Saturday, September 27, 2014

Bloomberg Buying Yahoo?

Courtesy: Bloomberg
The rumor mill is churning at another big media merger which could possibly be going down soon. According to an anonymous Twitter account which posts rumors that New York City cab drivers hear from their passengers:
Bloomberg Media has secretly offered $33 Billion cash buyout of Yahoo
Bloomberg's offer would be just under Yahoo's current market cap (total value of shares) of $38 billion. Both companies have been hard at work trying to increase the amount of media content they own.

Yahoo recently started producing sitcoms which are set to debut in the fall, saved critically-acclaimed series "Community" from extinction, signed a deal with Live Nation to air one free concert a day and is beefing up their news department by signing Katie Couric among others.

Jon Heilmann and Mark Halperin, courtesy: Yahoo (ironic)
Ironically, Couric's first interview for her new web series on Yahoo was with Michael Bloomberg in which the duo discussed Bloomberg's transition away from New York mayor to private citizen.

That transition has been anything short of quiet. Mr. Bloomberg, in a spectacle captured by the New York Times, went from solely focusing on his foundation to taking over as the head of Bloomberg Media once again.

Along the way, his foundation helped organize a summit between Africa's head of states and President Obama while his media company signed political journalism superstars Mark Halperin and Jon Heilmann as the head honchos of their own political vertical and their own political version of ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption." The next big project for Bloomberg Media is a business vertical which will be aligned with BusinessWeek.

Katie Couric and Mike Bloomberg, courtesy: New York Post
As Alex Weprin points out in Capital New York, Bloomberg Media has many different outlets but it lacks mainstream luster. If this rumor turns out to have some validity, this could be Mr. Bloomberg trying cure all ills with an acquisition which is expensive but less of a hassle to deal with compared to the other mainstream companies with luster which are available for acquisition such as Time Warner, Viacom and CBS.

Bloomberg Television could easily add Katie Couric as it's lead anchor with Yahoo's other experienced journalists added to the fray as well (Matt Bai, Michael Isikoff, Bianna Golodryga, David Pogue). Bloomberg's web content (specifically it's successful online video division which sees 27.4 million global video streams as of 2013) would also have a larger platform to flourish in.

We could even see Bloomberg TV transform as a network. There might be more of a focus on general news and entertainment in order to compete better with CNN, MSNBC and Fox. Yahoo's resources and video rights, although tailored for the internet, could prove beneficial for the network if they make this sort of transition because Yahoo will put Bloomberg on the negotiating table with some of the biggest brands in entertainment (ABC, NBC, Live Nation, IHeartRadio, Sony, Broadway Video, NFL, BuzzFeed etc.), a luxury which they probably didn't have before.

Yahoo could benefit as well because they'll finally have an outlet of their own to branch out into television with. They won't need NBC Sports Network to produce fantasy sports shows with nor will they need "Good Morning America"'s TV-ready content to distribute on their website for female readers because they could produce all of that television content on their own if they wanted to (Although I suggest they keep their deal with "GMA" if this transpires because it never hurts being associated with the #1 morning show on TV).

Marissa Mayer, courtesy: Joy A. Martin
The most intriguing part about this potential deal is whether Bloomberg wants to acquire Yahoo because of Yahoo or because of the shares of Alibaba which Yahoo owns. Does Mr. Bloomberg have a grand scheme of his own ideas of how he wants to use Yahoo's new-found treasure chest?

Marissa Mayer may be at the precipice of the biggest business decision in her lifetime. The decision she makes could make or break Yahoo and her career. Would she really want to cede all of that control, power and potential success to Mr. Bloomberg even though she's under some of the most intense pressure of her life right now?

Courtesy: CNN/KCRA
On a sidenote, Ms. Mayer: don't buy AOL. It would be like having the choice between buying a Benz and a Maserati. AOL is the Benz. It will keep Yahoo smooth sailing, it'll help Yahoo increase it's video library and advertising business but it won't transform your company into what it once was. It's not a sexy acquisition.

Which company is the Maserati? That answer is above my pay grade but I know it's not AOL. It is most likely a video company of some type because video is the future for the internet. I just don't see any video companies which are worth acquiring. No one stands out as a YouTube alternative. DailyMotion and Vimeo are doing an excellent job competing with YouTube but they're not going match YouTube's gravitas anytime soon.

My idea: Yahoo should save that money to buy some NFL rights (Thursday night rights expire next year, 2 playoff games possibly being added) which would reside alongside the TV-style sitcoms and series which the company has already invested in. It could help turn those shows into franchises which you can sell to television networks across the world. Yahoo could even sublicense television simulcasts of their games (assuming the package of games they would acquire would be exclusive to Yahoo).

It's worked before for Fox and I don't see why it wouldn't work for Yahoo's video player as well. Production companies would be flocking to get their content next to the NFL. Yahoo already has an "in" with the league since they are a distributor of NFL Now programming, now it's time to take their relationship to another level.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Why Bill Simmons Isn't Leaving ESPN

Courtesy: TMZ
The tension between ESPN's management and Bill Simmons has reached an all-time high. Although there have been many tumultuous incidents during Simmons' tenure with the Worldwide Leader, as depicted by Deadspin, none of his fights with his bosses have been as controversial as the fight happening this time around.

But in my opinion, both sides will eventually reach cooler-heads and will continue to co-exist. Here's why. Simmons has nowhere else to go. Don't believe me? Let's go down the list.

FOX - 

The positives: Fox is based out of L.A. just as Simmons is. 

