Friday, September 27, 2013

NBA Rights Picture Becoming Clearer

It's looking more and more like all of the NBA's current partners are staying put. With Turner signing a bunch of NBA reporters for Bleacher Report/NBATV as well as hiring new analysts like Grant Hill and T-Mac, there's no way Turner is getting rid of the NBA. Why invest so much money in talent to have to get rid of them eventually? Can't keep all those guys for March Madness.

Obviously, ESPN depends on the NBA for topics of discussion on all of it's shows and uses the NBA as it's primary winter programming and the brands have basically more interchangeable than ever before. ESPN has an interesting way of approaching it's NFL coverage, basically become a mini-NFL Network by finding different ways of producing mass amounts of NFL studio programming (NFL Live, NFL Insiders, NFL Matchup, Monday NFL Countdown, Sunday NFL Countdown, Colin Cowherd's Football Show, Fantasy Football Now, Audibles, Mike and Mike's Best of NFL etc.)

I think with this new NBA deal, ESPN will probably find a way to do the same with ESPN2 and turn it into a mini-NBATV adding a bunch of NBA studio programming from different angles to increase the sport's presence on the network even more. ESPN2 already has the urban, younger and hipper audience anyways with 1st Take, NNL and SportsNation so it could work. Because of this, there's no way that they are getting rid of the NBA either.

The only other question is whether Fox Sports 1, which barely has any winter programming and is still struggling with the ratings battle vs. ESPN, will also join the fray. In my opinion, there's no way they don't get basketball as well (The Big Lead has said it's basically a guarantee that they'll be broadcasting NBA of some type). The NBA benefits from more exposure and Fox benefits because they can use the platform to cross-promote other big sports projects they have such as the UFC, which has also made a downturn spiral on ratings since joining Fox (which Fox will probably own by the time they start broadcasting NBA). 

The NFL and MLB have had major success with sharing multiple television partners and because of their success, the NBA will be probably be more comfortable with that type of format as well. (Adam Silver was one of the big invitees at FS1's launch party)

The only questions when it comes to the NBA on television moving forward is 

  1. The formalities of the deals, who gets the #1 package and OTA rights which include the NBA Finals
  2. How are the All-Star game festivities split up this time around with another partner added?
  3. Is Charles Barkley going to continue as an NBA analyst?
  4. Who takes control of the NBA Digital/NBATV rights?

When it comes to the #1 package and OTA rights, Turner could possibly partner with an OTA (CBS, NBC) to take those parts of the rights as well as the Sunday afternoon games OR ESPN could keep that package on ABC OR Fox might take them since they aren't afraid of preempting entertainment programming for sports.

I predict that out of all those possibilities, ESPN is the most likely to stay with the #1 package. ABC affiliates would be irate if they lost another sports package after losing out on the BCS and the NFL to ESPN. I would expect that some NBA Finals matchups would move to ESPN, but I would be shocked if Games 4-7 would ever be placed on cable anytime soon. Those games are here to stay on ABC.

I also predict that ESPN will keep the celeb game and that Turner and Fox will interchange All-Star Saturday and the All-Star Game itself every year.

Once Fox gets a package, I would also be on the lookout to see where Charles Barkley goes. Does he stay at Turner? Does he go to Fox because they're in the west coast closer to Arizona and they offer him more opportunities to do play-by-play? Or does he just take a break from everything and just do radio hits once in a while or maybe go into NBA management of some type. That's the biggest NBA television move which no one is talking about in my opinion. 

And if he stays at Turner, what do they offer him that makes him less bored? More time off? A podcast?

If I had to predict this situation, I would say that Charles stays at Turner for the 1st 2 years and then takes a year long break, gets bored and decides to join "Inside the NBA" again for a couple more years.

NBA Digital's contract with Turner is also expiring in 2016 and that contract is up for bidding as well. It's very unlikely that the NBA takes a similar route and goes back to producing it's own content like the NFL Network and MLB Network because they don't have the resources to do it as of right now. The Secaucus, New Jersey studios which they used to use have been taken down and aren't used as much for the most part.

