Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WMAR-TV ABC 2 Launches A Monday Morning Sports Talk Show

Courtesy: ABC 2 News
WMAR-TV has launched a unique but awkward partnership with Baltimore's highest rated sports talk radio station, 105.7 The Fan. The alliance has spawned "The Nest" which is being described as "honest and interactive sports talk."

"The Nest," a 30-minute show, will air exclusively online and on mobile devices at ABC2News.com/TheNest every Monday at 10 a.m. and will serve as an overview of the previous day's Ravens game, the latest happenings with the Orioles and fantasy football as well as whatever else in being talked about in the sports world. It is hosted weekly by Jamie Costello and a 105.7 The Fan personality live from a new set built specifically for the show at WMAR's headquarters in Towson.

The show debuted on one of the newsiest days in recent Baltimore sports history although at the time of airing, the Ray Rice TMZ story had not fully blown up yet. Only 6 minutes were spent in the beginning of the show discussing Rice's ordeal with former WNST host Glenn Clark (who was on the phone) as well as the fans' reaction on social media before they moved on to the Ravens' loss against the Bengals.

Embedded image permalink
Via @JamieFromABC2
Costello led the conversation throughout the show while Norris served as a pundit. ABC 2's traffic reporter Lauren Cook also contributed to the program serving as a social media correspondent while "Fantasy Football Talk"'s Brian Linder gave his take on which players to keep on your fantasy team. MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli even called in to talk Orioles baseball.

The show reminds me a lot of what you would normally see on 120 Sports. The segments weren't as quick as SI's newest video venture, but many different facets of Sunday's game were covered in a timely matter. The hosts were able to go in-depth without being held to the time constraints of television but they also didn't abuse that privilege and go overboard on any specific part of the game.

Weird Intricacies of The Fan Partnership

It's no surprise that ABC 2 has started an enterprise such as this since their parent company has decided to focus keenly on the digital strategies of their local stations. I'm just shocked that they partnered with 105.7 The Fan, a sister station to one of WMAR's chief rivals, WJZ-TV.

Why would WJZ be comfortable with their sister station working alongside WMAR? I personally think it's either because they aren't threatened by "The Nest," they had no say in the partnership or because they get along well enough with WMAR to be fine with the new show.

It's not that unprecedented for WMAR to be working with CBS (awkwardly a former CBS affiliate). When a man rammed a vehicle into WMAR's studios, ABC 2 ran WJZ's stream on their website and according to the Baltimore Sun:
WMAR and WJZ technicians were working together to get WMAR's signal back on the air. WMAR's transmitter is in the WJZ building.
I'm curious as to how 105.7 The Fan doesn't see this as creating competition for itself. Before "The Nest," there was no other option available for local sports talk at 10 a.m. on Monday mornings other than 105.7 since WNST-AM is usually airing "The Dan Patrick Show." Will a digital morning show impede on "Vinny and Rob"'s ratings or is this show meant to double down and superserve the fan?

WNST's Nestor Aparicio recently announced that he was taking over the reins of his station and would be it's main on-air personality. Is "The Nest" being launched to provide WNST with even more extra competition from CBS Radio (which also owns CBS Sports Radio 1300)? ESPN did something similar when Fox Sports Live launched. They aired Keith Olbermann's show and SportsCenter at 11 p.m. on ESPN2 and ESPN respectively in order to give Fox Sports Live no room to breathe. So far, their strategy has worked.

It is also unknown how much cross-promotion, if any at all, is being given to "The Nest" on 105.7's airwaves. Since 105.7 The Fan's online presence is hosted on WJZ's website, it is extremely unlikely we'll ever see "The Nest" promoted by The Fan via the internet. I wonder why ABC 2 didn't just partner with PressBox and The Monumental Network especially since PressBox already has a show and a relationship with the station.

We'll see how ABC 2 and 105.7 The Fan's relationship plays out in the future but in terms of the show's content, I think they did an adequate job of providing Baltimore sports fans with a new place to interact through an intersection of social media and video and I look forward to future episodes. It's good to see ABC 2 bring back some focus to the games viewers love after they became the first (and so far so good, the only) news station in Baltimore to remove the sports segment from their newscasts.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Josh Elliott Will Be Making His "Today" Debut Soon

Courtesy of THR
Hidden in the New York Times' article about advertisers who will be launching campaigns coinciding with the start of the NFL season is a new partnership being forged between the NFL and "The Today Show"
(The NFL) is announcing a partnership with NBC’s “Today” show for weekly fan-focused segments carrying the theme “Together we make football,” which will be produced by N.F.L. Films and narrated by Josh Elliott of the NBC Sports Group.
The "Together We Make Football" campaign has been in existence since 2013. The campaign gives fans a chance to share their stories of why they love the game of football. Fans can submit their story through audio, video and/or text to TogetherWeMakeFootball.com and all stories submitted to the site through October 21st will be entered into a contest, with the winners receiving a trip to the Super Bowl in Arizona on February 2015 (which will air on NBC).

