Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A 'Stream' Of Revenue For Pro Sports Leagues

The pro sports leagues are well aware that the billions of dollars paid for TV rights may not be there next time around, and continue to turn to revenue from online streaming.

Two more streaming deals have come to fruition within the past 10 days. Twitter now has a deal in place to be able to stream out of market games for both MLB and the NHL, likely to start with the coming NHL regular season in October.

Part of their arrangements allow them to include additional content along with the actual game telecasts. This of course, will allow for additional advertising revenue and for additional posting and interaction by users of Twitter, whether or not they are even signed in.

Fox Sports has secured the rights for local streaming of 12 NHL teams for which Fox and its regional networks hold the team rights. This makes Fox Sports the only provider to already have local team streaming deals with MLB, the NBA, and the NHL. The supposed multi-year deal will include the Fox Sports apps along with some distributor apps and web sites to be announced soon.

One likely difference between these two deals, as well as the Yahoo Sports deal to stream some NFL telecasts, is that the Yahoo and Twitter deals are separate from the user/viewer having to be a subscriber to a provider which carries Fox Sports.

The feeling here is that the sports leagues are seeing the Dodgers TV deal being priced out for the majority of Los Angeles viewers, the problems that teams such as the Yankees are having with fees for distribution, and realizing that the TV cash cow might not be as fat in the coming years.

By making streaming deals at this early stage, they can still have hundreds of millions of dollars coming in, regardless of how much cord-cutting consumers are doing.

Nice move by MLB Network to quickly schedule and air Game 1 of the Mets vs. Cardinals doubleheader on Tuesday (7/26) in the late afternoon period. The Monday night game was rained out, forcing the doubleheader on Tuesday, but MLB Network jumped on it. This gave fans a live triple header on a Tuesday, with ESPN's national game following and then MLB Network's previously scheduled west coast telecast airing live after that. Great move to add live games at every opportunity.

CHICAGO: WMAQ-TV Channel 5 has added Mike Berman as a sports reporter and anchor. Berman will join the station in time for football coverage, coming from WTTV-TV Indianapolis. The Chicago native did a sports intern with WLS-TV back in 2005.

Quite the telecast mess for White Sox fans this past Sunday (7/24). The team's Saturday night game vs. Detroit was suspended after eight innings late Saturday night with the score tied going to the 9th inning, and scheduled to resume at 1:10 PM on Sunday, with the scheduled game to follow.

However, Comcast SportsNet Chicago was televising Saturday's game, while WGN-TV had the Sunday "regular" game telecast.

WGN-TV aired their 'White Sox Warmup" pre-game show as scheduled at 12:30 PM, announcing throughout that the suspended game telecast will be on CSN starting at 1:00 and that WGN-TV would "return" for the scheduled game telecast 30 minutes after.

At 1:00, WGN-TV aired game shows, while CSN signed back on to show the finish of the suspended game. When the game ended (in the bottom of the 9th less than 20 minutes later), CSN stayed on for its postgame show. Host Chuck Garfein handled the show solo as studio analyst Bill Melton was not scheduled to work on Sunday.

Before the postgame show ended on CSN, WGN-TV came back on from the ballpark and then did the telecast, as usual, of the scheduled game, which ran more than one hour over their scheduled time due to the delayed start.

SAN FRANCISCO: KKSF 910 switched formats to sports, although it is now a Spanish sports station.

DENVER: Fans of The Fan 104.3 finally have their Sandy Clough back on the air, even if only from 10 AM to Noon as of this week. Still no explanation (as of press time) about his absence which went on for months, but both parties appeared to be happy to have his show back on the air. Clough has been part of the radio scene since 1980.

ROCKFORD: WNTA 1330 is dumping its Spanish programming and going to all sports starting on August 1st, in time for football season.

The station plans to air high school football each Friday and then high school hoops two nights per week, along with airing Chicago Bears pre-season and regular season games. Despite its Illinois location, it will also air University of Wisconsin football.

Just as curious, with the station airing Chicago Bears games, is the announcement that they will air "The Bill Michaels Show" each weekday, which has the Green Bay Packers (the Bears' biggest rival, of course) as its primary focus. As of now, much of their programming will be from Fox Sports Radio.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Another College Sports Network Coming Soon

Sometimes the strategy of showing the games is even greater than the strategy used by the coaches to try and win those same games. The Atlantic Coast Conference is unveiling plans for its own TV network to showcase its games and events, along the lines of what the SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 have been doing.