The most likely move is that Turner will renew their contract, but I wouldn't be surprised if Fox tried to take a swing at things as well since they already operate and produce the Big Ten Network's content.

The biggest news in the sports media world today is that there are reports coming in to the Big Lead that Michelle Beadle is leaving NBC Sports to rejoin ESPN. She's not getting along with management very well and is looking for a way out to go back to the Worldwide Leader.

When I heard this, I was shocked but not surprised, especially when you read the details of how Beadle was told her show was cancelled went down. But my question is, where does Beadle fit into the equation at the WWL? She's not really a reporter or journalist and hasn't done much studio work for a specific sport.

Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Host of NBA Countdown. She's not well versed on the X's and O's of basketball but has strong opinions on the culture of the NBA, has experience working sidelines for the Spurs before she got picked up by ESPN and she has better hosting chops that Jalen Rose, Magic Johnson, Bill Simmons and Doug Collins. She would be able to spark up some debate and would change the role of a studio host, who is typically supposed to be objective. Plus she's a woman! And that show needs a lot more estrogen!

2. The Jason Whitlock Show with Michelle Beadle. I couldn't tell you what timelot fits best for a show like this but Whitlock and Beadle are good buddies and have podcasted together before so the chemistry is there. They both also have a deep fondness for pop culture and would be able mesh pop culture together with sports in a really fun, informative way. She's good at setting people up to say outreagous things and is also good at making not so likable people become likable (I love Whitlock but a lot of people don't for some reason).

3. Save SportsNation. SportsNation is on the verge of being cancelled at any point. Max and Marcellus do a great show together and host an even better sports talk show in LA but the show has become really bland and boring. If you gave the show back to Michelle and had her playing different games going against various analysts and hosts at ESPN, it would probably bring old SportsNation fans like myself back to the show.

4. The Michelle Beadle Podcast. Steal the NFL Network's Rich Eisen Podcast idea and put Michelle Beadle in there instead. Have Beadle interview different stars about sports and Hollywood, the two things which she loves the most.

5. Live outdoor uncensored show. Give her a late night or middle of the afternoon live, uncensored off the cuff show which features a mix of athletes, celebrities, ESPN analysts and have them talk about various sports subject in an hour long "The View" type formatted show. Put the show outdoors at various sporting events or even at different college campuses every week. With the schedule already so filled up on ESPN and ESPN2, I could see that type of show on ESPNU or ESPNEWS.

For now, I expect her to stay at NBC and increase her role on the Today Show and Access Hollywood. Maybe NBC could even make her a 2nd sideline reporter/social media correspondent for SNF to keep her occupied sports wise and have her do interviews with stars that are at all the various SNF games each week. In the future though, I wouldn't be surprised if she makes the ESPN move only because there's really nowhere else to go.

Turner's only 24/7 sports network only focuses on basketball and isn't even owned by them (NBATV), CBS would take her out of the sports conversation like it has for Jim Rome and Erin Andrews works for Fox and they're fierce enemies. If Beadle were to go to ESPN, I wouldn't surprised if she's thrown into the reporter pool at GMA and maybe even does some work with the sports/comedy shows at ABC News' new network, Fusion.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The X-Factor, IHeartRadio and TLC Could All Help Each Other

The X-Factor began with extreme hype due to the stardom which former American Idol judge Simon Cowell carries with him wherever he goes. But now the show has turned into one big bust with ratings which continue to go down the drain.

TLC, the Discovery Channel's guilty pleasure network, has had great success with Honey Boo Boo and Breaking Amish. But besides those shows, the network hasn't really been relevant in society or had splendid ratings at all which the higher ups at Discovery Communications aren't very happy about.

IHeartRadio, Clear Channel Radio's brand, continues to expand it's outreach. The radio conglomerate already has summer and winter music festivals which are pretty popular and also plans to launch a new awards show and a country music festival in the next year. Despite having a non-exclusive deal with the CW, IHeartRadio still has desires to expand deeper into television as reported by radio insider Jerry Del Coliano. 

