Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sports Media Report - July 1st update

Interesting idea, but it's ahead of its time, even if only by a week. Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio have planned an "80's Day" for their morning show, including "best moments" from sports during that time and interviews with some of the biggest stars of that era.

What strikes me as odd about this is that 80's Day will take place this coming Tuesday July 7th.

This comes on the heels of the busy July 4th weekend packed full of baseball, golf, racing, and Wimbledon. This makes it one of the few days that fans might actually want to talk some tennis and when sports media attention for tennis is at a rare peak (in terms of coverage and discussion).

Yet, just one week later it will be the baseball All-Star break and NFL camps will not yet have started. To put it another way, there is only the All-Star Game of any major sports consequence between Monday and Thursday mornings. Other than possible NBA free agent signings and pre-camp NFL news, those can be some quiet days in the sports talk world.

Wouldn't the July 13 - 16 time frame be a better fit for 80's Day? Of course. That might give the more casual sports fan a reason to listen on a morning without a full slate of games from the previous night.

Then again, it is the radio management of today in action.

Meanwhile, as of late next week, the Yankees will already not be the only team to stream some of its telecasts. The July 16th telecast of the Padres vs. Colorado game begins a series of streams. But hold the phone. Don't get excited. Like with the Yankees' plan, it really isn't the big deal the teams are making it out to be.

Not only is this package of games only available to Cox Cable's high speed internet in areas which already receive the Padres telecasts on cable, but there is an additional fee. As if fans aren't gouged enough at the box office and on their cable or satellite bills (for channels they don't want), but now Cox is asking an ADDITIONAL $49.95 to watch the telecasts streamed online for the rest of this season. The same fans that are already paying Cox Cable to receive the telecasts whether they want them or not.

I'll say it still again. If this package were available to fans anywhere in the country (regardless of current blackout restrictions) who cannot receive the telecasts, then there would be value in this sort of package. Instead, this concept of charging still more money to fans who already pay for these telecasts without making them available to others makes no sense. And if I have a say, it won't make any dollars either.

Cable's MLB Network continues to improve and excel in serving the baseball fan with more each week. In a fitting move, the Network will take over handling the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday July 26th with hours of coverage from Cooperstown, replacing ESPN in this role after 20+ years.

In addition, the Network's Saturday night telecast was originated by MLB Network this past Saturday night (6/28) when they aired the Yankees-Mets game from New York. Each previous Saturday telecast was picking up the feed of one of the local teams. It is not yet known how many, if any, of the remaining Saturday night telecasts will be MLB Network originated.

Their Thursday night telecasts, which are all originated by MLB Network, have been announced for July:

Thu., July 2 8 ET Milwaukee Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs, Matt Vasgersian and Dan Plesac

Thu., July 9 7:00 ET L.A. Dodgers vs. New York Mets, Bob Costas and Jim Kaat

Thu., July 16 7:00 ET Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds, Matt Vasgersian and Joe Magrane

Thu., July 23 7:00 ET Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees, Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds

On the TV sports scene, while there is a cost, New York City area Big Ten Conference fans subscribing to Cablevision will have the option of having the Big Ten Network available in time for football season. The "Sports Pak" at an additional $5.95 per month, adds the Big Ten Network to the rest of the package, meaning that those who already subscribe to the package will have the games. As of now (before regional and national schedules are complete) the BTN is expected to include the Penn State vs. Syracuse game among its telecasts.

This is an example of what should be happening with the MLB streaming that the Yankees and Padres are doing. People in an "outside" market can get these games which are not available elsewhere, as an optional additional fee. Way to go, Cablevision!

NEW YORK: Newsday reports, or should I say speculates, that long time sportscaster Sid Rosenberg is very likely to remain on the air in South Florida and not return to NYC and WFAN as rumored. This all comes on the heels of the retirement of Neil Rogers from Miami's WQAM and the station's expected move to a truly all sports weekday lineup because of it.

WASHINGTON D.C.: The DCRTV has also picked up on the rumors that WJFK 106.7 will change to all sports in the near future (perhaps by the end of this month) to compliment sister station The Fan 105.7 in Baltimore. WJFK already carries play-by-play of University of Maryland and Virginia along with some Fox Sports programming.

St. LOUIS: After a year and a half of discussion about the reduced signal coverage of Cardinals baseball since the broadcasts moved to KTRS, the latest ratings show that KTRS has increased its audience by more than 50% overall in the past 3 months. This coincides with the start of the Cardinals broadcasts, and with the team in or fighting for first place all season, it goes to show that fans can find the games when the "need" arises.

Yet, powerhouse KMOX has also shown an overall ratings increase during the same period. I guess fans also know where not to find the Cardinals games!

KANSAS CITY: Across the state of MO, Frank Boal is no longer doing sportscasts for WDAF-TV 4 after 28 years of service there. Boal reportedly accepted a buyout of his contract. As it goes these days, the station is not replacing the position, instead going with Al Wallace and Jason Lamb to handle all sportscasts. Boal continues on the air at WHB Radio 810 but no word yet on whether his air time will expand now that his schedule allows.

This after 28 years? It's the Bob Dylan line "20 years of schoolin' and they put you on the day shift" in action here.

DENVER: Colorado State University has its new play-by-play voice for football and baseball starting this season. Jerry Schemmel, who has called the NBA Nuggets games since 1992, has been named to handle the call for CSU starting this season. No word yet on how schedule conflicts with the Nuggets will be handled, but the NBA schedule for the coming season has yet to be finalized.

NEBRASKA: After my earlier rant about being charged for already available games, the University of Nebraska changes the pace by announcing football games available only via pay-per-view for its local fans for the coming season.

Fox Sports Network's telecasts of the Nebraska games against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 5, Arkansas State on Sept. 12, and mighty Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 26 will be available as pay-per-view. Never mind that the latter 2 games are a joke anyway (Nebraska wins by a ton of points) and that the fans are already paying for Fox Sports on their cable system.

SPOKANE: KXLY-TV has named Derek Deis as Sports Director while Dennis Patchin takes over as Program Director following nearly 25 years at "The Ticket" AM 700. Patchin will continue to co-host the 3 to 6 PM weekday slot, while also doing some sports related segments for Channel 4.

BOISE: Unlike Nebraska, it's nice to report that every Boise State football game this coming season will be televised locally - at no additional charge. KTVB-TV and the school have announced a one-year contract to show every game (up to 7) not picked up by a regional network.

The school will actually pay for the air time for the football games, as well as select road basketball games, in return for commercial time. Mark Johnson and Tom Scott will call the football telecasts, which as of now will include some or all of these games - Miami, Ohio (Sept. 12), Bowling Green (Sept. 26), UC Davis (Oct. 3), Hawaii (Oct. 24), San Jose State (Oct. 31), Idaho (Nov. 14) and New Mexico State (Dec. 5). These telecasts are also expected to air in Twin Falls and Spokane in addition to Boise.

Let's recap. The University of Nebraska, which reaps in literally millions of dollars again this season from various media and marketing deals for its football games is charging local viewers for pay-per-view of non-conference telecasts, while comparatively smaller Boise State has worked a deal to have all of its games shown on TV to its fan base.

LUBBOCK TX: The text is the word. Sort of. As of today, KSTQ 104.3 is promoting that it will turn from music to sports in the very near future. When they do, they plan to send out a text to "registered" listeners with the exact time it will happen. While this sounds overboard at first, this is actually an idea with a lot of marketing potential. The station could start a new format and already have the ability to alert its potential audience with information.

If the station knows to use this method properly and provides solid sports programming, they would have a winner on their hands. But if doing this doesn't hold an audience, it points the finger on the programming people.

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