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/ 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,, 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; 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

We also can't forget to mention, 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 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 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.


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 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.

NFL Now Is A Must Watch For Football Fans

The NFL has released a brand new video service which I have to say is short of spectacular. 

The service known as NFL Now is your one-stop shop for NFL highlights, analysis and behind-the-scenes footage of what is happening with your favorite players and teams. There's a free tier and a premium tier which costs $1.99 per month.

POSITIVES - It's design is attractive to the eye but also simplistic, it's very reminiscent of what you see on The news bits, analysis videos and highlights are also made for the internet. They are succinct, to the point and give you all the details you need to know. 

It's easy to catch up on the league, your favorite teams and favorite players on this app because it doesn't take as much time as it would if you were watching television. If you have a short attention span and love the NFL, this service is for you.

My favorite feature on this service is the browsing capabilities it offers. As you're browsing through the site to see the other videos which are available, the video player shrinks and continues playing whatever you're watching at the moment without interruption.

NEGATIVES - Despite the quality of this service, there are still some issues. The video player doesn't adjust to the internet connection you're using like Netflix and YouTube. If you have a slower connection, expect to either pause the videos you're watching and wait for them to load up or watch as while the video lags. Sometimes, even after you've let the video load up, it still pauses.

I'm also surprised that none of the NFL Films content is available on the free tier. I thought the NFL would at least give a preview of what subscribers could receive if they paid $1.99 per month. 

The other thing I'd like to see happen in the future is to make videos embeddable. It's the only way any of NFL Now's videos will ever go viral.


EXCLUSIVE CONTENT? - NFL Now will be available at and on the "NFL Now" app on mobile devices. The only other place you'll be able to watch NFL Now content will be on Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Screen. All of the NFL Films content available on NFL Now will be exclusive to this service since all NFL content and videos have been removed from the NFL's former distributor, Hulu.

LIVE CONTENT VS. ON DEMAND - Alex Reithmiller, spokesman for NFL Media, told me that while there will be some live programming on the network, most of the videos available will be previously recorded. "That said, much of this on demand content will be programming that was produced that same day or within a week so it will be fresh."

HOW WILL THIS AFFECT NFL NETWORK - "NFL Now is meant to be complimentary to NFL Network and we have every expectation that if anything, it will increase interest in NFL Network programming," Reithmiller said. "NFL fans have proven over time that they have an insatiable appetite for NFL content and the more access they have to NFL content, the more consumption occurs across all platforms."

  • Mix and match well-known personalities from some of the NFL's biggest TV/radio partners and team them up with unknown personalities from NFL Now or NFL Network's personnel. For example, why not give Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin their own weekly 3-minute video segment to rant and rave about hot topics. You would give viewers another reason to leave the sports websites they normally visit. 
    • Even though all of the league partners have their own television networks, personalities that call games on their air aren't required to be on their for the other 6 days a week as long as they aren't working for a direct competitor and they get permission from their main employer. It's the reason why Cris Collinsworth worked on "Inside The NFL" for so long.
  • Give some players their own shows. By doing so, players have an opportunity to practice their communications craft before they retire and viewers also get even more inside access into what it's like to be an NFL player both on and off the field. The show could be in the form of a weekly live hangout or it could be a call-in show or even an edited show with cameras following the player throughout the week.
  • Team up with some of the NFL's digital partners for joint digital productions. For example, the NFL owns a stake in The Whistle Sports. Why not get some stunt trickster famous YouTubers (like "Dude Perfect") who are signed under The Whistle to film a football-based series exclusively for NFL Now? Maybe even give some of Yahoo Sports' (distributors of NFL Now) or Sporting News (distributors of NFL highlights online) writers their own fantasy segments to add content to the site.
  • Just as the NBA has done with "The Starters" and ESPN did with "Men In Blazers," the NFL should look for content providers from grassroots fan podcasts and turn them into major online productions just like they're about to do with Rich Eisen. It'll be well worth it to bring in a fanbase even if it means that you have to team up with another company just like the NFL will do with DirecTV. Suggestions include: The Ross Tucker Podcast, The Audible, The Fantasy Football Guys, Pro Football Focus
  • Serve as the online home for football coverage of some of the nation's biggest conferences. For example, NFL Now could take on digital content from the Pac 12 Network and the Big Ten Network. NFL Now could even air games from other leagues such as the CFL, Arena Football, development leagues, high school and college all-star competitions, international leagues etc.
  • Put your advertisers to good use and create native advertising via video. If the video is authentic enough, it might draw viewers who typically aren't visiting NFL Now.
  • A live component during Sunday's games which viewers can watch as their second screen which provides highlights of some of the NFL's best players together with injury information, the amount of fantasy points the player is accruing and the percentage of fantasy players who started the NFL player. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rich Eisen Re-Signs With NFL Network, Gets His Own Show on DirecTV

