Friday, August 28, 2009

Hoops on the tube - coming up

By request, the tentative national TV schedules for the upcoming NBA season:


Tues. Oct. 27 – Boston-Cleveland, 7:30 p.m.; Clippers-Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Oct. 29 – San Antonio-Chicago, 8 p.m.; Denver-Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 5 – Chicago-Cleveland, 8 p.m.; San Antonio-Utah, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 12 – Cleveland-Miami, 8 p.m.; Phoenix-Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 19 – Phoenix-New Orleans, 8 p.m.; Chicago-Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Nov. 26 – Orlando-Atlanta, 8 p.m.; Chicago-Utah, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 3 – Boston-San Antonio, 8 p.m.; Miami-Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 10 – Boston-Washington, 8 p.m.; Orlando-Utah, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 17 – Orlando-Miami, 8 p.m.; Phoenix-Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Dec. 31 – Miami-San Antonio, 7 p.m.; Philadelphia-Clippers, 9:30 p.m.
Thur. Jan. 14 – Chicago-Boston, 8 p.m.; Cleveland-Utah, 10:30 p.m.
Mon. Jan. 18 – Phoenix-Memphis, 5:30 p.m.; Dallas-Boston, 8 p.m.; Orlando-Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Jan. 21 – Lakers-Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Clippers-Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Jan. 28 – Boston-Orlando, 8 p.m.; Dallas-Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Feb. 4 – Miami-Cleveland, 8 p.m.; San Antonio-Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Mon. Feb. 8 – New Orleans-Orlando, 8 p.m.; San Antonio-Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Feb. 11 – Orlando-Cleveland, 8 p.m.; San Antonio-Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 14 – NBA All-Star Game, TBD
Thur. Feb. 18 – Denver-Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Boston-Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. Feb. 25 – Cleveland-Boston, 8 p.m.; Denver-Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. March 4 – Lakers-Miami, 8 p.m.; Utah-Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. March 11 – Chicago-Orlando, 8 p.m.; Portland-Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. March 18 – Orlando-Miami, 7 p.m.; New Orleans-Denver, 9:30 p.m.
Thur. March 25 – Miami-Chicago, 8 p.m.; Dallas-Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. April 1 – Orlando-Dallas, 8 p.m.; Portland-Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Thur. April 8 – Cleveland-Chicago, 8 p.m.; Lakers-Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Tues. April 13 – Boston-Chicago, 8 p.m.; Denver-Phoenix, 10:30 p.m

Fri. Dec. 25 -- Boston at Orlando, 2:30 p.m.; Cleveland at Lakers, 5 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 31 -- Denver at San Antonio, 1 p.m.. Lakers at Boston, 3:30 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 7 -- Orlando at Boston, 2:30 p.m. (R)
Sun. Feb. 21 -- Cleveland at Orlando, 1 p.m. (R): Boston at Denver, 3:30 p.m. (R)
Sun. Feb. 28 -- Phoenix at San Antonio, 1 p.m. (R); Denver at Lakers, 3:30 p.m. (R)
Sun. March 7 -- Lakers at Orlando, 2:30 p.m. (R)
Sun. March 14 -- Boston at Cleveland, 3:30 p.m. (R)
Sun. April 4 -- Cleveland at Boston, 1 p.m. (R); San Antonio at Lakers, 3:30 p.m. (R)
Sun. April 11 -- Orlando at Cleveland, 1 p.m. (R); Portland at Lakers, 3:30 p.m.

Wed. Oct. 28 -- New Orleans at San Antonio, 8 p.m.; Utah at Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 30 -- Chicago at Boston, 8 p.m.; Dallas at Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 4 -- Miami at Washington, 7 p.m.; Dallas at New Orleans, 9:30 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 6 -- Cleveland at Knicks, 8 p.m.; San Antonio at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 11 -- Cleveland at Orlando, 8 p.m.; New Orleans at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 13 -- Atlanta at Boston, 8 p.m.; Lakers at Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 18 -- Cleveland at Washington, 7 p.m.; San Antonio at Dallas, 9:30 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 20 -- Orlando at Boston, 8 p.m.; Denver at Clippers, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Nov. 25 -- Miami at Orlando, 7:30 p.m.
Fri. Nov. 27 -- Washington at Miami, 7 p.m.; Phoenix at Minnesota, 9:30 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 4 -- Chicago at Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Miami at Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 9 -- Detroit at Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 11 -- Portland at Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Orlando at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 16 -- Dallas at Oklahoma City, 8 p.m.; San Antonio at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 18 -- Clippers at Knicks, 8 p.m.; Washington at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Fri. Dec. 25 -- Miami at Knicks, noon; Clippers at Phoenix, 8 p.m.; Denver at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 6 -- Lakers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 8 -- Boston at Atlanta, 8 p.m.; Cleveland at Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 10 -- Cleveland at Portland, 9 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 15 -- Toronto at Knicks, 8 p.m.; Orlando at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Sun. Jan. 17 -- Utah at Denver, 9 p.m.
Wed. Jan. 20 -- Utah at San Antonio, 9 p.m.
Fri. Jan. 22 -- Lakers at Knicks, 8 p.m.; Chicago at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 3 -- Miami at Boston, 8 p.m.; Portland at Utah, 10:30 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 5 -- Chicago at Atlanta, 8 p.m.; Denver at Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 17 -- Phoenix at Dallas, 9 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 19 -- Dallas at Orlando, 8 p.m.; Boston at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 21 -- Atlanta at Golden State, 8 p.m.; Utah at Portland, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. Feb. 24 -- Lakers at Dallas, 9 p.m.
Fri. Feb. 26 -- Dallas at Atlanta, 8 p.m.; Clippers at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Sun. Feb. 28 -- Miami at Orlando, 7 p.m.; New Orleans at Dallas, 9:30 p.m.
Fri. March 5 -- Detroit at Cleveland, 7 p.m.; New Orleans at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m.
Sun. March 7 -- Washington at Boston, 8 p.m.; Portland at Denver, 10:30 p.m.
Mon. March 15 -- Detroit at Boston, 8 p.m.; Lakers at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. March 17 -- San Antonio at Orlando, 8 p.m. (R); New Orleans at Golden State, 10:30 p.m.
Sun. March 21 -- Detroit at Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Portland at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. March 24 -- Denver at Boston, 7 p.m.; Lakers at San Antonio, 9:30 p.m. (R)
Sun. March 28 -- San Antonio at Boston, 8 p.m.
Wed. March 31 -- Golden State at Utah, 10 p.m.
Fri. April 2 -- Atlanta at Cleveland, 8 p.m.; Utah at Lakers, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. April 7 -- Washington at Orlando, 8 p.m.;
San Antonio at Phoenix, 10:30 p.m.
Wed. April 14 -- Indiana at Washington, 8 p.m.; Phoenix at Utah, 10:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sports Media Report - Aug. 25th Update

Even though the baseball season is in its prime, the sports media is busy gearing up for the upcoming pro and college football seasons, as well as NHL training camps opening in less than a month.

One thing about college football coverage that distinguishes it now moreso than other sports (including pro football) is the spirit of the radio broadcast. The days of going to a baseball game and having at least one person in the section you were sitting in having the local broadcast on seem to be long gone. That even includes Dodger Stadium since Vin Scully no longer does the majority of the radio broadcasts for home games.

Yet, with college football, many schools are making it possible for alumni (or fans who didn't attend) to be able to hear their team's broadcast at road games. This is one situation where the concept can work well. Fans of a particular school don't always want to listen to announcers favoring the opposing school. I have long wondered why this wasn't made possible until recently.

Not many people knew about this, but going back nearly 40 years, some pro and college teams used a low power FM frequency to feed their broadcast within a stadium or arena so that broadcasters at field level or in the dugout or clubhouse for interviews could hear the broadcast and monitor off the air to know when they were supposed to be on the air.

In fact, the Dodgers were one of those teams. I still remember getting to hear Vin Scully doing the Dodgers broadcasts when I saw them play in Chicago and Cincinnati back in the 70's.
I would have thought that college team broadcasters especially would have promoted this to their fans attending road games.

A company called Live Sports Radio is now selling receivers that make hearing several college teams' broadcasts while attending road games. The SEC schools have been using this, as LSU now joins Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina in making the feature available. I'm not sure how I feel that there is a cost involved, since the broadcasts do carry the commercials and are "free" within the signal range of the stations carrying the games. On the other hand, it is a service to fans at road games beyond the signal coverage, and it would cost them for wi-fi to listen to a stream. At $20 per season, it could make sense for fans attending multiple road games. But considering that more than 11,000 University of Alabama fans purchased it last season, there is a market for it.

Meanwhile, LSU is making its weekly one hour radio show featuring football coaches and coverage of other sports on Sunday nights available online. The show begins this Sunday (Aug. 30) at 6 PM Central, will not air on the eve of Labor Day, and then start it up for the year on Sept. 13th. In addition to 107.3 FM Baton Rouge and the LSU Sports Radio Network, the show will stream on Jordy Hultberg will host the live show.

The show focused on U. of Alabama sports will be heard starting this week on WTUS in Tuscaloosa and on WENN 1320 in Birmingham along with 19 other stations this season. It will also be streamed on

On the NFL side, now that Comcast and some other cable systems have finally put the NFL Network on most digital packages so that many more subscribers will be able to see it, the Network is gearing up for the coming season even though their live game telecasts don't kick in until mid-November. Bob Papa and Matt Millen will handle the NFL Network game telecasts.
Of more immediate blessings, the NFL Network is expanding its GameDay Morning show to a full 4 hours leading into the kickoff of the Sunday first games, starting at 9 AM ET. This gives them a 2 or 2 1/2 hour jump on local TV pre-game shows and on ESPN's pre-game show, and starts 3 hours ahead of the Fox and CBS-TV pregame shows. So for the football crazed on the west coast, you'll be able to watch live pre-game programming on NFL Network starting at 6 AM.

