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Volume 27 No. 10
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SBJ Media: Nielsen Surprises With Out-Of-Home Delay

The most positive news I can report today: Inter Miami CF vs. Orlando City SC is on ESPN tonight.

  

SOURCES: NIELSEN DELAYS OUT-OF-HOME MEASUREMENT ROLLOUT

  • TV network execs reacted with anger over Nielsen’s decision to delay the introduction of its planned out-of-home (OOH) measurement. Nielsen execs spent this afternoon calling media companies with the news that the new ratings measurement would not debut in September, as expected. The measurement company did not give a revised start date, telling one network that it could be ready by January. In its conversations with network execs, Nielsen cited the pandemic as a main reason for the delay.

  • The reason for the networks' anger: Multiple execs told me that they felt blindsided by the decision, which Nielsen will formally announce later this week. Execs from several networks had no clue that such a delay was even an option -- even though they had spoken regularly with Nielsen over the past several weeks.

  • Another reason for the networks’ anger: The implications of Nielsen’s decision on the ad sales business are enormous, especially considering the NFL season is slated to begin in just six weeks. The decision especially hurts broadcast networks, all of which had been selling ads this fall based on the new measurement.

  • Several execs said that most of their ad sales deals for this fall place some sort of value on the OOH measurement. That means that networks now have to go back to those advertisers to rework those deals. “They now have to be rethought and revalued,” one network exec told me. Some cable networks, like ESPN, are not impacted as harshly because it had been selling the out-of-home measurement separately, based on Nielsen’s old tech.

  • Networks have spent years pushing for OOH measurement, which accounts for bars, restaurants, airports, gyms, hotels -- you name it. Preliminary data shows that OOH numbers can raise the overall ratings number by up to 10%, which translate to added ad dollars. During the pandemic, both golf and NASCAR events have seen around 6-7% increase thanks to the OOH measurements. Football is expected to be higher.

 

SALARY REDUCTIONS EXPECTED AMONG NFL MEDIA TALENT

  • NFL Media is the latest outlet to ask its on-air talent to take temporary salary reductions for six months, from early August through January. The request to take voluntary pay cuts of up to 15% was made to around 50 people via a conference call this afternoon. It was two-and-a-half months ago, on April 29, that NFL employees took mandatory salary reductions, with a portion of its employee base subjected to furloughs due to the pandemic.

  • NFL Media VP/Communications Alex Riethmiller emailed: “The sports media industry hasn’t been immune to the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and in light of that we have asked approximately 50 NFL Media talent to join their colleagues across the league and take a temporary salary reduction.”

  • In April, ESPN and Fox Sports asked its commentators to take voluntary 15% pay cuts over the ensuing three months at least. Almost all of them agreed to the cuts. In May, all of NBC’s on-air sports talent agreed to voluntary pay cuts in the 5-10% range. Those cuts, also, were described as temporary; all NBC on-air personalities agreed to them.

 

 

SOURCES: CBS STARTING EARLY WITH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

  • CBS has picked up the rights to carry the UEFA Champions League,Europa League and Europa Conference League a couple of years early. CBS and UEFA finished negotiations this week to carry this year’s UCL event -- a single-elimination tournament in Portugal next month -- as well as the 2020-21 tournament. UEFA has not negotiated with other media companies in the three weeks since Turner Sports opted out of its contract two years early. CBS All Access, CBS Sports Network and CBS will be the exclusive English-language homes for the events.

  • Specific details on how much CBS will pay and where it will carry the games are scarce. Turner was in the second year of a three-year deal where it paid more than $60 million annually. Univision pays around $40 million for the Spanish-language rights to the UCL. UEFA has been under the gun to find a U.S. broadcaster to carry next month’s tournament. On Friday, it will hold a draw to determine the quarterfinals from its HQ in Switzerland. CBS will carry the draw via its All Access and Sports HQ streaming platforms. “This is a good one for us,” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said. “Anytime you can add a major international event to your company, you do it.”

  • Turner opted out of its deal last month for a variety of reasons. This year’s tournament suffered through a prolonged stoppage because of the pandemic. Turner was also already operating as a lame duck, given that CBS takes over in the fall of 2021. Plus, Turner originally cut its UEFA deal in 2017 as a way to build up its streaming service B/R Live. It has since folded B/R Live into the Bleacher Report app.

