Tuesday, November 25, 2014

If Networks DISH It Out, Who Can Take It?

The public has no say in the matter of DISH Network potentially dropping several of its networks in the very near future, yet the networks and carriers involved seem to think consumers can make a difference. The media's purpose should be to report on sports and programming, and not use its airwaves to determine who receives it and when.

Briefly, some of the regional sports networks, including CSN Mid-Atlantic and CSN Chicago, have contracts to be carried on DISH Network which expire before the end of this year. In response, each of those networks has put up a (separate) web site for consumers to complain to DISH Network. At the same time, CBS Network is threatening to pull its owned stations (such as WCBS-TV New York and WBBM-TV Chicago) from Dish unless they (CBS) begin receiving increased compensation.

What has me even more concerned is that CSN Mid-Atlantic has gone to using even more than their own airwaves to bring this to the public's attention. CSN Mid-Atlantic has resorted to PAID digital and social media, along with some paid radio (although some of their radio time is generally in trade) to spread this message. Let's get this straight. Here we all are as consumers paying increasing monthly fees to cable/satellite providers to watch these channels. Now at least one has the nerve to spend some of that money to advertise against one carrier not compensating it enough.

This situation is not like the L.A. Dodgers local TV situation, for which the majority of fans willing to pay the fees still cannot receive the telecasts. In this instance, customers of DISH Network can easily go elsewhere if they no longer have the package of channels they wish. It is that simple. If a large enough percentage of subscribers abandon DISH over losing a regional sports network and/or their local CBS station(s), then DISH will need to take action on its own one way or the other.

Although this is a sports media column and not a consumer blog, there is a point to be made. This matter is taking up air time (including CSN Regional nightly sports shows including this information within their "news" time) to present the CSN version of the story. We should be getting actual news and reporting about the teams these networks cover instead. For what we are all paying to receive these channels, we are entitled to better. Which carriers are involved is not our problem.

CSN Mid-Atlantic announced an expanded college hoops schedule for the new season with 119 men's telecasts on their schedule. These will feature Atlantic Coast Conference, Atlantic 10, and Colonial Athletic Association contests.

Elsewhere, we only have preliminary numbers at press time, but, as expected, the snowbound residents of the Buffalo area were watching the rescheduled to Monday night (11/24) Bills game vs. the Jets. Early numbers show an amazing 37.8 rating and 52 share for the Buffalo market, compared with an 11 share from New York City. One can only imagine what the Buffalo numbers would have been had it been a close game!

Next weekend (Sunday Dec. 7th) NFL ratings for New York City and nearby markets will be extremely interesting. With NBC sticking with its originally scheduled New England at San Diego telecast, it means that the Giants and Jets will both play at the same time. This rare occurence will take place during the early games. Fox will show the Giants at Tennessee while CBS shows the Jets at Minnesota at 1 PM ET.

It is expected that the Giants telecast will produce higher ratings, especially since neither the Jets or Vikings figure to be in the running for the playoffs. Fox also gains since its Seattle vs. Philadelphia doubleheader telecast will follow.

At that same time, many fans in the midwest will need to be aware that the Indianapolis at Cleveland telecast (also 1 PM ET) has already been flexed from CBS to Fox.

There was also a rather quiet story from the previous week about NFL players complaining loudly about in-game scoreboard distractions, even for the home team. While we understand and appreciate the efforts by teams management to enhance the experience for those at the game, even the likes of Peyton Manning spoke publicly about the need to tone it down.

ESPN has already reported that Broncos President Joe Ellis spoke with the team's scoreboard operator after Manning complained about how the playing of music and showing of players dancing fired up the local crowd (during the Oct. 23 game vs. San Diego) and caused a false start penalty against the Broncos.

The latest monthly radio ratings are being released, and while the Boston ratings (WBZ-FM vs. WEEI-FM) are not available at press time, it seems the San Francisco Giants also won a championship for flagship station KNBR 680. During the World Series run and surrounding weeks, the station showed more than a 30% overall audience increase from the previous month to become a more commanding #1 overall (by more than three full ratings points). The San Jose ratings also show KNBR with its strongest ratings ever in that portion of the market, making it #1 in both places.

The Cowboys continue to be "The Ticket" in Dallas, as flagship KRLD-FM increased by .4, the exact same ratings percentage that KTCK The Ticket fell from the previous month. KESN ESPN also showed a slight decline.

In Chicago, WSCR The Score 670 dipped slightly overall while WMVP ESPN 1000 showed another slight increase. In Los Angeles, while it is too soon to judge KFWB 980 and its new run as a sports station (and the Clippers flagship again this season), it came in at a mere 0.3. Without post-season baseball, Dodgers flagship KLAC showed a 40% overall audience decrease from the previous month.

For those paying attention to it, CBS Sports Radio is making daily lineup changes for the coming new year, including the outster of John Feinstein from his late morning show. Tiki Barber and Brandon Tierney move to late mornings, while Gregg Giannotti and Brian Jones will shift to morning drive.

CHICAGO: Well, it's actually Champaign. The University of Illinois football broadcasts will have a new analyst starting for next season, as the former QB has decided not to return for family and business reasons.

CLEVELAND: Browns fans are finally not simply looking toward next year, but the preseason games which are not nationally televised will have a new home. WEWS-TV 5 will replace WKYC-TV with the local telecasts. No additional details yet, but this change makes it likely that Jim Donovan will not be back on play-by-play since he remains under contract as the primary sports anchor on WKYC.

GRAND RAPIDS: WBBL 107.3 continues its rotation of co-hosts for its local morning show. Ray Bentley, who has been a college football analyst on ESPN since 2002, was dismissed from the morning show last week. The announcement came while Bentley was away from the station to work the Bowling Green vs. Toledo game for ESPN2.

Bentley's co-hosts included Bret Bakita, Tim Doctor, and Ryan Schuiling. Until or unless a replacement is named, Schuiling and Shaffer Abraham are co-hosting the show.

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