It appears that starting this network within the next year in a streaming platform is the first move. While it will be presented as introducing the network and enticing viewer interest, the reasoning behind it is to allow for some current rights deals, such as the one with Raycom to syndicate selected telecasts, to run their course. However, Raycom has some ACC game rights for the next 10 seasons.

It looks as though ESPN will handle the digital portion and make selected telecasts available via its streaming and app over the next year or two. The thinking is that this gives ESPN more ammunition, especially on the east coast, for negotiations with carriers and providers over the next year.

MLB local team telecast ratings are going strong this year, as the team by team reports for the first half of the 2016 season indicate. The K.C. Royals are the local leaders, yet are one of ten teams which are #1 rated during prime time in their markets including both broadcast and cable offerings. Other cities with top evening telecast ratings include St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Detroit, Boston, Cleveland, and Dallas.

The report also shows the Chicago White Sox with a 30% increase in TV ratings over last year. In this case, it could be because of the addition of Jason Benetti, who handled play-by-play for the home game telecasts (plus one road series in April). This is the first break that White Sox fans have had from Ken Harrelson, who this season is only doing road telecasts. Although there is no breakout of home vs. road telecasts, the team is also around .500 this season, leading one to indicate that fans prefer announcers who actually describe the game and discuss the team ahead of rants about the umpires, excuses for every run the opponents score, and the other incessant babblings from Harrelson.

Houston Astros telecast ratings are more than six times higher now than they were just two seasons ago. In this case, it is the combination of the team's rise to contention along with the change from now defunct CSN Houston and the start of ROOT Sports.

And after the understandable protests in Boston when Don Orsillo was not rehired, Red Sox telecast ratings were up 11% over the first half, coming in 6th among local telecast ratings. It helps to be a contender this season, as opposed to last season's horrendous start.

It is worthy of note that while the local team telecasts are up, the ESPN game ratings are down this season. It may not only be because fans are more interested in the local teams. ESPN has reduced its Baseball Tonight load, often skipping entire nights from either ESPN or ESPN2. It is less consistent with when it airs games, now showing some Tuesday games instead of its traditional Monday and Wednesday nights. Reduced coverage means reduced interest in watching.

For those keeping score on the name of the network, the former One On One Sports, Sporting News Radio, and now Yahoo! Sports Network is changing names still again during the week of August 1st. It will soon be called SB Nation Radio.

BALTIMORE: The Ravens have extended their radio and pre-season TV agreements through 2022 as both will remain in place. The radio play-by-play team of Gerry Sandusky (the one with the same name, but not "that" Gerry) and Stan White will continue on WBAL 1090 and WIYY 98 Rock for regular season (and any post season) games. They will again move over to the TV booth to call all available pre-season games (not shown on a national network) on WBAL-TV Channel 11.

MILWAUKEE: Although the Brewers are again struggling through a poor season, WTMJ 620 has decided to continue to long standing relationship and extend its contract beyond this season. The team has aired on WTMJ for all but two seasons on WISN since its inception in 1970.

Making this season tolerable for the audience is the 46th year of Bob Uecker calling the games, although understandably on a reduced schedule these days. Jeff Levering and Lane Grindle are also in the radio booth and are expected to continue.

MIAMI: The NHL Panthers have extended their radio contract with WQAM 560 for what is termed a "multi-year" deal to continue.

SAN FRANCISCO: KTCT 1050, the sister sports station to KNBR, is now the focus of the parent company's attention while KNBR 680 maintains its lofty ratings status. The Ticket is adding a local morning show starting the week of August 8th. Their morning show will include former pitcher Kevin Frandsen, as well as Drew Hoffar and Rudy Ortiz. Ortiz had been hosting a weekend show on KGMZ 95.7 The Game.

At this time, the station will fill the remainder with syndicated programming, dropping CBS Sports Radio and adding ESPN Radio. This does mean that Mike & Mike will air live in the market from 3 to 6 AM.

CHICAGO: WMVP ESPN 1000 will air a special live broadcast with University of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh next Wednesday (7/27) from 2:00 to 3:00 PM CT, which will also stream. It will come from a Chicago restaurant, where Tom Waddle, who was a teammate of Harbaugh's with the Chicago Bears, will co-host the broadcast.

