Monday, December 28, 2015

ESPN Acquires Super Bowl from CBS

ESPN has always been a reputable source to rely on for Super Bowl coverage during the week of the big game.

SportsCenter along with a plethora of other shows change location once a year to cover every angle except for the actual game from the host city. Finally, after being in existence for over 30 years, ESPN will get their shot at broadcasting the action with a twist - a Spanish twist.
CBS and the National Football League have reached an agreement with ESPN Deportes to televise Super Bowl 50 in Spanish on Sunday, February 7 at 6 pm ET, live from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. 
This is the first Super Bowl telecast for ESPN Deportes, which also presents weekly Monday Night Football games in Spanish throughout the NFL regular season, as well as a Wild Card Playoff game, and the Pro Bowl. The network also features comprehensive news and information coverage, including studio shows NFL Live and NFL Esta Noche.
Fox and NBC have previously aired the Super Bowl on separate Spanish-language networks they own - Fox Deportes and NBC Universo - while CBS normally offers Spanish speaking commentators through the SAP option available on most television sets.

It is not known what caused the change in heart from previous procedure but it is a move that makes sense. Fox and NBC set the precedent for producing a separate Spanish language telecast over the past two seasons. Because CBS does not own any Spanish language networks, it made sense to give the broadcast to another network.

CBS Sports Network or Pop!, two of CBS' biggest basic cable channels, could've used the Spanish broadcast to boost their own respective networks but it is unlikely the move would've been approved by the league. Latino fans do not normally rely on those networks for live sporting events in their native language and ESPN Deportes is already the home for Monday Night Football games throughout the season.

There are still many murky details including whether the ESPN broadcast will use the same graphics and camera angles as CBS, if advertisers will create new commercials specifically for Spanish language viewers as has occurred in previous years and whether ESPN paid the NFL or CBS a rights fee for the telecast.

In reference with advertisements, according to Advertising Age:
While Deportes reps did not immediately respond to inquiries about the deal terms -- ESPN announced the agreement during halftime of Monday's Bengals-Broncos game, at around 10:30 p.m. EST -- it is likely that the majority of the advertisers represented in CBS's Super Bowl broadcast also will appear in the Spanish-language feed. How the final creative will shake out is anyone's guess. Last year, roughly two of every three spots that aired in the Universo simulcast targeted Spanish speakers.
No matter what the case may be though, this is a groundbreaking event in the network's history. Super Bowl 50 will be the first Super Bowl telecast to air on an ESPN network in the United States. It will also be the first Super Bowl broadcast on a Disney-owned network in 10 years (ABC in 2005). Previously, ESPN's international affiliates have aired the big game around the world including ESPN Deportes in Latin America.

Cross-promotion between CBS and ESPN was not divulged in tonight's press release. But as an announcement was made about the new deal during the last MNF game of the year by Lisa Salters and John Sutcliffe, Mike Tirico mentioned that CBS would air the English language version of the game while name-checking Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. It wouldn't be surprising if more mentions of CBS are made throughout the week on ESPN programming deliberately as part of this deal.
To complement the live Super Bowl telecast, ESPN Deportes will present comprehensive, week-long multimedia coverage beginning Monday, Feb. 1. The lineup on Super Bowl Sunday will feature coverage leading up to the game, live from San Francisco, including a 90-min pregame special at 4:30pm and a postgame show.
It might be a good idea for ESPN, ESPN Deportes and CBS personalities to cross paths through digital segments in both English and Spanish which promoted both telecasts and were aired during ESPN's complementary programming throughout the week. I also wouldn't be shocked to see a flurry of CBS personalities appear as interview guests on ESPN's programs during Super Bowl Week.

In order to get fans ready for the big game, ESPN Deportes should also consider adding a well-known former NFL player with some kind of role for promotional purposes. My idea? Chad Ochocinco.

Ochocinco has attended previous Super Bowls acting as a "journalist" during Media Day and even established his own network of player-reporters with Motorola known as OCNN. He previously served as a guest analyst for ESPN Deportes' NFL Live when they opened up their new studios in Mexico City and could contribute segments for ESPN, ESPN Deportes or

This is not the first programming addition that has been announced this week for ESPN Deportes. The network will also air each College Football Playoff semifinal game and simulcast it on ESPN2. As of now, there are no plans to simulcast the Super Bowl on ESPN2 as well.

