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There’s an instability in the sports world, as Vin Scully says goodbye

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Wednesday night, ESPN did a fine job honoring Vin Scully on its baseball broadcast of the Giants and Dodgers at Dodgers stadium.

Vin Scully even called the 4th inning for the national audience. As ESPN broadcasters Jon Sciambi and Rick Sutcliffe tried, and they did well, to explain the reason it was such a big to-do that a broadcaster was leaving.

Sutcliffe talked about Scully moving west with the Dodgers in 1958. Leaving everything behind in New York for a chance to make it with the Los Angeles team, even though he held the same job in Brooklyn.

Sciambi talked about men from a certain era, such as Harry Kalas, the late Phillies broadcaster.


Meanwhile the news of the day was absolute outrage and a sense of anxiety and tension. A sense of anxiety and unrest that perhaps has never gripped the United States or at least its sporting world in this manner. More athletes are speaking out, choosing to kneel during the national anthem.

And sports isn’t about sports anymore.

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman refused to answer questions at a press conference Wednesday as a way of protesting the recent police shootings of African-Americans.

The entire Indiana Fever Basketball team kneeled during the National Anthem Wednesday night as a sign of protest. Steve Kerr said “every American should be disgusted with what is going on around the country.”

And what Scully represented more than anything was stability. Stability in the Dodger blue. Stability in the post-war 50’s. Stability in the changing 60’s. Stability in the financially uncertain 70s. Stability in the 80s when sports and TV offered more opportunities. Stability in the 90’s when maybe baseball took a back seat to other sports and finally stability in the new millennium with this thing called Twitter and Facebook and all this other stuff.

Every day Vin doing his job.

He truly was the voice of this summer and many others.

NFL TV ratings are off to a slower start, but still really incredible

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The big one for a lot of people who follow these sorts of things and view TV ratings as a barometer for overall fan interest is the first Sunday Night NFL game of the year on NBC.

Just over 20 million people tuned in this season, down 18% from a year ago in the same time slot.

Not great, but still 20 million people is a tremendous rating for a regular season sporting event.

The first game of the season also broadcasted on NBC airing Thursday, September 8th drew at 16.5 overnight rating, which in terms of ratings is still really good, but down 7% from a year ago when the Steelers and Patriots played.

But the total number of viewers? 25.2 million.

That’s huge and the NFL has nothing to worry about just yet.

By comparison, Major League Baseball averaged just over 14 million for last year’s Mets-Royals World Series, and that was the highest rating in six years for the World Series.

That said 7% is not huge and not as meaningful considering about 14 years ago in 2002 the kickoff game scored a 12.2 rating, per Sports TV Ratings.


ESPN’s Monday Night Football was down as well, for the early game down 7% and the late game between the Los Angeles Rams and 49ers drew 25% less viewers compared to the second game of last year’s first Monday Night Football coverage on ESPN.

Overall, the NFL has lots of wiggle room to work with and probably is not concerned that it’s opening weekend in the second week of what is a busy September with good weather across the country-will turn the tides back to grossly huge numbers.

The Achilles heel for the NFL is not the lack of interest but perhaps a turn off by viewers at large for off the field incidents which continue to plague the league and keep league officials up at night. Further it’s yet to be decided what impact the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick’s protest during the singing of the National Anthem will do for the league in terms of viewership and fanship and the like.

ESPN apologizes after confusing arrested Notre Dame cornerback with the Suns’ Devin Booker | For The Win

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Notre Dame cornerback Devin Butler was arrested on preliminary felony charges of battery to law enforcement and resisting arrest on Saturday.

In reporting the arrest on Saturday night’s SportsCenter, ESPN confused Butler with Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker in a photo.


Source: ESPN apologizes after confusing arrested Notre Dame cornerback with the Suns’ Devin Booker | For The Win

Craig Sager graces the cover of Sports Illustrated

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It’s not often that  a broadcaster has appeared on the front cover of the historic magazine Sports Illustrated.

Many athletes turned broadcasters have appeared after they hung it up. Talk show host Stephen Colbert appeared on the cover prior to the 2010 Olympics.

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But Craig Sager may be one of the first or one of the few Sports Media personalities to ever appear on the magazine’s cover. From my research he’s the only one I can find.

It’s a suitable honor for a courageous person.

