Monday, April 24, 2017

No Jumping Through Hoops To Get These Ratings

The NBA playoffs are the hot item for sports viewing these days, and that figures to continue for a while. This past weekend (April 22/23) saw a 13% increase in total viewership over the seven telecasts compared with the 2nd weekend of opening round telecasts last season. On Friday night (April 21), ESPN's doubleheader games finished as the top two most watched cable programs (of any type) for the night.

Although NHL Stanley Cup Playoff viewership had started to rise after the opening weekend, NBC and its group figure to take a hit with the elimination of Chicago, Minnesota, and Boston after the opening rounds. It's certainly not NBC's fault, especially with its even more improved coverage, that it has "only" St. Louis, Nashville, and Edmonton as three of its four Western Conference markets starting this week.

In addition, have the much anticipated East matchup between Pittsburgh and Washington may be good for those ratings, it hurts in the long run that one of those two teams will be gone before the semi-finals begin.

The NFL gets some of the spotlight later this week as ESPN provides live coverage of the entire NFL Draft again this year. It will have a different feel without Chris Berman, like him or not, since this will be the first time he will not be hosting at least the opening round of an NFL Draft live telecast.

Fox Sports Radio is hitting its draft coverage hard, especially looking to helps its Philadelphia affiliate WPEN-FM. The network plans to be on live from a Philadelphia restaurant on Thursday at 7 PM ET, with WPEN-FM morning host Anthony Gargano hosting an earlier "pre draft" show live starting at 6 PM ET which will also air across the network.

Here's hoping that the sports media will wait until picks are made and report the facts instead of seemingly endless projections and "expert" picks which have no bearing on actual news.

The NFL schedule, released late last week, will not allow NBC a flex scheduling option for Week 16, which surrounds Christmas weekend. In a seemingly rare move to actually please the paying fans, the NFL has determined that the Saturday Dec. 23rd Minnesota vs. Green Bay and the Christmas night Eagles vs. Raiders games will remain in prime time on NBC no matter what. By doing this, it eliminates the possibility of fans having to change holiday weekend plans because of changed starting times.

On Week 17, which surrounds New Year's weekend, an oddity has all four California NFL teams (at least for the coming season) playing within California on December 31st. The Raiders are scheduled to host the L.A. Chargers in Oakland, while the L.A. Rams will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers at the same time with 4:25 PM ET kickoffs.

Speaking of California teams, a curious move by KSWB Channel 5 in San Diego for the coming exhibition season. The station, which had aired all available Chargers exhibition games in the past, has dropped the team since its move to Los Angeles.

Instead, KSWB will air three of the L.A. Rams exhibition games. Ironically, the one August game it cannot air is a national telecast on CBS on August 26th, in which the L.A. Rams will take on, you guessed it, the L.A. Chargers.

While this is going on, there has yet to be an announcement about which Los Angeles radio station will become the flagship station for the Chargers. Even the team's official web site still has "Coming Soon" for its radio broadcasts, as of press time.

In recent seasons, San Diego Chargers games were carried in L.A. on KLAC 570 when available (when no conflicts with Dodgers broadcasts). Of course, now that the Chargers are a local team, they need a station which will air every game along with full pre-game and post-game programming.

KLAC is not a logical candidate, given that the station is 49% owned by the Dodgers, which have games throughout September and possibly post-season games during October.

COLUMBUS: Former NFL standout A.J. Hawk joins WBNC 97.1 The Fan for a daily Noon to 1 PM talk show with co-host Anthony Rothman. It will begin on May 8th and be titled "Off Season with A.J. Hawk". The station has already announced that Hawk will remain part of the midday "Carpenter & Rothman Show" during the season on "Football Fridays".

DETROIT: Health issues have caused WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket morning show co-host Terry Foster to announce his retirement, effective immediately. Foster suffered a stroke almost one year ago and missed most of the second half of 2016.

As you would expect, Mike Valenti will remain with the morning show. Since this announcement caught everyone by surprise, it's too soon to think about who the replacement will be.

