Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Barkley Up The Wrong Tree

Charles Barkley was at his funniest when he didn't mean to be. See below.

The old Alice Cooper song about "I don't have a job because I don't have a car, and I don't have a car because I don't have a job" comes to mind when reading the New York Post story today (3/24) regarding Time Warner Cable and the L.A. Dodgers contract it is stuck with.

This story by the Post bears out what I have been saying for months, that the Dodgers contract stands in the way of both the majority of Dodgers fans in Southern California from seeing the telecasts and for Time Warner to be able to be acquired (or merged, if you must) by Comcast.

Although this could all be posturing by TWC to get Comcast to assume the huge debt as part of the purchase price, the financial stress placed upon Time Warner continues to keep the Dodgers from the majority of its fan base. With opening day now less than two weeks away, there is little to no hope things will change for at least the first half of the season.

Worse yet for the fans, there is very little sense of urgency all around. TWC continues to plead hardship, as if they had no idea that other carriers would not severely overpay in order to help them out. The Dodgers and MLB have their money for this contract, and the Dodgers can claim that they wouldn't have this contending team without the funds to help to pay for their players. The other So. California cable/satellite providers are in no hurry to pay through the nose for the Dodgers games when they can pass along cost increases to their customer base at a higher profit level anyway.

At the same time, the NFL actually made it easier for fans to be able to watch the local teams play since the League's previous TV blackout policy for home games which did not sell out (prior to 72 hours before kickoff) has officially been lifted. Even though there were no blackouts last year, the work of the FCC and now the approval of the League owners eliminates any uncertainty regarding which markets will see the "local" team's games moving forward.

It shows how far the incredible TV money has impacted the NFL. If you go back to the early 1970's and before, local team markets were blacked out of home games, including playoffs, whether completely sold out or not.

However, the (2015) Week 7 matchup between Jacksonville and Buffalo, to be played in London, will be a TV first. While, to the NFL's credit, the game will be shown over-the-air in both markets, the telecast will not be shown live by either Fox or CBS nationally, nor will it be available via the Sunday Ticket package.

The 9:30 AM ET game will be available only by online streaming, with details to be announced at a later time. I'm very curious about two aspects of this. First, we do not know yet whether or not the game will be "free" and available to every viewer who might want it. If there is no cost, it will be interesting to see how many viewers will choose to watch online and via which devices they choose.

What makes this so interesting is that, frankly, as of now a Buffalo vs. Jacksonville matchup would not attract the biggest of audiences if it were a nationally televised game. The ability for fans to watch four live NFL games in one day is no longer unique, since it happened last season and since there are two other London games which will air nationally at 9:30 AM ET during the coming season.
There will be plenty more about this before the October game takes place, but it will also be interesting to see how a streaming live telecast will do against the various pre-game shows which air on the networks during the same time.

On the NHL side, while NBC gears up to again cover every Stanley Cup Playoff game live, there will be one more network joining in the fray come April. The USA Network will be used to handle some telecasts, although NBC has not yet unveiled whether or not USA will get primary telecasts or those of lesser interest. It is expected that NBCSN will feature the most attractive matchups each night (except for days/nights that NBC itself has the games). In recent seasons, CNBC and NHL Network have been used for "overflow" games, especially during the first round.

USA Network was once the primary national cable outlet for the NHL in the early and mid-80's when that network was sports heavy, also airing MLB and NBA games.

Our story last week about WBBM-TV Chicago sportscaster Ryan Baker blowing it regarding a local team's game, combined with a wonderful reader suggestion, have inspired us to add a "BUSTED" portion to the Broadcast Booth. We start out with not one, but two major entries this week.

Of course, we must start with the one and only Charles Barkley. As I pointed out last week before this happened, the insanity of using an NBA crew on NCAA telecasts when so many other college hoops experts are available came to light. At halftime of the important Kansas vs. Wichita State game (3/22), Barkley stated that Cliff Alexander of Kansas was "playing pretty good". Alexander has not played in a game since February 23rd. BUSTED

Then, on Tuesday (3/24) on WFAN 66 New York's morning show, Boomer and Carton were discussing the Mets, when Carton referred to former Mets great and Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver as, and we quote, "Terrific Tom". Boomer Esiason (who, of course, comes from the NFL) had to step in and correct Carton on the air that Seaver is known as "Tom Terrific". BUSTED

ESPN may have gone a bit overboard with its own cross promotion. During the Tuesday (3/24) MLB spring training telecast of the Phillies vs. the Braves, the broadcast team had Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden on as a guest. Instead of getting baseball analysis for most of one inning, fans got to hear which baseball teams and players Gruden likes, but with little to no reasoning behind it.

CHICAGO: Dave Juday, formerly a sports anchor for WMVP ESPN 1000, has been hired to handle sports updates on weekends and occasional fill-in on WBBM 780, which is all news but also now airs Cubs baseball. Coincidentally, WMVP has brought in Ben Finfer, most recently with WGN 720 and WGWG 87.7 (sister stations), to co-host its midday show with Carmen DeFalco this week.

Interest in the Blackhawks as they push toward the coming Stanley Cup playoffs continues to be high. The latest evidence came last week (3/17) when a Blackhawks vs. Islanders telecast on CSN Chicago finished #1 in adults 18-34 in the market. Not just among sports events or cable channels. In the Chicago market.

CINCINNATI: A little cooperation goes a long way. WLW 700 was faced with a conflict this past Saturday (3/21) when the unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats' tournament game was scheduled to air within the time window assigned to a Reds spring training broadcast. The station, which gives the Reds priority over Bengals football regardless of the standings, agreed to move the Reds broadcast over to WSAI so that the Kentucky broadcast could air on WLW.

SAN DIEGO: Being a lot less controversial is paying dividends for Dan Sileo since his arrival early last year on 1090 AM after multiple firings in Southern Florida. Sileo has been assigned to also handle the pre-game shows for the station's Padres broadcasts, effective immediately.

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