For local coverage, the San Francisco 49ers have joined a few other NFL teams regarding TV pre-season coverage and are simulcasting their TV and radio broadcasts. This past weekend's game against the Raiders was done by Greg Papa, Tom Flores, and Jim Plunkett. A simulcast is unusual in the NFL since radio usually has more commercial time.

In Philadelphia, the Andy Reid (Eagles Head Coach) Show is moving to WIP 610 where Howard Eskin takes over as a co-host instead of Beasley Reece. The show will air on Monday evenings during Eskin's time slot. It had aired on WYSP in recent seasons.

In Dallas, the new stadium and a promising team mean media ratings, and we are now just 2 weeks into the pre-season. Word is that last weekend's pre-season game between the Cowboys and Tennessee generated a local rating of more than 20. That is rating - which is different than audience share.

In Green Bay, the local TV folks continue to believe that there will be a significant amount of interest in Brett Favre again this season. Last season several of the Jets' games were carried in Green Bay and Milwaukee. Now it looks like at least half of the Vikings games will be seen in the Green Bay TV market. Granted, the Vikings play in the same division and would normally be seen several times along with Chicago Bears games.

It has already gotten to the point where Don Carmichael, the General Manager of WBAY Channel 2 was quoted about having tried to pick up the Vikings vs. Kansas City pre-season game last week.

WLUK-TV will carry the Vikings' season opener on Sept. 13th and at least 5 others. They could also carry the Jan. 3rd game between the Vikings and Giants but will wait on that to determine playoff matchups.

WFRV Channel 5 will carry at least one Vikings game when they host Cincinnati in December. WBAY-TV already has the local rights to show the Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Vikings on October 5th.

It is hard to believe that NHL training camps open in less than a month. Versus has announced its tentative telecast schedule (times are Eastern):

Thurs. Oct. 1 Washington at Boston 7:00 PM
Thurs. Oct. 1 San Jose at Colorado 10:00 PM
Friday Oct. 2 Florida at Chicago
Friday Oct. 2 Detroit at St. Louis
Mon. Oct. 5 NY Rangers at New Jersey 7:00 PM
Tues. Oct. 6 Washington at Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Mon. Oct. 12 Calgary at Chicago 8:00 PM
Tues. Oct. 13 Detroit at Buffalo 7:00 PM
Mon. Oct. 19 San Jose at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Tues. Oct. 20 St. Louis at Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Mon. Oct. 26 Minnesota at Chicago 8:00 PM
Tues. Oct. 27 Philadelphia at Washington 7:00 PM
Tues. Nov. 3 Boston at Detroit 7:00 PM
Mon. Nov. 9 Los Angeles at Chicago 8:00 PM
Tues. Nov. 10 Pittsburgh at Boston 7:00 PM
Mon. Nov. 16 New Jersey at Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Tues. Nov. 17 Washington at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Mon. Nov. 23 Detroit at Nashville 7:00 PM
Wed. Nov. 25 St. Louis at Dallas 8:00 PM
Mon. Nov. 30 Buffalo at Toronto 7:00 PM
Tues. Dec. 1 Columbus at Chicago 8:00 PM
Mon. Dec. 7 New Jersey at Buffalo 7:00 PM
Tues. Dec. 8 NY Islanders at Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Wed. Dec. 9 Minnesota at Colorado 9:00 PM
Mon. Dec. 14 Buffalo at Montreal 7:30 PM
Tues. Dec. 15 Philadelphia at Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Mon. Dec. 21 Buffalo at Toronto 7:00 PM
Tues. Dec. 22 San Jose at Chicago 8:00 PM
Mon. Dec. 28 Detroit at Columbus 7:00 PM
Tues. Dec. 29 Chicago at Dallas 8:00 PM
Mon. Jan. 4 Boston at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Tues. Jan. 5 Minnesota at Chicago 8:00 PM
Mon. Jan. 11 Pittsburgh at Minnesota 8:00 PM
Tues. Jan. 12 New Jersey at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Mon. Jan. 18 Minnesota at Dallas 8:00 PM
Tues. Jan. 19 Tampa Bay at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Mon. Jan. 25 Pittsburgh at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Tues. Jan. 26 Phoenix at Detroit 7:00 PM
Mon. Feb. 1 Buffalo at Pittsburgh 7:00 PM
Tues. Feb. 2 Minnesota at Dallas 8:00 PM
Mon. Feb. 8 New Jersey at Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Tues. Feb. 9 Detroit at St. Louis 8:00 PM
Mon. March 1 Detroit at Colorado 9:00 PM
Tues. March 2 Philadelphia at Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Mon. March 8 Dallas at Washington 7:00 PM
Tues. March 9 NY Islanders at Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Mon. March 15 Boston at New Jersey 7:00 PM
Tues. March 16 Montreal at NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Mon. March 22 Pittsburgh at Detroit 7:00 PM
Tues. March 23 San Jose at Minnesota 8:00 PM
Mon. March 29 Buffalo at Boston 7:00 PM
Tues. March 30 Chicago at St. Louis 8:00 PM
Mon. April 5 Boston at Washington 7:00 PM
Tues. April 6 Washington at Pittsburgh 7:00 PM

