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ESPN re-ups with Kornheiser and Wilbon for PTI

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In a world of rapid talent movement at the mothership, there are few constants, one is the shining light that is PTI, one of the first, and pioneers of the TV sports debate genres.

Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon both celebrated sportswriters in previous’ lives, host the half-hour program daily at 5:30 on ESPN. The show has been a respite for the American sports fan for the last 15 years.

There have been small murmurs on social media about the demise of PTI as ratings have dropped an alleged 30% recently, but it’s all amongst those who follow that sort of thing. PTI remains a jewel for ESPN daily.

This week ESPN announced it has signed both Kornheiser and Wilbon to multi-year extensions and that the pair will “continue to work together” and contribute to other ESPN platforms.

According to ESPN, PTI is the most viewed ESPN studio product with about 1 million viewers daily if you count the re-air on ESPN2 at 6:30 as well. PTI is also ESPN’s most DVR’d studio show as well .

The NLCS has been good for FS1 and Fox Sports

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The ratings for the first two broadcasts of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers-Cubs on FoxSports1 have shown good signs. The numbers are good, not mind-blowing but very good.

What’s more,  America seems to like the John Smoltz Joe Buck pairing. Perhaps Smoltz wasn’t brought to life the way he ought to be with his temporary partner Matt Vasgersian or perhaps it’s just a bigger stage and more people are criticizing and yes watching and paying attention.

For Saturday’s Game 1, Fox drew a 3.9 overnight rating with 5.9 total viewers. Game 2 numbers really spiked with 7.2 million viewers and a 5.0 rating according to Fox Sports PR. Likely its the highest viewed event in FS1’s very brief history.

The numbers are good, not off the charts in comparison to what TBS drew a year ago when it had the NLCS. Also Chicago and L.A. as top markets boost the overall number. But it serves a bigger purpose in the FOX Sports stratosphere.

For FOX it serves as a vehicle into non-stop, and rightful, promotion of its new ESPN competitor FS1. Fox’s talent grab from ESPN includes Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, NBA reporter Chris Broussard, studio host Mike Hill among others.

Game 3 of the NLCS airs tonight on FS1.

Joe Buck makes his return to baseball with the NLCS and World Series on FOX

in Sports Media/Sports TV/Yardwork by

Joe Buck’s baseball duties with the network have decreased in recent years.  This season, his 21st with FOX, he called just a handful of baseball games, about one per month this summer.

He’s got a new talk show, “Undeniable” on Audience TV and Direct TV. A format he’s tried and coveted for many years.

He’s also doing FOX’s USGA Golf coverage. Practically like learning a new language.  He’s also the lead voice in the biggest of all sports properties NFL on FOX.

His old-time baseball partner Tim McCarver was let go, retired, semi-retired, or something in-between.

They had chemistry. McCarver and Joe Buck’s dad, Jack Back, did not. McCarver was too talkative for the elder Buck’s taste but for Joe ‘yeah I could get along with the kid’.  Tim and Joe gelled well. They understood each other.

It was a shame it couldn’t continue.

Then two guys with a ton of Major League Baseball experience Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci joined Buck in the booth, and well many might say it was a disaster. Joe was the babysitter. Too many unique personalities in the booth.

Now FOX has John Smoltz paired with Buck. Smoltz is opinionated but understated. With almost no risk of creating a Twitter firestorm with anything he says, which was common place for McCarver.  Smoltz brings a ton of baseball knowledge, and recent baseball knowledge unlike McCarver who was apt at recalling a particular game situation that happened in the 60s, when 80-percent of the audience wasn’t alive. Smoltzy and Buck did a few games this season (less than five) including the All-Star game, but the real show is the postseason.

Beginning with the NLCS Saturday, October 15th Buck and Smoltz will try to make magic for the MLB postseason and on into the World Series.

For Buck, this is his 21st season as the voice of baseball on FOX. Despite the constant criticism which has increased in volume in the Twitter era, here’s Buck and he’s still doing postseason baseball.

