Friday, March 2, 2012

Sportscast Gives Points To The Opposition

There are still a number of "Instant Media" reporters that still need to understand the importance of utilizing their internal resources to develop and/or report stories.

This might seem minor to some people, but as a sports fan I, for one, feel entitled to get "my" sports news based on a legitimate effort being made to bring me the story. Especially from CBS.

Another example of this took place on Wednesday (2/29). I was listening to WBBM Newsradio 780 and heard Sports Director Jeff Joniak deliver one of his afternoon sportscasts on the all-news station. Joniak mentioned the story about the likelihood of MLB adding 2 more teams to its post-season in time for the upcoming 2012 season, saying (to the effect of) "It will be announced tomorrow, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports".

And then Joniak went on to his next story. Huh? I'm not here to pick on Joniak specifically, but I do need to remind you that he is the Sports Director for a CBS owned and operated 50,000 watt radio station in a top 3 market. However, if he were one of my students and did that in a practice session, he would not have even finished that sportscast without me stopping him.

How could that story possibly have made WBBM's airwaves as it aired? After all, this is a CBS station. Just a few weeks ago, CBS Sports hired baseball expert Jon Heymann away from Sports Illustrated, and serious baseball fans (and Twitter followers of both Heymann and Rosenthal) know that these two guys are often in the battle for breaking baseball news. This story being one of national interest and impact (like it or not) would seem an avenue for Jon Heymann to be pursuing for "his" and the CBS audience.

Yet, Joniak merely gave credit to the biggest individual competitor to the assigned reporter for "his" network, instead of contacting Heymann in an effort to confirm, deny, or hold this story.

The on-air story should have been something like "CBS baseball beat reporter Jon Heymann has confirmed an earlier report that MLB will announce....." OR "CBS Sports' Jon Heymann has yet to confirm speculation that MLB would announce......".

Doing so would have demonstrated to listeners that he (Joniak) or the station was digging for information about this story, while making hardcore fans who had previously heard Rosenthal's report hesitate since it had not become fact. In the process, it provides another reason to tune to WBBM Radio Sports (the next day) to hear a confirmation or denial of the story.

If he (Joniak) could not somehow reach Heymann, then just maybe someone else at CBS Sports has some information one way or the other. For that matter, Chicago is one of only a few markets which has TWO MLB teams in the area. The sister station broadcasts one of them. Why not reach an executive with at least one of those teams for comment? A nice local angle, even if nothing is official either way.

Instead, Joniak provided me with a big reason NOT to return to his sportscasts. If it all depends on what a reporter for a competing network says, then I'll just go to Fox Sports or even ESPN to get my information about this.

Had this been on a sports talk show and he (or whoever is hosting) commented about the Rosenthal story within a discussion of the MLB playoff format, that would be different. (Although still not desirable for a competing station or network.) But this report I heard was on an all-news station.

Jeff Joniak on WBBM is most certainly not the only sportscaster who has been guilty of this. That's the issue. Especially when sports radio is still losing its audience in several major cities (even though there has been a rise within the past couple of months) while live telecasts are experiencing a ratings frenzy. For so many years, radio was the "immediate" media when it came to breaking and covering sports (and news) stories. Incidents such as this one, which are all too common, provide reasons why that could be changed back.

For example, even with the backlash from the NBA lockout and the shortened and injury marred season, TV ratings continue to be a slam dunk for the rights holders. Local telecast ratings are up nearly 20% for the first half of this season, with an estimated four teams showing 100% or higher increases.

Even the Los Angeles Clippers, which for years existed to give Southern California basketball fans additional chances to see their favorite teams and opposing players, have shown a 138% ratings increase thus far. Oklahoma City and Philadelphia, with their teams off to great starts, have increased more than 100%. Amazingly, the Minnesota Timberwolves, not exactly a threat to dominate the playoffs, have shown a strong increase as well.

ESPN/ABC, TNT, and NBA-TV are all showing double digit ratings increases thus far, with NBA-TV up more than 50%. The rise for NBA-TV is likely due to an increased number of doubleheaders and showing on more nights than in the past, in order to meet their previously determined number of telecasts.

New York and Chicago are seeing noteworthy ratings increases. Jeremy Lin and the Knicks have attracted some of highest numbers in several seasons. The Chicago Bulls telecasts on Comcast SportsNet Chicago have shown a 45% increase as well.Yet, among the few teams which have dropped off in audience (despite the strong national showing) are the local telecasts of the Lakers, Celtics, and Spurs. San Antonio has won 12 of its last 14 games (as of press time).

Even the NBA All-Star Game drew decent ratings, especially when you consider it was played later than usual this year (due to the lockout) and went up against the Academy Awards. Miami was the top local market for the TNT telecast, followed by OK City, Orlando, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

The FanGraphs web site has begun to gradually unveil its poll of local baseball TV announcing teams around the country. To make it even more interesting, they are announcing the results for the 30 teams' telecasts starting from the bottom. Finishing last is the White Sox TV team of Ken Harrelson and Steve Stone. No surprise here. Even the expertise of Steve Stone after all of these years is pulled down by "Horrible-son" (as he is referred to by his detractors). While I expect the usual choices, such as Vin Scully, to be up at or near the top, the poll results also include plenty of fan comments in support of the voting.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see what, if anything, NASCAR does regarding future scheduling of its major races. A major rain storm could be the catalyst for a significant change. Last Sunday's postponement of the Daytona 500 due to heavy rain "forced" it to air on Monday night in prime time. Coincidentally, there was no NBA action (since the All-Star Game was played the night before), and obviously no baseball or football. In other words, even though there were plenty of college hoops games airing, there were no other pro sports to compete. Some markets had strong ratings for the Daytona telecast, even with only a few hours advance notice.

In fact, WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee had stronger numbers for the Daytona race than the WITI-TV telecast of the Big Ten game between the University of Wisconsin and Ohio State.

I have to think the NASCAR folks, and its TV partners, will take a look at the prime time possibilities for at least a handful of their key races in the future.

SAN DIEGO: Fox Sports San Diego is surging ahead in preparation for its Padres telecasts even though they were still awaiting (as of press time) approval from MLB of the new package. Mike Pomeranz has been named as studio host for the pre-game and post-game shows. Pomeranz is leaving KARE-TV Minneapolis and his news anchor role to come to San Diego.

ALBANY: A most interesting move by WOFX 980. The station has dropped from being a Mets affiliate, but will continue to carry Major League Baseball starting next week. It seems the station has become a Red Sox affiliate, including at least 10 spring training broadcasts.

On the TV side in Albany, some Mets telecasts air locally, but because it is a Yankees "secondary market", Red Sox local telecasts cannot air in that market. WOFX will also be able to carry the 18 games between the Red Sox and Yankees. Normally Yankees fans would not want the "rival" broadcast, but the speculation is that some fans may choose the Red Sox version ahead of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman doing the Yankees call. The station could also attract Yankees fans in general when the Red Sox are playing Tampa and other Yankees rivals.

1 comment:

fasolamatt said...

You say "Amazingly, the Minnesota Timberwolves, not exactly a threat to dominate the playoffs, have shown a strong increase as well." The Wolves have won 17 games in the first half of the season; they won 17 games ALL of last season. So, yeah, they may not make the playoffs, but they're WAY better than last year.