ESPN has found innovative ways to expand their NFL empire from re-inventing the pregame shows fiasco (Fantasy Football Now, NFL Insiders) to airing the Wild Card game on ABC. This might be their most innovative idea yet.

Will ESPN find a way to air the Big Game in English anytime soon? Extremely unlikely given that CBS, Fox and NBC have all extended their deals recently leaving ESPN out of the cycle. But never say never.

Monday, December 21, 2015

2016 Media Predictions

Click on the link to see how I did with my 2015 Media Predictions!

1. Tribune will leave CW Network, re-run WGN America shows and older shows available in Tribune's library.

2. Starz and Lionsgate will merge

3. Sinclair will launch their own version of Vice News

4. IOC will speed up the launch of their network, NBC/Discovery and other rightsholders will partner with them

5. Viceland will suffer in the ratings in the beginning, start to air more unique, live programming towards the end of the year

6. Showtime and Bloomberg Politics' The Circus will break news on the campaign trail, CBS and NBC News will both have video from documentary series and will be able to show the video first

7. Bloomberg Politics will partner with an online outlet to further distribute its content, create some exclusive content for the online outlet; some question whether Halperin and Heilmann are spreading their wings too thin

8. Time Warner buys Mashable. Time Warner and Discovery will merge to prevent AT&T or Fox from buying it.

9. AT&T buys Sony in order to increase its ownership of content

10. Colbert will continue to suffer in the ratings, change the format of his show. Super Bowl postgame slot will help his ratings

11. Samantha Bee's TBS show will rate low against Comedy Central's @midnight

12. Jimmy Kimmel will expand Cisco Wall of America feature to include live webstream exclusive broadcasts

13. Jimmy Fallon will continue to dominate ratings, experiment with more online content

14. Periscope will add more features to make live broadcasts more professional such as graphics, hardware for live streaming

15. Google buys Twitter in order to fill their social media void, improve their search capabilities

16. HLN will re-air CNN documentaries, add more live newscasts aimed at viewers on the go

17. CNN, Fox News and MSNBC's schedules will not change

18. Snapchat will introduce live streaming with CNN being one of the first partners

19. Sidewire app will also break news regarding the election

20. Twitter will host a presidential forum

21. Snapchat will launch a Discover channel with election content, presidential Q&As with user submitted Snaps will be major part of the channel

22. Snapchat will surprisingly break news from the election process as well

23. GMA will increase online exclusive content to increase engagement with viewers including livestreams, extra video

24. Today Show will beat GMA in the ratings

25. Josh Elliott will leave NBC Sports, re-join GMA/ESPN. His first assignment? Awkwardly covering the Olympics which was allegedly the reason he left GMA

26. Neil Patrick Harris will contribute to NBC's Olympics coverage

27. Rio Olympics will be the highest rated Olympics in NBC's history

28. Periscope will be added onto Twitter Moments, debut during the Olympics

29. Team USA, NBC and the IOC Channel will produce compelling video for Facebook including 360 video

30. CBS will renew Thursday Night Football, acquire equity stake in NFL Network, co-produce programming with the league including entertainment programming for Pop!