So what is the solution to all three problems?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

G4 Will Be Shutting Down October 10th, 2013

G4 was recently supposed to be rebranded as the Esquire Network but then NBC Universal changed it's mind rebranded the Style Network instead. G4 fans got a little happy because it meant that even though there was no new programming being produced for G4, that it was still here to stay. that isn't the case. G4 will cease to exist on October 10th, 2013 according to a filing made by Cablevision to the state of Connecticut. I got the tip from the forums at and a user by the name "Skeet284" who provided this link here.

Here is what Cablevision said:
Effective Thursday, October 10, 2013, NBC Universal will cease to air G4 in both standard definition
and high definition, channels 175 and 786 respectively, in Connecticut. G4 is geared primarily toward
young male adult viewers and originally focused on the world of video games, before transitioning to
a more general entertainment format.
Time Warner Cable has already dropped G4.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cable Bits: How Al Jazeera America Can Grow In Awareness And Who Will Most Likely Buy Fuse?

Watching Al Jazeera America online over the weekend, I became very disappointed that I don't have access to this channel on my normal TV set. I learned so much more about what is happening in different communities all around the United States than I would've ever known from watching CNN/Fox/MSNBC which are all over the Syria conversation 24/7. In my opinion, if more Americans were exposed to Al Jazeera's product, then there would be a high demand and increased carriage for this hard news station. Here are some things which AJA needs to do in order to attain more exposure.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

PREDICTION: Matt Lauer Will Be Gone From "Today" By The End of the Year and Why "GMA" Will Be #1 For A Long Time


Matt Lauer wrote an interesting piece for Esquire Magazine (which happens to be NBC's newest partner, starting a new cable network launching in October) describing how he felt about the media's coverage of the Ann Curry fallout. Even though it's almost been two years since the incident happened, its something which still haunts Lauer and in a way has made him fatigued at his job. Whenever I get a chance to watch "Today," I can see it in Lauer's body language and lack of humor that he's not excited to be at work as much as he used to be.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sports Buzz: ESPN Starts A New Show To Compete With NFL Network, NBA Needs To Start A New YouTube Network

Bold signifies new subject.

In an unannounced move, ESPN has decided to compete with Sunday afternoon NFL coverage on CBS and FOX in a different way. In the past, ESPN aired replays of "World's Strongest Man" and poker, but this season they've decided to simulcast ESPN Radio's NFL talk show which airs simultaneously from 1 to 7pm as games are being played.

The show isn't any different from what the NFL Network does as games are being played. Scores, stats and analysis is discussed during the show except unlike the NFL Network's show, you can actually see the faces of the talking heads. This new show now gives football fans more than one choice for halftime and post game analysis of whatever game they're watching.

The only difference is that on ESPN, you'll see the faces that're talking together with the stats and scores; on NFLN, you'll only see the scores and stats with audio from talking heads providing reports and analysis from SiriusXM studios and on CBS or FOX, you'll actually see highlights.

It's very interesting to me that ESPN continues to increase NFL content and almost mirrors NFL Network if you look at it's schedule. NFL Network (and MLB Network) serves as ESPN's biggest threat as of right now (not FS1, NBCSN etc.) because of it's ability to garner the second biggest amount of carriage fees from cable providers.

NFLN, ten years from now, could provide ESPN major competition in the race to acquire Monday night football and if NFLN takes on MLB's newest strategy and NFL Films' old strategy of expanding programming beyond their sport then who knows if NFLN could become a future strategic partner with someone else to acquire major college football rights, entertainment programming featuring football stars or even other sports, who may not have any relation to the NFL but could use the network's reach to expand their sport.

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You can add Chad Ochocinco to the list of NFL media pundits. In the past, Ochocinco has contributed to the media via his old "T.Ocho Show" (featuring Terrell Owens) on the first incarnation of NBCSN known as Versus and through the website named after him known as OCNN.

