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Volume 25 No. 84
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SBJ Media: Primetime Plans For Pebble Beach

The NBA Finals .. Stanley Cup Final Game 7 ... U.S. Open golf ... The sports calendar is doing its best to keep me from focusing on the 20-45 Orioles this week.

 

FOX EXPANDS COVERAGE FOR PEBBLE BEACH

FS1 will focus on two groups on Thursday night, including one with Spieth and Woods
  • Fox Sports will use FS1 as an alternate feed during the U.S. Open’s first round on Thursday from Pebble Beach. When Fox starts to carry the tournament on its broadcast channel at 7:30pm ET, FS1 will remain on air and follow two groups -- one with Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose that tees off at 5:09pm and another with Brooks Koepka, Francesco Molinari and Viktor Hovland that tees off at 4:47pm.

  • The concept of using an alternate feed around big events is not new. This year, ESPN devoted 17 different ways to view the CFP across TV, digital and radio. Turner Sports has produced separate "home team" telecasts around the Final Four. Fox has used alternate feeds digitally, but this marks Fox's first foray into using one of its linear channels as a second feed. “I was watching other sports and seeing how other people handle big events,” said Fox Executive Producer/USGA Mark Loomis. “There are times when you think you could be competing with yourself. The thought I had over the winter was 'what’s the way to get more peoples’ eyes on the U.S. Open?' I thought this might work.”

  • Because of commitments it has with the FIFA Women’s World Cup and MLB games, Fox is only using FS1 as an alternate channel on Thursday. Ad breaks will be the same across Fox and FS1, Loomis said. “We’re viewing this as a great second- or third-screen application,” he added. “People will still mainly want to watch the main broadcast with all the golfers.”

  • Fox will have Justin Kutcher handle play-by-play duties for the FS1 feed with Mark Brooks as analyst and Michael Breed and Nicole Castrale reporting from the course. Fox’s most intriguing move was to hire course architect Gil Hanse as an analyst. “They will have more time to dive into the background and strategy,” Loomis said. “That’s why Gil Hanse is a perfect add to that group. He’s a golf course architect who knows an incredible amount about the history of Pebble Beach.”



SEVEN GAMES, EIGHT FIGURES FOR NBC

  • The general ad sales rule when it comes to the postseason is that networks break even on a five-game series and start to make money when a series gets extended to six games. A seven-game series? That’s all gravy. As the Stanley Cup Final heads to Game 7 on Wednesday for the first time in eight years, I reached out to NBC Sports to see just how hectic the atmosphere is inside their ad sales office. As you would expect, the staff spent today actively selling Game 7 -- a process that will continue right up until the puck is dropped. NBC execs will be watching ABC tonight, as well. If the NBA Finals ends in Toronto after Game 5, they expect to see even more advertisers in the market looking at Blues-Bruins Game 7.

  • NBC says that roughly 25% of its Game 7 ad sales inventory is pre-sold, mostly to traditional NHL sponsors. Like all other Game 7s, the network’s ad sales execs are scrambling to sell the remaining 75%. All networks also use their Game 6 and 7 inventory to provide “make-goods” -- which are advertiser credits for underperforming shows elsewhere on the schedule.

  • NBC expects to reap an eight-figure benefit from Game 7. “We will monetize the heck out of this Game 7,” said NBC Sports Exec VP/Ad Sales Dan Lovinger. “We haven’t had a Game 7 since 2011, and the advertising community is excited to be part of it.” But Game 7s don’t bring in as much revenue as some would think. One exec with a rival network says that ad sales groups are conscious about not squeezing their longtime advertisers just because they happened to get to a Game 7.

  • So far, Stanley Cup Playoff viewership (TV+streaming) has been generally flat compared to last year (1.44 million viewers). The Stanley Cup Final has averaged 4.89 million viewers, down 1% from the five-game Capitals-Golden Knights series last year. NBC has had three Stanley Cup Final Game 7s since it gained NHL rights prior to the 2005-06 season. Bruins-Canucks Game 7 in 2011 delivered 8.54 million viewers on a Wednesday night. In 2009, Penguins-Red Wings Game 7 on a Friday night drew 7.99 million, while Hurricanes-Oilers Game 7 in 2006 drew 5.29 million on a Monday night.



THIS WEEK IN SBJ

  • Robin Brendle recently retired after 37 years in CBS Sports’ communications department. Her good nature and easy smile are two of the traits her longtime colleagues remember best. It is why Jim Nantz described her as “probably the most popular CBS Sports employee."

 

SPEED READS

  • Over the weekend, EA held a preview event for “Madden NFL 20,” which launches Aug. 2. I’m more of a "Ms. Pac-Man" guy, so I consulted the younger demo at SBJ HQ. The general consensus is that the best tweak will be the intro of the run-pass option for the first time. What I’m looking for with Madden? We all know that the game remains a good business for EA and the NFL, but can it continue to grow as an esports property?

  • I generally like the unique perspective of the Wall Street Journal’s sports section. The paper has taken it to another level with the NBA Finals. Two stories I particularly enjoyed: Ben Cohen’s piece detailing how the Raptors navigate the Toronto airport and Cohen’s story with Andrew Beaton showing just how often the stoic Kawhi Leonard shows emotion during games.

  • Mark Taffet -- an exec that has spent decades figuring out the PPV business -- was hired by “Forty Yards of Gold," a PPV event that plans to crown the fastest player in football. Priced at $39.95, the event will be held at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., on June 29. Sixteen players will participate in a single elimination tournament of 15 races, leaving one as the fastest player. Players involved so far include Marquise Goodwin, Ted Ginn Jr., Alvin Kamara, Robby Anderson, Trae Waynes, Donte Jackson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

  • One of the media stories I’m keeping an eye on deals with how well the cultures of AT&T and Time Warner mesh, or -- more accurately -- how much they clash. This Alex Sherman piece on CNBC.com about John Stankey’s first year at WarnerMedia shows that there are some growing pains.

  • Happy anniversary, Adam Schefter. Ten years ago today, the reporter made the jump from NFL Network to ESPN. At the time, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio wrote Schefter's addition could make for an "awkward in-house rivalry" with Chris Mortensen. But ESPN VP/Production Seth Markman shed some light on the move today on Twitter. "When told we may have the chance to bring @AdamSchefter in but it would mean a timeshare on some of our biggest shows, [Mortensen] quickly responded, 'If WE can get Adam, get him.' Trust me, not everyone in this business says that."

Schefter and Mortensen have worked together to break NFL news over the last 10 years

 

                     

Enjoying this newsletter? We've got more! Check out SBJ College with Michael Smith on Tuesdays and Thursdays for insights into all the latest news around the world of college sports.

Something on the Media beat catch your eye? Tell us about it. Reach out to either me (jourand@sportsbusinessjournal.com) or Austin Karp (akarp@sportsbusinessdaily.com) and we'll share the best of it. Also contributing to this newsletter is Thomas Leary (tleary@sportsbusinessdaily.com).