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). 

Rich Eisen Replacing Jay Mohr on Fox Sports Radio?


We've extensively covered Rich Eisen's move to DirecTV on this blog since it was first announced. In case you've missed the coverage, here's a link.

The Rich Eisen Podcast's series finale debuted online this week and as Eisen recapped his new plans, he hinted to listeners that there would be more ways to check out his brand new show besides what has already been announced.

Thanks to Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead, we now have a clue as to what Eisen was referring to. Besides DirecTV's Audience Network, the NFL Now app and ITunes via podcast......
The word on the street is that Rich Eisen’s new DirecTV radio/show will likely be picked up by Fox Sports Radio, and supposedly the time slot that he’s going to be placed in is currently occupied by Jay Mohr
This will not be the first time a DirecTV owned-and-operated radio show airs on Fox Sports Radio. Tony Bruno's old late night show and "The Artie Lange Show," which would later replace Bruno, both aired on the network. Currently, "The Dan Patrick Show" holds down the fort from 9am-12pm.

None of the DirecTV-owned shows which previously aired on Fox Sports Radio identified themselves with the network because they've all had affiliates on board who weren't associated with FSR (in The DP Show's case, this is still the case). This might change when "The Rich Eisen Show" launches because the show doesn't have an existing base of affiliates other than the ones they'll gain through Fox Sports Radio.

1. What happens to "Jay Mohr Sports"?

Hopefully the show doesn't get cancelled and is moved to another timeslot on FSR. Mohr has done an adequate job of trying to fill Jim Rome's shoes and has added affiliates as the months go by. I wouldn't even be shocked if his show has more affiliates than Rome and CBS Sports Radio at the moment. In the case that it does get cancelled, I think there are some options available.

  • Yahoo Sports Radio could place him as an afternoon lead-in to Sean Salisbury's 4pm radio show.
  • Jay Mariotti could add him to his "SportsTalkFlorida" network and make Mohr his lead-in or give Mohr a slot after Mariotti's 12pm-3pm show.
  • PodcastOne could add him to their roster and release a new podcast everyday at 3pm.
  • Fox Sports 1 could use him as Mike Francesa's replacement whenever they cut ties.
2. Will "The Rich Eisen Show" add another television simulcast for non-DirecTV subs? 
  • NBCSN may want to keep Dan Patrick's fanbase watching (but could end up alienating outdoor/fishing fans who watch NBCSN's afternoon outdoors lineup) while Fox Sports 1 may want to fill air time with programming from their own radio network (which is actually owned by Clear Channel) instead of depending on a cranky New Yorker. They also wouldn't be spending a dime on production costs since the show is being produced by DirecTV, they would simply pay a licensing fee. Both networks would most likely have to preempt the show on occasion because of afternoon soccer. This wouldn't hurt Eisen (as much as it has Francesa) since there are other options available to watch him uninterrupted.
  • My guess is this probably won't happen since DirecTV doesn't want to cannibalize The Audience Network's audience. I'm sure in DirecTV's mind they're thinking, if you're not satisfied with listening to the show for free on FSR or watching free of charge on NFL Now (or ROOT Sports, DirecTV's RSN, if it's available in your area) then switch providers and become a DirecTV subscriber.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sinclair Airs Town Hall On NewsChannel8

Sinclair debuted an original program on their newest crown jewel NewsChannel8 Tuesday night. A townhall on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri was the topic of conversation and panelists included Roland Martin, a former cop, the president of NAACP's Baltimore chapter and Sinclair personality and business associate Armstrong Williams. The special aired on more than 100 Sinclair stations, mostly on diginets to avoid interrupting syndicated programming, and it was heavily promoted on Twitter under the hashtag "#YourVoiceYourVote" on the Twitter accounts of various anchors and Sinclair affiliates.

The townhall was produced and filmed live from WBFF-TV's studios in Baltimore and used the same graphics package which is seen during WBFF's 10 p.m. newscast. Jeff Barnd, lead anchor at WBFF-TV, also read social media questions from Twitter during the show. The in-studio audience was very small and predominantly African-American. It would've been nice to have seen a more diverse audience with diverse opinions.