The station, now without any play-by-play of the five major pro teams in town, has also expanded its Cubs coverage. Ace pitcher Jake Arrieta will make a weekly appearance with Waddle and Mark Silverman on their afternoon show, while Anthony Rizzo will appear on Tuesday afternoons (when the team's schedule permits) with host David Kaplan.

BIRMINGHAM: Still no replacement for the "Matt and Scot Show" for WJOX 94.5 as of press time. The station ended the show by releasing Matt McClearin and Scot Harrison from their 6:00 to 9:00 PM show. For now, the station is doing an instant replay of Paul Finebaum's show, which airs live from 3:00 until 6:00 PM.

Have to wonder if they are in a hurry to replace, thinking that Finebaum a second time might be a nice fit during the college football season.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Player Beats The Reporters To The Story

You wouldn't think that Richard Jefferson signing a two-year contract to return to the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers would be the leading sports media story of the past week, but there is good reason.

Those fans that actually care about the "who reported it first" derby have a one-time "winner" for this story and no other. Why?

Because the first to report it was none other than Richard Jefferson. The speculation had been that the veteran forward would likely retire after the just concluded season, but it appears that coming back as defending champion changed his mind.

Since this was not expected, Jefferson "beat" the sports media to the story, being the first to report it by way of his Snapchat account.

Here we have all of these "reporters" with their trade and signing rumors and speculation stories, along with what they consider "newsworthy" stories such as mock draft picks, looking at being the first to report on something. And now we have the subject of the story scooping all of them to "report" it.

There is reason to be concerned about this becoming a trend. Consider that several pro sports teams produce their own TV and radio content along with "exclusive" team news and features via their web sites.

It is not a good thing that sports fans wanting actual hard news may someday have to turn to a variety of team web sites and social media feeds from players to get actual news and information other than game results.

Still another tough week for Fox Sports since early ratings returns show that Tuesday's (7/12) MLB All-Star Game had an all-time ratings low among those games which Fox has televised.

Even the two hours of "America's Got Talent" on NBC outrated the telecast although it was a close and competitive game throughout. Of course, Fox doing all of its promotional spots for other shows and its heavy load of commercials made it a challenge for Joe Buck and John Smoltz to focus on the game itself.

Fox didn't even show the umpiring crew until the bottom of the first inning, and often didn't get to a new pitcher's season statistics until the first batter of the inning was finished. Although the replays and technical production of the game were solid, the busy and cluttered telecast took away from the enjoyment of the game.

The departure of Mike Torico from ESPN also left an opening for their play-by-play voice for ESPN Radio NBA broadcasts. No surprise that the network has named Marc Kestecher to the position starting with the upcoming season.

Kestecher already calls NFL and college hoops and football for ESPN Radio along with some broadcasts for ESPN on the TV side. Hubie Brown will continue as NBA analyst on radio for the more important games including playoffs.

Didn't think we would see this actually happen, but Fox Sports 1 is actually showing signs of progress in terms of increasing viewership. Nielsen research shows that for the first half of 2016 FS1 has grown more than ESPN and NBC Sports Network in both total and prime time viewership.

It appears that a lot of viewers have noticed how ESPN has severely reduced its overall MLB coverage, especially on days/nights when it does not air a live game. The lack of priority on SportsCenter and the burying of Baseball Tonight have many viewers,  used to significant coverage of baseball, looking for alternatives.

To that point, the biggest gain for FS1 is none other than its MLB Whiparound, which through the season's first half, showed a 54% increase in viewers over last season. Next in line is NASCAR Race Hub, which grew 7% over last year. While the NASCAR show growth is respectable, you can see how it pales in comparison with the MLB show numbers.

It will be interesting to see whether or not ESPN, which will likely make another exception this weekend and bring its total focus to the Yankees vs. Red Sox series as usual, realizes where it is losing viewers and starts to beef its MLB coverage back up.

Pac-12 Networks became the latest source to partner with Twitter for live streaming of selected sports events involving the member schools. Although there has been nothing yet about the mass appeal sports such as football and basketball, there will be some of the minor sports events and perhaps other school events available by streaming.  Many of these events, however, are already streamed via Pac-12.com and/or the various university Athletic Department web sites.