Craig Sager is battling cancer and SI writer Lee Jenkins profiles the iconic dresser and sideline reporter. 

Read the full story here.



Mike Tirico, one of ESPN’s biggest stars, is leaving for NBC

in Sports Business/Sports Media by
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—Shocking to say the least.

Mike Tirico was ESPN, until Monday.

Word broke that the network’s presumable No. 1 for all major events, including the voice of Monday Night Football, College Basketball, the NBA, and the Masters is leaving ESPN for NBC Sports.

Sports Business Daily first reported the news. 

Tirico has been with the network nearly 25 years.

Tirico is a formidable giant of the  ESPN network and the sports broadcasting world.

As SBJ points out, Tirico would likely be the heir apparent to Al Michaels at NBC who may retire at the end of his current contract in 2017.

Tirico at that point may take over Sunday Night Football duties.


The Cooper Report: NBA Jersey Sponsorships to begin in 2017

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-DigitalSportsDaily.com takes a look at some of the most notable sports business and media stories of the past week.

One of the biggest stories to come from the professional sports world this week is that the NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a 3-year pilot program. NBA commissioner Adam Silver stated that “Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting ways.”

    • Each NBA team will be responsible for selling and maintaining its own sponsorships.
    • Unlike sports such as soccer, where the sponsor name dominates the front of the jersey, the NBA’s jersey sponsorships will be much smaller – measuring approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor’s logo.
    • The logos will appear on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the Nike logo.

Last week, the NCAA and its media partners, CBS and Turner, announced an eight-year extension to their original 14-year, $10.8 billion deal, which went through the 2024 men’s basketball tournament. The new agreement extends to 2032, and allows the NCAA to have early access to roughly $400 million of the revenue from the extension.

    • Reason: The NCAA’s current deal has substantial built-in increases, going from $740 million this year to $761 million in 2017, $782 million in 2018, $804 million in 2019 and $827 million in 2020. Those increases do flatten to zero from 2021 through 2024.
    • The NCAA negotiated for more money from both CBS and Turner to build up the annual increases during those years, and will have the flexibility to take the upfront money as early as 2021 and spread it out from 2021 through 2024. These increases are important to schools, especially those outside the power five conferences. They rely heavily on that annual revenue from the NCAA to grow their individual budgets.
    • More than 90 percent of the revenue from the Turner/CBS contract goes back to NCAA member schools.

Speaking of the NCAA, UPS, a March Madness sponsor, has decided to exit its NCAA partnership after six years. The global shipping powerhouse confirmed that its current contract with the NCAA expires in August and will not be renewed. A company spokesman said that UPS is going through a review of sponsor relationships – a regular activity – and that the NCAA deal didn’t fit with an upcoming shift in marketing and communications strategy. UPS originally signed its NCAA partnership in 2010 and renewed it two years ago. The company exercised an option in the most recent contract to exit the deal.

It remains to be seen whether UPS will continue with its heavy ad buy around March Madness on Turner and CBS in the future. 

“We are hopeful that they will continue to advertise in the tournament,” said Mark Lewis, the NCAA’s executive vice president for championships and alliances.

“We certainly are disappointed to have them leave. It is a great company, and they did a lot of very good activation with their sponsorship.”

UPS has been a heavy investor in collegiate sports over the past decade, and used the NCAA tournament for years as a platform to highlight its logistics expertise. They worked with creative agency Ogilvy to create the “We love logistics” campaign, and that message became central to the company’s march madness advertising.

Other Sports Media tidbits to note:

  • ABC’s and ESPN’s Viewership and Ratings went up for the NBA Regular-Season. (Thanks Golden State)
  • NBC announced the 2016 “Sunday Night Football” & “Thursday Night Football” schedules. Oh yes, it’s almost that time of the year again. 
  • The Golden State Warriors broke the NBA record for wins in a season with 73 last week, on the same night that the great Kobe Bryant played his last game. Those two games were the two most-watched NBA regular-season finales ever on ESPN.
  • The Buffalo Sabres ended the Pittsburgh Penguins’ run atop the NHL’s local TV ratings chart, despite a sub-.500 record.
  • NRG Stadium is undergoing a complete overhaul of its food service operation with a big piece occurring before the 2017 Super Bowl in Houston. The project is estimated to cost around $20 million.
  • NFL agreed to a $10 million deal to stream “Thursday Night Football” on Twitter.


