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Volume 24 No. 156


NBC Sports said the new partnership between corporate parents Comcast Corp. and NBCUniversal with Twitter will involve a significant component of the network's sports programming. The overall deal involves NBCUniversal becoming the latest network to sign on to Twitter's Amplify ad program, embedding video clips within its Twitter feed, and deploying a new "See It" feature in which Xfinity TV customers will be able to access live video content and set their DVRs directly from a tweet. In each of those facets, NBC Sports will play a sizable role. NBC's EPL coverage is the first NBCUniversal content to be part of Amplify, with short-form highlights sponsored by GE, including in-game clips, appearing on the network's Twitter feed. Several key facets of NBC Sports programming, including "Sunday Night Football" and NHL coverage, will have "See It" functionality allowing for immediate access to streaming video on smartphones and tablets. NBC Sports VP/Business Development & Digital Strategies Troy Ewanchyna said, "How do we continue to make it easier to people to go and tune in? That's the basic question we're trying to answer. This is another big opportunity to test how our content performs on another emerging platform. In some ways, it's like the very earliest days of TV Everywhere."

ESPN and AOL yesterday announced an agreement that provides AOL's audience access to a majority of video from ESPN. The company will provide AOL with ESPN-branded news, highlights, and analysis, including video content seen on "SportsCenter" and other ESPN programs, covering a wide array of sports. AOL will syndicate ESPN video content across both its owned and operated sites, along with its network of partners. The library of ESPN videos also will be housed in a brand-specific channel on the AOL On Network platform. Ad sales for this video content will be led by ESPN, and revenue will be shared by both parties, along with AOL's syndication partners (ESPN). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Edmund Lee noted AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is "seeking to transform the company into a content publisher driven by advertising." AOL On Network Senior VP/Video Ran Harnevo said, "Advertisers tell us there isn't enough quality inventory, and we're working fast to deliver that." Per the agreement, ESPN can "sell short commercials that run at the start of each video clip." ESPN will become the "anchor provider of sports-related content for AOL's network" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/9). An AOL spokesperson said that the deal with ESPN "does not affect its partnership with Sporting News" (, 10/9).

MLB Network averaged a 0.7 final rating and 873,000 viewers for its two LDS telecasts this season, down 13% and 26%, respectively, from a 0.8 rating and 1.2 million viewers last season, which was the net’s first year broadcasting postseason games. One difference for '13 was that MLB Net’s telecasts overlapped with other LDS games by an average of 91 minutes, compared 45 minutes in '12. Additionally, the '12 LDS games on MLB Net were played on a Sunday and Wednesday, while this year's games took place on a Friday and Monday. In exchanging a weekend game in the 12:00pm ET window for a weekday 1:00pm game, the net saw a decrease in HUT levels. MLB Net was further impacted by having the A's play in a matchup starting on a Monday at 10:00am in Oakland. Still, A’s-Tigers ALDS Game 3 on Oct. 7 drew 912,000 viewers, the net’s best audience of the season and third-best all-time, behind only last season’s two LDS telecasts. The net's Cardinals-Pirates NLDS Game 2 on Oct. 4 drew 832,000 viewers. MLB Net’s two LDS games last season, Tigers-A’s Game 2 and Cardinals-Nationals Game 3, drew 1.3 million and 1.1 million viewers, respectively.

STAYING STRONG: TBS is averaging a 2.4 final rating and 3.7 million viewers through Tuesday’s LDS coverage, keeping the net on pace for its highest-rated and most-viewed MLB postseason since ’10. Tuesday’s doubleheader -- A’s-Tigers Game 4 and Red Sox-Rays Game 4 -- averaged a 3.1 rating and 4.5 million viewers, up from a 2.3 rating and 3.4 million viewers for the comparable sixth day of LDS coverage last season, which featured two games on TBS and one game on TNT.

A PIRATE'S LIFE: TBS drew a 4.5 overnight rating for last night's Cardinals-Pirates NLDS Game 5. The comparable Wednesday last year included two games on TBS (3.4 overnight for doubleheader) and one game on TNT (2.0 overnight).

THE DAILY continued its examination of ESPN's "SportsCenter" and FS1's "Fox Sports Live" last night, comparing the 12:00am ET editions of the broadcasts. Both shows led with coverage from the Cardinals' Game 5 NLDS win over the Pirates, but FS1's opening 15 minutes of MLB-related coverage doubled what ESPN led with in terms of MLB highlights. ESPN's second and third reports were NBA-themed, while the first NBA report on "Fox Sports Live" was about 42 minutes into the broadcast. However, FS1 had more extensive analysis on the upcoming season from their NBA experts. Both broadcasts aired early NFL coverage and both placed NHL coverage about the same time -- FS1 at about 26 minutes and ESPN at about 22 minutes. "Fox Sports Live" aired highlights from the UFC event the net had broadcast earlier in the night, something "SportsCenter" did not reference.

