Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sports Media Update - August 20th

The NFL has expanded another revenue stream, but could also indirectly benefit from informal research. Sprint's "NFL Mobile Live" is being expanded for the upcoming season, with Sprint users having access to live NFL games via some of the paid plans it offers.

Although I am generally against paying "extra" for game information, the subscriber access to live game broadcasts and team updates is not the only feature this service will offer.

This service brings NFL.com's fantasy league to cell phones. Fantasy players will be able to track the performance of their players with real-time stats and rankings. That is quite the service for the hyperactive fantasy players that is truly an amazing use of technology. To think that 20 years ago a lot of people didn't understand what a "fantasy league" was and how it worked, let alone having no idea this technology would come about. Now, fans can literally keep track of "their" team, whether the real thing or one they have personally organized. And do so wherever they are via cell phone - even if they are attending an NFL game. What a great idea!

Meanwhile, I normally don't start rumors, but I'm going with this one. The Sirius XM signing of the "Mad Dog" channel seems a bit much for a New York City area sports talker.
But take the elements of well known talkers from major markets and put them on the same channel, and just maybe a few satellite subscribers could be pryed away from their usual sports outlet at some point during the day.

Mike North, recently dropped from Chicago's WSCR "The Score" after a 16 year run including morning drive, has said he will be back on the air after Labor Day. I'm thinking that the Mad Dog Channel could be where. North had a fill-in on WFAN between Imus and the current morning show. The idea of a Chicago or midwest oriented talk show for mornings or middays on Sirius XM prior to a New York based show in the afternoon could make for an interesting combination. (The Mad Dog himself will host 2 - 7 PM ET.)

There are some other well known hosts who might fit in during other dayparts. Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton has been on the outs lately with teams in Southern California, but has a 20 year track record as a Los Angeles and San Diego area talker, as well as some national filling in. And while Sid Rosenburg is doing well with his Miami morning show, he has been national in scope when he handled sports for Don Imus until 2007.

Again, this is my hunch only, and I'm sticking with it.

Meanwhile, while the Southeast Conference gets ready to enjoy its windfall from the new CBS-TV contract, the SEC may not done with the cash cow yet. The Conference's deals with ESPN and Raycom are set to expire after the coming seasons. Yet, the SEC is reportedly meeting with both regarding a future deal.

OKLAHOMA CITY - The football and basketball seasons are about to start, but it is already too expensive to deal with it. Whether you have tickets or not. Sorry, but I continue to be offended about college football telecasts being pay-per-view. There are no multi-million dollar payrolls to worry about. The Oklahoma season opener on Aug. 30th is against Chattanooga. Yet, this game will be available as a pay-per-view for, get this, $29.95. Not for a ticket on the 40 yard line, but to watch the game live on home TV. Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman will call the game, each of whom are part of the CBS-TV college football package. All I can say is that the people who fork out the big bucks for this telecast should look in the mirror when they want to complain about the high cost of cable TV for channels they don't want. If people spend $29.95 additional for one game, what does that show the cable companies?

But it doesn't end there. The new OK City NBA team has announced its ticket prices for the coming inaugural season. Lower level tickets at the Ford Center for regular season games will range from $50 to $250 per game. And that is without factoring in parking and concessions.

There is still room for radio in that market. Fans can listen to OU football and soon to NBA basketball - for free.

In their defense, it might not be just the Oklahoma City market for college football pay-per-view. FSN Midwest is expected to feed the University of Missouri games on Sept. 6 vs. Southeast Missouri State and Sept. 13 vs. Nevada on pay-per-view. Even though it would be because none of the networks have picked up these non-conference games. Let me get this straight. The networks won't touch these games because they can't draw enough interest from advertisers, but fans will be asked to pay $30 each for these telecasts??

INDIANAPOLIS: The ratings debut of WFNI 1070, the former WIBC-AM, was impressive against rival WNDE 1260. While WNDE won middays and afternoon drive, WFNI also easily outdistanced WXLW Sports 950 and did slightly better in the morning with its airing of Mike & Mike from ESPN Radio. WFNI is expected to add one or more locally based shows between 10 and 3 within the next month, and should get an added boost with the start of its Colts broadcasts this month and the Pacers starting in October. WNDE carries national broadcasts of MLB and other Westwood One games, along with Purdue football and basketball.

WASHINGTON D.C. - While the Nationals aren't setting the baseball world on fire both on the field and in terms of ratings, it was good to see the news that TV voice Bob Carpenter has been renewed for next season. 2009 will be his fourth year as the voice of the Nationals. He earns his pay and then some for making that team sound good.

HOUSTON - Nice to see Gene Elston being honored still again for his 25 seasons of describing the Astros (and, for trivia buffs - the Colt 45's) games. Elston was elected into the Houston Baseball Media Wall of Honor, becoming the second individual to be so honored. The Astros have announced (pun intended) a pregame ceremony to honor Elston on Sept. 24th before the Astors play the Cincinnati Reds.

BUFFALO - Former Niagara basketball coach Jack Armstrong begins co-hosting a sports talk show on Monday. What makes this so interesting is that it will not be on WGR 550 AM. Instead, Armstrong will be heard right next door on The Fan 590, along with hockey expert Doug MacLean. (MacLean is the former coach and GM of the NHL Columbus Blue Jackets.) 590 AM is the Toronto all-sports station, which is also home to the Toronto Raptors. Technically, Armstrong replaces Chuck Swirsky on 590's afternoon show, as Swirsky has moved to Chicago to become radio voice of the Chicago Bulls. Let's see if or how WGR reacts locally.
This is over-the-air TV, but here goes the NFL. Rochester TV is subject to the NFL blackout rule and can only air Bills home games when sold out 72 hours in advance, due to its being within 75 miles of the originating team's market. Yet, this Sunday (Aug. 24) night when the Bills take on the Indy Colts in a pre-season game, WHAM-TV cannot carry the telecast. The reason? The game is being shown on the NFL Network, which only provides for a "local market" TV station to also carry its telecasts. It's time to throw the review flag on that one!

North Carolina State fans will have "Wolfpack Sports Today" on local 99.9 FM The Fan every weekday afternoon at 4:55, hosted by Gary Hahn and Tony Haynes. In addition, a weekly one hour show began last Saturday at 9:00 in the morning on 99.9 and is available at no cost on GoPack.com for fans around the region and nationally. Nice concept - a free show for the fans.

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