Sunday, January 18, 2015

NFL Renews Thursday Night Football Deal With CBS, Begins New Programming Alliance

Thursday Night Football is back on CBS! The announcement was made late Sunday morning before the league's last four remaining teams faced off for a chance to play in the Super Bowl. 

The package of games was plagued by lopsided victories but that did not stop CBS from putting on a spectacular production each week and it didn't stop people from watching. CBS's primetime package performed better than ESPN's Monday Night Football and dominated ratings each week. CBS's promotion even help NFL Network's ratings improve during their slate of games in the second half of the season.

Jim Nantz, Phil Simms and Tracy Wolfson will continue to call the action and all of CBS's top production personnel will continue in the same places they were in last year. CBS will pay $300 million which is a little more than the $275 million they paid before but I'm sure they won't mind based on the Nielsen ratings which these games generated for the network in the past.

The one big loss for CBS is that their new OTT app, CBS All Access, will not be able to stream the primetime action according to The LA Times:
The new deal does not include digital broadcast rights to the games, meaning that CBS' new streaming service still will lack live NFL prime-time action.
I wouldn't be surprised if we saw changes in the studio crew for next season's games. James Brown was definitely a great force to steer the night but Bill Cowher and Deion Sanders didn't seem to have much chemistry on set, even though it was clear that they did respect one another. I predict that we'll see more Tony Gonzales, the former tight end whom CBS is grooming to be a mainstay at the network.

The most interesting part of the new deal is the following:
The programming relationship between the NFL and CBS will expand to include, among other elements, the development of new programming initiatives across the various CBS and NFL platforms.
In other words, both sides are still trying to work out what this means. Here are some ideas/predictions for what I think these "programming initiatives" will entail.
  • Joint promotion and possible simulcasts between CBS Sports Network and NFL Network during Super Bowl Week (since Super Bowl 50 will air on CBS)
  • More NFL programming on CBS Sports Network which will include game highlights and NFL Films footage
  • "The Rich Eisen Show" simulcasts on CBSSN?
  • Joint web shows which air on CBS Sports' website and the NFL Now app and feature personalities from both networks
  • Weekly chats on Now and with Nantz and Simms answering questions previewing TNF from the NFL's Facebook page?
  • NFL's podcast network will be distributed via CBS' new podcast platform,
  • NFL Network personalities either get their own shows or make more appearances on CBS Sports Radio and local CBS Radio sports talk stations
  • CBS Sports produces filler programming such as "We Need To Talk: NFL Edition," "TOPS" or "NFL Monday QB" and documentaries for NFL Network
  • "NFL GameDay Morning" gets a chance on CBS
  • "Inside the NFL" might move it's production to LA or use a cast from NFLN which already has experience together since last season's cast didn't mesh well together
The bottom line to this last paragraph, in my opinion, is that the NFL wants more content for it's mobile app and TV network that will make it distinctive from the chatter fans hear on ESPN. CBS has been producing that kind of programming on sports network but nobody has it on their cable lineup. By airing that content on NFLN and NFL Now/, CBS's talk shows get more exposure and the NFL has more video to super serve it's fans with.

My big, bold prediction which is extremely unlikely to happen but possible? CBS will experiment a "ESPN CFB Playoff Megacast-type" of option for one of it's TNF games, regular season Sunday games or playoff games with the NFL Network. This could possibly mean a SpiderCam or GoPro simulcast on NFLN with the same commercials but from a different angle, a Film-Room type of simulcast on NFLN or NFLN and CBSSN get the radio calls to each respective team playing. 

It's also possible but extremely unlikely that CBS and NFLN collaborate to simulcast the Super Bowl. NFLN may get a Spanish-language simulcast with the same production from CBS or one of the options from above could be implemented as well. Who knows?

UPDATE from David Barron of The Houston Chronicle:
CBS and the NFL also will work to develop programming on CBS, NFL Network or CBS Sports Network, McManus said. Details of that agreement have yet to be determined, but NFL Films has worked in the past with ESPN to sponsor such projects as “Lost Treasures of NFL Films” and “NFL’s Greatest Games.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Kane Show Launching Video Podcast

Intern John, Rose, Danni and Erick 
Radio is one of the most consumed mediums of media in the United States but as the media landscape continues to become more congested, it has become harder to attract loyalty among listeners.

Luckily for radio hosts like Kane, this doesn't seem to be a problem. According to the most recent radio ratings in Washington, D.C. from, Kane's station Hot 99.5, is number four beating rivals such as WPGC, WKYS and WRQX. But when it comes to social media rankings, WRQX, home of Kane's former co-host Sarah Fraser, is beating WIHT by a smudge.

In order to continue momentum among his listenership and build upon listener loyalty, Kane recently announced that he will be launching a video podcast live after-show together with his co-hosts which will be uncensored, utilize social media and be seen on UStream.

A listener texted into the show on January 5th asking the morning crew why they don't have their own reality show. Here is how the radio host responded:

"You know it's funny, I did a test of the system yesterday. I think we're gonna do an after show uncensored webcast - anything goes webcast - soon. Possibly starting as early as this week because we can have it so you guys can be over my house, you guys can Skype in from anywhere and we have phone lines and everything else set up. 

But I think we're going to do a Kane Show after show. But here's the thing, we're going to retain control over it so that it can be our own content meaning the company won't necessarily....not associate with the company so that we can talk about what we want to talk about. Not in a bad way. It's just we can really go into a little more detail than we do on the air."

Kane alongside Pharrell and his co-hosts
Kane would not be the first IHeartRadio host looking to expand their reach recently. Elvis Duran of The Elvis Duran Morning Show on Z100 in New York is launching his own reality show on Pop!, the TV network formerly known as The TV Guide Channel. Ryan Seacrest also uses YouTube and Snapchat extensively to post extra content and bits from his 102.7 KISS FM radio morning show.

The show would exist on, which has been previously used to live-stream the show on Hot 99.5's website as well as post-show web chats about the weather with NBC 4's Doug Kammerer. 

UStream also hosts other radio shows and podcasts on it's website such as The Joe Rogan Experience, Dr. Drew's Loveline and Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. The streaming site is growing exponentially after partnering with Sony to broadcast video game match ups straight to the website through the PlayStation 4 console. Artists such as Wale, Soulja Boy, Ashanti and Joe Jonas also use the site to stream behind the scenes footage to their fans.

No word yet on when the show will officially launch. The video stream previously displayed a timelapse of cars driving on a highway but as of now, it is offline.

This show could help serve super fans who want more content besides the four hour morning talk show. I'm not sure how believable it is that the show will be disconnected from IHeartMedia since they are the faces of that company's top station in D.C. but it makes sense for them to create an uncensored version of their show which is already pretty racy. It'll bring a new authenticity to the product.

The only question is if the crew will be willing to work for free for an extra couple of hours which will not get counted into their paychecks. I'm also sure IHeartMedia execs are questioning how this move would benefit them when their stars are broadcasting content on another platform which is technically a rival.

LeBron James Launches His Own Sports Website

One of the world's most famous athletes is breaking ground on a new project he hopes will bring sports fans closer to the players they adore and root for.

LeBron James, Maverick Carter and James' company Springhill Productions are collaborating with Turner Sports' Bleacher Report to create a new website known as "Uninterrupted." According to James' own respective website, "Uninterrupted" will give fans "direct access to hear and see what their favorite athletes have to say, straight from the athlete" with no commercials or pop-ups.

More likely than not, this site should remind you of Derek Jeter's venture known as The Player's Tribune. Just like Jeter's site, "Uninterrupted" will give players a chance to be their own primary sources without reporters playing the role as middleman. The only difference is that these first hand accounts are on video rather than in text and they last between 1-2 minutes, which is longer than the time limits enforced on popular video sharing apps such as Instagram and Vine.

Embedded image permalink
LeBron James featured on Bleacher Report's new initiative "Uninterrupted"

Despite the threat it poses to journalists, NBA reporters seem to have embraced the new idea. CNN reporter Rachel Nichols and ESPN NBA reporter Dave McMenamin have each tweeted out clips from the site in the past. Turner Sports has also developed a strong relationship with the NBA's best player, who sat down for lengthy interviews with NBA TV and CNN during All-Star Weekend in 2014 and before the 2014-2015 season started. "Uninterrupted" only strengthens that relationship.