Rich Eisen will be a busy man next season. Busier than he's ever been.

Eisen has re-signed with the NFL Network and will continue to host the NFL's signature events such as The Combine, The Super Bowl, NFL Draft, Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Weekend as well as any breaking news coverage which would require his services. Eisen will also continue to host NFL Gameday Morning.

To top it all off, Eisen will also expand his podcast into a full-fledged daily show. The Rich Eisen Show will air weekday afternoons from 12pm-3pm after "The Dan Patrick Show" on DirecTV's Audience Network. For non-DirecTV subscribers, Eisen's show will be available LIVE on the NFL's newest video service, NFL Now. The service is accessible online at and is available on any smartphone as an app.

NFL Now, which is available internationally, has a free service as well as a premium tier which costs $1.99 a month and features archival video from NFL Films. It is not clear if Eisen's show will be available on both tiers or whether it'll be exclusive to premium subscribers. The show will also continue to be distributed on ITunes as a podcast and will not stop Eisen from continuing his weekly segments on "The Dan Patrick Show".

Believe it or not, I'm not finished telling you everything which Eisen will be doing next season. Every Thursday at 6 p.m., Eisen will be joined by Michael Irvin, Marshall Faulk and Steve Mariucci outside of the stadium where CBS/NFL Network's game of the week will be taking place. They'll anchor NFL Total Access Kickoff for an hour and a half on the NFL Network before sending it to James Brown, Deion Sanders and Bill Cowher at 7:30pm on CBS and NFL Network. Eisen and his team will be featured during the 7:30pm pregame show and will also anchor the postgame show on CBS and NFL Network.

Just to summarize all of Rich Eisen's roles beginning in a couple of weeks:
  • host of a daily podcast on real television and online television (The Rich Eisen Show on The Audience Network and NFL Now)
  • host of NFL Total Access Kickoff, the pregame show to the pregame show on the NFL Network
  • host of Mazda Postgame Show, the postgame show on CBS and NFL Network
  • host of NFL Gameday Morning, NFL Network's pregame show to Sunday's games
  • NFL Draft host on NFL Network
  • NFL Combine host on NFL Network
  • Super Bowl coverage host on NFL Network
  • Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony host on NFL Network
  • contributor to The Dan Patrick Show
Good luck getting sleep next year, Mr. Eisen.

MY TAKE: Eisen is a big winner because he expands his presence, the NFL is a big winner because they keep the face of their network on staff but the biggest winner is DirecTV. The satcaster is slowly but surely building up arsenal to take on ESPN and Fox. They may not have any sports rights......yet, but there's no question to me that if certain things work out, The Audience Network could be another national sports network in a couple of years.

My theory on this is that once AT&T finishes their acquisition of DirecTV, they're going to want content. Guess which content company is available at the right price? Time Warner. AT&T buys Time Warner, rebrands The Audience Network as Bleacher Report TV and moves NBA and MLB games to the network with Rich Eisen and Dan Patrick as the biggest stars of the network. 

If this were to happen, it's a long way from conspiring. The biggest reason why DirecTV is the biggest winner is because the NFL has sent a signal to everyone else that they're most likely leaving "NFL Sunday Ticket" on DirecTV's dials. They wouldn't let their network's biggest face get his own show on the satcaster if there wasn't a deal which was imminent. 

DirecTV also probably wouldn't have expanded their programming options on "NFL Sunday Ticket" if this wasn't the case, Eisen's deal was a confirmation on the direction which both sides are headed towards.

