The Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports digital alliance and ESPN again held by a sizable margin the top two spots in monthly comScore multi-platform reach rankings of U.S. sports sites in July, the last month before football-related traffic boosts much of the category for the remainder of the year. The rest of the category largely held form from recent months, but significant changes are expected beginning with the August metrics report. ESPN, as is custom, led in consumption metrics, posting an average of 90.8 minutes per user during the month (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network*
Foxsports.com on MSN
Bleacher Report-Turner Sports Network**
USA Today Sports Media Group***
Sporting News Media/Perform Sports
NFL Internet Group
Sports Illustrated sites
CHART NOTES: * = Includes Rivals.com, ThePostGame.com, and Rotoworld. ** = Sites includes NBA.com, PGA.com, NCAA.com and WNBA.com. *** = Includes 81 local Gannett newspaper sites, 23 Gannett-owned broadcast TV station sites, USA Today High School Sports, BNQT Media Group, The Big Lead and For The Win.
YAHOO REBRANDS: Yahoo yesterday launched a brand-wide redesign of its web pages, including Yahoo Sports, bringing a more consistent look and experience across its seven main web destinations. For the Sports site specifically, the new format is intended to increase the ease with which users can access their favorite team- and league-specific content, as well as content from exclusive partners like NBC Sports. Yahoo Fantasy offerings also have been redesigned, again with an emphasis on ease of use. The Yahoo Sports redesigns also will take effect on the iOS, Android phone and tablet versions of the site. Yahoo Sports Head of Products Brian Marshall said the new site "brings a personalized content stream front-and-center and provides one-click access to users' favorite teams." He added the redesign is the "next step in creating a consistent more personalized sports experience" (Preston Bounds, Staff Writer).
ESPN2's "Olbermann" featured ESPN talent as the show's first guest for a second consecutive night, as "PTI" co-host Tony Kornheiser appeared on last night's program. Host Keith Olbermann, who on Monday's debut episode brought in ESPN's Jason Whitlock, spoke with Kornheiser about Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel and the debate around paying college athletes. Olbermann introduced Kornheiser as "the man who succeeded me as the most difficult talent in ESPN history, by vote and general acclaim" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 8/27).Reviews of the show continue to roll in, and in N.Y., Alessandra Stanley writes it seems Olbermann "isn't going to talk all that much about sports." Rather, he is mostly "going to talk about Keith Olbermann." His show topics appeared to "serve as allegories for his own experiences as a cable star turned celebrity flameout." Detractors may "wince at so much self-absorption, but it is actually a large part of Mr. Olbermann’s appeal." Some TV stars "can keep their narcissism off camera," but Olbermann "bathes in it." On "Olbermann," no detail "about the host is too small or too old to leave out." The show "may not be the most creative sports show on television, but it is any anchor's dream format" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/28).
CHEERS & JEERS: SPORTS ON EARTH's Will Leitch wrote the show's structure "seems designed solely to amuse Olbermann." The program is "different and refreshing." Leitch: "I'm just not sure, in this form, it can become what it should be." Olbermann's Monday rant about N.Y. Daily News reporter Manish Mehta felt "less like a justified takedown and more like institutional bullying." Still, it is "an undeniable joy watching Olbermann simply talk for an hour." It was "riveting just to hear so many words said on a sports broadcast" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 8/27). Blogger Ed Sherman wrote there is "plenty of potential for a compelling program." Olbermann on Monday's show had a "good interview with Mark Cuban and I enjoyed his Worst Person in Sports segment." Also, "nobody does sports highlights like Olbermann." But Sherman wrote, "I never make it to those segments if I wasn’t reviewing the show. I would have tuned out two minutes into that Jets stuff. And I have to think a significant number of viewers did" (SHERMANREPORT.com, 8/27).
In Tacoma, Dave Boling reported former NFL coach Mike Holmgren "is scheduled to make five sports-talk radio appearances a week" on Seattle-based KJR-AM. Holmgren, who was the Seahawks' coach from '99-'08, is "committing to the radio gig because it will allow him to continue working with his charitable causes in the region" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 8/25).
I GOT YOU BABE: Tampa-based WHFS-FM host Nanci Donnellan, known as the "Fabulous Sports Babe," on Monday said that she "was let go by CBS Radio, just before she was to start" her 7:00pm ET show on the station. But CBS Radio Tampa VP/Programming Brian Thomas said that Donnellan instead "will work part-time on the weekends, freeing up the time slot for an effort to get better ratings" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/28).
MEDIA MOVES: Comcast SportsNet Chicago named Jen Lada as the newest on-air talent member of its nightly program, "SportsNet Central" (CSN Chicago)....The Memphis Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins has joined ESPN Radio 92.9 Memphis and will host "The Geoff Calkins Show" weekdays from 9:00-11:00am CT (Entercom)....Red Zebra Broadcasting has signed ESPN Radio 980 DC host Thom Loverro to an extension through '15 (Red Zebra).
NASCAR issued a statement today in which its VP/Broadcasting & Production Steve Herbst said, “Despite recent reports to the contrary, nothing substantive has been presented to NASCAR regarding broadcast partners’ plans to alter our TV agreement in 2014. We’re very happy with our current broadcast partners and fully expect and are excited to be back with FOX, Turner and ESPN next year. These types of discussions happen regularly across the sports television landscape, very rarely resulting in changes to a media rights agreement.” This is in response to a SportsBusiness Journal report out Monday and cited in SBD yesterday (THE DAILY).
DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK: In Richmond, Michael Phillips wrote the debut of ESPN's documentary "The Will To Win," about Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's return from injury, "showed a man possessed by his goal of playing" in the team's Sept. 9 opener against the Eagles. Griffin in the film "went through intense training, including in 100-degree Las Vegas heat the morning after his bachelor party." Redskins coach Mike Shanahan "wasn’t featured prominently in the film, but team trainer Larry Hess was." Griffin's "sense of humor was showcased" throughout the documentary (TIMESDISPATCH.com, 8/27).
FIGHT'S EFFECT ON FIGHTING? YAHOO SPORTS' Kevin Iole wrote while expectations are "soaring" for the results of the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez PPV boxing match, which will be held Sept. 14, promotion of the fight is "being hurt badly by the dispute between CBS, and Time Warner Cable." Customers in N.Y., L.A. and Dallas "aren't able to view any of the fight's promotional shows on television." TWC Group VP/Communications for the East Region Susan Leepson said that even if the dispute is not settled, TWC customers "will be able to purchase the Mayweather-Alvarez pay-per-view" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/27).
WHAT'S ALL THE RACQUET? Tennis Channel Chair & CEO Ken Solomon said with ESPN taking over the U.S. Open broadcast rights, "Our hope is that we're going to be able to bring more, but time will tell." Solomon said the increasing viewership on the channel has equated to increased revenues, with "our ad sales growing about an average rate" of 35% a year. He added, "Obviously, our distribution has grown so those revenues have gone up but really we're in a growth mode. You're seeing significant jumps in the valuation of our revenue stream" ("Markets Now," Fox Business, 8/26).