Cardinals-Pirates highlights Cardinals-Pirates highlights
Panel discussions of Cardinals-Pirates Knicks-Celtics highlights
Yankees re-sign manager Joe Girardi Lakers G Kobe Bryant injury update
Texans QB Matt Schaub being harassed
by fans at his home
NFL News & Notes
NFL News & Notes "Baseball Tonight" discussion on Cardinals-Pirates NLDS
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney returns to practice ESPN's Barry Melrose on NHL highlights
Blackhawks-Blues highlights Cardinals 3B David Freese postgame interview
Former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez'
pre-trial hearing
Future of Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving in Cleveland
Cardinals-Pirates press conferences and locker room footage Saints-Patriots preview
Wladimir Klitschko and Hayden Panettiere announcing their engagement Profile of Univ. of Washington QB Keith Price
Tigers-A's ALDS Game 5 preview Melrose analysis on Canadiens-Flames and "Barry's Best From 1st Week"
Knicks-Celtics highlights Tigers-A's ALDS Game 5 preview
Panel discussion of upcoming NBA season "Top Ten" MLB plays segment
"Get Me That Stat!" segment Senators-Kings highlights
Tigers-A's preview  
Cardinals 3B David Freese leading MLB postseason extra-base hits since '11  
"The 1" play of the day segment  
"UFC on FS1" highlights  
Sharks D Brad Stuart being suspended for illegal check  
"The Best Person in Sports" segment  

ESPN withdrawing from Frontline's "League of Denial" documentary ending up being a "boon," as the attention paid to the net's "hasty decision made a lot of people aware" of the film, according to Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. The move "potentially jeopardized the possibility that ESPN would carry excerpts from it on 'SportsCenter' and 'Outside the Lines' and on" ESPN was "always going to promote" the book by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru on which the film was based, but "hyping only the book might have had little effect on the documentary." Frontline Deputy Exec Producer Raney Aronson-Rath said that she had been "reassured after ESPN’s unexpected departure from the project that the sports channel would still try to show excerpts." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Dwayne Bray "about two weeks ago ... called Aronson-Rath to resurrect the relationship." He wanted to "work out a deal to carry excerpts, and he had the backing" of ESPN President John Skipper. Aronson-Rath said that three clips were picked, one for "SportsCenter" and two for "OTL," and they "began to run last week." Skipper "told a somewhat different version: that ESPN had had every intention of running excerpts, even after it withdrew from the collaboration." Skipper: "That was part of our original support for the Fainaru brothers." Sandomir reports the decision to show excerpts, after the "flap caused by ESPN’s withdrawal from the project, apparently increased" the film's audience. Nielsen data shows that it "drew an average of 2.2 million viewers," which is "well above the program’s average of 1.5 million viewers." Frontline also had "one of its heaviest days of traffic to its Web site." Skipper said of his move to end the collaboration, "I wish I’d made the decision a year ago. I still think it was the right decision, while I understand that it opened us up for appropriate criticism." Skipper added that "no one at the NFL has called to rebuke him for showing excerpts from the documentary" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/10).

EYE-OPENER: In Newark, Dave D'Alessandro writes the film was "an epiphany for some of us," as it "carefully traces how the NFL concealed the truth about concussions over two decades, from the appalling deceit of the Paul Tagliabue era to the pathetic damage control of Roger Goodell’s tenure." This is "not just a stain on our national pastime," it is "a public health crisis that extends to every level of the sport" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/10). In Buffalo, Jerry Sullivan writes after mentioning the film's title to 10 members of the Bills organization, including coach Doug Marrone, he "got blank stares in return." There will "always be denial in NFL players," and some of the Bills "seemed blithely ignorant" of the film (BUFFALO NEWS, 10/10).

GETTING THE PULSE OF THE LEAGUE: SI's Peter King noted many NFL execs feel "League of Denial" was an "extremely one-sided airing of the issue," which is one reasons why people associated with the league "didn't cooperate much at all with Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru." The execs felt like for a "long time doing the research on this story that the two ESPN reporters were slanted way against the NFL." King: "I read a lot of what they wrote on this story and I thought it was very well done, very well thought out and very well researched stuff. I thought anybody who watched the 'Frontline' show on PBS has to come away thinking that, 'It's incumbent on the NFL right now to do everything that it possibly can to, with independent neurologists at games, to be really looking at the issue of head trauma'" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/9).

