Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Up Periscope For Pro Sports Leagues

The pro leagues are becoming more and more aware that they have more to monitor than just the content on social media. New applications, in particular Periscope, appear to have their attention, even in their early stages. A story to this effect (within the past week) in USA Today has brought out even more of what is going on in league offices.

It probably won't surprise everyone that the NFL is already doing an "about face" regarding the application, which allows users to show live video feeds from anywhere with a Wi-Fi or phone signal. The USA Today story refers to an NFL spokesman saying the NFL is not worried about Periscope, while the ChillingEffects.org web site (through the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society) claims that the NFL has already filed as many as four "take down" requests to the powers that be at Periscope.

The newspaper story also claims that MLB officials are not yet "worried", while the PGA Tour has said it would take legal action "against someone who is streaming the entire competition to develop a following". Of course, lawyers could well have a field day with someone who is "not trying to develop a following", but that's another story.

What will make this even more interesting in the months to come is to see if and when the pro leagues take action to hinder the technology within the stadiums (and golf courses, tennis courts, etc.) so that consumers are unable to get a signal sufficient to use Periscope and others like it. At the same time, several of the newer stadiums have been making efforts to actually increase the use of phone and internet technology during their events in order to enhance the fan experience. Something has got to give!

While tennis fans get ready for extensive U.S. Open coverage (which begins next Monday 8/31), this year marks the first time that ESPN has exclusive coverage of the entire tournament, ending the years and years of CBS airing the most important parts.

With college football now upon us, the SEC Network has added three more analysts to its coverage, each of whom played for SEC schools. They are Chris Doering (Florida), Jabari Greer (Tennessee), and Clint Stoerner (Arkansas), each of whom also played for NFL teams.

HOUSTON: The Astros' incredible success story this season comes at an ironic time for Comcast. Within the past week, a federal judge has ruled that Comcast is not able to recover the $100 million dollar loan it had given to Houston Regional Sports Network, which launched in 2012 to air Astros and Rockets games. That network went into bankruptcy after other carriers failed to air it.

Since that time, DirecTV Sports formed Root Sports Southwest, which now airs those teams, and has Comcast as a carrier of the service. During the Comcast time, the Astros were among the poorest performing MLB teams, to the point of some reported 0.0 ratings. This season, however, has the Astros in first place at the end of August and drawing stronger ratings. The Monday (8/24) telecast from Yankee Stadium was, according to the early numbers, the most watched prime time show in the Houston market.

In fact, the entire three game Astros vs. Yankees series is being shown as the primary telecast on MLB Network this week.

KILT SportsRadio 610 has added former Texans center Chris Myers (not the Fox Sports announcer) as a football analyst, both on its Texans post-game coverage and its talk shows during the week.

BOSTON: The story breaking at press time has Don Orsillo being out as the voice of the Red Sox on NESN at the end of this season. NESN is expected to bring Dave O'Brien over from the radio booth to handle the majority of the telecasts. It is not yet known if O'Brien would continue to broadcast games for ESPN. Orsillo has been popular in Boston, in addition to having called some post-season games nationally for TBS in recent years.

NEW YORK CITY: Since the ratings were not kind to Mike Lupica and his daily two-hour show on WEPN ESPN 98.7, he has now been dropped after a nearly four year stretch as host from 1 to 3 PM. No "official" replacement has been named as of press time, although speculation has Ryan Ruocco and Dave Rothenberg expanding from one hour (Noon to 1 PM) to the full three hours.
Lupica will continue, as usual, with his national presence on ESPN including "The Sports Reporters". Since WEPN is owned and operated by ESPN, it should be noted that this is still another payroll reduction for the company.

Meanwhile, this coming Saturday (8/29), N.Y. Jets fans will not be able to watch "their" telecast of the team's preseason game against the Giants, even though this is technically a road game for the team. For whatever reason, only the Giants are televising the game from the Meadowlands, with Bob Papa and Carl Banks on the call for WNBC-TV Channel 4. Even the Jets' web site shows the game as only being on WNBC.

MIAMI: The Ticket 790 and 104.3 appears to be taking some important risks with its audience, even though the station has been ahead of WQAM 560 in most of the recent ratings. Management is likely very concerned over the possibility of Dan LeBatard's afternoon drive program (first hour local, remaining three hours also on ESPN Radio) being moved into the midday time slot to fill the national opening for the 10 AM to 1 PM ET slot. This would force the station to come up with a replacement for its successful afternoon drive show.

Even with this going on, the station suddenly abandoned the FM simulcast on August 21st, when it switched to alternative rock music. Research reports show that while the station is branded as "790 The Ticket", more of the audience was actually listening via the FM signal, which is now gone.

PHILADELPHIA: While this is fresh news at press time, chances are Phillies broadcaster Larry Andersen will catch some flack for calling Mets fans "obnoxious" on the air during Monday (8/24) night's game between the Phillies and Mets. This came after a double by the Mets' Michael Cuddyer, when Andersen commented "I'll take Nationals fans over Mets fans" while the Mets fans who came to Philadelphia for the game were cheering. When asked why by play-by-play voice Scott Franzke, Anderson replied "They are just obnoxious".

DENVER: Former University of Colorado head coach Gary Barnett appears to be in line to replace Larry Zimmer on KOA as the analyst for the team's football broadcasts in 2016 and beyond. Zimmer plans to retire, after 50 years in broadcasting, following the Colorado game vs. USC on November 13th.

Barnett will join the KOA broadcast team for two games this season (vs. UCLA on Oct. 31 and USC on Nov. 13), while serving in his 10th, and reportedly final, season as an analyst for Sports USA Radio Network.

TULSA: KYAL 1550 Sports Animal will be an additional ESPN Radio affiliate starting next week (9/1), including weekdays. Currently, KYAL-FM 97.1 airs ESPN after 8 PM and on weekends when it does not air local play-by-play.

LANSING: WQTX 92.1 The Team has added a new 1 to 3 PM weekday show, "The Schuiling Report" with Ryan Schuiling, replacing "The Griff and Grinz Show". Schuiling will continue his role on "The Michael Grey Show" on WBBL 107.3 in Grand Rapids. In addition, he will continue to do hockey play-by-play, calling home games for the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.

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