Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Player Beats The Reporters To The Story

You wouldn't think that Richard Jefferson signing a two-year contract to return to the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers would be the leading sports media story of the past week, but there is good reason.

Those fans that actually care about the "who reported it first" derby have a one-time "winner" for this story and no other. Why?

Because the first to report it was none other than Richard Jefferson. The speculation had been that the veteran forward would likely retire after the just concluded season, but it appears that coming back as defending champion changed his mind.

Since this was not expected, Jefferson "beat" the sports media to the story, being the first to report it by way of his Snapchat account.

Here we have all of these "reporters" with their trade and signing rumors and speculation stories, along with what they consider "newsworthy" stories such as mock draft picks, looking at being the first to report on something. And now we have the subject of the story scooping all of them to "report" it.

There is reason to be concerned about this becoming a trend. Consider that several pro sports teams produce their own TV and radio content along with "exclusive" team news and features via their web sites.

It is not a good thing that sports fans wanting actual hard news may someday have to turn to a variety of team web sites and social media feeds from players to get actual news and information other than game results.

Still another tough week for Fox Sports since early ratings returns show that Tuesday's (7/12) MLB All-Star Game had an all-time ratings low among those games which Fox has televised.

Even the two hours of "America's Got Talent" on NBC outrated the telecast although it was a close and competitive game throughout. Of course, Fox doing all of its promotional spots for other shows and its heavy load of commercials made it a challenge for Joe Buck and John Smoltz to focus on the game itself.

Fox didn't even show the umpiring crew until the bottom of the first inning, and often didn't get to a new pitcher's season statistics until the first batter of the inning was finished. Although the replays and technical production of the game were solid, the busy and cluttered telecast took away from the enjoyment of the game.

The departure of Mike Torico from ESPN also left an opening for their play-by-play voice for ESPN Radio NBA broadcasts. No surprise that the network has named Marc Kestecher to the position starting with the upcoming season.

Kestecher already calls NFL and college hoops and football for ESPN Radio along with some broadcasts for ESPN on the TV side. Hubie Brown will continue as NBA analyst on radio for the more important games including playoffs.

Didn't think we would see this actually happen, but Fox Sports 1 is actually showing signs of progress in terms of increasing viewership. Nielsen research shows that for the first half of 2016 FS1 has grown more than ESPN and NBC Sports Network in both total and prime time viewership.

It appears that a lot of viewers have noticed how ESPN has severely reduced its overall MLB coverage, especially on days/nights when it does not air a live game. The lack of priority on SportsCenter and the burying of Baseball Tonight have many viewers,  used to significant coverage of baseball, looking for alternatives.

To that point, the biggest gain for FS1 is none other than its MLB Whiparound, which through the season's first half, showed a 54% increase in viewers over last season. Next in line is NASCAR Race Hub, which grew 7% over last year. While the NASCAR show growth is respectable, you can see how it pales in comparison with the MLB show numbers.

It will be interesting to see whether or not ESPN, which will likely make another exception this weekend and bring its total focus to the Yankees vs. Red Sox series as usual, realizes where it is losing viewers and starts to beef its MLB coverage back up.

Pac-12 Networks became the latest source to partner with Twitter for live streaming of selected sports events involving the member schools. Although there has been nothing yet about the mass appeal sports such as football and basketball, there will be some of the minor sports events and perhaps other school events available by streaming.  Many of these events, however, are already streamed via and/or the various university Athletic Department web sites.

DETROIT: University of Michigan sports will soon have an expanded presence in the market. While WWJ 950 remains the school's flagship station for football, top rated (and sister station) WYXT-FM The Ticket 97.1 will now air the Michigan football games it can air live without conflict. These will be games which do not conflict with Tigers and Red Wings broadcasts.  In addition, Coach Jim Harbaugh will participate in a weekly coaches show on The Ticket starting this season.

LOS ANGELES: KSPN ESPN 710 will soon need a new co-host for its local morning show to replace Max Kellerman on what is now the "Max & Marcellus Show". Kellerman is not being sent packing due to low ratings, however.

The move is because ESPN has decided that Kellerman will be more valuable on ESPN2's "First Take", which he will begin co-hosting the week of July 25th, along with Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim.

BALTIMORE: Sorry to learn of the passing last week of veteran sportscaster Tom Marr at the age of 73. Known more around the country for his occasional work on Orioles broadcasts, his time in Baltimore began with WFBR in 1967 and then with WMAR-TV. In 1988 he joined WCBM Radio and expanded his duties to much more than sports. He will be missed.

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