In my opinion, this was the most innovative deal I've seen in sports media since Sirius/XM was able to convince Mad Dog to stay by offering him a television show on the MLB Network, which also happens to be partners with Sirius/XM.

Moving forward, I doubt Eisen's show will erode Jim Rome's ratings or sports talk radio ratings in general but I do wonder if it poses any threat to Mike Francesa's already stagnant ratings on FS1 or ESPN Radio's "SVP and Russillo" simulcast on ESPNEWS or to any of the local radio shows which simulcast on RSNs across the nation during that same period such as Michael Kay on YES in New York.

UPDATE: You can add Fox/Clear Channel to the list of Rich Eisen's employers. Eisen will now be competing on the radio against Jim Rome, Doug Gottlieb, Paul Finebaum, Mike Francesa, Scott Van Pelt/Colin Cowherd.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Inside The NFL Re-Airs On NFL Network, CBS = Serious About Thursday Night Football

CBS and NFL Network have expanded their relationship beyond teaming up to broadcast and produce "Thursday Night Football". CBS will now let NFL Network re-air their premium football series, Inside The NFL, on Wednesdays at 9pm after it is aired Tuesdays at 9pm on Showtime.

There is no word on whether this was an extra perk offered during CBS' acquisition of Thursday Night Football. The show will now be hosted by Greg Gumbel with Boomer Esiason, Ed Reed, Phil Simms and Brandon Marshall as analysts. 

Marshall will fly into New York City weekly to analyze the games from the previous week and then return to Chicago where he plays wide receiver for the Bears. Ed Reed hasn't announced his retirement but he was recognized as a "former" safety in the press release announcing his hiring.

Boomer Esiason adds yet ANOTHER job to his plate while Phil Simms is the only mainstay from last season. Inside the NFL was moved to Tuesday nights to accommodate Simms who will be calling games on Thursday nights this season. The change in schedule makes it easier for him to do both the show and Thursday games. It is unlikely he will return to CBS Sports Network's "Monday Night Quarterback" as a regular.

I'm happy Greg Gumbel got this job especially since he has recently been demoted to the #3 team on "NFL on CBS", demoted to the #2 host on CBS/Turner's "March Madness" coverage and he was kicked off as the host of "The NFL Today" after CBS hired James Brown.

Courtesy: New York Times

Speaking of Brown, he along with Cris Collinsworth voluntarily left their positions on the show. Brown will be hosting "TNF" as well as CBS's Sunday afternoon games while Collinsworth will have more time to prepare for "SNF" games and cultivate his site, I'm also sure NBC wasn't comfortable with their star on a CBS program during the year they host the Super Bowl.

CBS has done an outstanding job promoting "Thursday Night Football". I've seen contests intertwined with "TNF" on "Big Brother," promotion during "ET," "CBS This Morning" and "The Talk," commercials about the games run during big CBS Sports events like the PGA Championship, radio ads, news anchors from local affiliates wearing "TNF" gear and so much more. Jim Nantz even appeared on the NFL Network's schedule release special. You can tell CBS values this new package of games.

Letting NFL Network re-air Inside The NFL assures NFL Media that CBS is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Thursday night games on CBS for many years to come beyond this contract's expiration date even if it erodes "Inside The NFL" ratings on Showtime. (SIDENOTE: It's unknown whether Showtime will continue to re-air "Inside The NFL" throughout the week on other Showtime networks like it has in the past)

At the end of the day though, it's a good strategy for CBS because it helps them secure their financial future in a television world which has become very cloudy because of emerging technologies. They've already gotten into a tiff with their former Indianapolis affiliate who wasn't willing to pay extra retransmission fees. In that specific situation, CBS used the leverage they have from "TNF" to change affiliates.

What I'm Pondering

I wonder if CBS and the NFL will get so cozy in a couple of years that CBS will buy a stake in the network and pair it up with their local stations, Showtime and their other cable networks during retransmission negotiations with cable operators.

I also wonder if that kind of relationship would force CBS to produce more programming outside of "TNF" for NFLN or if CBS would produce joint productions involving NFL stars and athletes from other properties which it owns and promotes like the PGA Tour, NCAA basketball and SEC football. (LONG SHOT EXAMPLE: CBS recently agreed to air programs on CBSSN from the PGA Tour's entertainment division, could CBS pull some strings with the league to get some well known NFL stars to appear on those programs alongside golfers?)