31. Yahoo will acquire Thursday Night Football nonexclusive streaming rights

32. Apple will produce interviews with sports stars for their TV service

33. ESPN and Fox will share Big Ten rights

34. ESPN will launch their own OTT network with NBA

35. ESPN will acquire more live sports rights exclusively for their app, increase live talk shows exclusive to their app

36. ESPYs will air again on ABC, NFL playoff game will continue to air on ABC

37. Mike Francesa will move to MSG

38. ESPN will acquire rights to League of Legends championships

39. Turner's new ELeague Counter-Strike competitions will rate low

40. Rich Eisen Show will leave Fox Sports Radio affiliates, Yahoo Sports Radio will pick it up with Sirius/XM

41. Keith Olbermann will return to MSNBC in 2016 while Brian Williams gets his own hour of news at 1pm.

42. Simon Cowell will bring back X-Factor to the United States

43. Dan Patrick will be offered Alex Trebek's job and say no, Meredith Viera gets it instead after her show is cancelled

44. Skip Bayless leaves ESPN for Fox Sports 1, Stephen A. leaves First Take which will continue with two new cohorts

45. Jason Whitlock's FS1 show debuts to poor ratings

46. Yahoo will be bought by Verizon or IAC, Marissa Mayer will leave to start her own company

47. BuzzFeed and Vox will provide in depth Olympics coverage

48. Apple will launch their own television service with NFL games at the center

49. Alibaba buys a stake in Verizon

50. AXS TV will merge with Palladia

51. 7am SportsCenter will have a weekly segment on GMA

52. More sports, entertainment and news live events will be streamed in VR and 360 video including the conventions

53. Samsung will buy Tidal

54. Fusion will shut down TV channel after 2016 election and focus on website, channel will become Univision Noticas Network

55. Bloomberg will buy Time Inc.

56. Sinclair buys a TV network for American Sports Network

57. Peyton Manning replaces Phil Simms

58. C-USA TV rights will be acquired by Fox, Sinclair

59. Pac 12 Network gives up a stake to Fox Sports, increases programming synergies

60. ESPN invests in player-POV programming by teaming up with The Players Tribune, airing live player-POV perspectives on their app. Vice Sports also airs specials on ESPN

61. Vin Scully will retire

62. Donald Trump will launch an online commentary website with video after he drops out before the convention

63. Fox News and NBC News will win their respective cable/broadcast ratings for election coverage as Hillary Clinton wins the general election

64. Donald Trump will live stream during election night

65. CNN will experiment with virtual reality/360 video on election night

66. VR/360 will go mainstream

67. David Letterman resurfaces with interview podcasts

68. Ellen continues to grow her online empire

I'll add more as I think of them before the year ends

69. Kobe signs with ESPN to do studio work for 10 games including Christmas Day. Disney also invests in his new film studio 

70. NBC invests in e-sports programming 

71. Comcast buys controlling stake in MASN

72. Katie Couric leaves Yahoo after 2016 election, takes a break from daily grind to make documentaries 

73. Spotify or Tidal or another entity will launch a radio station or podcast network with shows hosted exclusively by famous music artists to rival Beats 1

74. Beats 1 interviews air on TV via Apple's new TV service on a channel called Beats TV. Viceland also airs Beats 1 interviews

75. Beats also invests in long form video featuring their endorsers for TV and YouTube

76. Snapchat forces users to watch ads

77. Nate Silver and 538 leave ESPN after election to join Washington Post

78. Reelz Channel is sold to a conglomerate 

79. Howard U shuts down WHUT

80. Snapchat adds a feature for verified users and snaps in your local jurisdiction to be publicly seen

81. Snapchat will finally let you upload your camera roll

82. Snapchat will create a Discover channel with the best and most viewed user generated content of the day not seen in the stories/content created by internet stars like Jerome Jarre

83. Snapchat will create a new page to make some Snaps appear publicly - possibly a Tumblr page

84. Food Network's Discover channel will be removed 

85. Revolt will launch their own awards show, partner with IHeartMedia

86. Billy Bush will join "Today Show"

87. Mark Cuban invests in e-games

88. Disney uses its library to start a diginet

89. WHDH-TV will lose NBC affiliation

90. CBS and Turner expand March Madness deal with new rights added on such as VR/360 video, ability to launch March Madness streaming service, creation of documentaries around big March Madness events

91. Hulu acquires live content of some type, possibly sports

Sunday, December 20, 2015

How Did I Do With My 2015 Media Predictions?

1. Univision will spin off into an IPO - NOPE!

2. CBS Radio will sell all of their radio stations or spin them off - NOPE!

3. Disney will not spin off ABC - NOPE!

4. “Kelly and Michael” repeats will be aired on a cable network - NOPE!

5. ESPN and Univision will move some sports properties to Fusion - YES! Dan Le Batard Show airs daily on the network

6. Tribune will acquire a stake in the CW Network - NOPE!

7. Starz will be acquired by a large conglomerate - NOPE!

8. Sinclair will launch NewsChannel8 nationally via cable or multicast - NOPE!

9. Syndicated television shows will make a move to smaller cable networks in need of original programming - NOPE!

10. Station groups will continue to produce original syndicated programming that serve as a local-national hybrid  - YES!