Clippers Going Digital: Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer developing team-run OTT service

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—The efforts of owner Steve Ballmer to monetize the Los Angeles Clippers’ product across media platforms may change the way NBA teams shape their localized media deals.

The billionaire former Microsoft CEO has informed TV networks that he plans on holding back the majority of the Clippers’ traditional digital rights in his upcoming deal so that the team has the ability to launch a “second-screen over-the-top” service to supplement its games.  Those digital rights may not include live game action, but will offer in-game programming such as player-specific cameras, in-game highlights and real-time statistics – though no specific content has been firmly decided upon by Balmer and his people. 

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Ballmer’s strategy would be historic in terms of media deals, as it would mark the first time that an NBA team has withheld a substantial portion of digital rights from a regional network to launch a team-run OTT or over the top service. The former Microsoft CEO vowed to bring a new approach to team ownership when he purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in August of 2014, and this would be a monumental step toward that initiative.


Balmer’s net worth is estimated to be 22.7 billion USD (Forbes, 2015), so it’s apparent that this comes down to control more than money. He originally had the intention of keeping all of his media rights within the organization, including streaming games on his newly introduced OTT platform – yet ultimately decided from a business perspective it was a better decision to sell the Clippers’ live TV rights and keep a significant portion of digital rights for his OTT service. The service has been designed to supplement television, not to replace it and the Clippers would more than likely create the content in-house and charge for it, although no pricing model has been determined.

The Clippers’ current rights deal with Fox Sports owned Prime Ticket ends after this NBA season and pays the team an average of $25 million per year, a sum that is considered below market for an NBA team in the country’s second-largest media market. The team has been negotiating with Fox officials for several months, but the sides have continued to disagree about how much the teams’ digital rights are worth.

“Irrespective of whether we go back to Fox or to the Dodgers network or what we do independently, the Clippers will absolutely pursue a digital product that is separate and apart from the traditional rights,” said Steve Greenberg, managing director of Allen & Co. which is representing the Clippers in their ongoing negotiations. “It is a cutting-edge concept, and Steve Ballmer is a cutting-edge guy, and we are absolutely going down that road. We have a lot of interest from nontraditional media companies. The timing is, come next October, we need to have a TV home and we think we will. We are in the backstretch.”

Time will tell if the Clippers decide to renew their local contract with Prime Ticket, or if they take their business elsewhere. It will also be interesting to see how Ballmer’s OTT service pans out once October comes around. Regardless, this outside-the-box thinking that’s pouring out from the west coast is a monumental step surrounding digital rights in the NBA – something that may ultimately affect the entire professional sport industry in the near future.

Sally Jenkins of the WaPO on Cam Newton’s giant ego

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Veteran columnist Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post seems to be enjoying her time in San Fran this week, taking shots at both Roger Goodell and Cam Newton.

With Newton she goes a little lighter.

It would be a little easier to admire Cam Newton if he wasn’t so relentlessly admiring of his admirable self. The Carolina Panthers quarterback has been introduced fully to the global audience on the Super Bowl stage this week, and this is the impression he has left: He is brilliant and beautiful, and anyone who doesn’t like his bold dancing is a joyless prude, and he may even be the new super-species he claims to be. He also appears to own a new size of ego.

He strolls around with a languid yet self-studied air, uttering pronouncements such as, “Every time I put on an attire, every single morning of my life, it’s a must-win attire.”

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

Sally Jenkins on Roger Goodell: He’s a blockhead

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Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post is bringing the heat this week at Super Bowl 50, helping both Roger Goodell and Cam Newton come to the light.

First, Roger Goodell.

Jenkins writes under the following title.

Roger Goodell defends the indefensible, spinning nonsense”

It’s not funny, actually. It’s not funny at all. It would only be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Goodell didn’t say something ill considered because he’s a blockhead. The remark was part of a league strategy comparable to the tobacco industry covering up the harmful effects of teenage smoking. Asked if the NFL is comfortable endorsing tackle football for kids, Goodell said, “I’d want my son to play football,” and conflated the dangers of brain trauma with the health benefits of exercise — as if discouraging kids from playing tackle football is tantamount to encouraging them to stay indoors and get diabetes. It was nonsense. Disingenuous, willfully deceptive nonsense, and he knows it.


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