U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday introduced a bill "that would end sports blackouts," according to Kate Tummarello of THE HILL. The FCC earlier this month announced that it is "considering ending its sports blackout rules, but leagues would still be able to negotiate blackouts with TV companies directly." The bill -- titled the Furthering Access and Networks for Sports (FANS) Act -- would "eliminate those FCC rules and require that sports leagues make games available online, either for a fee or for free, if they're not available on TV." Additionally, the bill would "prevent broadcasters from using sports blackouts as a bargaining chip during contracting disputes with cables and satellite providers." Blumenthal in a statement said, "This legislation would protect fans who now get the short end of the stick from leagues that treat the public with contempt while continuing to enjoy public benefits" (THEHILL.com, 11/12). BROADCASTING & CABLE's John Eggerton noted if MLB, the NFL, NBA or NHL "opted to include blackouts, they would lose the antitrust exemptions that allow them to collectively negotiate exclusive rights deals." MLB has an "even broader antitrust exemption." Eliminating the antitrust exemption for sports blackouts "would mean that the NFL could no longer black out games in a home market if a game were not sold out (or in some cases mostly sold) 72 hours in advance." That was a way to "insure that TV did not eat into ticket sales, but the bill’s authors suggest there is no longer evidence such blackouts drive fans to the sports venues" (BROADCASTINGCABLE.com, 11/12). U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.) "introduced a companion bill in the House" (ADWEEK.com, 11/12).
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer talked to THE MMQB's Richard Deitsch about his interview with suspended Dolphins G Richie Incognito and said there were "certain things I felt I should ask" in regards to the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal, and there were "certain things I felt I shouldn't." Glazer said, "I knew going in the main things I wanted to hit were number one, the use of the n-word." Glazer added of other questions to Incognito, "I wanted to get bullying in. Like I said in the interview, whether he wants to think it or not, this guy is now labeled as the face of bullying in America. He is America’s bully. ... I wanted to get what happened with those guys and what the relationship was. What happened that day? I wanted to make sure I got the biggest controversies in this issue and especially the social part, the hazing. I wanted to hit all that." Glazer did not ask Incognito about claims he sexually harassed a woman volunteer on a team-sponsored golf outing, and he, "It is a line of questioning worthy of pursuit. ... I just was not doing it for this particular piece. I think it is a separate story." Glazer was not said "absolutely confident" he had the interview until last Saturday, and he noted it "got done way too late" to first air parts of it on FS1's "Fox Sports Live" Saturday night. He said, "When we left it was dark out and we had to turn it around in 12 hours (for 'Fox NFL Sunday')." He noted he was "very actively trying to get Jonathan Martin" and had been "talking to his people." Glazer: "Quite frankly, and I told his attorney David Cornwell this, the one way to get this thing to end would be a Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin interview where they hug, kiss, hold hands and they walk out together. In my opinion, that is the only way both could go back in the locker room. I was trying to help make that happen and I was trying to get both guys in the interview. That’s what I was actually working for" (MMQB.SI.com, 11/13).
DISINGENUOUS INTERVIEW? In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes of Glazer's interview with Incognito, "The joke, of course, was the actual interview, a softball-lobbing parody, an open attempt of one friend to cover the back of another friend, and you have to wonder what Fox producer was bullied by Glazer to get it made." But in stories like these, "perception is often reality, and thus the interview ended with Incognito being the misunderstood teddy bear while Martin, who still has not spoken publicly, comes across as a mentally distressed weakling" (L.A. TIMES, 11/13).
Roku reached a deal with Disney & ESPN Media Networks to "stream live cable TV channels and on-demand programming to the device maker’s streaming-media player -- but only for customers with service from a participating pay TV provider," according to Todd Spangler of VARIETY. Starting today, Roku customers who "receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of an affiliated video subscription will be able to access WatchESPN live sporting events and on-demand video." For Roku, the addition of the ESPN and Disney "TV Everywhere" services "brings it to parity with Apple TV, which added WatchESPN in June followed by the Disney channels." DirecTV and Dish Network for now are the "two biggest pay TV providers that don’t have deals to offer the ESPN/Disney Internet services" (VARIETY.com, 11/12). TECHCRUNCH.com's Ryan Lawler noted for ESPN and Disney, Roku is "added to a list of platforms and devices that include the iPhone, iOS, Android, and Microsoft Xbox platforms." WatchESPN’s live content is "available to more than 55 million households, including from providers such as Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV, Comcast Xfinity TV, Midcontinent Communications, Cablevision Optimum TV, Cox, AT&T U-verse TV, and Google Fiber" (TECHCRUNCH.com, 11/12). CNET.com's Matthew Moskovciak noted the new slate of apps "doesn't have much to offer cord-cutters, as the apps require authentication with an affiliated cable provider to access content" (CNET.com, 11/12).
Sabres play-by-play announcer Rick Jeanneret was "forced to call" last night's Kings-Sabres game from the benches because "a First Niagara Center elevator was broken," according to Greg Wyshynski of YAHOO SPORTS. Jeanneret during the broadcast said, "This all started out as a lark. The elevator that services the press box was broken down when I arrived at the building this afternoon, around 2:30. So I said, 'Well OK, we’ll just do it between the benches with Rob Ray.' At the moment that I said it, I was kidding. Well, not anymore." Jeanneret was "sporting a helmet and face shield courtesy of the Sabres equipment staff, adorned with 'RJ' on the lid." It is "not exactly the easiest place to watch a game for an announcer, especially since it was Jeanneret’s first time in that spot" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/12). CBSSPORTS.com's Brian Stubits noted Kings C Jordan Nolan "nearly crushed Jeanneret in between the benches after a check." Jeanneret has been calling Sabres games since '71-72 and is "the longest-tenured play-by-play man in NHL history." But he probably "didn't call many games like the one he saw on Tuesday night" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/12). ESPN's Barry Melrose said of the broadcasters being between the benches, "They're right in the middle of all the action ... and that is just another thing the great Rick Jeanneret has done in the NHL -- call a game with a helmet on beside the ice. Awesome!" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 11/12).
The Bears today unveil their new app from L.A.-based digital entertainment network DeskSite that "delivers behind-the-scenes" footage of the team "plus hypertargeted audiences for advertisers," according to Matt Lindner of CHICAGOGRID.com. Fans will be "able to access exclusive HD video through ChicagoBears.com by downloading the free DeskSite app to their computer." DeskSite Founder, Chair & CEO Richard Gillam said that the app "won’t replace the experience of watching a Bears game but will supplement it." DeskSite "doesn’t pay the Bears a licensing fee but rather operates under a revenue sharing agreement, though the company wouldn’t say what the split is." The company is "responsible for sourcing and closing deals with advertisers; the team promotes the app through its various channels and generates exclusive content for it." Ten NFL teams currently offer a version of the app, and Gillam said that the Bears' is "aimed more at Bears fans who have moved out of the radio and TV coverage area." He added that the platform enables advertisers to "reach a specific audience subset rather than taking a spray and pray approach with their ad buy" (CHICAGOGRID.com, 11/13).