11. NBC will debut a new graphics package for the Winter Classic and Super Bowl - YES!

12. Universal Sports will shut down after NBC decides to leave the venture. - YES!

13. Pivot Network will shut down their linear network and become an OTT network, partner with a conglomerate to market itself better. - NOPE!

14. Fusion will become a more powerful online news source but lose more clout on its linear service - Fusion will shift away from news and will be filled with hours of ABC News, Univision and ESPN documentary repeats, YouTube shows moved to television. YES!

15. Vice will launch a 24/7 news network in conjunction with A&E - YES!

16. HLN’s social media rebrand will not work and the network will dabble into reality television. They may also sub-license time to HuffPostLive - Almost right. HLN not giving time to HuffPo but will leverage CNN's upscripted shows 

17. CNN will venture into scripted programming about historical events - NOPE!

18. MSNBC will invest in different types of programming including documentaries, concerts, lifestyle shows, advocacy shows, and entertainment. Ronan Farrow’s show will be cancelled with Farrow becoming an online reporter for - Kind of. Ronan Farrow's show was cancelled. MSNBC is focusing more on news though

19. Fox News will stay the same, might add some Christian values programming - For the most part

20. Al Jazeera America will take more of a political stance, possibly add opinion hosts - NOPE!

21. A major media company invests in an online video satire news network to compete with Comedy Central - NOPE!

22. CNN enters the podcast game - YES!

23. Alisyn Camerota to “New Day,” Kate Bouldan to “SOTU” - 1/2 right. Kate B. moved to 11.

24. Jon Stewart joins CNN - NOPE!

25. Jimmy Kimmel loses ground to Stephen Colbert in the fall - NOPE! Colbert losing to Kimmel

26. Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show launch their own video portal - Kinda sorta. NBCU launched SeeSo, a comedy subscription network

27. Tonight Show repeats air on Esquire Network, Jimmy Kimmel also sells repeats to a cable network - NOPE!

28. GMA will continue to dominate Today Show - YES!

29. ABC launches an extra hour of “GMA.” - NOPE!

30. The NFL will opt out of contract with CBS -  NOPE!

31. The NFL will add two new wild card playoff games which will be sold separately between rightsholders. - NOPE!

32. NBC renews rights to Premier League soccer - NOPE!

33. ESPN and Fox acquire Big Ten rights together - NOPE!

34. WatchESPN and Fox Sports Go create joint portal - NOPE!

35. Howard Stern leaves Sirius to launch an online startup - NOPE!

36. Bill Simmons stays with ESPN - NOPE!

37. ESPN launches an ACC Network - NOPE!

38. World Cup will not change locations, Fox will be forced to sublicense games to ESPN - NOPE!

39. ABC Family will be re-branded - YES!

40. Twitter will launch its own video player - blocking out all of the other Twitter video clients. Sports rightsholders will sign deals with Twitter to launch feeds specifically for video highlights, GIFS, Vines of games. Rightsholders will also create segments specifically for Twitter. (The NFL did this with Twitter before launching NFL Now) Rightsholders will also claim copyright whenever highlights are posted without permission on Vine -- YES!

41. SportsCenter or Fox Sports Live will launch mini-editions of their shows for Snapchat - NOPE!

42. Media companies will repurpose content and produce new content exclusive for Snapchat and Twitter - YES!

43. Keith Olbermann will anchor an episode of SportsCenter - NOPE!

44. HBO’s subscription service will malfunction when it starts, will contribute to a decline in Netflix subscribers - NOPE!

45. AXS TV merges with another entertainment network - NOPE!

46. Ann Curry leaves NBC - YES!

47. American Idol goes on hiatus - YES! CANCELLED!  

48. Hillary Clinton will announce she is running for President on social media/YouTube - conduct her first interview with Univision/Fusion’s Jorge Ramos -- KINDA, she announced on YouTube but hasn't talked to Ramos

49. Advertisers will begin to produce multiple television programs for cable networks - NOPE!

50. Television advertising will continue to take a downturn as online advertising emerges - YES

51. Showtime and HBO partner up for Pacquiao/Mayweather PPV on May 2nd in Dallas, Texas- YES!

52. CBS talks to Viacom and Time Warner about merging, buys Lionsgate. Alibaba buys Sony. - NOPE!

53. Yahoo finds a way to air Katie Couric’s news programs on television through CNN, Fusion or HLN - NOPE! But she did make more appearances on both Today and GMA

54. CNN Center is used solely for CNN International and Turner Sports, all HLN and CNN programming move to New York - 1/2 right. HLN has a new studio in Atlanta and most of its live programming comes from ATL. CNN's morning and afternoon weekend shows also still come from ATL.