In Denver, the Avalanche will have a different play-by-play voice starting this coming season, as Marc Moser will handle the call on Mile High Sports 1510 AM. But that isn't the big part of the story. Moser replaces (if you can use that term in this case) Norm Jones after his more than 35 years on the local hockey scene. In fact, Jones' legacy goes back to his calling the Colorado Rockies of the NHL - years before the baseball team adopted the name.For that matter, Jones also called the baseball AAA Denver Zephyrs years before the baseball Rockies were granted a franchise. Yet, Jones showed no signs of retiring or cutting back. This appears to be a station move, probably for cost cutting purposes.

This comes weeks after the Avalanche stayed on 1510 AM even though there will also be conflicts with Nuggets broadcasts. Now the team learns that the local hockey voice residents in their 30's have heard all of their lives won't be calling the games this season.

ESPN is hard at work on its college hoops schedule for the coming season. This season Tuesday nights will feature a Big Ten and SEC doubleheader in random order. At least one Big Ten game will air each Thursday during the conference schedule. Penn State at Minnesota on Dec. 29th is the opening Conference telecast.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sports Media Report - Aug. 18th update

Some fans and media members found it very odd that WBZ-FM began as the "Sports Hub" for Boston with replays of the Patriots' 3 Super Bowl victories before launching into their programming schedule. On a much smaller scale, we had mentioned a couple weeks back that the new sports station for Lubbock Texas began with a "perfect season" of Texas Tech football broadcasts from the past 10 years. In each of those cases, the featured team will be a primary topic of conversation for the listeners. Why not kick off the new format with game action that the fans are sure to enjoy?

True, it is repeat programming for a new station. Yet, it is a radio station trying to make news with a new format. Music stations have kicked off new formats with plans such as 1,000 songs in a row, a commercial free month, top 1,000 hits of the new format, and so on. Why not have a sports station do something similar?

We now have competing sports stations in the majority of markets after years of markets having one station with all sports. Yet, the competition for its audience is not always limited to other sports stations in the same market. It is often the local teams and how their current season compares with expectations. Or, it can be big local sports news that has more of an impact in the ratings than stations with other formats. I can see why there is more movement among ratings for sports radio now that the big markets are seeing monthly ratings.

As much as the "Sports Hub" is looking to make a dent in ratings for the Boston area, how the Patriots start the upcoming regular season could be more of a make or break factor than the station personalities.In May, WEEI was the sports radio leader in the market with a slight edge over WRKO. Think about this. In early May, the Celtics were into one of the greatest NBA Playoff series ever which went 7 exciting games against the Chicago Bulls, before advancing to the 2nd round and 2 more weeks of action. The Bruins were very much alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for most of the month. It had been a while since both of those teams had a good playoff run at the same time.Move ahead 2 months. For the new July ratings, WEEI has seen an overall drop of 1.4 in the ratings since May, while WRKO is up slightly from May. WRKO is the flagship station of the Red Sox, who had held on to first place throughout the previous 3 months.Now, in mid-August, we have the Red Sox slumping further down into 2nd place, more than 6 weeks until the Bruins and Celtics get started, while the Patriots start their season just after Labor Day on the new "Sports Hub".

Timing is everything. The Boston ratings for the sports stations will not be impacted by the music stations or even by personalities nearly as much as how the Patriots' season starts and whether or not the Red Sox make a serious run against the Yankees. The music and news talk stations do not have those variables.

In Seattle, KIRO-AM began its all sports format in April to coincide with the start of its contact to broadcast the Mariners. For the month of July, the station is .8 higher in the overall ratings than it was in April. With the same shows and pesonalities, while the Mariners are having a winning season.

In Phoenix, KTAR-AM sports has risen more than one and one-half ratings points during the past 4 months. The Diamondbacks have come up short of expectations, while The Suns traded away Shaq and look to make even more changes before the upcoming season. Even though neither team looks to be a serious threat to win in the near future, this becomes fodder for the fans.

In Dallas, the order of the 3 sports stations has remained the same over the past 4 months, yet The Ticket 1310 just finished first overall in the market for July in men 25-54. It again finished well ahead of ESPN 103.3 and further in front of 105.3 The Fan. The Ticket took very little if any from the other 2 sports stations. But during recent weeks the Rangers have continued to outpace expectations and are in the playoff hunt. And the Cowboys are the Cowboys. Their first pre-season telecast last week got significant ratings and interest is already high.

In Chicago, both WSCR and WMVP showed slight increases for July, indicating that neither station took away from the other.

In other words, sports radio competition for ratings is a different ballgame.