DETROIT: University of Michigan sports will soon have an expanded presence in the market. While WWJ 950 remains the school's flagship station for football, top rated (and sister station) WYXT-FM The Ticket 97.1 will now air the Michigan football games it can air live without conflict. These will be games which do not conflict with Tigers and Red Wings broadcasts.  In addition, Coach Jim Harbaugh will participate in a weekly coaches show on The Ticket starting this season.

LOS ANGELES: KSPN ESPN 710 will soon need a new co-host for its local morning show to replace Max Kellerman on what is now the "Max & Marcellus Show". Kellerman is not being sent packing due to low ratings, however.

The move is because ESPN has decided that Kellerman will be more valuable on ESPN2's "First Take", which he will begin co-hosting the week of July 25th, along with Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim.

BALTIMORE: Sorry to learn of the passing last week of veteran sportscaster Tom Marr at the age of 73. Known more around the country for his occasional work on Orioles broadcasts, his time in Baltimore began with WFBR in 1967 and then with WMAR-TV. In 1988 he joined WCBM Radio and expanded his duties to much more than sports. He will be missed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Sports Radio Ratings? Depends on the Market

No major surprises from the newly released radio ratings for the late May to late June period. In Boston, WEEI-FM has increased its lead over rival WBZ-FM Sports Hub. The Red Sox flagship station came in at #4 overall in the market even though it dropped .2 from the previous month. WBZ-FM lost .6 of a ratings point during the same period but still ranks a strong #7 overall.

New York's WFAN dropped .6 overall but remains the market's sports radio leader even after slipping out of the top 10 (to #12). Local baseball broadcasts did not have the desired impact on the night ratings. The Fan, as Yankees flagship, is the #11 ranked station from 7 PM to Midnight (when most of the baseball broadcasts air). Granted, the Yankees are not contenders as of yet. However, WFAN still ranks ahead of the WOR 710 which airs the Mets games and came in at #14 during those same night hours.

San Francisco listeners kept KNBR 680 on top of the market again, understandable given the run by the Warriors along with having the first place Giants games. KNBR continues to have more than triple the total audience of KGMZ-FM, which airs the A's games.

In Chicago, WSCR 670 The Score was strong again, bolstered by the Cubs broadcasts, finishing #5 overall in the market. WMVP ESPN 1000 lost .5 of a ratings point over the one month period, now with just over one-third of the audience size of The Score, and now without any major local team play-by-play.

Other strong markets include Detroit, where WXYT-FM The Ticket stays at #1 in the market, and Seattle, where KIRO-AM came in at #11 overall with an overall audience growth of one full ratings point over the past two months.

Several major markets did not have good news from this month's Nielsen ratings, however. In Dallas it is becoming a two station race once again. KTCK-AM The Ticket dropped to #12 overall at a 3.3 rating, while KRLD-FM increased to a 2.9. KESN now lags well behind with a 1.2.

The disaster of a season for the Twins while the other pro teams are quiet has hurt KFXN The Fan, which dropped a full ratings point from the previous month. KTWN-FM, the alternative music station which carries the Twins, dipped again (as it has each month during this season) and now is at a 1.3 overall.

Philadelphia's WIP-FM, hurt by the Phillies dropping from contention during May after a solid start, dropped .6 of a rating point over the month and is now #11 overall in the market. At the same time, WPEN The Fanatic dropped .4 and is now ranked #17. Yet, WPEN The Fanatic continues strong during afternoon drive, as afternoon host Mike Missanelli comes away with his eight consecutive "win" over WIP-FM and Josh Innes. Our understanding is that Innes is only under contract there until December.

In Los Angeles, KLAC 570 continues to move up gradually, but still is not in the top 25 stations overall in the market despite airing the Dodgers while almost 70% of the market does not receive the local telecasts. The station has increased by .8 of a ratings point since last season. KSPN ESPN 710 went up to a 1.1 rating, marking the first time (in recent memory if not ever) that both of these sports stations have had ratings above a 1.0.

Even with the Astros heating up the American League West, the growth of Houston sports radio seems to have come back down again. KILT dropped to a 1.0, with the other stations, as usual, finishing below that.

JACKSONVILLE: WJSJ 105.3 has dropped its sports format, having been a CBS Sports Radio affiliate until dropping it last week (7/1) for a music format.

