Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sports Media Update - September 19th

Every baseball fan either loves or dislikes the Yankees. Yet, either way, there will be a touch of sadness this Sunday when the final game is played at the "real" Yankee Stadium.

One good thing about it is how much ESPN is stepping up to the plate with extensive national coverage, above and beyond televising the game itself on Sunday Night Baseball. ESPN promises more than 7 hours of content, including specials such as ESPN2 televising the extended pre-game ceremonies live at 7 PM ET on Sunday, one hour before the game telecast on ESPN.

Then, Whitey Ford and Yogi Berra are among the special guests in the broadcast booth. (I will try and restrain from going ballistic over ESPN announcing that Billy Crystal will also be among the guests, since in all honesty Crystal had nothing to do with true Yankees or baseball history.) ESPNews will televise the post-game ceremonies as well. Great move.

Meanwhile, TBS announced its broadcaster roster for its Division Series and ALCS coverage. The play-by-play voices will be Chip Caray (who has handled the TBS American League East - oooops, I mean Sunday Baseball telecasts all season), Dick Stockton, Red Sox play-by-play man Don Orsillo and Brewers announcer Brian Anderson. Analysts will include Ron Darling and Buck Martinez who have shared the Sunday duties this season, along with Tony Gwynn and Joe Simpson. Harold Reynolds will also participate in the TBS telecasts, along with Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley. Current Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson has also been hired as a studio contributor.

Again this season, in the event of a game running over into the start of the next game, the playoff game which is starting will start on TNT and switch over to TBS when its then current game is completed.

As much as I oppose pay-per-view of sports events, especially college games, I'm sure I'll be complaining about it for years to come if Nebraska fans continue their collective pace. The University of Nebraska Athletic Department reports an estimated 50,000 pay-per-view buys just for the Huskers' opener against Western Michigan. At $29.95 a pop. The Department makes approximately $300,000 from that telecast alone. The school could literally generate more revenue when they do pay-per-view than when one of the networks picks up their games, which is more likely as the season progresses.

Personally, I am not against these games being televised. As a consumer paying an exhorbitant amount to a cable company each month for channels I don't want, I think I should be provided with these games at little or no additional cost.

While Nebraska fans are forking up the big bucks, Missouri fans caught a financial break last Saturday (Sept. 13). They didn't have to pay their $29.95 to watch the Missouri vs. Nevada game after all. FSN Midwest added this game to their regular schedule while maintaining the scheduled 11:35 AM kickoff. Wish there was a better reason, as it was due to Hurricane Ike and the originally scheduled Baylor vs. Washington State game having been moved up.

The week before, an unknown number of fans reportedly got a blank screen until late first quarter after paying Charter Communications their $29.95 to watch the Missouri vs. Southeast Missouri State telecast. The game was all but decided by the time they got the feed. Gee, thanks.

CHICAGO - Congrats to Steve Stone, who will move from the White Sox radio booth this season over to the TV booth starting next spring on a multi-year contract. At least Stone has already been quoted as saying he will not get involved with the annoying "Put it on the board - yes" homerun call of Ken Harrelson, which Darrin Jackson has been doing.

Despite the White Sox having their best season since 2005, White Sox TV ratings have been down again this year. One needs only to listen to one to figure out why. It will be interesting to see if people with put up with Harrelson to hear the excellent analysis by Stone.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Congrats to former Chicagoan and Northwestern University grad Brian Davis on being named as the TV play-by-play voice of the NBA Oklahoma City Thunder. Davis was FSN Northwest studio host of Seattle SuperSonics telecasts last season, and will be joined by analyst Grant Long. The relocated franchise plans to televise every regular season game it can (all except national TV or blackout restrictions). That is provided the Thunder completes negotiation for its TV arrangements. Still no local station yet, although the word is that FSN Southwest will handle the cable telecasts.

KYAL 97.1 FM and its 100,000 watt signal will air the games on radio. As of now radio voice Matt Pinto, who came with the team from Seattle, is slated to call the games solo. Could be another instance where a team's telecasts have several people on the air while radio has one person, even though the audience can see what is happening on the TV but gets only one viewpoint over the radio. Go figure.

WASHINGTON D.C. - Speaking of NBA play-by-play, the new Baltimore-Washington Fox Sports 1370 AM has officially acquired the play-by-play of the Wizards.

INDIANAPOLIS - WFNI 1070 "The Fan" will soon be able to offer its listeners an insight into Indiana Hoosiers basketball that no other station can offer. And expand their local programming middays. Dan Dakich, who served as the interim coach of the Hoosiers replacing Kelvin Sampson last season and was not rehired, begins as host of the 10 AM to 1 PM slot on October 6th. Dakich had a successful trial run on the station with Pacers voice Mark Boyle and then agreed to become the midday host. The station will drop ESPN's Colin Cowherd.

TRENTON - Sports Talk WBUD 1260 is out at home. The station was sold to Domestic Church Media Foundation, which began an all religious format this week (on Sept. 15th).

ALBANY - WMRZ 98.1 FM now has a weekly show focused on athletics at Albany State University. The "ASU Coaches' Corner" is hoted by Fred Suttles. This is a nice idea. So what's wrong with this picture? The time. This show airs on Thursdays. At 12:50 PM. I must have missed the data showing that students, fans, and alumni are available to listen once a week during lunch hour.

BOISE - Boise State basketball broadcasts have added Abe Jackson as analyst starting for the coming season. The games will air in Boise on KIDO, as well as on
Meanwhile, 30+ year sportscaster Tony Bruno offers up a new syndicated late night sports show starting on Sept. 29th. The show is scheduled to air from 10 PM to 1 AM ET and will originate from a west coast location as offered via Content Factory. This could work well if the sports station that air tape delayed programming late night pick up Bruno to have fresh and live discussion and recaps of the night's games.

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