The site, which launched it's Twitter account on January 8th, began with a soft launch on December 14th, 2014. Johnny Manziel filmed a video discussing how pumped and ready to go he was before his first NFL start as the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals. Unfortunately, his time on the field didn't go well as the Browns were shut down 30-0 and just like all the hype surrounding Manziel that weekend, his reflection video disappeared.

Embedded image permalink
Richard Sherman on Bleacher Report's new initiative, "Uninterrupted"

LeBron James became the first face seen on his new website in it's current iteration. In a video posted on Christmas Day 15 minutes before he stepped into his team bus, James reminisced on the fun times he had in Miami playing for the team he was about to face for the first time since he left.

The videos on the site appear to be shot using mobile devices which has affected the quality of some of the content posted. A video diary from Johnny Manziel reflecting on his rookie season, for example, is shot vertically rather than horizontally, leaving major chunks of black space on Manziel's left and right side. The lighting on the video is also not the best as you can see below. At times, sound is also hard to hear and lower than the typical high-quality TV show or online video you would watch.

Embedded image permalink
Manziel in his hotel room before the Browns' last game against the Baltimore Ravens, as seen on Bleacher Report's new initiative "Uninterrupted."

Athletes who have been featured besides Manziel and James include Carmelo Anthony, Richard Sherman, Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. It is unknown how each person was chosen or which athletes should be expected to appear in the future but it's no secret that all of the selected players have some type of affinity to James.

Manziel is signed to James' management group, Anthony and James are well known best friends and Sherman was defended by James on Twitter after the Seahawks cornerback faced criticism for his hostile interview with Fox's Erin Andrews (Sherman also had a previous relationship with Bleacher Report).

Meanwhile, Cruz is signed to James' friend's sports agency (Jay Z and Roc Nation) and told USA Today that he knew he "broke through" when James tweeted about him, and Beckham Jr. looks up to James as one of his role models. It also helps that each of these athletes are signed to endorsement deals with Nike, James' long-time partner.

If you're expecting news to break on this new platform, change your expectations. James did reveal via video diary before Tuesday night's game against the Phoenix Suns that he was returning after missing a couple of weeks of play and Anthony hinted to fans that he could miss the rest of this season. But based on the other posts online, it doesn't appear that star players will use this stage often to give news about their own careers. This is more about athletes giving their personal reflections and connecting with fans on a human level.

As of now, this new venture does not appear to have affected Bleacher Report's reporting on any of the athletes chosen especially LeBron James and Johnny Manziel, who have both been mired in mini-controversies since this venture came into fruition. Turner Sports' interactive sports hub has covered Manziel's "putrid start," and rumors surrounding his habits off-the-field while LeBron's struggles on the floor, rumors of his early departure and the Cavaliers struggles have also been extensively covered.

A major advantage of teaming up with Turner rather than starting on the site on your own is the promotion they can provide during NBA telecasts. James' website was first revealed during the Christmas day edition of "Inside The NBA" on TNT.
This isn't the first time Bleacher Report has worked with athletes to form a platform under their banner. The website also works with TXN Sports, a group of ex-athletes turned TV analysts, to produce an online series known as "Behind The Mic." The show, starring Phil Simms, Cris Collinsworth, Boomer Esaison, Howie Long, Cal Ripken Jr., Nick Faldo and other analysts who work for Turner Sports, originally aired on Sports Illustrated's website but moved to Bleacher Report after it was acquired by Turner.

"Uninterrupted" is just one of the many things which the Cavaliers All-Star is working on to expand his media brand/empire.

  • "Survivor's Remorse," described as a dramedy by the Washington Post, just finished it's first season on Starz TV 
  • "Becoming," is a sports documentary series aimed for kids about the childhoods of some of the world's biggest athletes. It airs on ESPN's sister channel, Disney XD.
  • "Rehab Addict," a home building show on HGTV, featured James' foundation 
  • James' animated series, "The LeBrons" continues to exist online
  • James is slated to star in two movies helmed by Kevin Hart and Judd Apatow respectively

So far, social media buzz about James' new online venture has been positive:

We'll see as the site develops, whether the quality of videos changes. We'll also have to wait and see if this site ever intends to make money or whether Bleacher Report is paying LRMR for access to these athletes in exchange for more traffic to their site (LeBron's video announcing his return was the number one clicked story late Tuesday night). NOTE: JMan's Media Zone first covered "Uninterrupted" back on December 30th. Our speculations seem to have been correct.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cable News Prime Time Predictions 2015

