Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Broadcast Booth - May 13th update......

Sun Sports Florida pitched a perfect game of its own with its coverage of Dallas Braden's perfect game on Sunday (May 9) for Oakland against the Rays. Dewayne Staats and Kevin Kennedy added the extraordinary excitement in their deliveries even though "their" team was the victim of this ultimate performance. (There are some announcers who would voice the disappointment to favor the team they describe.)

It didn't stop there. The production crew did an incredible job. The Rays telecast stayed on the field and showed Braden celebrate with his grandmother (who took over after Dallas' mother passed away). This was, after all, on Mother's Day.

Then, prior to signing off from Oakland, Sun Sports replayed all 27 outs. A classy move. Plus, when you factor in that the Tampa area has a lot of transplants from around the country who are baseball fans rather than Rays fans, you have a great service to the audience.

On a side note, the Rays have a dubious distinction that is likely to remain theirs for many many years. I don't know that the same franchise will ever again have a perfect game thrown at them 2 seasons in a row, let alone having one batter (Gabe Kapler) being part of both ninth innings. Mark Buehrle's perfecto was also against the Rays last July.

The Rays excellent start this season has already reflected in their TV ratings, which have almost doubled compared to the first month of last season.

Congratulations to Joe Tait on the 2010 Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Basketball Hall of Fame that he will receive on August 12th in Springfield MA. Except for a season in Chicago in the 80's when Cavaliers ownership was a mess, Joe has been the constant through the mostly bad times over the past 40 years. Also named for the Media Award is Jackie MacMullan, based on her nearly 30 years with the Boston Globe and books with the likes of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Both are very deserving!

I'm not generally looking for things to complain about on telecasts, but I can't be alone on this one. Some of the regional and national baseball telecasts have started showing the batter's line for the game in scorecard form. That is showing the innings and then "F7" or "BB". I understand they are looking to appeal to the hardcore baseball fan who will understand it.

However, I have 2 problems with doing this. For one, this is only a row on the screen and not every screen people are watching on is big enough, nor are viewers always close enough to READ the letters and numbers. For another, it forces people to calculate. Not that we can or can't do it, but the information on the screen is supposed to help us enjoy the telecast, and not distract us from it while we add numbers.

Please - just tell us the guy is 1 for 4 with a double in the 5th inning and keep it simple and easy for us.

Fans continue to watch televised pro sports in a big way. With the baseball season now into its 2nd full month, Neilsen Co. says that the St. Louis Cardinals were the most watched team in terms of local telecasts for the month of April with an increase over 30% compared with last year. Fox Sports Midwest also shows a 75% increase in the pre-game show audience and strong gains for its post-game programming. The Minnesota Twins were second, undoubtedly helped by the team's great start and new stadium.

The NHL ratings for the quarterfinal playoffs on both Versus and NBC showed significant increases in a few TV markets you wouldn't expect. Knoxville area combined ratings reportedly rose 200%, while Louisville, San Antonio, Dayton, Birmingham, and Albuquerque were among those markets which doubled their respective audiences. Of those, only Dayton is located within a 2-hour drive of an NHL franchise, and the Columbus Blue Jackets were not even in the playoffs. This is huge for the NHL, which will be able to renegotiate its network TV deals next year, if not sooner.

The existing NHL markets showing the biggest ratings increases for Versus and NBC telecasts were Chicago, Detroit, and Phoenix. Even this should not be overlooked, given that local telecasts took over for Versus during the quarterfinal round. For the final 2 rounds, local telecasts are over, and Versus and NBC televise exclusively into the home team markets.

On the college side, word is that the ACC is already in the process of wrapping up negotiations for its TV contracts, which are set to expire next spring at the end of the basketball regular season. Their contracts could again involve Fox Sports and Raycom Sports in addition to the ESPN/ABC family.

WASHINGTON D.C.: The Nationals having a winning month of April is being noticed after all. Ratings on MASN have been on the rise, including solid numbers for their recent series vs. the Mets, which resulted in a 43% increase over the same time period last season. While the NHL Capitals understandably have better ratings (the Caps finished the regular season with the East's best record), the NBA Wizards somehow had better ratings than the Nationals. At least the Nats games are on the upswing, for now.

SAN JOSE: Here is one of those "You could make a case either way" reports. has been providing additional coverage online of the Sharks during their playoff run, in addition to televising the first 2 round's games not on NBC.

The network reports a 200% increase in page views on its Sharks pages into the second round of playoffs.

One side says this is a huge positive for the network as it keeps the audience interested and bolsters its coverage. But there is the other point of view, and it's the one I support.

Since CSN's purpose is a TV network to drive revenue, and since there is this much interest in the Sharks, why don't they increase their Sharks programming on the network? Fans shouldn't have to go online to get "extra" coverage since there is this much demand.

If the online coverage was to replay Sharks programming which already aired, that would be fine. But it is extra coverage.

Sorry, but I find it odd that more of the TV and radio channels dedicated to local sports are taking the "additional coverage on our web site" approach. Without viewers or listeners, the TV or radio network or station doesn't survive. If it doesn't survive, an "additional revenue" opportunity doesn't get off the ground.