CHICAGO: Even though the Bulls have attracted attention with winning their first two playoff games against Boston and helped the ratings, their regular season proved a local TV ratings disaster. The ratings for CSN Chicago, which aired most of their games, were the lowest for any season since 2007-08, down roughly 33% from the previous season, and down around 58% from two seasons ago. Their highest rated single game telecasts were all during November and December.

DENVER: Ed McCaffrey and KOA 850 have completely parted company. The former Broncos receiver will no longer co-host his sports talk show, as well as coming out of the Broncos radio booth. He had been an analyst along with play-by-play voice Dave Logan since the 2012 season.

RICHMOND: The sale of ESPN 950 WXGI will result in even more coverage with what will soon be a three station simulcast. WXGI will continue to air sports, along with adding 102.7 FM. In addition, next market south WTPS 1240 Petersburg will also carry the station. All three will air live play-by-play of both the Washington Nationals and Redskins, along with University of Richmond football and basketball.

TULSA: KJRH Channel 2 Sports Director Al Jerkens has announced that he will retire when his current contract expires this coming August 3rd at the age of 65. Jerkens has been a fixture throughout his 43 year TV career. He will be missed.

HOWELL MI: Sorry to learn of the passing of former WHMI Sports Director Dave Johnson. He lost his battle to pancreatic cancer last week at the age of 48. Our thoughts are with his family.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sports Radio Stations Hold The Line In March Ratings

The radio ratings are being released this week around the country for the month of March, with the majority of the large markets not showing much of a change for the sports stations.

We always monitor Boston due to its two rival sports stations always being so strong. However, March was not kind as both stations combined to lose more than 10% of their total audience compared with the February results.

WBZ-FM Sports Hub lost .7 of a ratings point, although finishing #6 overall remains one of the stronger sports station showings around the country. WEEI-FM dropped .6 of a ratings point, coming in one-half point behind and in the #8 overall position. The April book should prove more interesting, since this month brings the start of the Celtics and Bruins in the playoffs along with the Red Sox season and the team expected to be a strong contender.

In Philadelphia, WIP-FM 94.1 finished #8 overall in the market, scoring its best ratings thus far in 2017.

On the other hand, San Francisco's KNBR 680, which has been as high as #1 in the market within the past 18 months, dropped again during March and is now at #10 overall. Their April ratings will be crucial if KNBR is going to rebound, as the Warriors begin their playoff run and the Giants begin their regular season.

Speaking of ratings, the TV people are pleased with the viewership for the start of the NBA Playoffs. ABC scored very well with its Golden State vs. Portland opening game telecast, while TNT also started strong on Sunday (4/16) night. The prime-time opening game doubleheader with the Chicago upset over Boston followed by the OK City vs. Houston opener was the cable TV overall winner for the night. These games also finished with roughly 39% higher ratings than the first TNT doubleheader last year.

A quick note to headline writers from sports fans. A mock draft is not and should never be "breaking news". We understand that ESPN, which televises the NFL Draft next week, and other sports heavy news organizations want to promote their "draft experts". But who they think will be picked in the first round is NOT news or factual.

It's not only some of the pro sports teams taking over and providing their own "controlled" content for fans these days. It somehow slipped under the radar that Kevin Durant has gone as far as to start his own YouTube channel to serve the fans.

Durant has already done a live stream from his home which included the view from his balcony and his dog. This channel already has more than 40,000 subscribers.

LAS VEGAS: The new NHL Golden Knights will also have games broadcast in Spanish when the team debuts next season. KENO 1460 ESPN DEPORTES will carry them.

PHOENIX: The NBA now has one less "Albert" calling its games due to the announced retirement of Steve Albert. Steve had done the Suns on TV for the past five seasons and has decided to call it a career after 45 years.

TAMPA: WXTB 98 Rock has a new multi-year contract in place to continue as flagship station for the Buccaneers broadcasts. In addition, the radio broadcasts will also be streamed via the team's web site starting with the upcoming season.