Six finalists will be chosen by NFL Films, who will produce their stories in the unique and dramatic format which they're best known for. The NFL Films-produced features will then be presented during "The Today Show" by Josh Elliott during the month of December. The two winning storytellers will be announced during the NFL Playoffs (presumably during coverage of NBC's wild card or divisional playoff game) and will be featured in an NFL Films special on NBC which will most likely air during Super Bowl weekend.

This initiative is one of many projects which NFL Films is working on. They've recently revamped "NFL Films Presents" by adding Joe Buck to the fray as host and moving the show to Fox Sports 1. NFL Films will also be involved with the production of a brand new countdown show for Nickelodeon and will continue to power "Inside the NFL," which will now air on NFL Network with clips on NFL.com and NFL Now in addition to Showtime.

Speaking of NFL Now, two new unscripted series produced by NFL Films about how the New York Giants scout players ("Finding Giants) and how players fresh out of college prepare for their NFL tryout ("Undrafted") will air on the over-the-top network.

Josh Elliott has recently hosted the Youth Olympics on NBCSN, narrated a Golf Channel documentary, contributed interviews/features stories to Sunday Night Football's preseason games, hosted The Players Championship golf tournament and has reported during NBC's coverage of Triple Crown horse racing.

Although it is now clear that Elliott is unlikely to replace Matt Lauer anytime soon, it'll still be jarring to see him on the show he fiercely competed against for so long......and might I add, beat.

Sources: NFL, NYT

SIDENOTE: "Today" is not the first morning show to implement sports into their telecast lately. "GMA" has added Michael Strahan as a host, will be adding ESPN's Tony Reali and Lindsay Czarniak soon according to reports, showcases some of Robin Roberts' interviews for ESPNW, and will be teaming up with ESPN for a year long initiative.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Is Robin Roberts Announcing?

Did you guys see this tweet?


What is Robin Roberts announcing? Here are my seven guesses:

- A new talk show? This has been rumored for a while and she's denied it in the past. Maybe she replaces Katie Couric and is paired up with Tyra Banks' new TV show which is launching in 2015? ABC stealing NBC's daytime strategy of pairing stars together (Vieira, Harvey and Ellen)?

- An inspirational television show or a game show on cable which is taped and aired at a later date?

- The new host of "America's Funniest Home Videos"?

- A judge on "Dancing with the Stars"?

- A new inspirational website/YouTube channel which is powered by Disney's newest acquisition, Maker Studios? Maybe Disney acquires Soul Pancake and makes Robin Roberts the face of the YouTube channel?

- Castmate on "The View"? She'll bring her feel-good personality to the show and make Rosie more likable? It'll be difficult for her to participate in political discussions since she anchors "GMA" but she would be a good fit.

- A stint with ESPN on the side? She hosted a ESPNW web show last year so maybe that show expands to television and maybe she gets to do SportsCenter sometimes?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ideas Involving Mike Francesa, Rich Eisen and Jay Mohr

1. As I said in this blogpost, Francesa should be placed on FSN affiliates/overflow channels and on Fox Sports app/FoxSports.com in addition to FS1 and FS2. It would guarantee places for Francesa to air even when FS1 has to interrupt programming. In New York, Francesa could air on YES overflow channel or worst case scenario, Fox could sublicense to MSG.

2. Jay Mohr is being replaced by Rich Eisen in his current afternoon timeslot but could be moved to nights on Fox Sports Radio which makes it unlikely that he'll replace Francesa on FS1. If for some reason Mohr is cancelled on FSR though, FS1 would be smart to continue his show on their network as a Francesa replacement. Mohr has built up a loyal listenership over the past year that would be unhappy if Mohr left their daily lives. 

3. Best situation for FS1 if they cancel Francesa and Mohr is moved to nights on FSR is to simulcast the Rich Eisen show. They could pay Audience Net and NFL Now a licensing fee. The biggest benefit for the show if it added FS1 is that they would expand their reach. FS1 also benefits because they don't have to pay extra production costs to simulcast the show since it is owned by DirecTV. If FS1 needed to preempt the show for afternoon soccer, viewers still have the option to watch on Audience/NFL Now.

4. What will most likely fill FS1's schedule if Francesa is cancelled? Replays of NASCAR, Monster Truck and other races. FS1 faces the same problem NBCSN does with outdoor programming. Old viewers from old incarnation haven't left and are more reliable than general sports viewers who cling to ESPN and ESPN2. 

5. If I was a sports app like theScore or Yahoo Sports or 120 Sports, I would try to acquire Francesa's show to broadcast on the app. He's one of the few personalities who brings in a fan base. The fan base would download the app to watch Francesa and would very likely explore the app beyond Francesa's show to get their sports scores. 

The app could then sublicense the stream to a TV sports network or RSN. I'm sure acquiring video simulcast rights to Francesa would be cheaper for a sports app looking to build their downloads and user base than hiring a big personality to produce high-budget videos like what Yahoo is trying with Katie Couric.

ABC News Launching A Newscast With David Muir On Facebook?