"Bronx Bombers," the third sports-themed play conceived by Fran Kirmser, commissioned by Tony Ponturo and written and directed by Eric Simonson, is currently playing Off Broadway and is "undoubtedly the most enjoyable work in this series," according to Matt Windman of Simonson's plays, which have been "co-produced with the NFL, NBA and now MLB and the Yankees themselves, are unapologetically unchallenging." While "hardly a masterpiece, 'Bronx Bombers' is like a tenderhearted frolic through memory lane with a touch of surrealism and a lot of personality." Windman gave the play 2.5 stars (, 10/8). In N.Y., Elisabeth Vincentelli wrote the actors "dig into the larger-than-life personalities and conflicts with gusto, especially" Francois Battiste, who plays Reggie Jackson and "struts around in a period afro and full polyester regalia." But the focus "evaporates in the second act, dominated by a dream sequence" in which Yogi Berra and his wife, Carmen, "host a dinner party with Yankees past and future." Simonson "piles on the anecdotes and relies more than before on the audience’s familiarity with the game." This is an "inside-baseball baseball play," but the show is "for fans, and its tone never wavers from awe-struck and reverential" (N.Y. POST, 10/9).

PULLED FROM THE LINE-UP:'s Robert Kahn wrote the play is a "maudlin sports drama." It begins as a "promising examination of power and personality clashes," but becomes a "too-sentimental, surreal fantasy -- all fields of dreams" (, 10/9).'s Michael Dale wrote the "main theme of the members of an institution trying to uphold its untarnished reputation despite cracks in the veneer is easily recognized." Still, "Bronx Bombers" keeps "rehashing the same point in different variations; heavy on sentiment, but thin on content" (, 10/9). In N.Y., Daniel Gold, a self-professed Mets fan, writes he "never thought I could pity the Yankees," but "thanks to 'Bronx Bombers,' I do." The play "milks the early deaths of Lou Gehrig and Thurman Munson for sympathy." The Yankees "deserve better than this mawkish and sappy effort." The play is "no more than a schmaltzy sketch of athletes sitting around congratulating themselves." Gold: "You wonder if the Yankees organization, which worked with the production, is pleased" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/10).

Fox Sports has hired Jimmy Traina from SI to cover sports and pop culture. Traina, who wrote the popular Hot Clicks feature for, will remain in N.Y. and will start in November. Traina will produce a similar weekday-morning blog, plus podcasts, Fox Sports said. "He was one of the original content curators in the sports blogosphere, focusing on the intersection of sports and pop culture. Our audience craves that kind of content," said Fox Sports Digital Senior VP/Digital Pete Vlastelica (John Ourand, Staff Writer).

NICHOLS BACK: CNN announced that it is going to “launch a half-hour sports program Friday nights starting October 25th” with Turner Sports’ Rachel Nichols as host. VARIETY’s Brian Steinberg noted the program, which is titled “Unguarded with Rachel Nichols” and will air at 10:30pm ET, marks the first time CNN will air a sports-themed program "in more than a decade." Nichols was “hired to work for both CNN and Turner,” and the “intent to launch a CNN program featuring her was unveiled at that time” (, 10/9).

MORE BOOGITY FOR YOUR BUCK: On Long Island, Josh Stewart reports Fox is not expected to "copy ESPN’s attempt to use different booth announcers" for NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races under the new TV package that begins in '15. Fox NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip said that he "isn’t sure of exactly what Fox will do when Nationwide and Cup events are in different places on the same weekend, but when the two series are together" the plan is already in place. Waltrip: "With all the companion events me, Larry [McReynolds] and Mike [Joy] will be in the booth on Saturday and Sunday. It’s no big deal, we’re already there, we know all the players, we know what’s going on. So, it’s really no big deal to us" (NEWSDAY, 10/10).

FRESH PRINCES OF BELL AIR: The Sabres and Bell TV yesterday announced that Sabres games will now be carried on Bell TV in Southern Ontario. Sabres games, which were previously available on NHL Center Ice, will now be included as part of Bell TV regular programming at no extra cost starting with the Oct. 10 matchup against the Blue Jackets (Sabres). The AP noted Bell "has agreed to broadcast 50 Sabres games this season to its customers in southern Ontario." The Sabres have "spent several years attempting to broaden their exposure into the neighbouring Niagara region, from which the team draws many fans" (AP, 10/9).