HARTFORD: WTIC 1080 has now bailed on sports talk only shows, dropping the team of Joe D'Ambrosio and Andy Gresch from the 3 to 6 PM spot. This appears to have been strictly a ratings based decision, since D'Ambrosio will continue calling University of Connecticut play-by-play as usual. Gresh is reportedly heading over to WPRO Providence to host nights. WTIC begins a general talk show with Todd Feinburg on Monday (4/24).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Let's See How Many Watch Stanley Cup Playoffs

As the NHL Playoffs begin, with the sixth season in a row of every post-season game being nationally televised, we have significant comings and goings in the announce booth.

It is great news that Dave Strader will be back in the TV booth this week to call the first two games of the Washington vs. Toronto series for the NBC Network group. Strader, in his 32nd season of calling NHL games at the local (Dallas Stars) and national level, has missed most of this regular season undergoing cancer treatments.

At the same time, it is an official farewell to another NHL broadcasting legend with Bob Miller's last play-by-play telecast for the L.A. Kings this past weekend, wrapping up his amazing 44-years in that role. On Sunday (4/9), Miller was short and to the point on his final sign-off after the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Kings in overtime.

It was actually analyst Jim Fox, who has been with the Kings for the past 27 seasons, who spent more time and was clearly more emotional than Miller on the air when it came time to finish their telecast. Miller was very brief in his post-game on-air comments and remained very composed given all of his years in the booth.

The Stanley Cup playoffs are critical for NBC and perhaps for the NHL when it comes to future rights. There is no overlooking the fact that the regular season NHL ratings for NBC came in as the lowest since the early 90's, while NBCSN's ratings were the lowest since the 2011-12 season. Their hope has to be that the N.Y. Rangers, Boston, and Chicago teams all advance further into the post-season and bring their strong local market ratings with them.

Speaking of teams which draw ratings, the NFL is wasting no time in getting the Dallas Cowboys on national TV ASAP. The Hall of Fame Game, which begins the exhibition game season, will air on NBC on August 3rd with Dallas vs. Arizona.

Here are the other national TV exhibition games, with all times Eastern:

Hall of Fame Game (Canton, Ohio)
Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals (NBC, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 3
Preseason Week 2 (August 17-21)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars (ESPN, 8 p.m.), Thursday, Aug. 17
New York Giants at Cleveland Browns (ESPN, 8 p.m.) Monday, Aug. 21
Preseason Week 3 (August 24-27)
Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks (CBS, 8 p.m.) Friday, Aug. 25
Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams (CBS, 8 p.m.) Saturday, Aug. 26
Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans (FOX, 1 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins (FOX, 4:30 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27
San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (NBC, 8 p.m.) Sunday, Aug. 27

Over at MLB, the effort continues to bring streaming telecasts of live games to other countries overseas. New multi-year deals have just been signed to provide live regular and post-season telecasts in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and India. DAZN is the OTT service provider for all except India, which will receive 20 games per week (with one game per three hour window) by way of VEQTA.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Looks as though the first round of the NBA Playoffs will be the last time that Phil Chenier will be the analyst on CSN's Wizards telecasts after 33 seasons in the role. It appears that Chenier wants to cut back on travel, as the early word is that he will serve as studio analyst during Wizards telecasts starting for next season.

PHILADELPHIA: 97.5 The Fanatic appears to have some behind the scenes happenings which are significantly impacting the station's morning show this week. Anthony Gargano has been off the air all week, coming just after reports that co-host Maureen Williams and producer Jamie Lynch were already dismissed by the station. No word, yet, regarding Gargano, who was said to be upset about the dismissal of Williams.

Eytan Shander, Geoff Mosher, and Joe Tordy have been filling in all week. Would have to think that Angelo Cataldi over at WIP 94.1 will do his best to deliver monster shows early next week to keep people from checking over at 97.5 to see whether or not Gargano actually returns. Since The Fanatic was part of a big sale of stations last year, it is possible this is the first of the cost cutting moves coming from new ownership.

CLEVELAND: Sorry to learn of the passing of long time local sports radio host Kendall Lewis. He was known as the "Big Sports Kahuna" during his seven year run at WKNR 850.