NOTE: I can't take credit for discovering this video. The credit belongs to TVNewsTalk forum user, "tvnewsjunkie".

ABC News recently filmed a pilot involving their new knight in shining armor, David Muir. The newscast is short, sweet and to the point lasting around 2 minutes and is meant for Facebook users strolling down their news feeds.

"The One Thing" is shot on the set of "World News Tonight" and features Muir sans tie going in depth with some of the biggest stories trending worldwide on Facebook.

In the pilot which appears to have been shot 2 weeks ago, Muir breaks down the latest details of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, interviews Becky Hammon who was recently named the San Antonio Spurs' assistant coach, analyzes the veracity of lyrics from Beyonce's newest song "Flawless," and showcases a viral video.

If this show goes into commission, it is probably an attempt by ABC News to continue attracting the 18-49 demo, the age group most likely to be using Facebook in the middle of the day. ABC has consistently beat NBC in the demo over the past couple of weeks with Diane Sawyer and may be aiming to keep that momentum going as WNT switches anchors.

This is not the first ABC has aligned one of their newscasts with a tech giant. "Good Morning America" is partnered up with Yahoo! and their official website is also hosted on the site.

Expect this newscast to debut either on ABC News' Facebook page, World News Tonight's Facebook page or on both pages.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

USA Today Launches SEC Hub, "Spanning The SEC"


As first reported by Sports Business Journal's Eric Fisher, USA Today has launched a digital hub for all things SEC sports with an intense focus on SEC football. The new site, SpanningTheSEC.com, is a collaboration between USA Today, their sister newspapers and Gannett television affiliates located in the South. It is unknown how the site will continue to function when Gannett's newspaper division and television division split next year.

USA Today will also use this new website to utilize it's deal with NeuLion Sports. NeuLion, which owns the streaming rights to over 170 NCAA sports properties, signed a deal with USA Today back in March which gave the newspaper rights to syndicate NeuLion's video onto their own sites. The streaming rights to games from those properties are locked up through subscriptions. For example, the Florida Gators' GatorVision service powered by NeuLion features full football game replays but requires you to pay $10 a month for 12 months.

Non-game content such highlights and coaches shows, on the other hand, is free of change and through NeuLion's deal with USA Today is now available to be syndicated on USA Today's websites including Spanning The SEC. NeuLion owns the streaming rights to 8 out of 14 SEC schools including:
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • LSU
  • Missouri
  • Purdue
  • Tennessee
  • Texas A&M
USA Today and NeuLion will also co-produce two SEC weekly whip-around shows. 

Combining these efforts with local news reports from local Gannett television affiliates, articles from local Gannett newspapers and blogs and trending content from For The Win; SpanningTheSEC.com could be a force to be reckoned with in the SEC Internet wars.

Cox Media Group also recently launched their own SEC football site, which we've previously reported on, known as TheFanBuzz.com.

We also can't forget to mention SECSports.com, the SEC's official website, which is being relaunched by ESPN and is being aligned with the SEC Network. It will feature videos from SEC Network shows, highlights from SEC Network sporting events, live streaming to SEC sporting events and writers such as Tony Barnhart. Even though SECSports.com will be the only sports site covering the SEC with live streaming sports rights, does this guarantee readership when there's so much other competition?

I'm also curious to see how USA Today and Cox Media Group market their brand new sites. If I was either of them, I would align with CBS in some type of way. They're the only other network with SEC football rights which is not associated with the SEC Network that could help bring some buzz to the site.

Mike Francesa Leaving Fox Sports 1?


If you've listened to Mike Francesa's show lately, it's obvious that the Sports Pope isn't happy about his simulcast on Fox Sports 1. Despite being able to reach more homes than the YES Network ever could, his show has been constantly interrupted because of European soccer and NASCAR qualifying. 

Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead reports that Francesa may be leaving the FS1 deal to sign with the MSG Network soon. This makes a lot of sense because MSG currently has no local sports radio show simulcasts on it's air. Their old simulcast, "Boomer and Carton," went national to CBSSN. Francesa could fill in hours upon hours of airtime for the RSN which has rights to none of the baseball teams playing in New York over the summer.

Although a move to MSG makes the most sense, I wouldn't let Francesa slip so easily if I was Fox. Here's my plan to keep Francesa at Fox.

1. Make him a contributor to "Fox NFL Sunday," the highest rated NFL pregame show
2. Convince him that Fox Sports will make him relevant on YouTube by distributing clips from his show on their page just as they've already done in the past.
3. Simulcast his show on Fox Sports Net affiliates across the nation as well as Fox Sports 1. 
4. Put him back on YES Network even if it's on an overflow channel and move Michael Kay to Fox Sports 2 or get rid of his contract. If none of this works, sub-license Francesa's show to MSG.
5. Make Francesa the centerpiece of Fox Sports' app. No matter what television station the show is airing on that day, Francesa is always available live and uninterrupted on the Fox Sports app/website.

In conclusion, Francesa would air everyday on Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Net affiliates (including YES Network in the best case scenario) and on FoxSports.com/Fox Sports app (uninterrupted). 

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