Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sports League Networks Work Worthwhile

Sports fans continue to benefit by the various major sports having multiple networks showing their games, and even moreso based on recent announcements and events.

Even the NHL is catching up and not hiding their telecasts liked they used to, or so it seemed. For yars, every MLB and NFL playoff game has been televised on a national basis. Last season, NBA-TV filled in the occasional early round "gap" and made certain that every playoff game was seen nationally. We are also in the midst of our second year of every NCAA Basketball Tournament game being seen live on one of four channels.

NBC has come out with the announcement that starting in early April, every NHL playoff game will be shown live. NBC will continue to showcase weekend action, with NBC Sports Network providing doubelheader coverage when possible. In addition, CNBC will be utilized to show additional early round action, since the strength of CNBC programming comes during the business day and would not be impacted by NHL coverage at night. NHL Network will also carry local feeds of additional telecasts.

This is good to see, as networks normally competing for viewers continue to work together, including cross-promotion, for the benefit of fans of the sport or the league(s). After all, CBS would normally not promote programming appearing on TNT or TBS, and vice versa, but these networks have devoted air time toward cross promoting the NCAA telecasts.

Even on regular season NBA telecasts, ESPN/ABC and TNT regularly promote the "national TV schedule" within their game telecasts regardless of which games are on other networks.

On the heels of this comes the word that Fox Sports is partnering with MLB Network for its Saturday baseball pre-game show starting in just over 2 weeks. The pregame show for the Fox Game Of The Week will now originate from the MLB Network studios, and be hosted by Matt Vasgersian. Personnel from both MLB Network and Fox Sports will participate.

This all serves to show how far the various "league" networks have come, and the progress they continue to add. NBA-TV did a great job with its "Trade Deadline Special" last week (3/15), with a 2-hour live special centered upon the league trade deadline. The network also came back with a prime-time recap and a fresh look at the teams. Of course, the network had no way of knowing there would not be a major deal done, but having this show available and utilizing the available resources around the league was a great approach. For the NBA fan, it certainly beat hours of nothing but speculation on the various sports talk radio stations around the country. NBA-TV also didn't stop because these shows were on up against the NCAA opening round telecasts during the afternoon, instead doing their job to maintain interest in NBA activities on what could have been a significant day.

NFL Media, which includes NFL Network (along with and NFL Films) has received 14 Sports Emmy Award nominations. This is an amazing and very positive reflection on NFL Media. Other award nominees come from the various networks and programmers who invest millions and millions of dollars and use prime time toward showcasing the games and leagues they telecast.

Included among the nominations are Mike Mayock, who acted as analyst for NFL Network's Thursday Night Football telecasts this past season. Mayock was established as analyst on NBC's Notre Dame football telecasts and did quite well in his first regular NFL assignment.

By the way, NBC has moved the Notre Dame vs. Miami college football telecast on October 6th, which will be played in Chicago at Soldier Field as an ND home game, to prime-time for an 8:30 PM ET telecast.

Meanwhile, this might seem like an issue only in Vermont, but it should not be treated as such. It seems that administrators at the University of Vermont went as far as to ask University President John Bramley to take terminate the school's contract for its sports broadcasts with WVMT-AM Radio. The reason? Because that station happens to carry Rush Limbaugh's show during the day. It seems that some faculty and school personnel remain upset over the remarks Limbaugh made last month and do not think the University should be associated with a radio station that carries that show as well.

UVM President John Bramley officially took the position of urging those upset about Limbaugh's comments to contact the station. WMVT General Manager Paul Goldman was quoted as saying that the station has no plans to drop Limbaugh's show, and that it wishes to keep the UVM sports contract, which as of now runs through the 2016 seasons.

Frankly, this attempt from the faculty members is more outrageous than anything Limbaugh said. Maybe the next group of students who disagree with a comment made by a professor should contact the school about ending the course. Those who work in the media should be totally offended by this crap.

NEW YORK: The latest radio ratings show that ESPN Radio is gaining on WFAN, especially in the afternoon, although Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton continue with solid morning numbers.

CHICAGO: WFLD-TV has added Dionne Miller as a sports anchor in early April. She will anchor the Friday and Saturday night sportscasts on the late news and participate in the Sunday half hour recap show, "The Final Word". Miller has worked for Big Ten Network, WBNS-TV Columbus, and also hosted studio shows before and after Cavaliers basketball telecasts.

97.5 ESPN Deportes will carry the Spanish broadcasts of White Sox games this season, as well as Chicago Fire MLS broadcasts for this season.

SAN DIEGO: XX Sports 1090 is adding Josh Rosenberg and Charod Williams to its lineup starting next week, with the pair coming over from XTRA Sports 1360. Rosenberg and Williams will take over the 10 AM to 2 PM spot, which also reduces Darren Smith's show to 2 to 5 PM. XX 1090 is the Padres' flagship station, and this means that John Kentera will air from 8 to 11 PM only on nights that the Padres are not playing at that time. What makes this move even more interesting is that it moves Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton into the 5 to 8 PM time slot after handling the midday spot. Most of the Padres road games will pre-empt some or all of Hamilton's show.

Hacksaw has always been very good at handling the "national" sports fans, as in the transplants and tourists in the San Diego area. Now, the evening time slot puts Hamilton up against the majority of games being televised and/or broadcast on other stations. Chances are, based on sports radio ratings vs. live sports telecasts around the country, this could cut into Hamilton's audience in the short term. Makes us wonder if there aren't any further changes in the hopper at 1090.

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