But most importantly, would CBS lose journalistic credibility if it got more cozy with the league than the other networks. (SIDENOTE: This is not the first time CBS and the NFL's media properties have partnered up. CBS used to operate

My other question in all this is what does CBSSN get out of all this? Anything? Do they get to re-air "TNF" games or "Inside The NFL"? Are they going to pick up rights to show extended highlights?

While CBS is losing out on opportunities to grow their cable properties by making Showtime's hit series available to non Showtime subscribers and leaving CBSSN out of the pie again, they still come out as big winners financially-speaking and they have the early lead to renew Thursday night NFL rights for the 2015-2016 season.

UPDATE: Check out this NYT article discussing this same topic. New details on CBS/NFL promotion:
Boomer Esiason, an analyst on “NFL on CBS,” is to appear in an episode of “Blue Bloods,” he said, and another “NFL on CBS” analyst, Phil Simms, will get a guest spot on “Elementary.”
And rather than tap an actor from a CBS entertainment program to host the 2014-15 edition of the network’s annual fall preview show, Mr. Schweitzer said, the host will be Jim Nantz, who will handle the play-by-play duties during “Thursday Night Football”; the preview show is to be broadcast at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time) on Sept. 1.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

NFL Films Presents Moves To Fox Sports 1

One of sports television's pioneer series is shifting gears and trading places. NFL Films Presents tells the stories of how each NFL game plays out weekly in a dramatic format. For decades, the show has aired either on ESPN or ESPN2. It typically aired on Friday afternoons but it never had a set time and day as ESPN's sports properties continued to grow.

This season will bring some changes to the show. For the first time ever, the show will now air on Fox Sports 1 which, unlike ESPN or ESPN2, still has timeslots which are available to fill. It's a great move for Fox because they're able to acquire a program which is one of the best produced shows on television. They also get on the good graces of the NFL's side which could put them in an advantage if bidding starts soon for CBS' portion of Thursday Night Football next year OR if the NFL decides to sell some new Wild Card playoff games.

If they promote the show and it rates well, they'll be able to show the NFL that Fox Sports 1 is capable of hosting NFL games in the future.

The show will most likely continue on NFL Network and it'll also be available online for the first time if you're a premium subscriber to the NFL's new streaming service (their own Netflix), NFL Now.

CBS News 24 Hour Streaming Network Launches In October

According to TVNewser, CBS News' brand new digital network will be launching in October. The channel has been promoted heavily by Les Moonves and it's being headed by CBS News president David Rhodes. TVNewser's report also states that "CBS This Morning" senior producer Mosheh Oinounou and Nancy Lane, the head of editorial at, are responsible for hiring and are doing most of the candidate interviews.
CBS is looking to have a staff of around 60 people for the launch, including interactive, technical and editorial, many plucked from current cable TV news ranks.
News of this new venture broke almost a year ago at the end of last October. Peter Lauria of BuzzFeed said at the time that:

  • the service would be distinct from other CBS News-branded shows, websites and apps
  • the service was a coalition between CBS News and CBS Interactive (CNet etc.)
  • it would be available for "streaming for smartphones and tablets, on game consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox or Sony’s Playstation, on over-the-top TV distribution services such as Roku or Apple TV, and on online video platforms like Hulu Plus or YouTube"
  • Even though CBS News has an older demographic, this service is still important for them to launch because older viewers are moving to digital platforms just as rapidly as younger viewers.
Brian Stelter, then a media reporter for the New York Times, also reported that the name of the service would be "CBS News Stream" although there is no official word yet from CBS News as to whether this is still the case. Stelter described the channel by saying:
Plans for the Internet channel might be best likened to a 24-hour news radio station, which intersperses live updates with prerecorded interviews and features. The channel would have video clips from news broadcasts like “CBS This Morning” and “60 Minutes,” as well as additional material that did not make it onto television, presented in both a linear format like a normal cable channel and an on-demand format like a website.
It isn't known whether this is how the company will continue to run this operation. Lauria reported in his piece that CBS would consider adding staff to create original content but it's unconfirmed whether the 60 people that CBS is currently hiring will be creating that content or if they'll simply be providing technological support to make sure the project functions the way it is supposed to.