Meanwhile, the excitement about the Indians is already evident this early in the 2017 season. The team's first week of regular season telecasts on Sports Time Ohio produced ratings which were up roughly 90% over last year and nearly four ratings points higher than the average ratings for all of the 2016 season.

DALLAS: Rangers fans already need a scorecard to keep track of TV announcers, and now there is more. Tom Grieve has added 35 games, likely road telecasts, as studio analyst in addition to his games as the booth analyst during Rangers telecasts. Grieve will be in the booth this weekend for the home games vs. Oakland, while C.J. Nitkowski rejoins play-by-play voice Dave Raymond again on Monday when the Rangers start their road trip in Anaheim.

LEXINGTON: It will be the end of an era for local sports fans this coming September when WKYT-TV sportscaster Rob Bromley begins his retirement. Bromley just announced that after 40 years with the station that he will call it a career.

Bromley is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet, in any profession, and has been on the scene a long time. In fact, those of you that recall the 1978 U. of Kentucky NCAA Championship team coached by Joe B. Hall and featuring Jack Givens and Rick Robey might recall that Bromley was already on the scene covering that team. At the time, he was backup sportscaster to Denny Trease, before Trease went on to Kansas City to do Royals TV.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Announcers Coming And Going

Now that the MLB season is underway and the NCAA Tournament is over, it's on to some announcing comings and goings around the country.

FS1 quietly begins its coverage of MLB with a seemingly secret prime time national game on Wednesday (4/5) when it airs the N.Y. Yankees at Tampa game. The telecast will mark the debut of the Network's newest game analyst when A.J. Pierzynski joins Kenny Albert in the booth. This figures to be a good hire for Fox Sports. The problem is if it wasn't for the announcement of hiring Pierzynski as analyst, even the most hardy of baseball fans would not have known that FS1 is doing a prime time game this week.

ESPN leads the way this week with announcements about announcers. The Network has determined its course regarding its in season NFL studio programming, determining that it will take three people to replace Chris Berman.

Monday Night Football will now have Suzy Kolber as solo host of "Monday Night Countdown" along with half-time and post-game. Kolber had been co-host, along with Berman, for each of the past two seasons.

Sunday NFL Countdown, the extended Sunday pre-game show, will now be hosted by Sam Ponder, who comes over from extensive college football coverage for ESPN. Berman had hosted the show since the 1986 season.

And, since Chris Berman is no longer hosting the NFL Draft (coming April 27 - 29), the new host has been announced as Trey Wingo, who will host all three days of live coverage. Wingo will also continue as host of "NFL Live" which airs throughout the entire year.

On the NBA side, ESPN has made it official that Michelle Beadle will be the studio host for the ESPN/ABC coverage for the post-season. Good to know that the Network finally sees the need for a legitimate broadcaster to host the studio segments instead of former players trying to host a train wreck, like what happened a couple of seasons ago.

At CBS, Tony Gonzalez will no longer serve as an NFL studio analyst after three seasons in that role.

No replacement as of press time, with rumors flying that the supposedly just retired QB Tony Romo will considered as a replacement.

CBS Sports Network will simulcast the CBS Sports Radio afternoon show "Tiki & Tierney"from 3 PM to 6 PM ET. The show, co-hosted by Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney, moves from its previous 9 AM to Noon ET time slot, with Damon Amendolara moving from nights to the 9 AM to Noon slot on the radio side. Bill Reiter comes in to host the 6 PM to 10 PM ET spot starting on April 17th.

SAN FRANCISCO / OAKLAND: CSN Bay Area, now known as NBC Sports Bay Area, has added a new studio analyst for both its Giants and A's telecasts effective immediately.
Former Giants standout Matt Williams begins his pre-game and post-game role on Monday (April 10) for the Giants home opener. With huge interest in the Giants again this year, the Network is expanding both studio shows to up to one hour for most of the telecasts.

The A's telecasts will have Jose Canseco added to the mix as a studio analyst for both the pre-game and post-game shows.

