Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sports Media Report - June 9 update...........

Sports fans, especially NBA fans, could be in for a long overdue challenge to telecast regulations if things work out between the Boston Celtics and Comcast. The Boston Herald has reported that the team is talking about having its games streamed live and "free" for next season. The Celtics see the advantage of online telecasts being the interactive possibilities for the fans which are not available from TV.

To me the key word is "free". While no further details or possibilities have been disclosed publicly, it will be interesting to see if or how this comes to pass. To me, "free" means that anyone can watch the stream live online, whether across the street from the arena or around the world.

We do know that the extensive deal between the NBA and TNT includes "multi-media rights", we don't know if this is considered an NBA telecast. It leads to the question of just how many (or few) games. Would these be home games? Road games? A limit of, say, 5 games?

That's what makes this interesting, since the team is reportedly pursuing this arrangement. Audience measurement techniques would be impacted if people are watching online and not reflected in local TV or cable ratings.

If these would be made available only to local cable subscribers, then the games are not "free", since consumers pay each month for cable (or satellite) service. If these games would actually be made available to everyone, would the NBA and TNT consider this to be infringement on their local and national TV packages?

There is also the matter of the cable and satellite package of games which the NBA makes available for hardcore fans to watch out of market games throughout the season. If fans of other teams in the Atlantic Division could watch the Celtics games "free" online, would this impact their decision to purchase the league pass? (You bet it could!)

There is also the matter of the opposition team on the nights that Celtics telecasts would be streamed. Does this mean that if I am an Orlando Magic fan but don't like their announcers that I would watch the Celtics telecast "instead" on my computer if I so choose?

If I could watch either telecast, it would be a great choice for me as a fan. Even if do like the "local" announcers, it is often fun to hear how the announcers and analysts for the opposition talk about "my" team and approach the players.

But if the Celtics make this happen, it either wouldn't be "free", or it would go against previous policies. This could get as interesting as the Celtics post-season with a pair of 7 game series before it's over.

The issue of TV blackouts of one telecast when there are duplicate telecasts is also one that I would like to see addressed. One example is when ESPN (or TBS in the case of baseball) carries a MLB or NBA game nationally which also happens to be on a regional Comcast sports network.

The Comcast cable systems always seem to black out the ESPN telecast so that there is no choice but to watch on Comcast. (There are plenty of other examples, but this one seems the most blatant.)

Sorry, but as a paying customer spending a lot of money on cable (just as I would for satellite), I contend that NOTHING should be blacked out. If I want to watch the national or opposing team telecast, that should be my right. I am still choosing that team, that sport, and spending that time watching the game I so choose. If the local telecast is good enough, I'd watch it anyway. Not all of them are. But I should have the choice, and not have the cable company I am paying make the choice for me.

This coming Sunday (6/14) TBS will carry the Mets vs. Yankees game with Chip Caray and Buck Martinez (which SHOULD mean 3 telecasts in NYC but instead casual fans must choose between the Yankees or Mets telecasts only), and on June 21 they will show the Atlanta Braves at Boston with Ron Darling handling the commentary.

Meanwhile, congrats to Adam Cavalier, play-by-play announcer for Marshall University. He has been presented with the Jim Nantz Award as the nation's top collegiate sportscaster, as presented by the Sportscasters Talent Agency of America.

The Chris Schenkel Award for career work in college football broadcasting has just gone to Larry Zimmer, who has broadcast Colorado University games since 1971. Zimmer has called 444 CU football games, and this award comes within a few days of his having been inducted into the Broadcast Professionals of Colorado Hall of Fame. These awards do not take into account his 19 seasons of analysis on Broncos radio on KOA Radio where he teamed with Bob Martin. After Martin passed away, Zimmer called the Broncos games for 7 seasons, along with his Colorado University duties.

DALLAS: Sorry to hear about Eric Nadel missing several games from the Rangers' broadcast booth after having worked more than 3,100 consecutive games over the past (literally) 20 years to the week due to an eye condition.

On the TV side, Rangers ratings on Fox Sports Southwest are up more than 90% compared with last season (through last week), with a near 50% increase reported from KDFI-TV's telecasts. Shows what one of the best starts in team history can do to spark fan interest. Ironically, KDFI-TV has already given up its contract after this season, and after 10 years total. KTXA-TV 21 is expected to show 25 Friday telecasts in 2010. Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve have already been retained to continue both the cable and Channel 21 telecasts into next season.

HOUSTON: Not only was Nadel's 20 year streak stopped last week doing the Rangers broadcasts, but Astros TV voice Bill Brown missed a couple of telecasts last week due to a death in the family. Brown has logged more than 30 years of baseball work, going back to his days on Cincinnati Reds TV in the late 70's in the days of Ken Coleman.

FAYETTEVILLE: Station and format switching abounds in this Arkansas market but with a positive impact for sports fans. KEG-FM moves from 92.1 to a better signal at 98.3 FM (after 40 years), and will continue to broadcast University of Arkansas football. While 98.3 will continue with a music format, its old frequency at 92.1 begins a sports format as an ESPN Radio station.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL TV: The Big 12 Conference has announced its TV schedule for the coming season, including 14 ABC/ESPN telecasts. Other games may be added with as little as 6 days notice.

Scheduled times are Central time:

The 2009 Big 12 scheduled football telecasts:

Saturday, Sept. 5
Georgia at Oklahoma State, ABC-TV, 2:30 p.m.
Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis), ESPN, 2:40 p.m.
Brigham Young vs. Oklahoma (Arlington), ESPN, 6 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 6
Colorado State at Colorado, FSN SW, 6 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 11
Colorado at Toledo, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 12
Iowa at Iowa State, FSN SW, 11 a.m.
Houston at Oklahoma State, FSN SW, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 19
Duke at Kansas, Versus, 11 a.m.
Tulsa at Oklahoma, FSN SW, 2:30 p.m.
Texas Tech at Texas, ABC-TV, 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 25
Missouri at Nevada, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 26
Texas Tech at Houston, ESPN2, 8:15 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 1
Colorado at West Virginia, ESPN, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 8
Nebraska at Missouri, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 17
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas), ABC-TV, 11 a.m.

Thursday, Nov. 19
Colorado at Oklahoma State, ESPN, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Nov. 26
Texas at Texas A&M, ESPN, 7 p.m.

Friday, Nov. 27
Nebraska at Colorado, ABC-TV, 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 5
Big 12 Championship Game (Arlington), ABC-TV, 7 p.m.

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