The only hire which I am aware of so far is a former news producer/multimedia journalist for Al Jazeera America and an NABJ member who was hired to be an associate producer. The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery confirmed CBS' hiring of Dexter Mullins on his Twitter page during the NABJ Convention which took place in Boston 2 weeks ago. Mullins wrote trendy stories for AJAM's website.

What do I personally expect to see on this network? Most likely it'll be similar to what ABC News Live offers which is live newscasts throughout the day, extended breaking news coverage of stories which can't be covered on ABC live and clips from segments of various shows. I also expect CBS This Morning's BuzzFeed Brews to be streamed live on the network and I wouldn't be surprised to see clips from PBS's The Charlie Rose Show on the network as well (it's just a hunch).


More Details on CBS News Digital Network

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mark Cuban Launches His Own Show......An Infomerical

On Tuesday night, Mark Cuban launched his own television show and if I'm being honest, it felt a lot like an infomercial. You know why? Because it WAS!

Cuban teamed up with home shopping network, ShopHQ, to expose America to all of the various businesses which he has invested in through the hit ABC series which he judges known as "Shark Tank".

The show debuted in a brand new studio which was custom built for this special and weirdly enough, it aired during the same period in which "Shark Tank" airs on CNBC (which is ironically owned by ShopHQ's former owners, NBC). I wonder if this infomercial hurt CNBC's ratings at all?

"Mark Cuban's American Dream" started promptly at 8pm and went by pretty seamlessly. Cuban seemed to gel well with his co-host Heather Hall and the entrepreneurs who presented their businesses to the nationwide audience seemed adequately prepared. 

The entrepreneurs were mentored by advisers who work for ShopHQ and these advisers helped the entrepreneurs understand how to market their products on television. As each entrepreneur was introduced, we got a little taste behind the scenes of what happened during practice sessions in which the advisers helped out. This portion of the show gave some new flair that you're not used to seeing on infomercials.

Some of the segments introducing who the advisers were tended to repeat and we didn't really get enough time to meet the entrepreneurs. There was also never any connection made about how the viewer could help the entrepreneurs live their "American Dream". Maybe this show should've been more of a competition between the companies Mr. Cuban has invested in?

Overall though, I have to commend ShopHQ and Mark Cuban for the bright idea. The show was definitely close to QVC-quality and it helped showcase Cuban's innovative products to a potential audience of 89 million. 

Raycom Sports Gets Alabama High School Football Rights

Raycom Media, which is based in Montgomery, Alabama, recently announced that it'll produce a package of 10 Thursday night high school football games which will feature teams from all over the state of Alabama. The games will be seen throughout the state on the multiple stations which Raycom Media owns and operates.

It's very daring of Raycom to produce a package of games for their local affiliates on the same night CBS and the NFL Network will air primetime NFL games but it tells you how much citizens of Alabama love their local football whether it's high school or college (it also helps that they don't have an NFL team). It became clear to me how much pandemonium there was after I watched Alabama's very own Hoover High School and their old MTV reality show, "Two-A-Days".

Anyways, I wonder if one day this package of HSFB games (coming out of the #10 highest ranked state for high school football according to MaxPreps) along with games from other states like Texas and California could expand their syndication reach nationwide. Why?

1. What happens to Raycom Sports on the day which the ACC decides to buy back their games from Raycom and start their cable sports network in conjunction with ESPN, which owns their rights until the 2026-2027 season? Raycom will have to choose between shutting down their sports operation (which is very likely since it almost shut down when the ACC sold their souls to ESPN) or finding an alternative program to broadcast and syndicate. That alternative program? High school football.

2. Local stations will soon desire sports on their lineups as more rights continue to migrate to cable. Why would they desire sports? Because they would be guaranteed a live audience since no one watches sports on demand. Local stations also have a wide reach and could offer a competitive ratings challenge to the new cable sports networks like NBCSN, CBSSN, FS1 etc. which aren't yet established and/or don't have as many subscribers.

3. America has a wild fascination with football and good, compelling stories. A package of high school games with superb athletes and a compelling story all mixed in with the sport which majority of Americans love to watch could help Raycom carve out new programming to syndicate and replace the ACC in case bullet point #1 ever occurred.