Last year, I made predictions about how the cable news prime time lineup would change in 2014. Here are the results:

  • Fox News: CORRECT. I predicted their lineup would stay the same in 2014 and it did.
  • MSNBC: WRONG. I predicted Lawrence O'Donnell would be out at 10 p.m. but no programming changes were made.
  • CNN: CORRECT. I predicted CNN's 2014 schedule would head for pandemonium and I was correct. The 9 p.m. show changed throughout the year to feature personalities such as Lisa Ling and Mike Rowe.
  • HLN: CORRECT. I also predicted that HLN's schedule would be headed for pandemonium and I was correct once again. JVM at 7 p.m. was cancelled while reality television and "Forensic Files" took a hold of the 10 p.m. timeslot.
  • CNBC: CORRECT. CNBC Prime was cancelled just as I said. It was replaced with "Shark Tank" and documentaries which the network has produced in the past.
  • FBN: CORRECT. There were rumors that "The Independents" would be cancelled but the show stayed in it's place and it's star even made it onto Fox News via a new panel show known as "Outnumbered."
  • Bloomberg: CORRECT. The network did not change ownership or it's primetime schedule.
  • AJA: INCORRECT. Ratings declined even more for the network, putting it's future in jeopardy.
  • Fusion: CORRECT. Jorge Ramos' interview with President Obama about immigration reform made headlines and the network gained carriage via DirecTV. Alicia Menendez's show was not moved to 9 p.m.
  • Vice: INCORRECT. Vice didn't take viewers away from anyone but they did gain major credibility during their live stream coverage of Ferguson and reached millions of viewers live and on-demand. Despite Murdoch's investment in the company, Fox News did not collaborate with Vice on any news coverage (But Fox and Vice did recently launch a film company together).
  • CBSN: INCORRECT. CBS used journalists from their news organization, rather than political operatives who appear often on cable news, to supply the online network with hosts.
  • Politico: INCORRECT. While increasing their video production online, the company did not delve into television.
Here are my predictions on how the networks will shape their prime time lineups in 2015 as well as how the network's overall programming will be formatted.

Everything will stay the same. If a change were to occur for some reason, I think Sean Hannity would be the person to go. I don't know why but it's a gut feeling. With that being said, I don't think it'll happen (I know, I'm double-speaking). Fox News will also remain number 1 in the ratings.

10 p.m. show will be replaced with documentaries. MSNBC will keep it's progressive slant but will also see an increase in entertainment programming such as concerts, comedy shows and live stunts. We'll also see MSNBC copy CNN's strategy of airing documentaries and unscripted shows but they will all come from a political perspective and will utilize celebrities. Peacock Productions will play a big role in MSNBC's revitalization and Phil Griffin will be given one more chance to pull the network out of it's slump. Luke Russert's show on Shift may get a promotion to MSNBC's weekend lineup and Meet the Press may launch shows around it's contributors which air on the weekend or on Shift as well. We may even see some TEDTalks air on the network.

Everything will stay the same. The network has finally found a short-term formula that works. Until they find something new or until election buzz picks up, expect CNN's programming schedule to stay the same. I expect other filmmakers like Andrew Jenks, Oliver Stone and Michael Moore to be added onto the 9 p.m. rotation. I also wouldn't be surprised if they (or MSNBC) pulled off a stunner and tried to bring Jon Stewart to the stable (his Comedy Central contract is expiring soon). Hambycast will also get a trial run on the network.

We already know their lineup will not be the same since they announced changes in January. So my prediction is that the changes won't work. I recently got the chance to watch a preview of one of their new "social" shows and I was personally entertained but I don't think the genre as a whole has enough of an audience to sustain growth for the network. The social media rebranding will end around this time next year and will be replaced by reality television shows from TruTV and CNN's stables. HLN will go up for sale and will be sold to a company looking for more carriage. CNN will use it's HLN's Atlanta studios to produce news aimed for digital audiences under the "Daily Share" brand which will be CNN's competitor to Newsy and NowThisNews.