55. Amazon moves Twitch into a subscription format - NOPE!

56. Roc Nation gets into television and film production - NOPE!

57. Keith Olbermann finds a way to return to politics - NOPE!

58. Ryan Seacrest leaves NBCUniversal - NOPE!

59. Simon Cowell re-launches X-Factor OR launches another franchise online - NOPE!

60. Robin Meade and Nancy Grace will leave HLN - NOPE!

61. Nikki Finke and TMZ expand their coverage to Washington, D.C. - NOPE!

62. The National Enquirer/Radar Online owners increase video - YES! Radar Online teaming w/ Dr. Phil for a new TV show

63. Imus announces his retirement - NOPE!

64. Showtime will launch an OTT subscription service - YES!

65. Jim Rome will join The NFL Today - NOPE!

66. If CBS renews TNF, they will re-do the studio team - NOPE!

67. Facebook will expand digital video - YES!

68. Vessel will provide some extreme competition for YouTube - NOPE!

69. The Young Turks will get increased investment or possibly acquired - NOPE!

70. Major athletes partner together to start their own social network/app or media company - YES! Uninterrputed, Players Tribune, Unscripted Raw

71. ESPN will produce programming from a non-affiliated network - NOPE!

72. MSNBC will change their graphics package - YES!

73. Dan Patrick will be named as Alex Trebek's replacement on Jeopardy in 2017, Patrick leaves Sunday Night Football and is replaced by Josh Elliott - NOPE!

74. Sports Jeopardy will air on television via Game Show Network or a sports network - NOPE!

75. Mike Francesa will move to MSG TV - NOPE!

As I think of more predictions, they'll be posted here.

76. Stephen A. Smith will re-sign with ESPN - YES!

77. Jamie Horowitz will join Fox Sports 1 - YES!

78. Rex Ryan will be fired by the Jets, sign with ESPN as a Monday Night Football commentator - NOPE!

79. Yahoo will not merge or get acquired by AOL or anyone else, Marissa Mayer gets one last chance to prove herself - YES!

80. A live network centered around YouTube stars will launch - NOPE!

81. The networks above alongside newspapers, apps and digital website will all delve into creating more personalized newscasts on mobile devices. - YES! Reuters Live

82. 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. - Unknown

83. NBC News will launch a streaming network similar to CBSN which is based around the "Today" and "Meet the Press" franchises. - NOPE!

84. HuffPostLive will find it's way on television in 2015 - NOPE!

85. BuzzFeed will enter into a partnership with ABC News that benefits Fusion. They will also increase their live streaming videos.- NOPE! BuzzFeed/NBC partnered up

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Turner Sports' ELeague Could Spark Other New Ventures

While ESPN seems to be in a declining state at the moment, Turner Sports is adapting to television's ever-changing climate.

In the past couple of years Turner has decided not to renew NASCAR rights in order to continue their NBA deal, broadcasted the Final Four on Snapchat, expanded video content on Bleacher Report, invested in virtual reality/fantasy sports, and launched a new athlete POV brand with LeBron James. All of these moves have been done in order to combat television's biggest struggle at the moment - reaching a younger audience.

But their most interesting move yet is about to launch in the New Year. Bringing e-sports to the small screen. Digiday says:

Next summer, Turner and Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG will kick off the “ELeague,” a professional video gaming league. TBS will air weekly three-hour competitions during two 10-week seasons. It is pairing that coverage with 30 hours of digital content every week of daily competitions, behind-the-scenes coverage and profiles of the teams and players.
This will not be the first time Turner Sports has dabbled into videogames. The latest version of NBA 2K16 features Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O'Neal as in studio commentators. Since Turner already has a base of basketball fans who watch NBA games on TNT or watch NBA TV, you have to wonder whether NBA 2K will be one of ELeague's next feature games.

