Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sports Media Report - December 2 update

The Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame will be inducting its 2008 class on December 16th in New York. The second set of inductions includes Vin Scully and Curt Gowdy from the play-by-play side, along with executives of paramount importance to televised sports as we know them today. Chet Forte, Don Ohlmeyer, and Ted Nathanson are also going to be inducted.

While it is easy to wonder why those names were not among the very first group inducted last year, keep in mind that last year's charter group included Jim McKay and Howard Cosell from the on-air side. Others in that group included Harry Coyle, Ed Sabol (NFL Films), and former NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

The NFL will continue playing one regular season game in London next year. Although the 2009 NFL schedule is still in formation, a rare matchup between the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been scheduled for Sunday Oct. 25, 2009 at Wembley Stadium in London. The start time will again be in coordination with U.S. television schedules. CBS-TV will have this telecast at 1:00 PM ET. Next year will be the third consecutive year of a regular season game in London, with all being AFC vs. NFC matchups.

HOUSTON - The latest round of radio ratings show a victory of sorts for Mike & Mike and their syndicated ESPN Radio morning show. KFNC 97.5 came in at the top of the 25-54 men demographic. That is news enough on its own when a syndicated show tops a major market in such an important demographic. What makes the story more interesting is this happening after KFNC picked up Mike & Mike from KMBE 790 which dropped it to carry a local show.

I think this signifies still another changing trend about radio and television. It appears that listeners and viewers are making choices based on quality ahead of location. In the instance of Mike & Mike doing better than any other Houston radio sports show in the morning, it shows me that people are not making a "local vs. national" distinction. They want the best show they can find, wherever it comes from. It wasn't always that way. Stations airing syndicated shows were looked down upon and rarely made a dent.

On the TV side, look at how the combined audiences of ESPN, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have taken away from local news and sportscasts around the country. Same theory. Radio especially needs to increase their local impact. The Mike & Mike success is the result of a good show, but also the result of the positive branding that ESPN has developed. I have to believe this audience consists of a lot of men unable to watch, or to continue watching, ESPN in the morning who then follow on the radio. Some of this could be the lack of success among the Astros and Texans this year, leaving sports fans to crave more national coverage. Yet, in some cities, local sports talk does even better when one or more of the teams is not winning, as the fans have more reason to pick their favorite team apart.

It will be interesting to see how the other sports stations in Houston react with their morning shows over the next few weeks.

CONNECTICUT: Even though it begins with only telecasts of various high school games, congrats to CTSN-TV, the Connecticut Sports Network. The state's first 24 hour sports station made its official launch (Tuesday Dec. 2) from its Hartford studios. For now, CTSN is showing replays of playoff and title games in football, soccer, volleyball, and a couple of others. Plans are in the works to add some live telecasts of local college hoops, and eventually to add coaches talk shows and the like.

CHARLOTTE - Once again sports fans need a scorecard, but in this case it is to follow their local radio stations instead of the athletes. Mornings on 99.9 The Fan began carrying ESPN Radio programming this week (Monday Dec. 1). The Bull AM 620 has now officially dropped Mike & Mike and added Don Imus. (That's easy to remember - associating Imus with "Bull".) 850 AM The Buzz now airs Dan Patrick's radio show live from 10 AM to Noon. 99.9 FM goes local for one whole hour middays, as "Sports Lunch with Mike Maniscalco" is heard from Noon to 1:00 PM.

BATON ROUGE: This past Monday (Dec. 1) was the season debut of LSU Basketball Coach Trent Johnson's weekly radio show at 7:00 PM. The show airs live from a Baton Rouge restaurant on 100.7 FM The Tiger (how appropriate!) and on the LSU Sports Radio Network. However, to the best of my knowledge the show is not streamed live. The show is hosted by Jim Hawthorne and will air throughout the basketball season.

BILLINGS: The nation's newest sports station made its surprise debut on Monday morning (Dec. 1). 105.1 FM dropped music and picked up ESPN Radio.

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