The negatives: Fox doesn't have the rights to anything which Simmons is interested in covering like the NBA or NCAA Tournament basketball. Not to mention, Simmons doesn't like Fox very much after they tried to prove to the general public that they would be better than ESPN because they'd be more "fun." Fox's online presence isn't that great either. 

Fox recently signed a deal with Sporting News to share online content and while they recently ranked as the #1 online sports video destination combined, they still haven't found a way to garner pageviews on their articles from various columnists. Simmons will bring in his own base to the site but it's going to be difficult to change the habits of a regular sports fan who occasionally reads Simmons because he's on ESPN's website. Would that kind of reader be willing to add Fox Sports to their diet or would they just stick with ESPN and find another writer to read?

Turner - 

The positives: TNT has rights to the NBA and Simmons could play a role on "Inside the NBA" or on NBA TV.

The negatives: Simmons is not fond of the Bleacher Report much either. Simmons would also lose the major television presence he's getting on ESPN because NBA TV and "Inside the NBA" don't reach the same amount of viewers on a daily basis which ESPN does.

NBC - 

The positives: Simmons could work on "Sunday Night Football" as an essayist and could possibly get his work distributed to Yahoo Sports through NBC's deal with Yahoo. Simmons could also call Boston Celtics games on Comcast SportsNet Boston.

The negatives: No NBA rights and limited air time. "SNF" already has a gazillion faces, would they really want to add yet another face? Also, NBCSN has nowhere near the same reach which ESPN does. If you don't believe me, just ask Michelle Beadle

I doubt CBS would consider him because they're a very reserved, conservative organization that doesn't sign firebrand names. In fact, they've been getting rid of many online writers who have transferred themselves over to ESPN. 

I'd also take Yahoo out of the equation even though they're the highest read sports website in the land. Other than their partnerships with "GMA" and NBC Sports, they don't have any television presence and it is very unlikely that either of those two outlets would ever cease airtime or editorial control to Simmons without getting a piece of the pie which could prove too bureaucratic for Simmons' tastes. We also haven't seen much come out of their recent Katie Couric deal (although a devil's advocate could argue that it's still pretty early).

So where does this leave Simmons? Well, The Big Lead is reporting that Simmons could start his own venture backed by a bunch of rich investors with contributions from Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla. But could that type of outlet ever have much influence without a mainstream media backer? Carolla doesn't reach many people other than his superfans. He's able to make enough money to gain a profit but he doesn't have a voice which most Americans know or have heard of. Does Simmons want to risk becoming a misnomer among sports fans by going independent?

We know that Simmons is popular (hence why a #FreeSimmons trend was started on Twitter after news of his suspension was announced) but is he popular enough to have consistent customers who will support the advertisers who sponsor his page or will pay a monthly subscription fee if he goes that route?

At the end of the day, ESPN is the lesser and most dependent of two evils. Simmons has founded his own website, has an extremely popular podcast and produces some of the best sports documentaries ever all courtesy of ESPN's dime. Does he really want to take on all of those financial headaches and obligations independently? And even if he were to find another mainstream partner besides ESPN, would they ever be able to attain the reach which the Worldwide Leader has? I doubt it. 

Bill Simmons needs ESPN more than ESPN needs Simmons. 

The Boston Sports Guy can survive without ESPN. Dan Patrick has and he's doing extremely well. So has Rich Eisen, who will soon have a small little empire of his own courtesy of Patrick's partners at DirecTV (another contender for Simmons' services). 

But, Simmons might end up ceding his crown as America's most popular sportswriter without ESPN's backing, support and reach. There's no one in the sports media industry as extravagant and huge as the four-letter network.

What does Bill Simmons think? I guess we'll find out after his contract expires next year.


Bill Simmons Out At NBA Countdown

New Details on CBS News Digital Network

The Hollywood Reporter recently came out with a profile of Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS Corp. Hidden inside of the article are some new details about the CBS News channel which is supposedly their answer to CNN.

Moonves inadvertently admits that if Fox had bought Time Warner and had spun off CNN, they would've most likely bought the struggling cable news network. Now, since that option is no longer available, CBS is beefing up their digital network to compete with the big boys in cable news.
Dressed in his Manhattan uniform — black suit, bold tie — he settles in beside his boyish news president, David Rhodes, 40, who has come armed with polling data for the November elections. The two huddle over an iPad as Rhodes walks his boss through a mock-up of the 24-hour digital news network, CBS' answer to CNN, which they're hoping to launch in October. (Since Time Warner rebuffed 21st Century Fox's acquisition attempt this summer, buying a spun-off CNN no longer is on the table.) They go over potential titles and the plan for on-air talent, which will skew younger and more social media savvy than those fronting the network's current news shows. CBS correspondents Elaine Quijano and Jeff Glor will be among the anchors, Rhodes tells him, noting that there will be more names coming. Moonves, leaning forward, voice booming, likes what he sees.
As Jim O'Neill of Ooyala says, "The online news channel would live stream content, news CBS already gathers but can’t fit into its current news outlets."

Moonves tells Bloomberg that he hopes to eventually turn this network into an authenticated online channel for pay-TV subscribers.


CBS News 24 Hour Streaming Network Launches In October

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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

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

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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Josh Elliott Will Be Making His "Today" Debut Soon

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources: NFL, NYT

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Is Robin Roberts Announcing?

Did you guys see this tweet?

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

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

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

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

- A judge on "Dancing with the Stars"?

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

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

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

UPDATE: Her own production company which will include an inspirational website/blog as well as the continuation of her ESPNW series. So, I was sort of correct.

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