Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Reason for NFL Lifting Blackouts for 2016? Los Angeles

Since when did sports on TV abandon Easter? Here we are in a time when holidays are associated with specific sports more than ever. Thanksgiving is dominated by NFL games, Christmas by NBA games, New Year's Day by college football, while Memorial Day and Independence Day are heavy on MLB.

Yet, for some unexplained reason, Easter Sunday (3/27) was abandoned this year.
We are into the final 10 games of the regular season which has the Warriors going for an all-time victory record and several teams fighting for their playoff lives. On the previous weekend (3/19) ABC scored excellent ratings for its prime-time telecast despite going up against the NCAA Tournament.

Not only was there not a prime-time telecast on ABC on Saturday (3/26), but ABC failed to show a national game on Easter Sunday. They could have easily shown an entire game prior to the start of the NCAA games, if that was their concern.

Over at NBC, there was no NHL national telecast at all early Sunday afternoon, even though there were just two weeks remaining in the regular season as playoff battles in both Conferences. A game airing at the usual time would have been completed well before the NCAA telecasts.

How do these networks expect to hype the post-season if they don't find it worthwhile to air games at their usual times with the regular season winding down?

It's the casual fan ("Is there a game on?") that thinks they can tune in early on a Sunday afternoon and catch an NBA or NHL game that would add to the ratings in the long run. You would think the networks would want to justify the ton of money they shell out for the rights by airing the games consistently.

NBC probably took the worst of this. No telling how many fans did not find an NBA telecast on ABC on Sunday and flipped over to NBC to catch some NHL action that would not have otherwise.

Although Fox Sports did not fall into this trap for Easter, their lack of consistency the past couple of seasons (and again for the upcoming season) of its Saturday Game of the Week (MLB) sends the same message to the fans that the games aren't important enough to air consistently.

In an era where holidays in sports have reached the point of the NBA issuing "special" uniforms for Christmas Day games and burdening us with the "Los Spurs" and other ridiculous uniform changes for national games, we have two major networks ignoring the audience on Easter.

Wonder what NBC and ABC thought when they found out that the Easter weekend ratings for the NCAA Tournament games were down almost 25% from the same weekend last year.

This coming weekend (April 2, 3, 4) is not a true national holiday, although for many sports it is very much like one with both the MLB season openers and the NCAA Final Four. Then again, these games will not be over the air, but instead on major cable networks.

It will be interesting to see how ESPN fares with the excellent idea of having MLB open on a Sunday with a live triple header. This takes away from NCAA fans complaining about the MLB coverage on Monday, and of some MLB fans not wanting interference from the NCAA Championship game on Monday night.

It may be "too little too late", but it is interesting to see a pro team step up to try and help its flagship radio station. While the AM band continues to shrink, the Cincinnati Reds have gone to bat (pun intended) for WLW Radio. The team filed an official letter with the FCC with regard to the proposal to limit the range of the powerhouse station, claiming that fewer fans will be able to hear the Reds games on the station. (The link to their letter is below.)

While this is for a good cause, the station will have a tough time using this letter as a basis to not have the reduction in coverage. The Reds, according to this letter, now have 60 affiliate stations throughout the region. While still quite impressive, the Reds Network was often nearly twice that size in years past, and served to reach fans who could not always hear WLW in the Midwest.

That was also in the days when many of the games were not also available on TV and radio was the exclusive means. In addition to almost every game being televised throughout the region, millions of baseball fans listen to the broadcasts via the At Bat app. In other words, they, unfortunately for this cause, no longer need WLW for their Reds coverage.

It is a shame that the powerhouse radio stations have lost their stronghold on play-by-play. And with today's technology, AM stations are no longer necessary for area sports, weather, and news information.

Speaking of the times changing, the word this week is that the NFL has decided to suspend blacking out home games again for the 2016 season. The League claims this move is to further evaluate whether or not to continue to black out home games which are not sold out.

I'm not believing that for one second. The real reason is the Rams move to Los Angeles. There is no guarantee that the local fans will care enough in the first season to even come close to selling out Rams home games. If the regular blackout policy was in effect, the local fans would only see the road games of the Rams - and the #2 TV market would have fewer telecasts over the course of the season.

The NFL knows it needs the ratings points from L.A. in order to help drive the media rights costs even higher. This is why the blackout policy is being suspended. No doubt about it.

HOUSTON: No word yet from KILT 610 about a new morning co-host (along with John Lopez) upon the upcoming departure of Nick Wright, who is scheduled to leave the station on Friday April 8th. Wright, another in the long line of sportscasters who graduated from Syracuse University, will be joining Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles.

LOUISVILLE: Lachlan McLean is coming back to sports talk, joining ESPN 680/105.7 this week to co-host "The Midday Rush" with Andy Sweeney. McLean will also host call-in reaction shows following University of Kentucky football and basketball games starting later this year.

McLean is known from his long run on WHAS 840 as a sports talk host.

Happy Opening Day to all!

And here is the link to the letter the Reds sent to the FCC regarding WLW Radio:;NEWECFSSESSION=40fTW5XdtS2GfJ3Y6Z7GDNBHyQLx1Jg5YhFzFKHPTycVPKjXvZpd!-1651119231!1749169674?id=60001551840

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