My hunch is that many NFL and TV network executives are stressing out about recent developments from this season. Not the ones on the field even with a record number of unbeaten teams six weeks in. You can bet (pun intended) that the recent barrage of legal questions surrounding FanDuel and DraftKings and daily fantasy in general is their real "top story" of the week.
Maybe the news networks are reporting the story accurately, but maybe they are not. In recent weeks, the two fantasy "services" have been among the top three biggest national advertisers on the networks, bringing in millions of advertising dollars to the networks spending billions for the rights to televise NFL games. The more revenue the networks bring in, the higher the rights fees to renew the next contract.
If daily fantasy is not legally allowed to continue, the results would probably be millions in lost revenue to the networks. (I say "probably" because if there will be a loophole, it will be found.) Because of all of this, the NFL would stand to lose out on millions in TV revenue if the networks aren't taking in as much. In addition, the existence of daily fantasy entices even more fans to watch and follow each week's games above and beyond the numbers from 'season long' fantasy participants.
How this ongoing story will be covered by networks such as CBS, Fox, ESPN, and NBC, will be interesting because of how much their revenue could be impacted as a result.
Leave it to the NFL to create tremendous hype for a "filler" game between Buffalo and Jacksonville this week. The Bills have surprised and are holding on at .500, while the Jaguars have won one game so far this season. Fans of both teams are probably glad the game is being played in London and that it is not on one team's season ticket plan. Those in Buffalo and Jacksonville will see the game "over the air" at 9:30 AM ET on Sunday morning, and will probably be glad it will be over before the interesting games are played.
However, the tremendous hype comes from what is sure to be a large audience because of the NFL allowing this game to be streamed live nationally via Yahoo and its various platforms. Look for a large audience to give it a try by watching live action online ahead of the endless hours of pre-game programming at the same time. Of course, if this were played in either city and an early CBS regional game, fans in those market areas would likely do what they could to watch a different game.
As ESPN continues to crunch the numbers due to their spending for broadcast rights while consumers cut the cord, now ESPN Radio is feeling the effect. At press time, ESPN was beginning to issue a series of employee layoffs. Among the first set of casualties is Mike Thompson of KSPN 710 Los Angeles, who has been let go from his Program Director duties. The hunch here is that ESPN will reduce to having a single Program Director handle the large market ESPN stations, combining the responsibilities to include KSPN, WESN New York, WMVP Chicago, and perhaps one or two other top 10 markets.
The song title from the 70's, "It's A Strange Way To Tell Me You Love Me" by Firefall seems to apply to Fox Sports regarding its ALCS coverage. Even in prime time on Monday (10/19), the network stuck the Kansas City at Toronto Game 3 on Fox Sports 1, where fewer people knew to find the game. I have no idea how having only one of the five games in the series (as of press time) on Fox Sports and burying the rest on FS1 helps to promote the network having the World Series on.
Now that FS1 has a couple of years behind it, many more fans know it exists, but seem to forget about it because they have so little to offer on a consistent basis.
For example, last week's Game 5 between Texas and Toronto showed only a 10.9 rating in the Dallas market, even though it was a deciding game and was mid-week (with no competition from the Cowboys or college football). The following night, the same market showed a rating of 0.7 for some UFC show it aired. Probably came from casual fans checking in to see if a baseball game was on.
Then there is the matter of Fox having a cast of thousands of studio analysis. Don't get me wrong. I find Raul Ibanez, Frank Thomas, Pete Rose, and the other guests to be interesting. But having four or five guys giving their opinions on every little thing doesn't give any of them the chance to explain or go into depth.
What is strange is having Tom Verducci as the third man during the actual games. I actually enjoy his analysis, so it is not as though he does not do a solid job. My problem is that during the game itself is when a former player/coach/manager should be in the booth to interpret the games for the fans.
It makes zero sense to have Verducci in the booth while Ibanez, Rose, and Thomas are in the studio having to wait a couple of hours to get 10 seconds to comment on the big play of the game. Then again, if a tree fell on Fox Sports 1, would anybody hear it?
For the "How Embarassing!" moment of the week we turn to CNN. The sister network to TNT which has aired the NBA for more than 20 seasons and which also partners for the league's official NBA-TV. While reporting on the sad story of the condition of Lamar Odom last week, the on-screen photo happened to be of LaMarcus Aldridge of Portland. Not the same player.
Besides the concern about what other mistakes has CNN gotten away with (when viewers are not familiar with a subject), you have to wonder how a network with ties to the NBA could have this happen. Look how far down CNN has come since the days of offering regular sports coverage in the era of Nick Charles and Fred Hickman.
CINCINNATI: A great idea has come from picking up on the Bengals getting off to a 6 - 0 start this season. To let fans enjoy the highlights of win number six this past Sunday, Dan Hoard put up a stream of the scoring play calls from the broadcast of the 34-21 win over Buffalo.
It can be heard at:
WASHINGTON D.C.: Following the announcement of a multi-year radio agreement to air Georgetown basketball, WJFK The Fan 106.7 has announced the broadcast schedule. Rich Chvotkin begins his 42nd season of play-by-play with the majority of the games airing on 106.7 The Fan. However, since The Fan also carries the Wizards and Capitals games, the Georgetown games will air elsewhere for the 13 games which conflict. Eleven of the games will air on WNEW 99.1, while a couple of others, due to Wizards/Capitals conflicts, will air on 1580 AM. These days the challenge for fans is more to know which station to tune to instead of keeping track of the players.
TULSA: Congrats to Steve Braun, named as Sports Director of KTBZ 1430 The Buzz. It completes a wonderful "working his way up" story. Braun returns to the station in this capacity after having worked there from 2010 to 2012 as a board operator and then a show producer. His position is also expected to include a hosting or co-hosting role to be announced shortly.