Fox-TV has paired its NFL announcers for the coming season, including the addition of former Chiefs QB Trent Green to partner with Chris Myers. This pair has the chance to deliver big news on opening day, as they will do the Detroit at New Orleans game. Detroit's first win since 2007, if and when it comes, will be big news.

The Fox announcing teams:

Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver
Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
Dick Stockton, Charles Davis
Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick
Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan
Ron Pitts, John Lynch
Chris Myers, Trent Green

Buck will not work NFL games in late October due to the World Series. Sam Rosen has an early start, calling Chicago Bears pre-season games televised locally on the Fox-TV affiliate in Chicago.

Fox-TV has a doubleheader on September 13th, opening day. Most of the country will get Kenny Albert and Daryl Johnston calling the Dallas vs. Tampa game, followed by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the N.Y. Giants vs. Washington game. As a warmup of sorts, Daryl Johnston will join the Cowboys' local telecasts of their final two pre-season games.

The MLB Network continues to make improvements and additions to its already superb job of covering the entire season. Now they are continuing to show 2 games each Thursday. This Thursday (8/20) they will pick up the local feed of the Seattle at Detroit game in the afternoon before originating the Arizona at Philadelphia game at night. They have already announced 2 more games for the following Thursday (8/27).

During the afternoon they will pick up the L.A. Dodgers at Colorado local feed before originating from Fenway Park with a Red Sox hosting the White Sox telecast.The MLB Network does get Colorado Rockies fever over the next 2 weeks, but as they battle for a playoff spot it is understandable. The next 2 Saturday night telecasts (22nd and 29th) will each have the Rockies vs. the Giants, with that afternoon game vs. the Dodgers sandwiched in.

NEW YORK: It will be interesting to see what WCBS-TV does regarding a sportscaster when Sam Ryan gives up her role as the station's local sportscaster after next week. Ryan will continue to anchor on CBS College Sports, and will also do some hosting on SNY including its "Jets Nation" show on Sunday nights.

Earlier this year Steve Bartelstein left Channel 2, which had let go of Ducis Rodgers and John Discepolo before that. Got to wonder if the station will go without a sportscaster, or if the Len Berman rumors will be heating up before the week is out. It is hard to believe there is even the possibility of no sportscaster on WCBS-TV. If there isn't, it could mean doomsday for sportscasts in a lot of other markets as well.

SAN DIEGO: The Chargers upgraded radio arrangement with KIOZ 105.3, XTRA Sports 1360, and Los Angeles' KLAC 570 all carrying the broadcasts got underway this past Saturday without competition from TV. The home game vs. Seattle did not sell out so there was no live telecast.

Since it was only the pre-season, Channel 8 aired the game on tape delay at 10:30 PM. In an interesting move, Channel 2 in Los Angeles also carried the delayed telecast. Interesting because Los Angeles is more than 75 miles from San Diego. I'm thinking it's because Channel 2 did not want to give up prime time for a pre-season telecast.

GAINESVILLE: A gain for Gainesville viewers with Cox Cable. After weeks of negotiation, Tampa Bay Rays telecasts are finally available. The first game they showed was this past Sunday vs. Toronto, with 20 more telecasts to follow. By the time the telecasts start, the Rays have a long way to go to return to the post-season and defend their American League championship.

SALT LAKE: KALL 700 becomes ESPN Radio as of August 31st. The station will be local with Bill & Spence from 3 to 7 PM. KALL will continue to air University of Utah football and basketball, planning a 7 hour block for football games and 4 hours for basketball broadcasts, both including extended pre and post-game shows.

OREGON: The University of Oregon is again producing a 2 hour, 5 day a week "Go Ducks Live" show hosted by play-by-play voice Jerry Allen, with the first hour to air on KSCR 1320. Portland's KUGN 590 will carry the 8 to 9 AM hour each Wednesday. streams the entire 2 hours. Odd that online gets more of these shows than the key local radio stations.

TULSA: Oral Roberts University basketball will continue on The Sports Animal for at least one more season. KYAL 97.1 will air all basketball games along with the Monday night coaches show.

Friday, August 14, 2009

update on KFWB Los Angeles

As an update from Wednesday column, indeed KFWB in Los Angeles has announced that in addition to weekday Angels baseball, it will begin a multi-year deal to carry Los Angeles Clippers basketball, including all pre-season games.

The official announcement also said post-season games, but we strive for accuracy here.

Based on the state of radio lately, the Clippers seem a good match for a big radio story. How about the quote in the Press Release from Clippers’ President Andy Roeser. “Also, this long term relationship represents a tremendous development for our fans: no conflicts, a strong signal, with a strong adjacent programming schedule and supportive partners.”

First Roeser mentions "no conflicts". Does this mean that if and as the Angels have playoff games in October and then the Clippers have meaningless late regular season games in April that the Clippers would have priority over the Angels? If they don't, the quote is not accurate. If they do, how does KFWB think it will gain by putting the Clippers ahead of the Angels? Which team has the most sellouts and the most fan interest?