LOS ANGELES: Opening Day of baseball season was significant because of it being the first regular season game without Vin Scully as the lead broadcaster in the Los Angeles history of the franchise.

Of course, roughly 70% of the market still cannot get the Dodgers telecasts. Adding to the struggles of the fans is the fact that the ESPN national telecast of the Dodgers opener vs. the Padres was also blacked out in the L.A. area.

CHICAGO: CSN Chicago has added Scott Podsednik to its White Sox studio coverage effective opening day, where he will also have long-time analyst Bill Melton also in studio for most of the telecasts. Hard to believe that they need two analysts for what figure to be low rated telecasts again this season.

On their radio side, a bizarre move by White Sox flagship station WLS this past Saturday (4/1), which was not an April Fool's joke. The White Sox played their final pre-season game at 1:00 that afternoon, which WLS did not broadcast. The game was televised on CSN Chicago. Yet, WLS aired its "White Sox Weekly" two hour program from Noon until 2 PM.

As a result, the final hour of their show for White Sox fans aired up against a live game on TV at the same time.

St. LOUIS: KFNS 590 has brought in longtime local sportscaster John Hadley, who had been off the air since January 2016, to be its Sports Director. Hadley, as of now, will not have a regular air shift, instead filling in as needed.

SAN DIEGO: An evening host change takes place at XEPRS Mighty 1090. Chris Cantore started on Monday (4/3) as 6 PM to 9 PM host, replacing Kevin Acee. The station was rated only 23rd overall in the market in the most recent ratings, despite a 50,000 watt signal booming in from across the Mexican border.

Ft. MYERS: WWCN 99.3 ESPN has added Craig Shemon as host of its local afternoon drive show. Shemon is expected to continue with play-by-play assignments for Fox Sports and Big Ten Network.

BEND OR: The local simulcast of Fox Sports Radio is over, as now only 94.9 carries it, as sister station 940 AM has gone off the air. 94.9 will continue to also carry Oregon State University football and basketball, as well as 49ers football.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

February Not Kind To Sports Radio Ratings

Once again the month of February was not a good one for most of the sports radio station ratings around the country. Only the participating markets are interested enough in the constant Super Bowl talk during the first week. And it's the middle of the regular season for the NBA and NHL, and before tournament time for college hoops.

Both Boston sports powerhouses showed up in the top 6 in the market even though both stations dropped for the month. WBZ-FM Sports Hub, although the flagship station for the Patriots, dropped .4 and came in #5 in overall audience. WEEI-FM dropped .6 of a rating point and finished at #6. WBZ-FM's Felger & Mass finished #2 (in the market) in the afternoon drive battle.

WFAN-FM New York dropped to #14 in the market, losing .8 from January, while WEPN-FM held steady to again finish several notches below. The Fan is adding to its baseball coverage, signing the newly retired Mark Teixeira to join Michael Kay for a segment each Thursday afternoon, in what could really be an audition for Teixeira to possibly join ESPN at some point.

At WEPN-FM, Ryan Hurley has been moved up to Program Director following the promotion of Justin Craig from that position on up to ESPN Radio (national).

Chicago's two sports stations both dropped as well, with WSCR 670 The Score falling another half-point to only 22nd in the market. WMVP ESPN 1000 only dropped .2, but is now out of the top 25 overall even though it beat WSCR in a couple of key demographics.

In Dallas, it depends on the time of day. KTCK AM/FM The Ticket finished 8th in the market between 6 AM and 7 PM but vanishes the rest of the time. The station dropped to 27th at night and 20th on the weekends. KRLD-FM, now without Cowboys football until August, dropped a full ratings point, losing more than 35% of its total audience from the previous month.

In Atlanta, with the Falcons season ending with the Super Bowl, and little hope for the Hawks or the Braves, WZGC-FM The Game lost 1.3 rating points and slipped to #14 overall. WCNN, with roughly 40% of the audience size of The Game (even after The Game's big drop), lost .2 for the month.