CHAMPAIGN: University of Illinois radio broadcasts will have a new analyst for the upcoming season. Former Illini star Jerry Hester, who had served as the lead analyst since 2005 (when the Illini went as far as the national championship game), announced he is stepping aside in order to spend more time with his family in the Chicago area. Since this announcement was not expected, it may be a while before a replacement is named.

CHATTANOOGA: Sorry to learn of the passing of WGOW sports talk host Gary Haskew, known as "Doctor Basketball" at the age of 74. Haskew was fortunate enough to have his brother Jerre on the show with him, was a big part of the Quake (Scott McMahen) and Cowboy Joe (Joe Varner) show during afternoon drive.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Detroit: Where The Ticket Surpasses The Game

Detroit's WXYT-FM The Ticket, already the market's #1 overall radio station, scored its own victory earlier this week when WMGC-FM 105.1 suddenly dropped its "The Game" sports format and switched to a music format (which may be temporary). The Game never came close to The Ticket in the ratings over its approximately three year run.

WMGC-FM has confirmed that it will continue to air the Pistons broadcasts for the coming 2016-17 season, the scheduled final season of its broadcast contract. The Pistons will continue to sell their own advertising for their broadcasts.

It will be interesting to find out how the Pistons will handle their broadcasts after next season. If they look to return to The Ticket, they would, again, wind up behind the other local play-by-play broadcasts and have their games farmed out when there are conflicts. If they look to go to another station, it may not have sufficient ratings to increase interest in their broadcasts.

Sports fans who like to have accurate statistics on the screen would have blown a fuse at CSN Chicago on Tuesday (6/28) night. During the later part of the 15 inning game between the Cubs and Reds from Cincinnati, Cubs pitcher Travis Wood pitched and played some in left field after the Cubs ran out of position players.

After the Cubs took the lead in the top of the 15th, Wood (literally) came out of left field and was sent in to, once again, pitch and finish up the game. However, on the CSN Chicago telecast, the pitch count on the graphics box started from zero, although Wood had already thrown pitches to several batters already.

Over on the Fox Sports Ohio telecast, the 'Fox Box' was, correctly, updating Wood's total pitch count for the game.

I'm sure that I'll hear from some readers telling me "It's no big deal" and "Who cares?". The point is that viewers often rely on the information available on the screen during live sports telecasts. Just as we have replays to make sure the officials "get it right", we should be confident that the crew responsible for the telecast can also "get it right" every time.

Fox Sports continues to be aggressive about streaming its sports telecasts, adding a deal to be able to stream NHL games in market for the local teams it has the rights to at a cost estimated to be roughly $2 million per team it can show, according to Sports Business Daily.

This gives Fox Sports streaming rights for MLB, NBA, and NHL teams its regional networks have the rights to. In the case of the NHL, these are only for local telecasts and do not impact NBC or NBCSN national telecasts, which it already streams via the NBC Sports app.

This applies to Fox telecasts of the St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets. Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild. Also included are both the L.A. Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

What makes the L.A./Anaheim situation interesting is that Fox currently airs their games in the Las Vegas area. However, with Vegas to get its own NHL team starting with the 2017-18 season, Fox and the NHL will need to renegotiate that fee. Of course, it is also quite possible that Fox Sports could wind up with the TV rights to the new Vegas team as well.

NHL fans who also enjoy baseball will be interested to know that Mike "Doc" Emrick, the primary voice of the NHL on NBC, will continue his occasional baseball play-by-play work next week. He is expected to join Bob Costas on the call of the Cubs at Pirates game on Friday July 8th for an MLB Network Showcase telecast. Emrick appeared on a couple of Pirates telecasts in spring training this year.

Sports broadcasting lost still another legend last week with the passing of Tom Kelly, who died just two days before his 89th birthday. Kelly is most remembered in Southern California for his many seasons of broadcasting USC football and basketball, going back to 1962 when he took over for Chick Hearn (who went over to the Lakers when they first moved to L.A.).

Kelly also was a sports anchor for KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KTTV-TV Channel 11, along with play-by-play stints with the L.A. Clippers and San Diego Chargers. He also helped kick off the Prime Ticket cable network in 1985.

Just as MLB fans get used to MLB Network airing a live game on Sunday afternoons, along comes TBS to begin with Sunday telecasts (instead), starting on July 10th. TBS will air the Washington at New York (Mets) game with Ernie Johnson on the call. They also announced their July 17th telecast, which will be Texas at Chicago (Cubs) with Brian Anderson on the call.

