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Volume 24 No. 160


CBS incurred a loss in its Q4 '16, saying that the airing of fewer "Thursday Night Football" games and lower ratings "dragged its revenue lower," according to Steele & Ramachandran of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Advertising revenue fell 2.8% to $1.8B, hurt by three fewer "TNF" games in Q4, as well as "lower ratings from NFL broadcasts in general." CBS Chair, President & CEO Les Moonves said his company met with NFL execs and Commissioner Roger Goodell “numerous times” and talked about ideas on “how the product can be more efficient.” Moonves "called out specifics like how long referees look at replays and said there are ways to speed up the game." Moonves added CBS is "not planning on cutting advertising” from future NFL telecasts. But he said that there are "potentially different, more engaging ways to include advertising, which the broadcaster may experiment with in the coming season." He said the NFL is “still the best content on television” (, 2/15). Moonves: "We're trying to make the game as good an experience as we can make it" (, 2/15). The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Natalie Jarvey noted Moonves "addressed the declines in NFL ratings at the start of the season, noting that ratings improved by the end of the season after the election." Moonves: "Clearly this has been a hot-button issue across the industry. [The] NFL is the premiere property in all of media, and we feel very good about our long-term partnership" (, 2/15).

The appellate division of the N.Y. Supreme Court has set a date of March 14 to hear oral arguments in the ongoing MASN media rights dispute. Two core issues will be before the court in the long-running case: whether to confirm a lower court ruling from ’15 vacating a league decision in favor of the Nationals and where to send the dispute next. The Orioles-controlled MASN has long sought to move the issue to a neutral forum, arguing a history of improper conduct by MLB’s Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee prevents a fair rehearing. The league and the Nationals, conversely, are seeking a return to that internal body, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has predicted on several occasions that is what will ultimately happen in the case. Each side will be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes to make their case before the appellate judges. MLB will be represented in the hearing by Paul Clement, a DC-based attorney with Kirkland & Ellis and former U.S. Solicitor General who worked for the NFL during the Tom Brady-Deflategate case. MASN will be represented by Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin, who has argued extensively before the U.S. Supreme Court.

ESPN's Dan Dakich is still "scheduled to call" the Michigan State-Purdue men's basketball game Saturday despite MSU coach Tom Izzo criticizing comments Dakich made on Twitter about the school's students, according to Brendan Quinn of Dakich yesterday tweeted he has "always had unreal respect" for Izzo and MSU fans. He said he reached out to Izzo "to clear the air." ESPN "has discussed the situation with Dakich," though "nothing more is expected to come from the matter at the network level" (, 2/15).

WHO'S AT FAULT, IF ANYONE? L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said Dakich “was wrong” for his comments, and he is the “conduit in his role … at ESPN doing what he was doing." Plaschke: "There’s no room for that sort of editorial judgement.” ESPN's Sarah Spain noted Dakich made his comments on Twitter and "not during the broadcast." However, he does "have to bring a voice that people will believe is un-biased, which is tough.” ESPN’s Kate Fagan did not think Dakich needed to apology for his tweets but said, "Whenever your kid is involved, you just should not be tweeting” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/15). In Detroit, Carlos Monarrez writes Izzo was "out of bounds" Tuesday when he tried to get Dakich "censured." The problem is that Izzo "went too far and should know better." Izzo is "right to dislike Twitter, a hair-trigger medium that often turns into a cesspool of outrageous invective and personal attacks." Monarrez: "So why engage, Tom?" Dakich’s job is to "offer opinions, and he’s good at it." If Izzo thinks he "should stick to opining about basketball," he should "think twice" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/16).

In DC, Rick Maese notes President Trump will "not continue his predecessor's annual tradition of filling out an NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN." White House Dir of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks in an email wrote, “We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future.” Neither the White House nor ESPN had "any details on what other opportunities might lie down the road." The news "didn’t exactly come as a surprise" to ESPN execs (WASHINGTON POST, 2/16).

FOR LOVE OR MONEY? In Salt Lake City, Scott Pierce wrote ESPN NFL analyst Steve Young's comments in a Bloomberg Businessweek piece about putting football behind him seem "reckless." Pierce: "There's nothing wrong with focusing on finance ... as long as you make viewers believe your focus is football. Which you did ... until this interview was published." But now Young is "trying to unsay the things he said." Pierce: "Here's betting he does even fewer interviews in the future" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/15).

: FAST COMPANY listed ESPN as one of the "Most Innovative Companies" in sports. ESPN has "long been one of the biggest names in cable sports broadcasting," and now it is "bringing that same clout to its digital efforts." ESPN's parent company Disney last year acquired a "one-third stake last year in BAMTech." ESPN itself also "launched 10 editions" of its website in India, the U.K. and elsewhere to "boost a global audience." However, the project that "truly set the company apart" was its "riveting" documentary series, "O.J.: Made in America" (, 2/13).

NBA Kings
Drone Racing League
The Players' Tribune

FS Arizona has hired former MLBer Mark Grace to be an analyst on the net's "D-backs Live" pre- and postgame shows. Grace will serve alongside hosts Todd Walsh and Jody Jackson, and analyst Brandon Webb (D-backs). In Phoenix, Nick Piecoro notes Grace "worked for parts of nine seasons as the team’s primary television analyst" from '04-12. Grace said, " I don’t know exactly how many games yet. But it’ll be good. It keeps you around. ... This is the organization I really love." Grace "lost his broadcasting gig after receiving two DUIs in a 15-month span" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/16). Also in Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes, "Grace belongs on TV. He delivers the right mix of knowledge, humor and anecdotes in a sport that often takes itself too seriously." He is a "welcome addition" to the team (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/16).

FIRST PITCH: In Tampa, Marc Topkin noted FS Florida has hired Alex Corddry to be its in-game reporter on Rays broadcasts. Corddry "replaces Todd Kalas, who joined the Astros as their TV play-by-play man." Corddry most recently "worked college football games for ESPN and the SEC Network." This is her "first baseball-only assignment" (, 2/14). Meanwhile, in San Jose, Daniel Mano noted former MLBer Jeremy Affeldt will fill in as a broadcaster on MLB Giants games this season as longtime color commentator Mike Krukow "cuts back his schedule." Affeldt and former MLBer Javier Lopez will "split 42 road games, with Affeldt reportedly taking games in the central United States and Lopez on the East Coast" (, 2/15).

SHAKE IT UP: In K.C., Sam McDowell noted Sporting KC's broadcast team "completed its shakeup Tuesday, adding Matt Lawrence as a color analyst and Jillian Carroll as a sideline reporter and host." The club previously "confirmed that Nate Bukaty would return for his third season as the play-by-play announcer." Lawrence and Carroll will replace Andy Gruenebaum, Jake Yadrich and Kacie McDonnell, who teamed with Bukaty to form Sporting KC's crew last season (K.C. STAR, 2/14)....In Portland, Jamie Goldberg noted former MLSer Nat Borchers will join the Timbers broadcast team next season to "provide on-field analysis." He "plans to keep his distinctive red beard in his new role," while also remaining active with the club's community platform (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/15).

WELCOME BACK: In Dallas, Mike Heika noted Stars play-by-play man Dave Strader has been "out this season" while battling cancer, but he will "return to call five home games" later this month. Craig Ludwig, who has been filling in for Strader, will "return to the studio show" for those games (, 2/14).