Cleveland Cavaliers basketball won't be the same as the season starts, and that has nothing whatsoever to do with LeBron James. All but 2 of the past 40 NBA seasons have brought us Joe Tait as the voice of the Cavs. This new season was supposed to be Joe's final season leading into a well deserved retirement, and a chance for fans and media around the league to honor him on his last visit to each NBA venue.
However, Joe is having heart surgery this week, and it comes after a bout with pneumonia. Tait is not expected back until at least 2 months into the season, and that is considered "best case" at this time. Mike Snyder will step out of the pre-game and post-game studio role and handle radio play-by-play (along with Jim Chones on color), most likely for as long as he is needed on WTAM 1100 Cleveland and WAKR 1590 Akron.
Hardcore Cavs fans bemoan the loss of LeBron James. Longtime basketball fans have the loss of one of the best basketball play-by-play voices for an indefinite period of time. Here's hoping for a great recovery by Tait, and that it be enough to keep him around for one more FULL season after that.
Football and baseball continue to rack up the TV viewers during this busy sports month of October. TBS finished its post-season baseball coverage with a 9% increase in overall viewership for its Division Series and ALCS coverage. The New York vs. Texas ALCS Game 6 telecast finished as the 2nd most watched program in 34 years of TBS, helping the network achieve its highest viewership for any post-season series it has televised.
NBC-TV continues to soar in the Sunday Night Football ratings, with its Green Bay vs. Minnesota telecast (Oct. 24) winning the entire evening and being the most watched SNF telecast of the season to date.
In Milwaukee, WTMJ-TV's initial overnights showed a 53 rating and better than a 68 share, increasing to a 57 rating during the game's later stages. The curious trend continued with Norfolk and Oklahoma City (both cities without NFL franchises) each finished in the Top 10 of metered markets.
This ratings surge may not be limited to MLB and the NFL. Versus reports improved ratings for its early season NHL telecasts, and this week marks the start of the new NBA season, with TNT and ESPN each featuring 2 nights of doubleheaders.
Yet, all is not well in some of the NFL's TV markets. WTOC-TV Savannah had to defend itself on its own web site and in the media after NFL TV policy prohibited it from showing this past Sunday's Atlanta Falcons game vs. Cincinnati. The market is technically within 75 miles of Jacksonville FL, and as a result, the Jaguars game had to be shown. Since it was an away day for the Jags, the game had to be shown (since home games are not selling out). Granted, that is the rule under the current TV policy set forth by the NFL. One would think that given the staggering amount of money the networks pay the league for TV rights that the fans in various markets would be entitled to the games they would most like to see.
This past Sunday (10/24) also had a telecast schedule changed in San Diego, and it may not have been due to the Chargers. The Chargers' home game vs. New England managed to sell out and the game was shown in the local San Diego market. Hours later it came out that it was the (road team) New England Patriots that used a social media site to announce the availability of tickets for the game in San Diego, targeting fans in Southern California, to help get the remaining tickets sold in time.
With Gus Johnson out of handling New York Knicks play-by-play, his role for the Big Ten Network will expand for the coming college hoops season. Johnson will call approximately 23 games this season, nearly double the number of games his schedule allowed last season. Jim Jackson will return for studio analysis and occasional work on game telecasts. Quinn Buckner has been added to the BTN roster for color commentary when his schedule allows (in addition to color on Indiana Pacers telecasts). BTN has also signed Brian Anderson to call some games. Anderson just completed a full season of baseball for the Milwaukee Brewers TV and TBS Division Series coverage. Wayne Larrivee (Packers), Eric Collins (Dodgers), Dave Revsine, Tom Hart, and Tom Hamilton will also handle play-by-play assignments.
CBS-TV's Greg Gumbel will be the featured speaker on January 18th at the 46th Red Smith Sports Award Banquet in Appleton WI.
MIAMI: The Miami Heat radio station battle remains unsettled (at press time) hours before their much-anticipated season begins. What started over a battle over whether the Heat or the Dolphins would have priority next Sunday (10/31) when both the Heat and Dolphins games are both scheduled to begin at 1 PM ET has resulted in the Heat attempting to terminate their contract with WINZ 940.
While the contract status appears headed to court, WINZ may only be airing the Heat games through next week (Nov. 5). This includes the conflict on Sunday, when the Dolphins broadcast is reportedly being moved to WIOD 610 to give the Heat priority. Mike Inglis and John Crotty are set as the radio team regardless of where the Heat broadcasts wind up. Word is that The Ticket 790 has shown interest in taking over the rights.
NEW YORK: Seth Everett has been added to WFAN's broadcasts of the Nets effective in time for opening night. Everett has previously handled surrounding coverage of the Mets for SNY and for Fox Sports surrounding both Knicks and Nets games, along with hosting shows on ESPN 1050. Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw continue on play-by-play and analysis.
Ft. MYERS/NAPLES: Florida Gulf Coast University is receiving additional local TV college. "The FGCU Sports Report" will air on Saturday mornings on the local ABC-TV affiliate, and then in the evening on the local NBC-TV sub-station from now until May. Tom James, former Channel 2 sports anchor, hosts the show.