Thursday, June 30, 2016

Detroit: Where The Ticket Surpasses The Game

Detroit's WXYT-FM The Ticket, already the market's #1 overall radio station, scored its own victory earlier this week when WMGC-FM 105.1 suddenly dropped its "The Game" sports format and switched to a music format (which may be temporary). The Game never came close to The Ticket in the ratings over its approximately three year run.

WMGC-FM has confirmed that it will continue to air the Pistons broadcasts for the coming 2016-17 season, the scheduled final season of its broadcast contract. The Pistons will continue to sell their own advertising for their broadcasts.

It will be interesting to find out how the Pistons will handle their broadcasts after next season. If they look to return to The Ticket, they would, again, wind up behind the other local play-by-play broadcasts and have their games farmed out when there are conflicts. If they look to go to another station, it may not have sufficient ratings to increase interest in their broadcasts.

Sports fans who like to have accurate statistics on the screen would have blown a fuse at CSN Chicago on Tuesday (6/28) night. During the later part of the 15 inning game between the Cubs and Reds from Cincinnati, Cubs pitcher Travis Wood pitched and played some in left field after the Cubs ran out of position players.

After the Cubs took the lead in the top of the 15th, Wood (literally) came out of left field and was sent in to, once again, pitch and finish up the game. However, on the CSN Chicago telecast, the pitch count on the graphics box started from zero, although Wood had already thrown pitches to several batters already.

Over on the Fox Sports Ohio telecast, the 'Fox Box' was, correctly, updating Wood's total pitch count for the game.

I'm sure that I'll hear from some readers telling me "It's no big deal" and "Who cares?". The point is that viewers often rely on the information available on the screen during live sports telecasts. Just as we have replays to make sure the officials "get it right", we should be confident that the crew responsible for the telecast can also "get it right" every time.

Fox Sports continues to be aggressive about streaming its sports telecasts, adding a deal to be able to stream NHL games in market for the local teams it has the rights to at a cost estimated to be roughly $2 million per team it can show, according to Sports Business Daily.

This gives Fox Sports streaming rights for MLB, NBA, and NHL teams its regional networks have the rights to. In the case of the NHL, these are only for local telecasts and do not impact NBC or NBCSN national telecasts, which it already streams via the NBC Sports app.

This applies to Fox telecasts of the St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets. Arizona Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, Dallas Stars, and Minnesota Wild. Also included are both the L.A. Kings and Anaheim Ducks.

What makes the L.A./Anaheim situation interesting is that Fox currently airs their games in the Las Vegas area. However, with Vegas to get its own NHL team starting with the 2017-18 season, Fox and the NHL will need to renegotiate that fee. Of course, it is also quite possible that Fox Sports could wind up with the TV rights to the new Vegas team as well.

NHL fans who also enjoy baseball will be interested to know that Mike "Doc" Emrick, the primary voice of the NHL on NBC, will continue his occasional baseball play-by-play work next week. He is expected to join Bob Costas on the call of the Cubs at Pirates game on Friday July 8th for an MLB Network Showcase telecast. Emrick appeared on a couple of Pirates telecasts in spring training this year.

Sports broadcasting lost still another legend last week with the passing of Tom Kelly, who died just two days before his 89th birthday. Kelly is most remembered in Southern California for his many seasons of broadcasting USC football and basketball, going back to 1962 when he took over for Chick Hearn (who went over to the Lakers when they first moved to L.A.).

Kelly also was a sports anchor for KCBS-TV Channel 2 and KTTV-TV Channel 11, along with play-by-play stints with the L.A. Clippers and San Diego Chargers. He also helped kick off the Prime Ticket cable network in 1985.

Just as MLB fans get used to MLB Network airing a live game on Sunday afternoons, along comes TBS to begin with Sunday telecasts (instead), starting on July 10th. TBS will air the Washington at New York (Mets) game with Ernie Johnson on the call. They also announced their July 17th telecast, which will be Texas at Chicago (Cubs) with Brian Anderson on the call.

BOSTON: While WEEI-FM 93.7 continues with its Red Sox broadcasts and its battle against WBZ-FM Sports Hub, it will do so without Mike Adams hosting the available weeknight shows. No 'permanent' replacement has been named, although that may not happen until the fall after the Red Sox games no longer dominate the evening hours. Adams had hosted (available) nights since 2005.

ATLANTA: WZGC The Game has expanded its contract to air the Hawks games, including more participation from sister station WVEE-FM starting with the coming 2016-17 season. Steve Holman will return as play-by-play voice for his 32nd season.

LAWRENCE KS: The University of Kansas has its new play-by-play voice for both football and basketball starting this fall. Brian Hanni, a Kansas graduate, has been selected. He replaces Bob Davis, who retired after last season from the role he held since 1984.

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