BOSTON: While WEEI-FM 93.7 continues with its Red Sox broadcasts and its battle against WBZ-FM Sports Hub, it will do so without Mike Adams hosting the available weeknight shows. No 'permanent' replacement has been named, although that may not happen until the fall after the Red Sox games no longer dominate the evening hours. Adams had hosted (available) nights since 2005.

ATLANTA: WZGC The Game has expanded its contract to air the Hawks games, including more participation from sister station WVEE-FM starting with the coming 2016-17 season. Steve Holman will return as play-by-play voice for his 32nd season.

LAWRENCE KS: The University of Kansas has its new play-by-play voice for both football and basketball starting this fall. Brian Hanni, a Kansas graduate, has been selected. He replaces Bob Davis, who retired after last season from the role he held since 1984.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Why ESPN Radio Rams Its Way Into L A

Even if these moves become loss leaders, ESPN Radio is making moves to spice up local play-by-play for its own radio stations. In Los Angeles, KSPN 710 has officially become the flagship station for the Rams for the next five seasons.

KSPN has full control over the broadcasts ranging from handling all of the production to selling all of the advertising, and promises an eight hour package of programming surrounding and including each game. As you would expect, there will also be a ton of Rams related programming during the week, which is most likely the reason for KSPN to make this move.

Having significant access to the Rams and the other NFL teams, along with ESPN Radio's NFL related features and programming will become a strength of the station from August through January. The Sunday (or other game day/night) programming is not likely to draw much of an audience.

Many NFL fans in the L.A. area will continue to follow other teams and have little interest in the specifics of the Rams games (unless "their" team plays the Rams during a given week). Many Sunday road games from the Eastern or Central time zones will start at 10 AM local time, which means their morning pre-game programming will start by 8 AM. NFL fans interested enough in the games of the day ahead at 8 AM are more likely to be watching or listening to Fantasy Football information than bother with an extended Rams pre-game show. From an economic standpoint, the station can sell the time to national advertisers based on reaching into the nation's second largest market during an NFL broadcast.

KLAC 570, the market's other full-time sports station, is now 49% owned by the Dodgers, which would not put up with moving their team's games when there are conflicts. KFI 640 and other prominent AM stations would not want to pre-empt weekend and occasional programming and advertiser commitments, along with the additional weekday support programming.

To add to its game coverage, KSPN has signed KSWD 100.3 The Sound, a classic rock station, to air the game broadcasts and to feature the Rams within its morning show. The hunch here is that ESPN Radio sees more opportunities to generate revenue from these broadcasts despite what figures to be a small audience.

Look for them to add a network of stations in markets within the region, such as Palm Springs, Bakersfield, Santa Barbara, and others. Doing this will enable them to sell regional ads to the national advertisers to air on multiple stations. The secondary market stations will gladly have what they can promote as "local" NFL football every week instead of or in addition to the NFL national radio broadcasts which air.

In Chicago, WMVP ESPN 1000 is now being crushed by WSCR 670 The Score while having lost the NBA Bulls broadcasts to WLS 890 starting this fall. As a result, WMVP had no major local play-by-play, other than some college basketball games. Their announcement this week was taking on Notre Dame football and basketball broadcasts starting this coming season, along with taking on the coaches shows and various Notre Dame related sports programming.

Although it won't be enough to overcome not having any local MLB, NBA, or NHL team games, it allows ESPN to sell advertising to the big boys, just like having the Rams does in Los Angeles.

While WMVP will, in effect, be an affiliate for the widespread Notre Dame Football Network, it is expected to produce its own separate basketball broadcasts starting in November.

Notre Dame games had been airing on WLS 890 for the past 10 seasons. However, with WLS adding both the White Sox and Bulls flagship station duties this year, it had little to no time for the Notre Dame broadcasts anyway.

ESPN has also made media news this week at the national level. As expected, ABC benefitted from the seven game NBA Finals, peaking with the highest rated Game 7 telecast since NBC had the games in 1998. The viewership was 17% higher than for the most recent Game 7 in 2013 between Miami and San Antonio.

The entire series averaged more than 20 million viewers, which made it the most watched NBA Finals ever shown on ABC, and that's with the first six games all decided by 10 or more points.

