active by calling games" for the QMJHL Charlottetown Islanders. He added that this is a move he "has mulled for at least 'three to four years.'" The Blue Jackets indicated that Bob McElligott, who has "worked with Matthews for the past four seasons, will handle play-by-play duties without an analyst for the foreseeable future" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 5/30).
YOUTH MOVEMENT? The Magic last week decided "not to renew the contract" of TV analyst Matt Guokas, and in Orlando, Mike Bianchi wrote it makes "little sense for the Magic to replace an analyst who was respected not only by Central Floridians but by national media members thousands of miles away." The Magic "aren't saying why they decided to make the move." Since neither party is "saying what happened, all we can do is speculate." Bianchi: "Maybe Guokas, 69, was having health issues like he's had in the past ... Or maybe, more likely, the organization just wanted a younger voice" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 5/29).
TURN UP THE HEAT: With the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals tied at 2-2, the Bergen RECORD's John Rowe writes a Pacers-Spurs NBA Finals is "not what ABC had in mind when it bid zillions of dollars for the rights to televise pro basketball’s ultimate showcase." ABC needs the Heat and F LeBron James "if it is to buck the trend of declining NBA audiences." Without the "best player in the game, the interest in the NBA Finals sinks to the level of Arena Football." The networks want to "capture the young audience, which is more consumed with James" than Pacers C Roy Hibbert or F Paul George (Bergen RECORD, 5/30).
WINNING COLORS: USA Today's new social media-oriented sports news destination For The Win has generated more than 5.2 million unique visitors and 20.1 million page views in its first 30 days, according to internal metrics. The total represents the most successful digital product launch in the history of USA Today Sports, and was far above internal expectations. The destination generated more than 70% of its total traffic through mobile devices, and 20% through social referrals. For The Win began on April 22 (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
LOCAL PARTNER: In Buffalo, Alan Pergament cites sources as saying that WBBZ-Ind. is "expected to be awarded the broadcast rights" to the Bills-Browns game on NFL Network on Thursday, Oct. 3., after "bidding more than twice what rival stations bid for the game." WBBZ also carried last year's Dolphins-Bills NFL Network game. NFL Net and ESPN "both sell the broadcast rights to games so they can be seen by people without cable, satellite dishes or FiOS" (BUFFALONEWS.com, 5/30).