For now, it looks like the syndicated ACC Network is here to stay. They recently secured 90 million homes through local stations around the country. This will help the ACC with recruiting since they'll be exposed to a wider audience now that the SEC's games no longer air on free TV. BTW, a new ACC cable network would probably take 5 years to reach that same audience.

But if the ACC decides to leave free TV soon and Raycom wants to continue in the sports television department, why not develop a brand of sports programming which is very local and hasn't been cultivated to the fullest extent possible on television yet.

Just a thought.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bill Simmons Out At NBA Countdown

Bill Simmons and Sage Steele never really seemed to hit it off which is why I'm not surprised he's been ousted from the ESPN NBA pregame show. I think his Grantland Basketball show is a great idea because it'll give him the opportunity to be more free-form with analysis and debate rather than get stuck to the time restraints of ESPN's NBA Countdown. Viewers will also get to choose whether they want to watch him or not and whether they want to accept him and all his Celtics fandem. One of the reasons he wasn't as liked on television as he is online is because viewers had no choice but to watch him and they knew he came with certain biases and prejudices.

ESPN has given Bill Simmons the world but will it be enough to keep him? We'll see how this new show plays out. If it doesn't, it'll be interesting to see where he goes. Turner and Fox could be destinations despite the fact that he loathes Bleacher Report and Fox Sports 1. Why would they be destinations? They're most likely going to be the only two other entities with NBA rights during the next contract rights period.

NBC is another option because they own the local Celtics TV rights in Boston and he could possibly analyze Celtics games for Comcast SportsNet Boston (He's already done it once; maybe the NBA could use the move as a way to sell more League Pass packages nationwide for Simmons superfans). Simmons could also contribute to Sunday Night Football and The Olympics. His columns on or a new site NBC could launch for him would be syndicated onto Yahoo! Sports' site. The only problem would be reaching TV audiences, NBCSN doesn't have the power of ESPN.

Anyways, we'll see what happens on that front at sometime in the next year.

Who replaces Simmons on NBA Countdown? Stephen A. Smith is a possibility. According to Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead, Smith has been vying for the spot for a while. But will his recent scandal hinder him from taking over? Maybe Bruce Bowen is another option since he's worked often with Sage Steele during SportsCenter hits at various NBA events before Steele became SportsCenter host. I would personally lobby for Jeff Van Gundy but I doubt he wants to leave the road, he seems to love calling games. Maybe ESPN brings him via satellite to do a couple segments before any game he's about to call?

Why Is ABC Doing A Primetime Robin Williams Special While NBC and CBS Aren't?

Robin Williams is a big star but he wasn't relevant of late so I doubt NBC and CBS will broadcast specials. Why is ABC doing a special and not the others?

1. ABC has enough footage and personalities to do specials like this

2. Robin Williams got his start on ABC through "Mork and Mindy"

3. ABC has no hit shows in the summer like CBS (Under The Dome) and NBC (America's Got Talent) do so they have room to preempt

4. Ben Sherwood controls the network now (or he's about to soon) and I'm sure he's willing to give the news division as many specials and shows in primetime as they want. 

Between GMA, World News, World News Now, Nightline, 20/20, 20/20 Weekend, GMA Weekend, World News Weekend, NY Med, WWYD?, and their Special Reports which interrupt programs at times when NBC and CBS don't; ABC probably broadcasts the most news programs out of all the broadcasts networks. (it's arguable whether their news is really hard news or softcore, female-oriented, showbiz news but it's still news)

Not to mention the O&Os have expanded their afternoon newscasts.

Willie Geist = Matt Lauer's Successor

Willie Geist_10
Courtesy of New York Observer

Here's my random rambling rant/prediction:

We'll know soon enough who Matt's successor is when Willie Geist's contract is up. There's no way he signs unless he's guaranteed the seat next to Savannah. 

If NBC decides to not give him the seat, Geist could just as easily jump to CBS and continue his dad's legacy on that network. Geist could help jumpstart CBS' new 24-hour network, become a "60 Minutes" and/or CBS Sunday Morning correspondent, sub in on the Evening News and even serve as Charlie Rose's heir on CTM which Chris Licht (former Morning Joe producer) produces. Darkhouse? "The View" on ABC which Bill Wolfe is producing now.

