At what point will sports telecasts become too saturated with advertising content that they will become unwatchable? That "point" is getting closer to reality with help from the new multi-billion dollar deal for NBA rights from ESPN and Turner Sports. And it probably won't stop there.
Those fans who send me comments on this column thought I was nuts a couple of years ago when I began to comment about how it probably won't be long before the player uniforms contain advertising messages, and how NASCAR drivers were only the beginning. Look again.
Among the small print in the new NBA rights deal is the ability for Turner Sports to sell advertising on NBA All-Star Game jerseys for 2017. (The new deal doesn't kick in until the 2016-17 season.) It could get even worse.
John Ourand of Sports Media Journal has reported that negotiations are underway for ESPN and Turner Sports to receive money from any "jersey sponsorship plans" which the NBA sells to regional and national sponsors, and that the networks feel entitled to a percentage because said sponsors would be seen on ESPN and/or Turner Sports telecasts.
It is bad enough that we rarely see a camera shot without advertising somewhere during a MLB, NBA, or NHL telecast, including on the field, court, and ice. Once the players become walking, running, or skating billboards as well, it will make many telecasts hard to deal with.
It is interesting that CBS is actually looking at the rising consumer costs for cable/satellite service. The announcement (on 10/16) of the "CBS All Access" service to consumers, which allows programming to be seen without cable/satellite service for a monthly fee is sure to have ramifications on the industry.
Don't be surprised if and when other TV networks quickly come on board and also offer this service, and at a cost similar to the $5.99 monthly fee CBS plans to start out with. It is important to note that while the CBS plan is extensive, including first-run shows as well as entire show inventories on-demand, the announcement specifically states that CBS NFL coverage is NOT included.
I'm here to tell you that NFL and sports programming will be impacted big time from this. Here is why. Over the next few weeks, I fully expected NBC, ABC, and Fox to unveil similar services within the same price range. Thus, once all four networks have their full line of programming available, without cable/satellite being needed, it means that millions of "non sports" fans would have access to the four major broadcast networks' programming for around $25 per month, and can cut the cord with cable/satellite services. Their savings will be upwards of $100 to $150 per month in many cases.
Once literally millions of consumers do this, it leaves only the sports fans who can still afford it who would choose to pay these ever increasing monthly fees for cable/satellite in order to follow their favorite teams and games.
Meanwhile, we get ready for NFL Week 8 (10/26)which includes the Detroit vs. Atlanta game from London with a 9:30 AM ET start time. Fans have been wondering whether or not there will be four live NFL games available for that day, but the answer appears to be the regular three games. Word is that Fox plans to air its Fox NFL Sunday pre-game show at 9 AM ET for those markets getting the Falcons vs. Lions game only. Those markets will then receive either a 1:00 OR 4:25 PM ET telecast instead of both. (NBC's Sunday Night Football telecast rounds out the day as usual.)
In order to better sort out the "regular time" telecasts for October 26th, the NFL has moved Seattle at Carolina to CBS and the Houston at Tennesse telecast over to Fox.
Fox Sports Radio will not even be living up to that name much longer. The network plans to begin a new weekday lineup on November 3rd, which, by the way, includes about ten hours (that is HOURS, not minutes) of its day with programming not specific to sports. I especially love the release showing that hosts Rich Eisen and Jay Mohr's podcasts are now "ranked in the Comedy section of ITunes" as well as in the Sports category. After all, Fox is making it easy to associate its sports venues with laughter.
CLEVELAND: The "new" Cavaliers with LeBron James have increased interest to the point where the team's radio broadcasts will all be simulcast starting opening night. Both WTAM 1100 and sister station WMMS 100.7 will air all of the games, making the Cavs only the fifth team in the NBA to do so. (If you are wondering, the other four markets are Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Portland, and, ironically, Miami.) John Michael and Jim Chones continue on the call.
PHILADELPHIA: Sorry to learn of the passing of Bill Campbell, who at various points in his career did play-by-play for three of the major local teams (Phillies, Eagles, and Sixers). Campbell, who spent many years as Sports Director of WCAU (both radio and TV at separate times) passed away at the age of 91.
HOUSTON: Sean Salisbury has certainly found a home on Houston sports radio. In fact, he may not be able to leave "home" very often anymore. In addition to his afternoon show with John Granato (for Yahoo Sports Radio) which airs on low rated KGOW 1560 from 3 to 7 PM, Salisbury will also co-host from Noon to 2 PM on KFNC 97.5 on weekdays. He will pair with Dave Tepper during that time, replacing Jerome Solomon who left the station recently to devote more time to his Houston Chronicle duties.
DALLAS: The TV ratings for the Metroplex last Saturday (10/11) show that Notre Dame football doesn't hold up against the area's favorite teams. The Baylor vs. TCU telecast at the same time drew literally more than 12 times the audience as the Notre Dame 50-43 win over North Carolina. The Mississippi State vs. Auburn telecast, also head-to-head, drew more than three times the audience as N.D. and that game was decided by a 15-point margin.
WACO: Ed Sorensen started this week (10/13) as sports anchor on KWTX-TV. Sorensen previously spent 18 years as Sports Director of WRTV-TV Indianapolis.
TOLEDO: You might say that Norm Warner has gone from "The Front Row" to the Uecker seats. Warner, host of "The Front Row" on WLQR 106.5 The Ticket, is no longer with the station. Warner is also out as Program Director of WQLR-AM, a talk station. No replacement named as of press time.