2K Sports already has an established online television presence through their NBA 2KTV YouTube channel (which the Inside the NBA crew has made appearances on) as well as Twitch. Turner would have a place to stream digital content based on an NBA 2K ELeague if it were to come to fruition.

Turner will be showing off their new league at next year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas with a live tournament which will be streamed on Twitch. CES is a technology convention where hundreds of companies release their new products or announce new ideas they're working on. Even though it is closed to the public, gaming and technology fans typically follow the ongoings of the event very closely through social media which makes it such a smart move for Turner to make its presence known at this annual event.

A sports business forum sponsored by Turner Sports will also be held at CES, the company's first foray into live events.
The inaugural Sports Business Forum, presented by Turner Sports – in partnership with NextVR, CTA and Foxrock Partners – will bring together leading executives and personalities to discuss innovations associated with the in-person viewing experience and general consumption of sports content.  - See more at: 
Live events have become a new trend among publications such as Re/Code and New York Times aiming to innovate the way readers consume news. With the kind of access Turner has into the worlds of basketball, baseball and beyond; it might be a smart idea to continue holding live events in the future because it is not an avenue ESPN, CBS, FOX or NBC seem to be pursuing.

Bleacher Report would be able to increase the live streaming content available on their site and they might even able to draw more high-brow consumers who would typically watch CNBC, read CNN Money and are interested in what sports executives and disruptors have to say about the future of sports. This would also help B/R draw a new kind of advertiser to their brand. Eventually, if streamed live events are successful and buzzworthy enough, maybe the formula moves to television.

As much as television companies embrace DVR and streaming nowadays, there's no doubt in my mind they would gravitate to a new kind of programming which provides fans with the ability to have a live interactive experience with the future leaders of sports whether they are executives or the athletes themselves.

It has not been announced whether Turner's upcoming live event will be streamed online. In past years, keynote speakers and major panels from CES have been streamed on the convention's website and YouTube channel known as CES TV. CES will most likely control any streaming happening from their event but I think it would be a really good idea for Turner to continue experimenting with live events on its own platforms in the future.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Rachel Nichols Moving to ESPN is a Smart Move

She took on Roger Goodell and Floyd Mayweather, anchored international sportscasts and covered championship matchups in basketball and baseball but for Rachel Nichols, its time to say so long to Turner.

While Nichols hasn't officially announced the move yet, it is being reported by ESPN book author Jim Miller and SI's Richard Deitsch that the sports television star is coming back home to the Worldwide Leader which has suffered immense loss in profits and manpower since her last stint at the network.

According to SI, Nichols will be covering issue oriented sports news. ESPN has been criticized in the past for marginalizing newsy shows such as Outside the Lines and E:60 while promoting cheap, hot take shows that "embrace debate." By signing Nichols, ESPN shows that they are still dedicated to hardcore sports journalism which hold the powerful accountable and isn't afraid to address stories in which politics and culture cross paths with sports.

As part of the deal, Nichols will host her own television show. This will give her the chance to showcase her interviewing chops and well as in-depth reporting by ESPN journalists that don't always get the attention they deserve. Nichols will also get the chance to do more reporting than she ever could at CNN.

While hiring Nichols was a forward-thinking endeavor by Jeff Zucker and the CNN staff, there just wasn't any place available on the network for her to grow. The impending 2016 election leaves no room for coverage of other topics such as sports unless major breaking news happens which is sporadic at best. Her show also didn't play well with the average CNN viewer and struggled to succeed in the ratings.

Nichols' agency, CAA, now has a new vehicle to showcase their clientele as well as ESPN personalities signed to their agency. Michelle Beadle, a CAA client, is in the last legs of her contract with ESPN and could play an essential role as a contributor to Nichols' new show through commentary, reporting or substitute anchoring when Nichols is reporting during other assignments.

ESPN has also been attempting to make sure viewers of some of their popular shows have a chance to experience those shows 24 hours a day online. First Take and SportsCenter normally host Periscope live streams before or after their respective shows while OTL has a 5 minute post show that airs on ESPN3. Expect Nichols' new show to have some sort of social media/digital presence unique to the actual telecast.

In this new age of athletes giving fans a peek into their lives through the Players Tribune and Uninterrupted, Nichols' new show and their digital outlets could be a place for CAA-signed athletes to provide a behind the scenes look at their craft.