"Shark Tank" reruns will be doubled. The show is CNBC's biggest primetime hit ever. I expect the network to increase the number of runs it gets and to utilize the show's stars even more during their daytime programming for analysis on business headlines. The show's success on CNBC could indirectly cause one of  the show's start to demand a salary increase and threaten to leave.

Everything will stay the same. Fox Business will break a major business or political story which will increase their credibility in the industry.

Everything will stay the same. I don't see their prime time lineup changing much. But I do think the network's new political duo of Heilmann and Halperin will break major political stories including whether or not Hillary Clinton is running for President.

More documentaries and films. This will be a make or break year for Al Jazeera America. They'll increase their documentary output and partner with online organizations and big filmmakers to bring the productions more clout. I also wouldn't be surprised to see the documentaries come from a point of view supportive of Qatar's reigning government. If ratings continue to flounder, AJA might be shut down and replaced with a simulcast of Al Jazeera English with programming inserts from their new online platform known as AJ+.

More documentaries and films. News programming hasn't worked out too well for Fusion. I think repackaged ABC News and Univision news reports together with ESPN 30 for 30 re-runs will take over the network's primetime lineup. Jorge Ramos and Alicia Menendez will continue to make noise and a presidential candidate will announce their candidacy in an interview which will air on Fusion, Univision and ABC.

A new 24/7 network on TV! History International will be transformed into a TV network for Vice which will debut in the fall and feature shows from Vice's vast library of shows. Vice News will have a major block of programming on the new network. I also wouldn't be surprised if Vice News eventually got a network of their own as time passes by.

  • The networks above alongside newspapers, apps and digital website will all delve into creating more personalized newscasts on mobile devices.
  • Facebook and ABC News will strengthen their relationship and increase the reach of ABC's videos.
  • ABC News' GoStream and Nightline video venture will help the network grow it's user base online.
  • NBC News will launch a streaming network similar to CBSN which is based around the "Today" and "Meet the Press" franchises.
  • HuffPostLive will find it's way on television in 2015
  • BuzzFeed will enter into a partnership with ABC News that benefits Fusion. They will also increase their live streaming videos.
  • Katie Couric's Yahoo broadcasts will also find their way onto television

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Online Sports Video Competed Aggressively With Sports Television in 2014

120 Sports - courtesy of
When analyzing the state of television in 2014, many question how the decades old medium will be able to compete against new digital frontier which is attracting younger audiences with shorter attention spans. Even though live sports is dominating television ratings, the same question can be asked about about a genre which saw exponential growth in the way it is covered via online video.

As we enter a new horizon in the media landscape, figureheads in the sports industry from team owners to athletes to television rights holders and other media outlets are trying to figure out ways to adjust and prepare for the disruption which the internet and technology is causing in our lives.

The biggest story involving online sports video's emergence in popularity was the rise in league-owned over the top networks as covered by Sports Business Journal in August. Major League Baseball, NHL and the PGA Tour teamed up together with Sports Illustrated to launch 120 Sports, the NFL launched NFL Now and the NBA announced their intentions to start it's own over the top network in conjunction with ESPN.

Courtesy - Folio Magazine
120 Sports, based in Chicago's Harpo Studios, serves as a long-form sports talk show on video built specifically for mobile devices. Each discussion on the network is designed to last between 1:20-2 minutes in order to give viewers as much information and debate as possible while they're on the go or surfing the web on their phone.

The network has received major ad placement during White Sox games (Sox owner is also a co-owner of 120 Sports) and is featured on Sports Illustrated and MSN's homepages. It uses social media to determine discussion topics and has an array of young hosts who can connect with the target millennial audience. The online network even has rights to show MLB, NHL, PGA and NBA highlights but unfortunately has no rights for any live games.

Courtesy: AppTrigger
NFL Now is more or less the same as 120 Sports. The digital network geared towards football, which I've covered on this site, produces snack-bite segments about the latest on-goings in the NFL and also posts clips from segments seen on NFL Network, Inside the NFL & CBS/NFLN's coverage of Thursday Night Football. Recently, the network also added original live programming based around NFL Network personalities including a coaches shows with Brian Billick and a daily talk show produced by DirecTV for Rich Eisen.