Buck has been the voice of the World Series on TV for the 16th straight season, and in total, he’s done 19 World Series. Buck is the voice you want for the World Series.

 

Buck is set to release his new memoir (a little young for a memoir right?) titled “Lucky Bastard: My Life, My Dad, And The Things I’m Not Allowed To Say On TV.

Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch recently spoke with Buck regarding how hair-plug surgery affected his vocal cords almost costing him his voice in 2001. But Buck’s moment of truth is coming out of it all and wanting to tell the world about it.

“When I started thinking about writing a book, this was the main reason why,” Buck told Deitsch. “It wasn’t about stories with my Dad. I wanted to detail the time in my life where I had a lot going on and I was stressed, a time when I started to take anti-depressants and was going through a divorce. Then I had this situation with my voice that rocked me to my knees and shook every part of my world. I’m 47 years old now and willing to be vulnerable sharing a story. Whether the book is read by one person or one million doesn’t concern me. Getting this out and being honest, really telling my story, that was was the impetus behind this.”

Goodbye Vin Scully, yes we will miss you dearly, but mostly thank you 

in MLB/Sports Media/Sports TV/Yardwork by

It was Bart Giamatti, the late baseball commissioner, who said, “baseball breaks your heart.”

“It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring when everything else begins again, Blossoms in the summer filling the afternoons and evenings and then as soon as the chill rain comes it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”

 

It will break many a heart not to be able to tune in on MLB.TV to watch Dodger games. For those in Los Angeles, it will truly break their hearts.

Of course, the heartache should not be the same, as Vin Scully was never ours to begin with. Sure, we had him here or there. If you are old enough to be alive in the 80s on a national broadcast which was not the genuine product made your familiar. But for the majority of the sports fans life, Vin was a borrowed product from Los Angeles.

Vin was pulled here or there to the network, notably NBC. Throughout his tenure, he flirted with the network but was never able to leave his love for the Dodgers and commit to the network and have time for family. His heart would always be with the Dodgers and any venture in the network was purely to broaden his horizons and keep his opportunities open.

His celebrity was never in question, but for the internet crowd, those who talk baseball on Twitter, Facebook and on online forums he gained a new following via the magic of the internet.

But Vin is also to blame for breaking our hearts. He called us in as a friend and spoke to us one-on-one. The entire world got to see the only man in baseball who does the TV thing entirely alone. No color analyst, no sideline reporter, just Vin and you talking, and keeping you company like a gentle, loving grandfather, which of course he is outside of his day/night job.

There’s a certain class, a gentlemen way, about baseball broadcasters who got their start during that golden era of the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Most of them are gone. Most of them have passed away. For many years now, those voices no longer fill the summer air with their often gentle, sometimes strong, often soothing, descriptions of a game we call baseball.  Ernie Harwell, Jack Buck, and it goes on.

These were contemporaries of Vin Scully. Harwell was with the Dodgers just a year before Scully began with the Dodgers back in 1950. Harwell that year went to the New York Giants and left an opening on the Dodger broadcast team that Scully would fill. Jack Buck would get his start with the St. Louis in Cardinals in 1954.

Mr. Scully himself might dispute that he was anything but a boy when he got behind the mic to broadcast his first major league baseball game in 1950.

His training as a broadcaster appears to be based on pure common sense. Red Barber told him not to root for the home team, don’t fraternize and be social with the players as it would dilute objectivity, keep your opinions to yourself, don’t listen to other broadcasters and most of all, be yourself. “Don’t imitate others, it will water your wine.” 

Red Barber said this about bringing Scully into the big leagues “I always had the dream of taking an untutored kid who showed some promise and of putting him on the air for what he was, a neophyte learning the trade. Scully was a perfect choice. He was a green pea, but he was a very appealing young green pea. It was obvious he had something on the ball; you didn’t know precisely what it was, but he had it.”