Nichols also had a knack for interviewing entertainment stars to discuss sports so it should be no surprise if that same tradition carries onto Nichols' new show.

The biggest problem the show faces? When does it air?

ESPN's lineup is pretty full at this point.

No matter what happens though, it still seems like the safer bet for Nichols was to go to ESPN where the need for quality sports journalism is still intact.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What to Expect From The NFL on Yahoo and Future Implications

We now have a clearer picture of how Yahoo's broadcast of the first ever exclusively live streamed football game wi transpire. Fortune reports that coverage will begin at 8 a.m. with a pregame show focused on fantasy football.

The pregame show, Yahoo's Fantasy Football Live, is the self-proclaimed longest running fantasy football show online and will see its biggest stage ever on Sunday morning. The pregame show will feature a preview of the game, an interview with Bills legend Jim Kelly, stories from Yahoo News global anchor Katie Couric and the fantasy implications of Sunday's game. The actual game broadcast will be produced by CBS Sports with Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon and Jamie Erdahl calling the action from London.

Yahoo is also offering an alternative broadcast which is meant to serve as a more relaxed call of the game. Yahoo Sports' Shaun King, Larry Beil, Kirk Morrison, Jaguars insider Charlie Bernstein and Bills insider Chris Trapasso calling the game live from Yahoo's studios. The idea is similar to ESPN's yearly tradition of offering an alternative audio feeds to the College Football Playoff final. It is interesting to see Yahoo integrate personalities from other media outlets (Morrison works at Fox, Bernstein at Football Insiders and Trapasso at and CBS) onto their pregame show despite Yahoo's deep bench of NFL writers.  Some writers don't necessarily translate well into television commentators but I also believe Yahoo wanted experts of both teams on set rather than general personalities who haven't been following either team as closely. NFL Network's Dan Hellie, Heath Evans and Terrell Davis will also contribute to the pregame show live from NFL Network studios in Los Angeles.

The halftime show will be handled by CBS Sports with James Brown, Bart Scott, Tony Gonzalez, Boomer Esaison and Bill Cowher anchoring live from New York followed by a postgame show with the Fantasy Football Live team. There will also be a Spanish audio option available.

The telecast will done using CBS-style graphics without any branding from CBS. Yahoo has even created a mockup "NFL on Yahoo" logo which looks like a re-creation of CBS's own respective logo. CBS is being placed in charge of production because they already have the infrastructure available to do a football telecast unlike Yahoo. They are also the network which would normally broadcast from this game anyways because it is an AFC matchup. Although it has not been said publicly, I wouldn't be surprised if this was part of CBS's deal to renew Thursday Night Football. 

Part of the deal includes this clause:

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.

So far, this has included promoting NFL Network's programming on CBS (a live look in to NFL Gameday during NFL Today on Week 1, airing NFL Network's new show "Undrafted" in primetime, NFL Network commercials during sports programming and primetime). But it would also make sense if the NFL used some of CBS's games to experiment with their future. This is why besides having CBS produce all of the NFL Network's games and Yahoo's game, the NFL is letting CBS expand their streaming capabilities to test the future of live streaming online.

CBS has also played a minor role in promoting Sunday's Yahoo game. Besides running promotions about the game throughout their football telecasts last week, they also had their late night host James Corden come in studio to record funny segments for the NFL Network and NFL Now. One of the segments ran during the pregame show of Thursday Night Football two weeks ago while the others ran on NFL Network and NFL Now this week in order to promote the London flair which this game exemplifies. 

Unlike the Sunday and Monday football telecasts on Fox, NBC, ESPN and CBS; Yahoo's telecast will be co-produced with the NFL's media arm just as CBS's Thursday Night Football games are. This has helped Yahoo promote their game on various platforms which reach millions of football fans that Yahoo wouldn't normally have access to. NFL Media has also used their talent to promote the game on sports talk shows across the nation throughout the week. NFL Now even produced a multitude of short, sweet and funny online segments promoting the game which aired throughout the week on their site and raised awareness for the game.

Yahoo Sports sent their reporters to find different angles of the game and the teams playing which resulted in different in-depth news pieces and debates. The biggest investment Yahoo and the NFL made in promoting this game was teaming up with NBC's soccer duo, Men In Blazers. The soccer enthusiasts travelled to Buffalo and Jacksonville and got to know players, coachers and key staff members from both teams and interviewed them in a course of videos that were released daily over the past month. These men were chosen because of their connection to London and the online audience they reach.