I also found it kind of weird how the show's introduction only mentions that Michael Brown was shot and killed. It didn't mention that he was shot and killed by a cop which I would think is a very important distinction to make when discussing this story. Also interesting to see a lot of CNN file footage used during the introduction which leads me to wonder if Sinclair affiliates will have to sever their future relationship with CNN because of Sinclair's eagerness to compete on cable news soon.

Overall though, the town hall panelists did a great job of representing each side of the Ferguson debate which has everyone talking to this day. Mark Hyman, the moderator, seemed to shape questions in his own viewpoint at times (although he made an effort to say that he wasn't giving his opinion multiple times) and I was afraid he would show outright bias given that he hosts a conservative opinion show on Sinclair affiliates during the weekend. Surprisingly though, he was very fair and let dialogue flow naturally. I'm sure we'll see a lot more of Hyman as NewsChannel8 re-launches.

Roland Martin also credited Armstrong Williams for inviting him to the debate. Williams owns a couple of television stations through Sinclair and has a syndicated talk show of his own through the company. I'm sure we'll see him involved in some capacity of the relaunched NewsChannel8 soon as well. Maybe he even convinces Martin to come along for the ride?

RECOMMENDATIONS: I recommend a bigger studio, a more diversified audience and more distinctive graphics during the next townhall.

GRADE: B

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fox Sports and YouTube Team Up

The Buzzer Logo

According to Variety, Fox Sports is teaming up with YouTube Space LA to launch a brand new web show focused on what's trending in the world of sports. 

The videos will be distributed on Fox Sports' YouTube page as well as FoxSports.com. They'll be hosted by former "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent Nicole Dabeau, who has a great sense of humor. Aja Deng and Andy Nesbitt are also contributing hosts to the show.

Think of it as a sports version of "SourceFed" as TubeFilter put it. 
  • "The goal is to produce four to 10 videos per day, centered on quick, snarky commentary to harness social buzz immediately as it hits the sports world"
  • "Currently, @TheBuzzer videos collectively average about 500,000 views per week"
This will be YouTube's first attempt at daily online sports video since they invested money into the Bleacher Report and SB Nation's original channels back in 2012. Just like those ventures, YouTube will not have any editorial control over this show but they will be providing the studio, camera crews, lighting and editing needed to make sure these videos are high-quality. Fox Sports will be providing the content and talent that'll be featured on the show. 

I hope @TheBuzzer does some collaboration videos with other creators at YouTube Space LA. By doing so, they'd be able to reach another fan base and they may be able to draw more subscribers to Fox Sports' YouTube account. We'll also see if YouTube places @TheBuzzer videos up high on their homepage or if they'll be prominently featured in their sports section.

It's going to be hard to get exclusive videos and scoops which won't be already featured on Fox Sports 1 or elsewhere so special placement on YouTube's homepage will be vital to the show's success. For example, @TheBuzzer recently obtained exclusive footage of USA Basketball's Ice Bucket Challenge. It was bound to be a viral hit for Fox Sports' YouTube channel but someone who happened to be at USA Basketball's facilities also recorded footage of the challenge on their phone and posted it on their Instagram page before Fox was able to release their own footage. Most news stories from online outlets mentioning the Ice Bucket Challenge used the Instagram video, not @TheBuzzer's.

With that being said, I wish this show the best of luck and I'm looking forward to it. I love how quick and quirky it is. The typical fan who watches it can find out what is trending in sports and laugh all in the span of 1 to 2 minutes.

If there's any competitor who should be scared, it's Sports Illustrated's 120 Sports because this show does almost the same thing as them except it's even quicker, doesn't have rights to sports highlights (leagues co-own 120 Sports) and isn't live. We'll see based on the views on both entities if those factors matter to the fan or not.

If @TheBuzzer becomes a success, expect Fox Sports 1 to become the biggest winner out of all this. A lot of the footage which @TheBuzzer will use as it evolves will most likely come from shows aired on the network. There's also a possibility that many FS1 personalities will be featured on this show, which if it becomes popular, could help FS1 identify with a younger crowd.

So does this mean Google and Fox are now best buds and will begin to bid for sports rights together? Probably not. (Rupert Murdoch just criticized Google two days ago) But it does show that YouTube is committed to increasing the amount of sports video offered on it's page (most sports fans don't get their sports news and insight from YouTube, this move is an attempt to change that a little bit) and that Fox is eager to reach a younger crowd in whatever ways possible and necessary.

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