As Vin Scully leaves the scene, there’s a sense of capturing lightning in a bottle, we know this great treasure and artist will be going away and I don’t think too many of us baseball fans really know how to handle it.

Vin Scully pregame “MLB on TBS” interview with Cal Ripken, Jr., August 28, 2016 from Turner Sports on Vimeo.

There’s also a sense of guilt. A sense of guilt that we’ve been taking Scully for granted, that for much of the 80s and 90s when many of us were just so much more infatuated with the game of baseball and particularly major league baseball and its radio and television broadcasts,  Vin Scully was right there broadcasting the Dodgers so faithfully. But alas many of  us realize we had no way of catching Vin, or Mr. Scully (only his contemporaries or those maybe about 20 years younger than him can call him Vin). Yes, we had no way of watching Scully. We couldn’t get the dodger radio broadcast unless of course, you were in Southern California and to watch Scully on TV? Are you kidding me? Myself a baseball fan from about 1988 onward as a kid I had a fate recognition of the national baseball announcers, but even if I had a more keen sense of who they were Scully was not about the Vin Scully brand. He was meekly the play-by-play announcer even on his days with NBC and doing national work, which he didn’t particularly care for, as he could not properly get to know and really engage with the viewer or the team.

Alas, MLB.TV came along, and Twitter came along and the pairing of two seemed to go hand and hand, many would and still do post just downright amusing anecdotes and quotes from Scully as the late hours of the night rolled forward whether the Dodgers were winning or losing.

One thing that has always stood out about Mr. Scully is his utter distaste for vanity and personal attention. It has ruined many men, it could not just be the product of the time, but a personal decision that you could not, could not let the praise of men inflate your sense of purpose or place in the world.

And for that, as we’ll all but worship Vin Scully as he goes away as something more than a man, he will want us to think for a moment that we all are humans and all have a value in this world, no more so than him, but Mr. Scully you sure are special to us baseball fans.

 

TBS we need Vin Scully on October 2nd

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Vin Scully will broadcast his final Dodger baseball game after 67 years of brilliance on October 2nd in San Francisco.

God willing as Mr. Scully would say and has said.

All baseball fans will be tuned in, we’ll find a way, either MLB.TV or whatever, or stop at the TV store in the mall (oh wait those don’t exist anymore).

No this isn’t 1988 when Scully famously called Kirk Gibson game winning pinch hit home run in Game 1. This is 2016, and time does fly by so quickly, there’s a lot less gentle feeling and infatuation with the game we call baseball these days and for many teams the broadcaster is just a guy who might change every two years.

But Vin Scully was something different. For many of us we’re late to the party. A southern califorina treasure who without “pomp and circumstance” as he would say, also greeted us at different points on the national network broadcast but in general Vin Scully has gotten his greatest widespread audience in the era of MLB.TV and the internet age.

A little piece of us and the lives of many who listened to Scully for just a brief moment or even a few years will feel time passing ever so quicker and yesterdays so far away when Scully calls his final game October 3rd.

As Richard Sandomir of the New York Times eloquently positioned it Tuesday, TBS has an opportunity to broadcast or simulcast Scully’s game on October 2nd.

Vin Scully will conclude his 67-season run as the voice of the Dodgers on Oct. 2 in a game against the Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco. But it should be more than a local event for Scully’s fans in the Los Angeles area. When baseball’s greatest announcer retires, it is a national occasion.

It will be up to to TBS, Major League Baseball’s partner for Sunday afternoon broadcasts, to bring the last of Scully to the rest of the country. TBS is not saying what it will do, and the network will not decide which matchup to televise until seven to 10 days beforehand.

Simulcasting the Dodgers-Giants game should be the easy choice. Not only is Scully leaving, but the game may very well have playoff implications.

That will be a huge moment in American Sports history.

Let’s make it happen TBS.