On the college side, ESPN has re-upped for Big Ten Football with a new six year deal during which it plays second fiddle to Fox Sports. For the first time, Fox Sports will have first choice on which games it will air on its family of networks, along with Fox showing the Big Ten Championship game every year (rather than alternate seasons).

In the next round of fighting between a provider and a network, now its Dish Network dropping NFL Network this month while both parties blame the other, of course.

Frankly, this one isn't as significant as some are making it out to be. Chances are that the "serious" NFL fan subscribing to satellite TV has DirecTV because of the Sunday Ticket package. Dish is better off passing on the savings to its subscribers and taking the approach that they offer plenty of sports aside from the NFL.

CHICAGO: Best wishes to longtime WSCR 670 co-host Terry Boers who is off the air for up to two months recovering from a surgical procedure. This has also led to increased speculation that Boers will be using the time to determine how he feels about retiring sooner rather than later.

PORTLAND: Whether the Blazers move into contention or not next season, there will be mostly different voices describing them to their fans. Although radio play-by-play voice Brian Wheeler returns, and deservedly so, for his 19th season, he will either have a new analyst working with him or be doing the games solo. After 11 seasons, Antonio Harvey was told he is not being asked back. Looks like Wheeler will fly solo early on, with the possibility of guest analysts for home games at best, on KPOJ 620.

At the same time, TV voice Mike Barrett and analyst Mike Rice have also been let go. In this case, replacements are expected to be h

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Upon Further Review CBS Overturns Its Officials Analyst

Wednesday brought us a couple of interesting media items with regard to the NBA Finals coming to an end very soon. First, we have the wonderful gesture by ESPN to enable TNT's Craig Sager to work his first NBA Finals game ever on Thursday (6/16) night.

ESPN is allowing Sager, who continues his battle against Leukemia, to share sideline reporting duties on the ABC telecast of Game 6, which would be the last game of the entire season if Golden State wins.

And that's the other interesting thing. Late Wednesday (6/15) morning, a couple of news organizations noticed that the NBA-TV schedule, which is available through the Association's official web site, NBA.com, did not show any coverage planned for a possible Game 7.

As of press time, more than eight hours after this was first publicized, the Sunday schedule, which includes scheduled replays of Game 1 through Game 6, still did not indicate any possible pre or post-game coverage for that evening. If Cleveland wins on Thursday, Game 7 would be played on Sunday night. Look for some media members to have some fun with the NBA site if the Warriors win it on Thursday night.

Over at CBS, the word is that its NFL coverage will make a change for its analyst of official's calls and will drop Mike Carey from its broadcast roster. Although Carey was an NFL ref for 24 seasons, his predictions of the upcoming decisions during replay reviews proved to be far less accurate than Mike Pereira has done over the past six seasons for Fox Sports during the games. 

Too soon to tell who CBS would bring in to handle the roll, but we expect a replacement to be named. It's doubtful that CBS would eliminate something they have been doing and let Fox be the only network to have analysis specific to the officials. Have to think that the official announcement from CBS would start with "Upon further review.......".

At NBC, having the cable networks in place was key this past Sunday (6/12). With the horrible tragedy having taken place in Orlando early Sunday morning, NBC News was able to stay on with continuing coverage all day on Sunday and move its scheduled auto racing coverage.

NBCSN carried the Canadian Grand Prix while the Firestone 500 Indy Car race was moved over to CNBC. It turned out that the coverage of these two races did not overlap as originally scheduled, since the Firestone 500 had a lengthy rain and weather delay and aired much later than intended on CNBC.

It was also a tough stretch for NBC after a ratings drop for the just concluded Stanley Cup Playoffs. Pittsburgh clinching the Cup on Monday (6/13) by defeating San Jose had national ratings about 25% less from the Game 6 clincher between Chicago and Tampa last year. The entire Cup finals series was down 23% in the ratings from last year. It didn't help that two of the finals games were shown only on NBCSN instead of NBC, where many casual fans would not know to find the games.

Not having teams from New York, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, and Philadelphia in the later rounds also hurt the NBC group. The entire NHL post-season, with every game shown live on one of the NBC networks, was down about 14% in viewership from last season's playoffs.

LOUISVILLE: WKRD 790 is adding a Saturday morning soccer show, as "Soccer City" begins this Saturday (6/18) at 9 AM. The show, hosted by Steve Peake, is produced in conjunction with the city's USL team.