Second, Roeser comments about the "strong adjacent programming schedule". He says this about a station moving away from all news after 30+ years and starting a News/Talk format next month. I must have missed the connection of having Dr. Laura and the Clippers on the same station.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sports Media Report - August 11th update

As disappointing as it has been to see many local TV stations around the country reduce and in some cases eliminate sports coverage within scheduled newscasts, a Kansas City station has taken a positive step for local sports fans there.

KCTV Channel 5 is partnering with WHB Sports Radio 810 to use the radio talent to bolster its local sports coverage, using some of the radio station's talent. This is a far cry from TV stations in other markets which have sometimes used "non sports" reporters who unintentionally embarass the station by not knowing names or terminology.

The fit becomes immediate, since KCTV is the CBS-TV affiliate and carries the majority of Chiefs games, including the non-network pre-season games. I'm sure the more avid sports fans in the market will come to appreciate this move, especially when compared with the alternative.

MLB Network continues to impress with their additions and improvements that seem to be coming our way each week. This coming Monday (8/17) brings the network its second live telecast of a minor league game. Even though it is a Monday afternoon game, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Gwinnett Braves AAA teams will battle live on MLB Network at 2:00 PM ET. This marks the 2nd minor league telecast that MLB Network carries this season. Hopefully the start of many.

LOS ANGELES: Even as KFWB 980 recycles syndicated talk shows in place of midday and evening newscasts toward its "News Talk" identity starting after Labor Day, there is a good chance the station will add more local play-by-play. The station continues to broadcast Angels games during the week, mostly late afternoon and at night. It is hard to believe that Kings hockey broadcasts during the winter months would generate sufficient numbers.

From the sports fans' point of view, KFWB being moved away from the competition it had with sister station KNX over the years is not good. Or maybe it is just too tough for us old-timers to accept.

Sportscasts were one of the ways that "all news" KFWB and KNX have diffentiated themselves over the years. After 4:00 PM, KFWB would, barring a major trade or sport story, lead with scores from around the country every half hour. KNX would lead with headlines and spend more time on the local teams. Thus, if you wanted scores and updates, KFWB was the place. When you wanted sports headlines and more local teams flavor, KNX was the choice.

The change to syndicated talk on KFWB on nights without Angels baseball and whichever team may be added takes away the chance for fans to be kept up to date on games they are following around the country. But in reality, this is a reflection of how the phone technology, online sports sites, and the on-screen scroll of sports TV networks have taken over as a means to deliver instant scores. This has become another way that AM and FM Radio now fight a losing battle. But starting next month, there won't be enough reasons to give KFWB 22 minutes. (A reflection from their years and years of saying "Give us 22 minutes and we'll give you the world".)

ATHENS + ATLANTA: While coverage of SEC teams rises significantly with the increased Conference TV packages for this season, University of Georgia fans will now be getting nine hours of game day coverage on the Georgia Football Network.

Kevin Butler, the former UG kicking standout who became an all-pro kicker for the Chicago Bears, and former All-SEC QB David Greene have each been added to the Bulldogs radio team starting next month. Butler will be a part of pre and post-game coverage for home games, while Greene will travel with the team. They'll both have plenty of air time. With pre and post-game programming, the Georgia Football Network will provide 9 hours of coverage on game days. Jeff Dantzler will again host the surrounding coverage.

Scott Howard continues with play-by-play and Eric Zeier as game analyst. In Atlanta, WSB 750 will air the coverage.

WASHINGTON D.C.: Wall to wall Redskins coverage season arrives this week in the nation's capital timed for their first pre-season game on Thursday (8/13). ESPN 980 debuts the "Joe Theismann Show" from 8 to 10 AM on Friday morning.

Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic will be showing the non-network pre-season games this month as it kicks off a multi-year deal. CSN will also air pre and post-game extended coverage. This is in addition to the "Redskins Nation Show" on non-game days, along with having a one-on-one interview with coach Jim Zorn each afternoon following game days or nights.

NEW JERSEY: Rutgers University Athletic Director Tim Pernetti announced his new selection for radio analyst for the school's football broadcasts this season to team with Chris Carlin. He chose Rutgers alum Ray Lucas. The reason? Pernetti was the football analyst for the past 8 seasons prior to being named Athletic Director. That makes for a classic radio story. How many radio commentators literally get to choose their own replacement?

DALLAS: The Cowboys' new stadium will also feature a new voice on the Public Address system. Since it is the Cowboys, it won't be just any voice. Texas Radio Hall of Famer Jody Dean will become only the third P A voice in team history. He has previously served as Associate Producer of the Cowboys Radio Network, and currently hosts mornings on KLUV 98.7.

SAN FRANCISCO: Congrats to long time Giants play-by-play voice Hank Greenwald on being selected for the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame.

DENVER: Another cutback on the TV sports side. Marcia Neville won three local Emmy Awards along with a couple of national honors during her 27 years on Denver television, with much of her work focusing on high school sports. Granted, high school and very local non-pro or college sports is not always in high demand for TV news. Yet, rather than re-assign her FOX 31 did not renew her contract. Her stint included more than 20 years with the local CBS-TV affiliate.