Minneapolis area listeners like KFXN-FM The Fan during the afternoon with the station coming in #2 in the market during that time. However, the station dropped .6 overall for the month.

Tampa's WDAE-AM has now dropped .5 in both of the two most recent ratings periods.

Three other large markets are suffering when it comes to sports radio ratings.

After showing some promise for the previous few months, Houston's sports stations are all back to having overall ratings under 1.0. KILT dropped .6 to only a .8 overall. KMBE-AM and KFNC-FM both trail at .5 each.

Similar story in Los Angeles, where once again the two major sports talkers are also under a 1.0. And, unfortunately, it's the same story in Miami, where WQAM-AM, WAXY-AM, and WINZ-AM are also under a 1.0 rating, with two of those three dropping slightly from January.

While we await more announcements from ESPN regarding hosts and analysts for its NFL studio programming, we do know that former head coach Rex Ryan is joining the staff. Unconfirmed reports (as of press time) have Ryan joining the NFL Countdown show. This is part of a major change, as neither Chris Berman or Tom Jackson will be a part of Countdown moving forward.

Fox Sports Radio adds Doug Gottlieb for its 3 PM to 6 PM ET show starting between mid-April (when his CBS Sports Radio contract runs out) and mid-May.

CHICAGO: WMVP ESPN 1000 is swapping its highly rated early afternoon show "Kap & Company" to late mornings and expanding it to three hours. David Kaplan's show will air from 9 AM to Noon, while "Carmen & Jurko" will switch to Noon to 2 PM. The station has also added the network's MLB analyst Rick Sutcliffe for a weekly segment during its afternoon drive show hosted by Marc Silverman and Tom Waddle.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago has named former Cub outfielder David Dejesus as its new pre and post-game studio analyst for its Cubs telecasts. Dejesus replaces Todd Hollandsworth in that roll, with Hollandsworth having moved to the Miami Marlins TV booth.

WTRO 1200 has picked up ESPN Deportes, dropping its Spanish talk format.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sports Media Update

With most of the NCAA Tournament still to be played, it's encouraging to know that CBS is listening to fan input.

This past Sunday's (3/12) Selection Show was a clear example, with the entire bracket having been revealed within the first 37 minutes. No more waiting close to an hour as we have been stuck with over the past couple of years, especially when the show had been extended to two long hours.

During the Final Four weekend at the beginning of April, it may appear as though CBS was listening when it airs the games (instead of TBS last year). Not the case, as the current contract has CBS and TBS rotating the Final Four weekend telecasts, and this year it is naturally CBS' turn.

Is there a sudden increased interest in NFL free agent signing speculation? Hard to tell, but last week's (3/9) ESPN NFL Insiders Free Agency Special followed by NFL Live drew an audience which was up more than 200% over similar programming a year ago. Or, is it because last year's similar shows aired on ESPN2 instead?

Might be worth keeping an eye on how studio shows do in the ratings on both networks.

A couple of stories that make us sad this week.

Sorry to learn of the passing of long time NBA analyst John Andariese at the age of 78. Andariese was on national games for many years in addition to having worked Knicks games with Marv Albert for years on MSG Network. He started with the team back in the 1972-73 season. "Johnny Hoops", as he was known, will be missed.

We also learned earlier this week that long time UNC voice Woody Durham has been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia which negatively impacts his speaking ability. The 75 year-old Durham spent 40 years as the voice of UNC.

PALM BEACH: WMEN 640 has added still more Fox Sports Radio programming, now dropping Joe Raineri and Steve Zemach from its lineup.

Friday, March 10, 2017

A More Selective Telecast - We Hope

Let's hope that having CBS reduce the NCAA Tournament Selection program on Sunday back to 90 minutes results in a more streamlined presentation. This is an improvement over the 2-hours devoted to this last year, but 90 minutes is still way too long.

Hopefully this will cut down on all of the speculation about which teams will go where. The telecast does not need to feel like a one hour half-time. Frankly, one hour should be the maximum length for this telecast.