This is the same as how radio music stations that "sell" downloads of the songs they just played via their web sites are giving their listeners more and more reasons they don't have to listen to the station. If they can download only the songs they want (even if for a few bucks), then they have no reason to listen to the station for songs they don't want and endless clusters of commercials. So if sports stations and networks are going to send us to our computers for their coverage, they give us fewer reasons to watch or listen.

MINNEAPOLIS: The Star-Tribune reports that the NHL Wild will soon announce a contract extention with Fox Sports North. But there's one phase of this story that hasn't been announced yet. Rumor has it that by the 2011-12 season Fox will carry every game it can, phasing out the over-the-air telcasts on KSTC-TV.

The team's broadcasters are still not confirmed for the coming season, although changes are not expected. Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay are expected to continue in the TV booth with Bob Kurtz and Tom Reid on radio.

PHOENIX: Kevin Graham joins KTAR 620 as Program Director starting next week. He comes by way of The Zone in Salt Lake City where he co-hosted afternoons.

RALEIGH: The "Triangle Sports" stations of 99.9 The Fan, WCMC ESPN Radio, and 620 The Buzz have set a combined ratings record for the first quarter of 2010. This is bolsterd by 99.9 FM The Fan showing a 16% overall audience increase for the same period.

Glad to see how well the broadcast media handled the situation a few days back in Philadelphia when that fan ran onto the field and was tasered. Fox Sports Midwest's Dan McLaughlin described what was happening but the TV crew knew not to show it, even though it was a newsworthy story.

On the radio side, John Rooney and Mike Shannon were both laughing on the air and having fun with the incident, yet brought across the serious nature of the event. The idea of not showing fans who do this sort of thing is a positive one even though most people want to see it.

Former Heisman Trophy winner and Notre Dame standout Tim Brown now hosts "The Legends of Sport With Tim Brown" each Saturday on Sports Byline USA Radio. The first show featured a Dallas Cowboys theme with Everson Wallas and former Player Personnel Direcdtor Gil Brandt as the guests. The show will usually air on Saturdays at 11 AM ET and again at 10 PM.

The hunger of many baseball fans for minor league games continues to be responded to. MLB Network has begun its Monday telecasts of select minor league games.

Now comes word that the Bradenton (FL) Marauders class A home games, along with selected road games, are being streamed at Great to see the Pirates affiliate doing this. There are some fans at the major league level who would enjoy being able to listen in to hear about the prospects for their favorite team(s).

Better yet, at least so far, no stupid blackouts of these minor league streams.

On the schedule side, ESPN has announced some of its Pac 10 football telecast schedule for the coming season:

Thu, Sep 2 11 p.m. No. 15 USC at Hawaii * ESPN
Fri, Sep 3 8 p.m. Arizona at Toledo * ESPN
Sat, Sep 4 3:30 p.m. UCLA at Kansas State ABC
7:45 p.m. Cowboys Classic: Oregon State vs. No. 6 TCU * ESPN
Sat, Sep 11 7 p.m. No. 10 Oregon at Tennessee ESPN2
10:30 p.m. No. 24 Stanford at UCLA ESPN
Fri, Sep 17 10 p.m. California at Nevada * ESPN2
Sat, Sep 18 3:30 p.m. No. 7 Nebraska at Washington ABC
Arizona State at No. 9 Wisconsin ABC and ESPN2
3:30 p.m. No. 15 USC at Minnesota ESPN
10:30 p.m. No. 11 Iowa at Arizona ESPN
11:15 p.m. Wake Forest at No. 24 Stanford ESPN2
Sat, Sep 25 TBD Oregon State at No. 2 Boise State * ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
TBD UCLA at No. 4 Texas * ABC
Sat, Oct 2 8 p.m. Washington at No. 15 USC ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
11:15 p.m. No. 24 Stanford at No. 10 Oregon ESPN
Sat, Oct 9 8 p.m. No. 15 USC at No. 24 Stanford ABC
Thu, Oct 21 9 p.m. UCLA at No. 10 Oregon * ESPN
Sat, Oct 30 8 p.m. No. 10 Oregon at No. 15 USC ABC
Sat, Nov 13 8 p.m. No. 15 USC at Arizona ABC
Thu, Nov 18 8 p.m. UCLA at Washington * ESPN
Sat, Nov 20 8 p.m. No. 15 USC at Oregon State ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
Fri, Nov 26 7 p.m. Arizona at No. 10 Oregon ESPN
Sat, Nov 27 8 p.m. Notre Dame at No. 15 USC ABC, ESPN or ESPN2
Thu, Dec 2 8 p.m. Arizona State at Arizona * ESPN

ESPN has also announced its TV games for this fall's ACC/Big Ten (basketball) Challenge. (Although given the ACC's total dominance, "Challenge" is an overstatement!)

Mon, Nov 29 Virginia at Minnesota
Tue, Nov 30 No. 11 North Carolina at No. 15 Illinois
No. 6 Ohio State at Florida State
Michigan at Clemson
Georgia Tech at Northwestern
Iowa at Wake Forest
Wed, Dec 1 No. 3 Michigan State at No. 1 Duke
No. 2 Purdue at No. 22 Virginia Tech
North Carolina State at Wisconsin
Indiana at Boston College
Maryland at Penn State

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