Thursday, February 6, 2014

NFL Gets Its CBS In Gear

The NFL and CBS have certainlyl engineered a "win-win" situation for themselves, as well as for NFL fans everywhere, with the new Thursday night package for the coming 2014 season. 

Football fans "win" because of the added "over the air" games that CBS will provide during the first half of the regular season. As consumers, we all know that if Turner Sports, Fox Sports, or ESPN had been the high bidder, cable and satellite subscribers would have seen still another increase in their monthly costs (whether football fans or not).

CBS "wins" because it gains live NFL games on a heavier TV viewing night than Sunday (which is NBC's night), and will be airing these games during the fall, against the new lineup of shows on the other networks and in support of its own programming.

And the NFL wins in multiple ways. In addition to the millions more in revenue for the league and its teams, part of this deal results in CBS handling all of the production (and the costs associated with it) for all of the Thursday Night package, including those games which will be exclusively on NFL Network (and local stations of the televised teams).

Yet, there are two important questions still to be answered about this. The one I am most curious about is that this agreement, as of press time, is ONLY for the upcoming 2014 season, and not a multi-year arrangement. It's hard to believe that CBS would be willing to be held hostage by the NFL and have to bid all over again if and when the coming season proves mutually successful. After all, the Sunday (and Monday night) deals are routinely issued for multiple seasons, and it is not as though prime time NFL telecasts are anything new.

Part of this arrangement calls for CBS to handle every aspect of each telecast, including announcers, producers, and the related technical crew. The initial announcement has the #1 CBS team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms as the announcers (including those games only on NFL Network), in effect replacing Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, and this is understandable. However, it will be interesting to see whether or not Nantz and Simms also work the CBS primary Sunday telecasts in addition.

Other than Thanksgiving weekends when Fox used subject us to the boring Pat Summerall (and lately with the much improved Joe Buck and Troy Aikman) calls on both Thanksgiving day and the following Sunday, announcing crews have never regularly broadcast two games each week for the same network. (This is different from announcers who, for example, call a college game on Saturday for one network and an NFL game on Sunday for another network.)

It will also be interesting to see, once these telecasts begin in September, if or when NFL Network is mentioned on these telecasts, or if the early season "simulcast" on both networks will only include the CBS logo and graphics. And then to see if any of this changes for the final eight telecasts only on NFL Network.

PHILADELPHIA: As of press time (on 2/6) there was nothing further regarding the indefinite suspension of Mike Missanelli from his show on The Fanatic 97.5. Management suspended Missanelli due to "unacceptable behavior" based on a series of e-mails between the host and what some consider to be a harrassing listener.

Without going into the specifics, the conduct shown by Missanelli, according to published reports, appears worthy of disciplinary action. However, what makes this interesting is that he was pulled off the air over something which did not take place on the air. Because of this, the station actually brought significantly more attention to the incident by doing so.

Had the station not suspended Missanelli, this incident (and the contents) would not have been made public. Frankly, that would have been better for all concerned. This could hurt both parties.

Obviously, Missanelli has some apologizing to do. But in the long run, this action could also hurt the station's audience. Some people may no longer wish to listen to Missanelli once he returns to the air.
Others may choose his time away to sample the competition, which already has a larger audience.

The solution should have been for Missanelli to go on the air and offer up an explanation and an apology before any negative publicity could make the situation any worse. If he had said what he said on the air, it would be a different story. This should be treated much like a player or coach going off on a "personal" tirade during or surrounding a game who is disciplined by a fine or other means and is back out there on the field or court within 24 to 48 hours.

While this plays out, the very capable Jon Marks and Sean Brace are hosting in place of Missanelli.

SAN DIEGO: A curious move has moved Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton from the ace of the staff to a utility infielder. Hacksaw has been taken off the XEPRS Mighty 1090 morning show as of this week, but he has not been assigned to another specific shift (as of press time). While an announcement is likely by the end of this month, the station seems fine with Billy Ray Smith and Scott Kaplan in the afternoon drive spot. 

Those who have listened to Hamilton over the more than 25 years he has been talking sports from San Diego may or may not like his flair for the dramatic, but can never question how much he does his homework and knows the sports scene, especially football.

What makes this move so odd is that the morning drive replacement is Dan Sileo, who comes to San Diego from Florida after being fired for saying some outrageous things, including anti-Semetic comments. Not just one firing. He was fired by WQAM Miami for on-air remarks after also having been suspended earlier for harsh remarks about Erin Andrews. WDAE Tampa fired him in 2012 for other on-air remarks. Most recently, he was hiding out on WMEN Palm Beach until being fired in November for putting out a bounty on a college football player via Twitter.

As I said, a curious move.

Meanwhile, the Padres broadcast crew adds a new voice from south Florida, but this is purely a coincidence. Jesse Angler will handle some of the play-by-play on radio and some TV duties starting this season, coming over from WINZ Miami where he was actually prominent Dolphins football broadcasts. Ted Leitner and Bob Scanlan will both continue on the radio side.

Angler replaces Andy Mazur, who continues with University of San Diego basketball play-by-play on ESPN 1700 for the next few weeks.

SAN ANTONIO: I doubt that three will be a charm, but the market now has a third sports radio station (plus a separate Spanish sports station in the market) as of this week. KONO 680 has made the change, although there is nothing about any local sports talk programming. The station plans to air some high school football games, and at this time has no 'big league' play-by-play in any sport. Not only that, but the majority of its network programming will be from CBS Sports Radio. Yikes.

LOUISVILLE: ESPN Louisville, which has been airing only on WHBE 680, is now simulcast on nearby WTUV 105.7. However, there are still parts of the market which have difficulty receiving one or even both signals at after dark.

OTTAWA: Media rights deals are also huge on the Canadian side. CFGO TSN 1200 along with TSN (TV) will air the Ottawa Senators games on radio and TV (including French TV rights) under a new 12-year agreement which could bring the team as much as $400 million between now and the 2025-26 season.


Anonymous said...

Andy Masur being replaced with Angle is not coincidental.
The Padres new CEO, Mike Dee, last job was with the Dolphins. Angle was a Dolphins broadcaster.
It's a stupid move and should be a huge red flag to Padres ownership what they got themselves into with Dee.

Dave Kohl said...

Good point, Anon. In support of that I'll add that taking Andy Mazur off the broadcasts was a big surprise to many. That means it is a clear cut case of somebody bringing in their own people regardless of circumstances.