Spend the first ten minutes setting up the announcement, followed by 10 minute segments on each of the four regionals. Start each segment out by showing the pairings, and then the remaining eight minutes of each letting dozens of analysts flood us with comments. Then, take a couple minutes to pick the best matchups, and wrap it up.

Westwood One Radio Network has found enough advertiser and station interest to air the Final Four (April 1 and 3) in Spanish for the first time, having already lined up more than 40 Spanish language stations around the country (as of press time) to air those broadcasts.

Last week's Duke vs. North Carolina telecast on ESPN wound up being the most watched regular season college hoops telecast on any network (not just ESPN) over the past two seasons.

Another big loss on the baseball side. Bill Webb, who directed 17 World Series (2nd only to Harry Coyle who directed 36), lost his battle to cancer this past week at the age of 70. Webb spent the later part of his career directing the Mets telecasts for SNY, only to work a few games over the previous two seasons due to the health challenges he suffered from. He will be missed in a huge way.

Major social media sites continue to penetrate the live sports opportunity. Facebook did a live stream of the Red Sox opening game (even if only against Northeastern) for the first two innings last week.

The game did not otherwise air on any TV or radio station or network. Reports are that Facebook is still seeking to stream a few MLB regular season games.

Twitter already has the rights to stream approximately one "out of market" game per week this season, although, as of press time, no games/dates have been announced.

Fox Sports has added Alex Rodriguez to a full-time analyst role for this season after his well received work during the 2016 postseason. In addition to Saturday telecasts on Fox and FS1, Rodriguez will also be a part of the MLB Whiparound show which airs at inconsistent times during the week.

While we normally don't bother with podcasts, this one is a nice service for sports fans interested in the business side of things. PodcastOne has added "Forbes Sports Money" to its roster, bringing fans an audio version of the TV show which airs on YES Network. This makes the show, generally not specific to New York even though it has only aired on YES Network, available to fans around the country. This is an excellent addition, and a nice way to bring existing (and excellent) content to a wider audience.

LOS ANGELES: KTLA-TV Channel 5 has announced the ten early season Dodgers telecasts it will show, with the last one of the group being on May 7th. The highest rated one figures to be on May 3rd. That Wednesday night game is the only telecast currently scheduled of a Dodgers vs. Giants game, and will begin at the special time of 6 PM to include the Ring of Honor Ceremony for Vin Scully.

The KTLA telecasts include three games in four days (April 16 vs. AZ and the 18th and 19th against Colorado), with half of the telecasts as day games and half as night games.
Nothing yet about any KTLA telecasts after that. It probably will depend on the impact of single game ticket sales within 24 hours of each telecast.

DENVER: It's still KOA 850 all the way as the station has extended its contract to air the Rockies games through the 2021 season. The renewal also includes retaining the radio broadcast team of Jack Corrigan and Jerry Schemmel.

KKFN The Fan 104.3 begins the "Stokley & Zach Show" from 3 to 6 PM weekdays starting on Friday March 31st. Brandon Stokely, the former Broncos (and several other teams) receiver, will have newly added Zach Bye as his co-host.

Bye comes to Denver to begin this show by way of WTMM 104.5 Albany, from which he leaves the "Big Board Sports Show" with Rodger Wyland after next week.

DETROIT:  Local fans will get to enjoy Eli Zaret once again, even if for a few minutes a day. The 40 year sportscasting veteran is now doing "After Further Review" on WJR 760 around 4:35 PM each weekday during the Guy Gordon Show. He is best remembered as lead sports anchor on WDIV-TV in the 80's.

HOUSTON: As the ratings for the Root Sports Southwest Rockets telecasts continue to rise (including a season high rating on Monday 3/6 for the Rockets vs. Spurs game), the network's coverage range is now expanding. The telecasts can now be seen in more parts of Texas than before, except for the rights areas protected by the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs.

INDIANAPOLIS: This appears to me a lot more supply than demand, but WFNI The Fan is going to a three station combo, adding 107.5 to the mix. This is in addition to the 1070 / 93.5 combo. However, the 107.5 signal will merely carry NBC Sports Radio the majority of the time.