Carson Daly has a radio empire and "The Voice" and I doubt he'll leave that for Matt's seat although I wouldn't be surprised to see him quit "Last Call" soon. Josh Elliott wasn't lying when he said he came to NBC to join their sports department. He's doing features for SNF and will be Bob Costas' heir to the Olympics throne (hosting the Youth Olympics on NBCSN).

The only legitimate replacement I see for Matt outside of Willie Geist is a big celebrity who doesn't have news chops but can bring up ratings. But that would go against the strategy "Today" has been using as of late, going newsy at 7 a.m. up to 8 a.m. (unless Savannah anchored solo throughout the 7 a.m. hour but that wouldn't make sense either). And to be honest, I can't think of who that celebrity would be.

Another thing they could do is make Al Roker co-anchor but let Natalie and Savannah handle hard news interviews while Roker sticks to reading transitions to news stories, trendy newsmaker interviews (for example the mother who just delivered 20 babies etc.), and the weather of course. But that too would be weird.

Maybe they move Natalie up to co-anchor? I don't think that would work though because Natalie and Savannah don't really have a sisterly bond like say Hoda/Kathie Lee or Diane and Robin. The only same gender co-anchors I could see working out are Hoda and Savannah but who knows if Hoda has any interest in waking up earlier or if she would be willing to host both the 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. hours or if she could be taken seriously because of how much fun she has during the 10 a.m. hour. Unlike Natalie and Ann Curry, Hoda Kotb can adapt to any situation on television which she's in.

So basically to make a long story short, bottomline is that's Willie Geist's seat.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Cox Media Group Launches A New National Sports Site

Cox Media Group

Cox Media Group, owners of some of the biggest television and radio stations in the South, is launching their own national sports site which will be launching in the fall.

Their first hires include Bleacher Report contributor and Kennesaw State graduate Raj Prashad and writer for the Atlanta Hawks official website Robby Kalland, who filled us in on some details about the site.
  • The site will be headquarted in Atlanta.
  • The site will be 100% focused on SEC football and college football in the fall when it launches
  • Once they've established themselves, they will expand to other sports such as the NBA and the NFL
This will be a great new tool which Cox Media Group, owner of at least 10 television stations in SEC country (specifically in Georgia, Florida, Texas), can use to boost the amount of sports content available on their stations' websites.

For example, WSB-TV, Cox's Atlanta station, now has the ability to post an article about the Georgia Bulldogs from someone who lives in the area and covers the team daily. The common practice for local TV stations and their online sites (if their sports anchors don't write for the site) is to post articles from a wire service like the AP which summarize sporting events. This is useful for viewers who want a recap of the game but it doesn't feel local and authentic like this new content will.

Cox also has a history of starting websites of national interest with a local feel having launched a center-right conservative political news site known as

I went through the tweets of the two writers mentioned above and they seem to be very cool, young individuals who you would interact with at your local sports bar. This leads me to conclude that this site won't be your typical buttoned-down, filtered site and will sound more like uncensored sports talk radio than HBO's Real Sports. I'm just making assumptions but if I'm right, that's a good thing.

We need  more young and uncensored voices in sports media who can say what they want even if it's controversial. Cox is still a big company but it's not a conglomerate like the companies who control the sports media landscape such as: Fox, Disney and Comcast.

We'll see how this all works out but obviously any new venture hiring young journalists sounds exciting to me.

Ironically as this site launches with stories exclusively about SEC football, Cox Media Group's most prominent writer/insider about SEC football, Tony Barnhart, was been hired away before the upcoming season by ESPN. Would he have stayed if he knew Cox was launching a brand new national sports vehicle? (To be honest, he probably would've since he'll be a major force on the new SEC Network but I'm sure being the face of a national sports site like Bill Simmons or Peter King would've made him think a little harder)

UPDATE: Tony Barnhart will continue with Cox after rejoining AJC during SEC Media Days according to his Twitter page, @MrCFB.  It appears that he'll write generally about CFB for AJC while his SEC stories are for The SEC Network/ Apologies for the error.

Search Here!!

Blog Archive