Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sports Media Update - October 22

This past Sunday night (Oct. 19) was a history making night for sports broadcasting, especially from a Tampa perspective. To the best of my knowledge (even after some precautionary research), it was the first time that two sports events from the Tampa area were up against each other on national TV. While the Rays were playing their clinching Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston in St. Pete on TBS, across the bay NBC-TV was showing the Buccaneers football game against Seattle.

Having two local teams on national TV happens in places such as NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit, among others from time to time. But not before in the Tampa area. NBC-TV probably wishes it didn't happen. Their Sunday Night Football telecast finished among the lowest rated ever for a prime time telecast, while TBS set cable viewing records on the baseball side.

NEW YORK - As expected, WFAN 660 will continue as the flagship station of Mets broadcasts. It is curious that financial terms were not disclosed, leaving us to guess that this will be some sort of revenue share for the team and the station.

As part of this new deal, which brings WFAN's Mets coverage into its 23rd season, WFAN will produce additional Mets related programming including daily highlights (in season), and also have these programs available via wfan.com along with the HD3 channel at 92.3 FM. The HD channel is a wonderful addition, and something I have been pushing for from sports stations for months. Extensive coverage of one team and its games is the type of niche programming which could actually make HD Radio worthwhile.

Further down the dial, congrats to Yankees TV voice Michael Kay on his three year contract extension continuing his afternoon show on WEPN 1050. Kay has handled afternoons since 2005 and has been with WEPN since 2001.

ATLANTA - It feels like the Atlanta Braves have moved to Atlanta and become the Braves. The days of Ted Turner, most games on TBS, Fulton County Stadium, and the same broadcasters year after year are now officially long gone.

Pete Van Wieren has retired after 33 seasons of Braves play-by-play on both TV and radio. Although his laid back style was not a hit with younger fans used to the pumped up style of many of today's announcers, he was consistent and accurate. With the possible exception of Vin Scully and Jerry Doggett with the Dodgers, I can't recall a pair of announcers with one team longer than Van Wieren and Skip Caray, whose passing earlier this year also signals this overhaul of the Braves we used to know.

Like with Skip Caray, Van Wieren also reported for CNN and handled football play-by-play, including the days of TBS covering Big Ten games, along with Falcons pre-season games.

Now we go into the 2009 season following the retirements of two 30+ year play-by-play voices with the same team, as this announcement follows the retirement announcement of Lanny Frattare from the Pirates radio booth made just a couple of weeks ago.

Meanwhile, on the incoming side, Fox SportSouth has hired former Hawk Mike Glenn as its pre and post-game analyst staring next week for the network's scheduled 75 Hawks telecasts. Dominique Wilkins moves from the post-game show role into his new role as game analyst.

SAN FRANCISCO - Think of it as scheduled sportscasts on FM. With classic hits KFRC 106.9 FM again going into oblivion and all-news KCBS-AM being simulcast on 106.9 (as of this week), it means that the KCBS sports updates and sports related programming will also be heard on the FM dial.

Comcast SportsNet Bay Area has hired Scott Reiss away from ESPN after eight years. Reiss is already being utilized on the pre and post-game shows of the Warriors and the Sharks.

DALLAS - The latest radio ratings battle of sports stations again goes to The Ticket, which finished second in men aged 25-54 for the summer, more than 40% ahead of ESPN 103.3. Although 103.3 FM had its best summer ratings to date, it finished in 20th place in overall listeners, compared with a 12th place overall finish for The Ticket.

The Metroplex seems to have a definite lack of interest in post-season baseball this month. Through the first five games of the ALCS, reports show that Dallas-Ft. Worth finished dead last in major market ratings. Portland, Charlotte, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque were among the markets with better ratings. And none of those markets has a Major League team.

The National League series on Fox for the Dallas area did not rank in the top 50 national markets either. Ouch.

PHOENIX - While Dallas hasn't been watching post-season baseball, Phoenix, which does have a National League team, will be challenged to hear the ESPN Radio broadcasts of the World Series. KTAR 620 has commitments during the first three games, including their weekly Cardinals show instead of Game 1. A Suns pre-season broadcast pre-empts Game 2, and the Arizona State - Oregon football game will air on Saturday instead of Game 3. As a result, those games, along with possible games 6 and 7 broadcasts will air on KDUS 1060 AM. A Suns pre-season game?

SEATTLE - While I don't know how the October baseball ratings have fared for the Seattle market, I did see the impact of the Mariners losing 100 games this past season. The team's TV ratings on FSN dropped approximately 48% for the yeaer. Let's see what a change of radio stations does for next season's ratings.

PITTSBURGH - Mark Madden is now into his second week back on the air at WXDX 105.9 in the 3 - 6 PM slot. This marks his return since being taken off 1250 ESPN this past May. This show, however, is not completely sports, as pop culture and music have been added to the mix. From what little I have heard and what I have been told, I should say "mixed up" instead. The show does run later on the nights WXDX has a Penguins broadcast starting at or prior to 7:30.

INDIANAPOLIS - WFNI 1070, the former WIBC-AM, tied for 17th place overall in the market's summer ratings period. It is easy to comment that those are nowhere near the old WIBC numbers. Then we realize that the station just went through its first summer, and it is too early to tell. This fall ratings period will be a better indication of WFNI's future, as we have Colts and Indiana University football underway and Pacers season starting next week. Rival WNDE finished 19th overall, and WXLW 950 didn't register.

SAN DIEGO - Dennis Green, the former Vikings and Cardinals NFL coach and Stanford plus Northwestern University coach who handles color for select Westwood One football broadcasts, has a new gig. One he should be proud of. Green now teaches Sports Business Management in San Diego State University's MBA Program, focused on sports management.

LAFAYETTE - If you want to watch Purdue hosting Minnesota in the Big Ten game on October 25th, you need to find it on ESPN Classic instead of the Big Ten Network.

HELENA - Sporting News Radio has suffered over the past year. Now comes word that it has been dropped by KCAP Radio. And not for a format change or even to go with local programming after 3:00 PM and on weekends. KCAP has switched the same time slots over to Fox Radio Sports.

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