Scully’s closing words surely will be the most poetic thing uttered in the sports arena in decades. The man who can quote Shakespeare and live to tell the true life stories of the Brooklyn Dodgers of course is a national treasure, and it will never be the same in Dodgertown without him.

 

 

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

in Pigskin/Sports Media/Sports TV by

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.

The Cooper Report: NBA Jersey Sponsorships to begin in 2017

in Sports Business/Sports Media/Sports TV by

-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.

 

Link: ESPN’s Dick Vitale, who will call Syracuse-Duke, nearly quit long ago due to his eye 

in HOOPS/Sports TV/Trending by

A nice story told by Mike Waters of Syracuse.com

 
For years, Dick Vitale made a joke out of his bad left eye, the one he couldn’t see out of because of an accident when he was a small child.

He lost the vision in the eye after it was poked by a pencil.

So when the ESPN basketball analyst wanted to make a point about something that had happened in a game, he would say something along the lines of ‘Hey, I’ve only got one good eye and I can see that!”

But for many years, Vitale’s eye was not a joke. It was a subject of great pain from his childhood years all the way to adulthood and the hurt nearly saw him walk away from his broadcast career.

Source: ESPN’s Dick Vitale, who will call Syracuse-Duke, nearly quit long ago due to his eye | syracuse.com

Greg Norman out at Fox Sports

in Golf/Sports TV/Trending by

 
 
–Lead Golf analyst Greg Norman was surprisingly let go by Fox Sports on Friday after just one year at the network.

The news broke on Sunday evening and did not directly come from Fox Sports, but through various sources, including Links Magazine on Twitter.

On Monday Fox Sports made the announcement official via press release.

Norman was the first and only lead analyst the network has had since it began doing golf last year, including the U.S. Open. He was teamed with Joe Buck.

Why was he let go?

To your regular weekend golfer and fan he seemed to do a pretty good job and viewers tended recognize him. That demographic, the 30s or higher does not pay the bills.

On social media some golf hardcores and the younger generation didn’t think he was fit for the role both in his knowledge of current players and his ability to give commentary for what was happening on the course.

In a press release Fox Sports said:

Both parties have agreed to an amicable separation and will continue to work together to broadcast the Franklin Templeton Shootout, which remains an important part of FOX Sports’ golf platform.

“After careful consideration, we have decided to make this change to our USGA Championships coverage,” said John Entz. “We want to thank Greg for his contributions last year, and wish him success in all his current and future endeavors.”

 

 

 

Steelers-Broncos draws big rating for CBS

in Pigskin/Sports TV by

According to CBS Sports, Broncos vs Steelers earned 26.2/44 overnight household rating/share which is the best rating in 21 years for an AFC divisional round game.

Via CBS PR:

“THE NFL ON CBS” BROADCAST OF PITTSBURGH-DENVER IS HIGHEST-RATED SUNDAY AFC DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF GAME IN 21 YEARS AND HIGHEST-RATED GAME OF 2015-16 SEASON ON ANY NETWORK

THE NFL ON CBS’s broadcast of the Pittsburgh-Denver AFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday, Jan. 17 (4:45-8:00 PM, ET) is the highest-rated Sunday AFC Divisional Playoff game in 21 years on any network in the metered markets.

Pittsburgh-Denver also is the highest-rated game of the 2015-16 season on any network in the metered markets.

The AFC Divisional Playoff game on Sunday scored an average overnight household rating/share in the metered markets of 26.2/44, up +3% from last year’s 25.4/41 (Indianapolis-Denver, 4:45-8:00 PM, ET; 1/11/15).

Yesterday’s 26.2/44 ties (N.Y. Jets-New England, 1/16/11, CBS) as the highest-rated Sunday AFC Divisional Playoff game in 21 years (26.8/46; Miami-San Diego; 1/8/1995; 4:00-7:30 PM, ET; NBC) in the metered markets.

The rating/share for the Broncos-Steelers game peaked with a 29.7/46 (7:30-8:00 PM, ET).

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