 

KEN AAGAARD PART OF NEW REMOTE PRODUCTION OUTFIT

  • Longtime CBS Sports exec Ken Aagaard is part of a group of sports media vets that have launched BitFire, a company that promises to make it easier to produce sports events remotely. Under Aagaard and former TEGNA and Scripps TV exec Bob Sullivan's leadership, BitFire has already done work with outfits like Fox News, CBS Sports Network and the ACC, which will use BitFire for its annual football media day in the coming weeks. Sullivan is president & CEO of the company; Aagaard is on its board. “We’ve already got a lot of people circling us, and our press hasn’t even hit yet,” Aagaard said.
     
  • During the pandemic, all TV networks have relied more heavily on remote production, moving some functions like graphics off site. On golf telecasts, Aagaard said, networks have moved from having around 12 people working in the main production truck to having four or five because of social distancing guidelines. The remote production trend started before the pandemic hit. “It’s quadrupled that time frame,” Aagaard said. “It forced us. We had no choice. ... In golf, we have some guys who are doing replays from their homes thousands of miles away. The tracking and tracing in golf is being done by a New Zealand company from New Zealand.”

  • Once COVID-19 is in the rear-view mirror, Aagaard predicted that many of these changes will become permanent, which is where tech provided by companies like BitFire will come into play. “The biggest technical innovation that made this all happen was solving the latency issues,” Aagaard said. “Now if you’ve got a producer sitting in Stamford talking to a cameraman in Ohio, and he says, ‘Pan right’ or ‘Pan left,’ we can do that. That really changed everything.”

 

Aagaard predicts that many remote production changes will become permanent after the pandemic
Aagaard predicts that many remote production changes will become permanent after the pandemic
Aagaard predicts that many remote production changes will become permanent after the pandemic

 

SPEED READS

  • FanDuel is hitching its wagon even tighter to Pat McAfee, writes SBJ’s Mark J. Burns. The sports betting platform now has a media partnership with Pat McAfee Inc. that provides exclusivity across sports betting, DFS, casino and horse racing. FanDuel will become increasingly more visible via McAfee Inc.’s social media platforms, podcasts and “The Pat McAfee Show,” which will now air nightly on SportsGrid. Additionally, FanDuel will distribute all McAfee Inc.-related content through its platforms.

  • The podcast business continues to expand, as Spotify and Omnicom have struck a $20 million podcast ad deal through the end of 2020, according to Axios' Sara Fischer. Omnicom advertising clients "will have 'first-mover access' to exclusive Spotify podcast content," which includes The Ringer.

  • Congrats to Nicki Jhabvala, who is joining the Washington Post to cover the Redskins. She’s had stints with The Athletic, Denver Post and N.Y. Times. Congrats also to Ava Wallace, who is taking over WaPo’s Wizards beat. Wallace has big shoes to fill, replacing Candace Buckner, who did a great job on the beat.

 

THE LAST WORD

  • I am going to give tonight’s last word to several people. I was blown away by the number of tweets I’ve seen over the past couple of days honoring longtime ESPN personality Mike Golic, who will see his run ESPN Radio come to an end after 20+ years. Here’s a sampling:

  • Bill Hofheimer: "ESPN Radio won't be the same. ... There's a reason Mike is a Hall of Famer." Laura Rutledge: "I'll never forget the first time I met @espngolic. I was a 27 year old nobody, yet he treated me with incredible kindness and respect. ... The career is legendary and when it comes to people, he’s one of the good ones." Bill Curry: "One of the finest teammates I ever had. ... How do you replace the irreplaceable? You don’t. I’m so sad." Mike Hill: "Because of him, I had a nat’l radio show on @ESPN. We weren’t super close & only did a few NFL show together but HE is the one who suggested to execs I fill in for Greeny one morning & the rest is history." Louis Riddick: "Thank you @espngolic for always treating me with respect from the first time I set foot on the set of Mike and Mike, to the last time we talked on Golic and Wingo. A true pro." Sarah Spain: "Shouts to the GREAT @espngolic on 20+ years of leading the way & teaching the rest of us how to do it."

 

 

  

 

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