Sports Media Digest- March 22, 2012

ESPN to Produce a Special Prime Time Tebow-Themed Edition of First Take ESPN is hopping on the Tim Tebow to New Yorks Jets bandwagon by producing a special prime time edition of First Take that will air tomorrow night.  Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith will co-host First Take- #TebowTakesManhattan beginning at 7:00p.m. ET.  The duo will discuss Tebow’s possible with the Jets “both sensible and senseless”.

News on Manning, Tebow, Saints Drive Viewers to NFL Media Properties-  The strong news week in the NFL…the signing of Peyton Manning in Denver, the trading of Tim Tebow to the Jets, and the stiff suspensions for members of the Saints resulted in strong numbers for the NFL Network and NFL.com. Viewership on the NFL Network on Monday-Tuesday jumped 235 percent over the comparable Mon-Tues. last March, including a 213 percent increase in primetime viewership with an average of 216,000 viewers.  Wednesday’s overnight ratings spiked 333 percent over last year. NFL.com, NFL Mobile Only From Verizon and other NFL mobile products — posted a 502 percent increase in page views compared to the comparable Mon.-Wed time period last March.

MLB Network to Air Opening Japan Series-  The MLB Network will be providing coverage as the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland A’s open up the 2012 regular season in Japan.  The opening two-game series will air on tape delay, with the first game on Wednesday, March 28 at 9:00 a.m. ET and the second game on Thursday, March 29 at 9:00 a.m. ET.  MLB Network will televise ROOT Sports’ feed of both games, which will be available on MLB Network in the Athletics’ home television territory.  The games will be blacked out on MLB Network in the Mariners’ home television territory.

NBA Twin Bills for ESPN Friday and Sunday-  ESPN will have NBA double header action tomorrow and Sunday.  It all kicks-off at 8:00p.m. tomoor night as Mike Breen and Hubie Brown call the Celtics at 76’ers.  Tomorrow’s nightcap features the Jazz and Nuggets at 10:30p.m. ET with  Mark Jones and Chris Mullin calling the game.  Sunday’s action begins at 8:00p.m. as Miami Heat visit the Oklahoma City Thunder.  Mike Tirico, Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Lisa Salters will be on hand.  The finale at 10:30p.m. will pit the Grizzlies at the Lakers.  Dan Shulman, Chris Mullin and Heather Cox will provide commentary.

NASCAR This Weekend on Fox-  Fox Sports is again getting set for the next stop on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule with production of the Fontana for Auto Club 400 beginning this Sunday at 2:30p.m.  Mike Joy will call the action with Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReyolds.  Chris Myers will be joined by Darrell and Michael Waltrip for pre-race analysis.

MLS On ESPN This Sunday-  ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3 will have coverage of Major League Soccer this Sunday as the New York Red Bulls host the Colorado Rapids. Kick-off is at 4:00 p.m. ET with  Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman on the call.  Alexi Lalas will be on-site for studio analysis, joining Healey and Twellman at halftime.

NBC Sports Group Hires New SVP of Talent-  The NBC Sports Group has promoted Princell Hair to serve as Senior Vice President, News and Talent, for the NBC Sports Group.  Hair will oversee all talent recruitment, negotiation and development for the NBC Sports Group, including NBC Sports, NBC Sports Network, Golf Channel, and the 11 Comcast Regional Sports Networks, while also consulting with NBC Sports Digital. In addition, Hair will oversee the NBC Sports Group’s newsgathering operations and news strategy. Prior to his pormotion Hair was the Senior Vice President of New Operations for the Comcast Sports Group.

NBC Sports Group/Universal Sports