The NBA's new over the top network with ESPN is one of the most intriguing ventures to watch over the next year or two because unlike 120 Sports and NFL Now, the OTT network will broadcast live games. It was formed as part of ESPN's contract extension with the league and will feature 20-30 NBA games per season beginning in 2016. Details about what the network will be called and what will air on the network are expected to be announced in 2015.

Speculation is that ESPN will include other games from other sports leagues it owns rights to such as Major League Soccer although nothing has been confirmed. It'll be interesting to see if the NBA plays as much of an active role in this network as the NFL does with NFL Now or if it takes a backseat like MLB and the NHL with 120 Sports.

Leagues and organizations who don't have as much clout as the one's mentioned above also set their grounds for live streaming. WTA, the women's tennis league, and PBR (Professional Bull Riders) signed their own respective deals (PERFORM Sports Group and CarbonTV) to launch video streaming portals, 92 international sports unions signed with Euronews to create their own edition of SportsCenter which would be distributed on television and on YouTube, the IOC announced their own over the top network while the WWE and UFC launched OTT nets in the beginning of the year. MLS even got into some action serving as a launch partner for Conde Nast's The Scene video player (MLS Digital recently visited NASCAR's HQ = something brewing in 2015?).

Eversport.TV also emerged as an aggregator for various sports competitions such as Asian soccer, NCAA College Hockey regular season matches and New Zealand rugby. Eversport.TV even reached an agreement with video curator Pluto.TV to distribute the Central American Games on two specific dedicated channels.

YouTube played a bigger role in the sports world in 2014 through a multichannel network known as The Whistle Sports. The biggest sports MCN on the biggest video platform in the world signed tricksters and athletes with mass followings such as Dude Perfect, the Harlem Globetrotters, Brodie Smith, TeamFlightBrothers and Los Angeles Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin in order to grow their fan base. They are now experiencing immense growth and popularity among millennials and recently received an investment from media conglomerate Sky.

I wouldn't be surprised if this network was acquired by Disney, Time Inc., Hearst, Time Warner, Fox or another media company looking to reach young males that are into sports. The network has connections with the big leagues including the NFL and has steady viewership which is attractive to advertisers.

Athletes themselves also continued to contribute to the digital video ecosystem. Charlie Villanueva started his own vlog following his life as an NBA free agent for his first person blog on, Vice Sports followed various athletes around to witness the experiences they go through and Bleacher Report recently launched a new initiative known as Uninterrupted in which athletes record a vlog using a mobile device to reflect on their season and what's happening on the field.

So far, LeBron James and Johnny Manziel are the only two participants and it is not known whether the vlogs are part of a deal between B/R and Nike or B/R and LeBron's LRMR or if Manziel and James were specifically asked by B/R to participate with no affiliation from a third party. No matter what the case is, there's no doubt we'll be seeing more athlete participation in digital video in 2015 especially as more ventures like The Player's Tribune come onto the scene. As I said in my 2015 predictions, I wouldn't be surprised to see a multi-player owned-and-operated video project launched soon. We might also see a company like Gatorade or Nike launch a more aggressive behind the scenes all-access video campaign featuring their signed athletes as well.

Non-sports sites such as Torrential.TV, a mobile advertising company and AOL also used sports to bring attention to their platforms. Torrential launched a show specifically targeted for mobile users which gave NFL athletes a minute to document what they do during their off days while AOL sought to find America's next great sportscaster.

Vine continued it's rise as a home for sports highlights as they happen on Twitter and for the first time, we saw television rights holders become agitated at the app's popularity among fans. ESPN and Univision asked Vine as well as rivals who used World Cup footage in creating GIFs to delete anything which they didn't ask permission to use.

This will spark up an ongoing debate into 2015 as to whether those Vines and GIFs are protected under fair use as well as whether they drive up viewership or hurt the investment rights holders like ESPN and Univision make. Another question to be asked is if rights holders are not happy with Vines and GIFs being created by rivals and fans at home, why not create them yourself and fit the demands of young consumers?

I can't end this look back at 2014 in online sports without recognizing TMZ Sports. Their video of Ray Rice violently hitting his then-fiance garnered millions of views and dominated the nation's watercooler talk for months. There's no greater example of how much online sports video played a role in competing against sports television than that video.

All sources linked: WSJ, Fast Company, Sporting News, Sports Business Daily/Journal, LA Times, Twitter, VideoInk

Search Here!!