Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Diamondback In The Rough?

Since when are the Arizona Diamondbacks telecasts in huge demand? Maybe I missed something along the way, but the recent agreement the Diamondbacks received for ongoing TV rights seems beyond comprehension. It seems that Fox Sports has extended its TV contract for Fox Sports Arizona to continue to show the Diamondbacks games regionally in what is reportedly a contract in the long term neighborhood of $1 billion total.

There was no indication about any other network (or local station) which would have driven up the bidding. I don't recall seeing the D-backs as being among the teams with the highest rated local telecasts over the course of a season. Where else were their games going to go?
I'm not sure there is enough interest specifically in the Diamondbacks to justify this. Sure, there are a ton of baseball fans, especially in the Phoenix area. Many of them are transplants from the east and Midwest who follow the game and/or their favorite team by watching the Diamondbacks games on a regular basis.

However, with another increase in rights fees, it would appear that, like with most teams or leagues, the fans will be asked (or more accurately, TOLD) to pay even more each month to their provider in order to receive Fox Sports Arizona. Just one year after the fiasco with Dodgers fans in Southern California not being able to see the majority of games, we have the potential for "negotiations" for the showing of these telecasts in Arizona.

Without a large enough audience to justify higher advertising costs, Fox Sports would "need to" charge still more and more to the providers for their network. In turn, those providers that accept will turn around and force the customers (fans or not) to pay even more each month. I'm not seeing enough "demand" or tradition that would create a huge impact if people couldn't watch the majority of Diamondbacks games. It is hard to believe that Fox Sports is this desperate to own the rights to this many MLB teams.

We move on to another announcer "suspension", with the Tuesday (2/24) announcement by ESPN that Keith Olbermann is "suspended" from hosting his TV show for the remainder of the current week. Not because of anything said on the air.

Instead, the suspension comes as a result of a Twitter barrage regarding some seemingly insensitive comments Olbermann made regarding a charity effort to some Penn State students. From here, it appears that this is another instance of the punishment not fitting the crime.

While I did not like Olbermann's Twitter comments either, the punishment should have been to "suspend" him from social media for the week following his apology. His remarks were not on the air, yet the network now, in effect, punishes the viewers by not having Olbermann on during four days he is scheduled to be. The viewers didn't do anything wrong - nor would they be aware of Keith's Twitter comments unless they also saw them via social media.

On the basketball court, ESPN's telecast of the North Carolina vs. Duke overtime game last week finished as the family of networks' most watched college basketball game of the season. The national ratings were significantly higher than the previous meeting between these same teams.

Back over at Fox Sports, struggling Fox Sports 1 has come up with a new weekend show to air on Sunday nights and to be hosted, starting on March 15, by Katie Nolan. Nolan, a former bartender who somehow wound up on their short-lived "Crowd Goes Wild" show working with Regis Philbin, will host "Garbage Time With Katie Nolan". Let's give Fox Sports 1 some credit on this one for incorporating the name "Garbage Time" into its fresh content.

CHARLOTTE: WEND 106.5 has stepped up for NASCAR coverage in a hub market, and will now air 38 NASCAR races, including the entire Sprint Cup Series starting this month. "End 106.5" is a music station during the rest of the week.

NEW YORK: Just in time for spring training broadcasts to begin (next week), WOR 710 has finally replaced Seth Everett as its studio host and occasional play-by-play voice for its Mets broadcasts. Wayne Randazzo comes over from Chicago's WSCR The Score to provide the studio pre and post-game shows, along with handling some play-by-play for games that Josh Lewin will miss due to network schedule conflicts. Howie Rose continues as the lead voice of the Mets, with the first broadcast for all scheduled for March 4th from Florida.

HOUSTON: No word, as of press time, about a new Program Director and/or midday co-host for sports stations KFNC 97.5 and KGOW 1560. Dave Tepper has bailed from those positions at the low rated stations in order to relocate to KOZN 1620 and KZOT 1180 in Omaha and become Operations Manager for those Nebraska based sports stations. Tepper most recently was paired with former NFL QB Sean Salisbury in Houston.

WASHINGTON D.C.: WTEM ESPN 980 has announced a new and local morning show which will begin on March 16th from 6 to 10 AM. "The Man Cave" will be co-hosted by Chris Paul (not the NBA star) and Jason Reid. Paul has been on in the D.C. market regularly over the years, while Reid had been, among his duties, the Redskins beat writer for the Washington Post and NFL writer for ESPN.com. Word is that this new show will not be entirely focused on sports.

CLEVELAND: The TV ratings for the Cavaliers on Fox Sports Ohio are feeling the immediate impact of the return of LeBron James through mid-season. The Cavs have risen to have both the second highest local team telecast ratings in the NBA, while showing the second biggest percentage increase of overall audience compared with last season.
For the first half of the current season, only the defending champion San Antonio Spurs have a higher average local audience rating for their telecasts, while only the Milwaukee Bucks are showing a bigger percentage over last season's average.

CHAMPAIGN IL: WDWS-AM and WHMS-FM have expanded their University of Illinois sports commitment through the 2016-17 season. U of I football and basketball will continue to air as a simulcast on both stations. WDWS continues its participation to the point of also airing volleyball, baseball, and softball broadcasts.

COLUMBIA SC: WGCV 105.1 is bringing the pairing of Teddy Heffner and Rick Sanford back as a morning sports show this week from 7 to 9 AM, with the possibility of adding sister station WGCV-AM 620 as well. Once this happens, it would mean this market would have two local sports shows in the morning, going up against WKNT The Game 107.5

No comments: