Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sports Media Report - March 10th update.........

I'm glad to see others starting to complain about Sirius XM Satellite not making their MLB package available to all subscribers. There should be some outrage. The merger that took 18 months to finally be approved that was supposed to bring satellite radio subscribers MORE programming without a price increase. And less than a year after the merger, as a Sirius subscriber in my 4th year, I'm learning that I would have to pay extra to get the MLB package that XM subscribers have been getting. The same satellite company concerned about reduced car sales as if that is the only thing that drives subscriptions.

On the TV side, we commented last week about the Cleveland Cavaliers being the most watched local telecasts in the NBA, with San Antonio and Portland next on that list. The Houston Chronicle took it a step further and reported the baseball "most watched local team" leaders from the 2008 season. To the surprise of very very few, the local leader is the Red Sox. But it may also surprise you to learn that next on that list are St. Louis, Minneapolis (Twin cities), and Milwaukee. On the NFL side, for the recent NFL season, the local leaders wound up being Pittsburgh and Indianapolis.

NEW YORK: Max Kellerman has done his final broadcast on WEPN 1050, leaving the ESPN Radio station "by mutual agreement". Hard to believe Kellerman would "mutually agree" to this, unless he knows something we don't. Rumors are flying around the Apple. One has him joining Mike Francesa on WFAN as either a part-time or full-time partner. WEPN has added two hours of Colin Cowherd's ESPN Radio show to its afternoon lineup. The sooner Kellerman resurfaces on the air, the sooner I'll believe this was "by mutual agreement".

TAMPA: As the Rays are at the height of their popularity going into the 2009 season as defending American League champs, those roughly 10% of viewers without cable or satellite are now mostly out of luck when it comes to watching their team play. Other than four scheduled ESPN games and five Saturday games on Fox-TV, Fox Sports Net Florida will carry 150 games on cable this season. WXPX-TV 66 will no longer carry any games, a considerable drop from the 69 telecasts it had last season. At least the Rays have increased their radio affiliate count to 20, including flagship WDAE. The Rays were heard on only four radio stations total in 2006.

SAN DIEGO: Sports fans watching XETV Channel 6 newscasts are going to be disappointed. The station just fired Sports Director C.S. Keys, anchor Andrea Nakano, and a producer. The independent station had lost its affiliation with Fox Sports last year, and now no longer airs any live sports at other times of the day and week. As an eventual result in these economic times, the station has taken that a step further and now eliminated sports reports too.

By the way, the Fox-TV affiliate in San Diego also does not have a scheduled sports report on its 10:00 PM weeknight news. That is even more strange, given that this station carries some Padres games on Fox Saturday regional and a couple of Chargers games each fall also via Fox.

On the radio side, there is already concern about Padres broadcasts for the new season having sufficient signal coverage. XX Sports 1090 has its issues in some of the market. Sister station 1700 AM will also carry the games, but reports say the 1700 AM signal still doesn't cover all of the East County either. Let alone fans with older radios at home that don't even get 1700 and others that don't know that 1700 AM is carrying the games.

On the TV side, Mark Neely began as play-by-play voice of the Padres with his first of 5 spring training telecasts last week. He replaces Matt Vasgersian who left for an anchor position at the new MLB Network. The Padres will have at least 150 games televised locally this season.
XTRA Sports 1360 is carrying some San Diego State baseball this spring. Craig Elsten and Chris Ello have the call for 15 broadcasts total. These games are now all that both Elsten and Ello do for XTRA now.

SEATTLE: Former Seahawks QB Brock Huard (who also played at the U. of Washington) will be one of the sports talk hosts when KIRO 710 AM turns all sports in 3 more weeks. Huard will have an occasional football conflict with ESPN (TV), but continues as part of the Seahawks radio coverage. His exact air times have not yet been announced. KIRO will carry some ESPN Radio programming along with play-by-play of both the Mariners and Seahawks. Upon changing over to sports radio, the (current) news/talk format of KIRO will move to 97.3 FM.

BALTIMORE: WNST has let Casey Willett go after more than five years, and shortly after Rob Long and the Fighting Ungers (sportscasters - not the name of a rock group) go as well. Willett actually broke the story himself when his post on Facebook predated the station announcement.

GRAND RAPIDS: Another TV Sports Director let go. This time WXMI-TV has let go of Brent Ashcroft less than a month before his contract was due to expire. Ashcroft had been with the station more than 10 years, since the start of its news department.

BUFFALO: The Buffalo Bisons might lead AAA Baseball in media coverage for this season. The Mets' AAA affiliate will have 37 games televised on Time Warner SportsNet, with 10 of them being road contests. WWKB 1520 continues to air all 144 games plus any post-season.

MONTGOMERY: Looks like winning is everything for WIQR 1410 which is licensed to Prattville. After years of carrying the Atlanta Braves games, the recent lack of success by the Braves directly led (according to quotes from the station owner Greg Meadows) to the Braves broadcasts being dropped. WIQR has just become one of the newly added affiliates of the American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays.

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