PITTSBURGH: We put this story after the last story for a reason. A sports fan by the name of Michael Grau "won" a 1-year contract with ESPN 1250 to talk sports. This announcement comes just days after WSCR "The Score" in Chicago chose its "fan winner" of an on-air gig.

One has to think that these "winners" will not paid at the same level of a 27 year TV veteran. But, hey, it's only the audience that will notice the difference.

MIAMI: WQAM has lost evening host Damon Amendolara who departs for Boston. There, he will begin on the new FM sports station which indirectly replaces WBCN.

But in Miami, listeners await word for his replacement. It will not be Brian The Best London, who was just dropped as a weekend host and University of Miami football sideline reporter.

BELLEVUE: Washington State University has accepted an 8-year extension of coverage from Fox Sports Northwest going through the 2016-17 season. FSN Northwest has the rights to all available local events (such as games not already taken by sports networks), and will produce a weekly half hour show specific to WSU.

RALEIGH-DURHAM: If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em. We call it "buzz kill". Capitol Broadcasting Company is awaiting FCC approval on deals to purchase WDNC 620 "The Bull" and WRBZ 850 "The Buzz". The Bull and The Buzz will likely no longer carry sports formats. It's not for lack of interest, especially with college hoops being less than 2 months from starting in this ACC haven.

It is because Capitol owns 99.9 FM "The Fan", which has been the competing sports station. It appears that at least some of the shows and personalities on Bull and Buzz will be moved to The Fan.

MOBILE: Footballs will fill the air this fall. As in the radio airwaves in the Mobile market. It won't be hard to find a game to listen to on the weekends.

The U. of Georgia broadcasts, plus the expanded pre and post-game, will air on WGSY 100.1 (having moved from WRCG). Auburn games will air on WVRK 102.9, while Troy games air on WDAK 540. University of Alabama football continues on WEAM 1580. WHAL 1460 adds Georgia Tech football, including 2 1/2 hours of additional surrounding coverage. If that isn't enough, Georgia Southern games will also air when possible on WRCG.

Come Sunday, WDAK will continue to carry Atlanta Falcons games, WHAL will air a national Sunday NFL doubleheader, and WEAM will air the Sunday and Monday Night NFL broadcasts.
If you are thinking hoops in Mobile, Georgia basketball will air on WHAL while Auburn is already slated for WSHE 1270.

COLUMBIA S.C.: WCOS 1400 has added another local show as of this week. Eric Guimaraes is joined by former U. of South Carolina basketball player Carey Rich on "The Locker Room" from 10 AM to 1 PM. USC play-by-play voice Mike Morgan joins J. C. Shurburtt and Corey Miller for the revised 3 to 6 PM drive time show.

GREAT FALLS: KUUS Sports Dog 102.9 FM has gone silent. Not because of lack of interest in sports programming, however. The station, along with a pair of music FM stations, went dark for economic reasons. The group operating the stations under a management agreement also could not get local financing to buy and keep these stations alive.

GRAND FORKS: University of North Dakota football will air on 96.1 The Fox to start a 3-year contract. Sister station The Fan 1440 will air the one hour coaches show each Wednesday evening. The games will include a 12 station network stretching from Minnesota to Montana.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sports Media Report - August 5th update

The past week brought us still another indication that the multi-millions of dollars spent for pro sports broadcast rights fees will be dropping at every opportunity.CBS-TV is already recognizing that its telecast of the Super Bowl in February is not as likely to command the usual amount of spots at more than $2,000,000 per. The network is reportedly offering packages to potential advertisers with additional factors determining the price of a Super Bowl participation which did not exist before. The more challenging it becomes to sell the spots, and the lower the revenue generated, the less likely the networks will fall all over each other with millions of dollars when the next package is negotiated.

What also makes this interesting is that one of the criteria for Super Bowl advertisers reportedly being considered is the placement within the telecast. This could lead to a form of an advertisers' fantasy league. Most of us could understand that an advertiser might have to pay more to be seen during the 4th quarter of a close game. But we never know.

The participating teams may or may not be from big markets. The game could become one sided by halftime. Or, it could be a huge draw and be close until the end. CBS and advertisers could wind up in a costly game of speculation as to the degree of success based on an advertiser's placement. I'll take the under.

The NBA schedule was released on Tuesday, and this year all at once. Within hours, we had telecasts announced by ESPN, TNT, and NBA-TV. This is actually something new from the NBA.

In the past, the league was good at milking the schedule announcements over the course of a week or two. I find this "everything at once" to be too much too soon.During this tough economy, the NBA needs to keep itself in the news to keep fan interest going. The schedule is, obviously, a story which creates anticipation for the key matchups and gets fans excited for the coming season. Way different from the big money contracts, player squabbles, rumors, and sometimes incidents which become news stories.