But now, Ochocinco has become a full-fledged member of the CBS Sports family. The famed wide receiver will mostly be featured online for the most part, giving fantasy picks on a show known as "Fantasy Football Today" on every Sunday at 11am and he'll be doing live halftime shows for every single game on the website as well.

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The only time he'll be featured on TV is during 2 minute hits on CBSSN's pregame show known as "TOPS" which will also feature the rest of his panel from the "FFT" show. It doesn't look like he'll have any part on CBS broadcast network's football coverage as of now but this is a win-win for CBS and Ocho because CBS can promote it's online venture more through Ocho's 3 million Twitter followers while Ocho has something to do besides sitting around waiting for a team to sign him.

If Ocho wants more time on real TV though, he needs to become more opinionated. He had a pretty soft debut and didn't say anything groundbreaking which had people talking. The only way he moves from online to TV is if he's controversial, which might be hard for him to do since he's trying to keep a lower profile than usual after his domestic violence bout.

There's no word how long the deal lasts and I'm sure if a team signs him mid-season, it'll be much easier for him to transition because he's on an online-only show. I would encourage CBS to strengthen it's relationship with Ocho and maybe create an urban niche for it's website (to compete with Whitlock's future ESPN site) by bringing OCNN (currently produced by Motorola which isn't a content company) on board as a mini-site inside the CBS Sports empire similar to Grantland/ESPN. You could even bring Robert Littal of Black Sports Online on board. He already has a built in base and syndicates his content to the current OCNN site.

A lot of new hires were added on to many different networks this year and based on what I saw this morning, I would have to say Amy Trask was the best hire. She was unashamed to give her opinions and showed a lot of swag throughout "TOPS" on CBSSN. She wasn't afraid to tell the host to lower his volume or speak on how much she hates the Tuck Rule and didn't seem like the "timid woman who would be scared to talk about a man's sport".

Ray Lewis was also a great hire by ESPN. I assumed this would be another Emmitt Smith who wouldn't be able to breakdown football plays. But Lewis actually sounded very intelligent, broke down X's and O's solidly and didn't stick to the emotional conjecture we're all used to hearing from him. There wasn't much of Preacher Ray, it was more Coach Ray which is what is necessary for this platform.

Some other new additions this year that I liked: NFL Network's new set, CBS' new NFL graphics, Bleacher Report's new pre game show, Ochocinco on CBS Sports' website, ESPN's scores and analysis show during the games, Yahoo's fantasy show, Randy Moss on FOX NFL Kickoff.

FOX NFL Sunday on the main FOX broadcast network was live from Times Square in the season opener and I would argue that maybe it should be there every week. And if not FOX NFL Sunday, then more of these sports pre game shows should be in Times Square or at least on location somewhere. It made the show feel more authentic, unpredictable and less stuffy because of the scenery, the interaction with fans and the inclusion of John Lynch and Erin Andrews after they had finished working the Jets game which almost felt like cousins coming over for family dinner.

Canada's beloved sports duo not named Jay and Dan are currently free agents. Tas and Skeets from the critically acclaimed basketball podcast, "The Basketball Jones," are looking for a new outlet to cover basketball. To me, this is a great opportunity for the NBA and Turner to acquire even more young fans to the game of basketball.

If I was a part of the NBA Digital team, I would form a new YouTube trendy basketball channel around these two which was similar to KickTV, a YouTube trendy soccer channel which has become a big hit among soccer fans.

KickTV focuses on the culture of soccer. It showcases FIFA videogame competitions, tours on location of where key matchups are happening, BuzzFeed type lists of interesting soccer tidbits, replays of cool plays, flashback of great moments in soccer history, quick recaps of soccer news all around the world, mini skits and analysis from fans who are not former players (with the exception of Jimmy Conrad).

A network like this with basketball is totally possible and with "The Basketball Jones" as your centerpiece, you would already have a built in audience. You would be able to give diehard fans some entertaining content and you would create a magnet for new fans to come in.

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