Fans are pleased to have their NFL football coming back and knowing that the regular season will open as scheduled and plans can be made. We also saw an example of the NFL's media partners jumping on the end of the lockout and adding to the positive vibes felt by the fans. Within 24 hours of the end of the lockout, the networks began to announce their TV schedules for the regular season, as well as pre-season TV schedules.
I mention this because it came at a time when fans knew they could get enthusiastic about the upcoming games knowing they will be played as scheduled. This is exactly what I pointed out last week regarding the NBA's TV partners. While it is understandable that the NBA needs to have a schedule in place, the publicity surrounding its release was tamed due to the current lockout status of the players. Yet, ESPN/ABC, TNT, and the NBA Network came out with their national TV schedules, even within the uncertainty. The NFL took advantage of the timing to announce national TV games, whereas the NBA wasted the opportunity.
Speaking of announcing upcoming telecasts, the Pac-12 Conference TV deal just announced has become more thorough than most originally thought. The Conference is planning to have a national cable network as well as six regional networks including pay-per-view possibilities.
This will all begin next August (2012), with the regional networks based in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and "mountain regions". The Conference will show about 850 live events each year, including approximately 350 events on the national feed. This will include every football and basketball game not carried on a national telecast partner.
ESPN/ABC used this week to, in addition to its NFL telecast schedule, announce its extensive plans for the upcoming college football season. This season will be the first of its 12 season agreement with the ACC, a new 8-year exclusive on BYE home games, and at least 50 games (various conferences) which will only be available via stream on ESPN3.com.
In addition, there will be an increase in games shown on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, along with a "Kickoff Week" stretch of 32 telecasts in 5 days from September 1 thru 5.
BOSTON: WEEI wasted no time in expanding its Patriots and NFL coverage once the lockout ended. Former Pats linebacker, and ESPN analyst, Ted Bruschi will join "The Big Show" with Michael Holley and Glen Ordway on Mondays from 4 to 6 PM during "Patriots Monday". He will also help with the Coach Belichick interview segments each week.
CHICAGO: WMAQ-TV Channel 5 went internal to replace sportscaster Daryl Hawks who passed away this past May. The station is returning Mike Adamle to full-time status. Paula Faris and Peggy Kusinski will continue in their roles.
CINCINNATI: Andy Furman is moving back to afternoons to talk sports on WQRT 1160 starting next Monday (8/1), moving from 7 to 9 AM (which he occupied since January) to the 5 to 7 PM spot. Furman's show is the only pure sports show on the station, and station officials reason that he will be able to secure more guests with the later time slot.
PITTSBURGH: The success of the Pirates this season will also likely impact the team's future on local radio. Now that people care that the team's radio contract is up after the current season, word is that KDKA-FM The Fan is about to enter the bidding for the rights for next season and beyond. However, this may not be the typical bidding war. It will be interesting to see if the Pirates wish to continue to control the advertising, the announcers, and the overall broadcasts, as opposed to selling the rights to the highest bidder.
TAMPA: Now that the NFL is all systems go, WTSP-TV 10 takes over as the pre-season station for the Buccaneers starting a new 2-year agreement. Chris Myers and John Lynch remain as the announcing team. However, the home pre-season games WTSP can televise are not sold out yet. Thus, the possibility remains that the games will not be able to be shown live, thus reducing the overall value of the package. If and as these exhibition games do not sell out, the station would be forced to air the games on tape delay.
SEATTLE/TACOMA: KJR 950 is planning a push for the minor league Tacoma Rainiers by broadcasting its Friday afternoon drive show with Mike Gastineau and Elise Woodward from Cheney Stadium on July 28th and again on August 12th. The game broadcasts air on sister station South Sound Sports 850.
PENSACOLA: While ESPN Radio is leaving some markets. Pensacola will have a full-time AM/FM combo for ESPN Radio starting on August 8th. WBSR 1450 and 101.1 will become the markets only full-time sports station.