In the past, the league would announce some key matchups to start. Over the course of a few days, the teams would start announcing their schedules. Then, over the next couple of weeks, the networks such as TNT, ESPN, and ABC would announce some of their national telecasts.

These would serve as ways to build anticipation. But now, we got all of that within a few hours on the same day. Good to know, but in a way this takes some of the fun out of hearing about the best matchups over the next couple of weeks. Many draft choices and free agents have been signed. There are not expected to be very many major NBA stories over the next few weeks. Training camps don't open for 2 more months. Yet, the league seems to have overlooked the additional marketing exposure with the "all at once" announcements.

TNT announced 53 regular season NBA telecasts. The joke had been that TNT would save time and announce the Cavaliers' schedule. It is obvious that with Lebron James and Shaq on the same team, it won't be hard to see the Cavs on the tube. Sure enough, they are already scheduled for 10 appearances on TNT alone. The network promises 22 Thursday night doubleheaders for the coming season, including Thanksgiving. For the first time ever, TNT even plans a doubleheader on New Year's Eve. They also plan 3 telecasts on MLK Day.

ESPN coverage begins on opening night, Weds. Oct. 28th in the West, with New Orleans at San Antonio and then Utah at Denver. ESPN and ABC will combine for 16 telecasts with the Lakers and Celtics, with 15 Cavaliers telecasts already scheduled. (Yes - when combined with TNT, it means that 25 Cavs games (nearly one-third) are already scheduled for national TV, and that does not include NBA-TV.)

ABC and ESPN give us the Christmas present of 5 live games, including a Lakers vs. Cavs matchup. ABC plans 5 Sunday doubleheaders, and has 2 matchups of Cleveland vs. Orlando on its schedule.

PHOENIX: The competition for U. of Arizona football this season may be bigger among the TV people than the Pac-10 race. Wildcats games not chosen by a network will be shown in Phoenix on KGUN Channel 9 and KWBA 58 will carry the Spanish version on digital 58.2. This deal also includes a Prescott based station. This includes the season opener on Sept. 5 vs. Central Michigan, and at least one other game. ABC/ESPN already has 2 games selected for regional coverage, with the remainder to be seen via Fox Sports Arizona's Pac-10 package, as well as on Versus.

CINCINNATI: The surprising first half better than expected start of the Reds will pay big dividends for WLW 700. The long time Reds flagship station shot up from 5th to 1st at night during the recent spring ratings period, while the station finished a solid number one overall. Even as the Reds slump out of contention, the station just might keep up their strong numbers.

St. LOUIS: The sports talk race in St. Louis radio is already as interesting as the National League Central this season. Newcomer WXOS 101.1, which debuted as a sports talker on New Year's, is already ahead of KFNS 590 and KSLG 1380 in mornings, middays, and afternoons. KFNS, which broadcasts the Cardinals and features extensive related programming, has gained on KSLG compared to previous ratings books, which is not surprising given the Cardinals' great season thus far. Significantly, the combined audience ratings for the 3 sports stations show that the sports radio audience in the St. Louis market has more than doubled over the past year.

DALLAS: ESPN 103.3 has added Ian Fitzsimmons to its afternoon drive "Galloway & Company" show as of this week. Fitz will also host pre and post-game programming on Cowboys game days. As it goes in radio, this move happened rather quickly. Fact is that Fitzsimmons was still on the air at WJOX in Birmingham as recently as last Wednesday (7/29) and had to leave without saying farewell to his audience there.

BALTIMORE: WJZ-FM The Fan rose to third place in men 25-54 in the recent ratings period. The station, which started last fall, saw its afternoon show with Scott Garceau and Anita Marks finish first among 25-54 men. This while the other Baltimore sports talkers, WNST, WJZ-AM, and WVIE, all failed to crack the top 25 stations overall.

WASHINGTON D.C.: The NHL Capitals and WFED-AM have agreed to a multi-year deal, and Steve Kolbe continues as play-by-play voice. Over at WTEM 980, Tony Kornheiser returns to WTEM after several years. Starting the day after Labor Day (Sept. 8) Tony will handle a late morning shift, most likely leading into "The Sports Fix" with Thom Loverro and Kevin Sheehan.

JACKSONVILLE: Looks like tough sledding for XL Sports, which left the 105.3 FM frequency due to an expired contract on July 31st. The station continues on 1010 AM, on, and for those in the northern part of the market and in the southeastern tip of Georgia on 92.5 FM. The "old" frequency replaced the sports talk with other talk programming.

NASHVILLE: Middle Tennessee State University has a new radio home just in time for the coming football season. WNSR 560 will be the flagship station for both football and basketball, including its simulcast to Bowling Green KY on WNTC 103.9. This after WNFN 106.7 dropped its ESPN programming in favor of music last week. In Murfreesboro, where the school is located, the games will be heard on WGNS 1450 AM along with 100.5 and 101.9 FM. Or, to keep it simple, if you are in Murphfreesboro during a MTSU football or basketball game, just turn on the radio.