Some soccer teams also got involved with promoting the game. Fulham FC, owned by the Jaguars' owner, released a Twitter video urging fans to #WatchWithTheWorld while the NFL's partner in Europe Tottenham Spurs teamed up with the Bills to release a Mortal Kombat parody of a Spurs player being talked by an Bills players. The Spurs typically feature NFL stars on their popular YouTube account to provide young fans of both sports an opportunity to connect with both brands. Expect more crossover videos to occur in the years to come now that the NFL and the Spurs are building a stadium together and will be attempting to gain a share of each entities fans around the world.

Some observers were surprised that Yahoo didn't take more risks with this telecast and didn't attempt to innovate the fan experience online versus on television, according to Mobile Marketer.

"In terms of significance, the NFL continues to be one of the most prestigious media plays in the traditional broadcast realm, delivering massive, highly engaged audiences around a core passion area," said Gian LaVecchia, managing partner of digital content marketing lead at MEC North America. "Although streaming will also exist on the NFL app, I think Yahoo still provides the unique value proposition of audience scale combined with an elegant video playing experience on both PC and mobile.

"In terms of the ad model, it is certainly replicating traditional formats but there appears to be a rational and valid reason, organic pauses in gameplay create downtime so it creates a natural aperture for brands to have a role," he said. "That said, I think there is certainly opportunity for greater innovation and creativity behind video ads. 

"Interactive games, deeper analysis, behind the scenes footage, multiple camera views etc., could help drive greater interactivity that could enhance the viewing experience."

Yahoo says they will be offering fans a chance to ask their fantasy experts questions through Twitter but it is a bit surprising to see that there will be no Twitter integration into the actual game telecast where fans could either follow tweets about the game or even tweet while watching without leaving Yahoo's page. 

Even if Yahoo didn't want to integrate with Twitter, they have a huge social media platform they own which is used by football fans which isn't seeing much integration other than the actual live stream also being available on its homepage - Tumblr. Yahoo should offer viewers a feed of what Tumblr's football fans are posting without having to leave the stream's page.

It is also surprising there is only one alternative feed being offered considering the vast amount of talent available to be used at both Yahoo and the NFL Network who could've hosted a feed with deeper analysis. An All-22 cam would've also been innovative. Even an option with just the natural sounds of the game or a fan cam or announcers who are British natives (maybe even the Men in Blazers themselves). 

The way in which the advertisers were integrated onto the broadcast seems so bland and traditional as well. I was expecting some branded content tailored to football fans but instead we're just getting the same old regular commercials you find on television already which no one pays attention to because they turn to Twitter.

I'm even surprised Yahoo Sports' GIF Maker isn't being integrated somehow.

I think many such as myself just expected a tech company to think a little more about changing the way fans have been watching football for decades through a web experience.

As CBS's Thursday Night Football games go up for bid next season, should we expect those games to go digital? No. Re/code's Peter Kafka puts it perfectly saying:

More likely is that the NFL sells off its Thursday games to a traditional TV network, and offers a few more low-stakes London games to digital outlets for the next couple of years. If Apple, or Google, or someone else with deep pockets and big ambitions wants to stream NFL games, they’ll probably end up waiting a few more years before it’s a reality.
If Yahoo's stream goes successfully, expect Yahoo to bid again against Google, Apple and Verizon for digital exclusive rights to next season's London games which the NFL will convince their network partners at Fox and CBS to give away. Also expect those digital brands to flirt with TNF in order to get the prices up for bids. CBS will end up winning out.

Next year will be an intriguing year for NFL rights among the digital outlets as Google continues to grow YouTube's subscription service, Verizon continues to grow its new app Go90 along with AOL and Huffington Post and Apple launches a TV service which is trying to draw users away from cable. 

Yahoo doesn't necessarily have a media strategy yet but has a knack for streaming live events even though they haven't become a huge revenue booster for the company. Will Yahoo be as incentived to carry NFL games as the other digital outlets when their own future is kind of blurry at the moment?

Photos: @alanspringer

Search Here!!

Blog Archive