Bill Simmons

Simmons, Rose Join NBA Countdown

ESPN announced today two new analysts to its NBA Countdown program.

Grantland.com editor-in-chief Bill Simmons and ESPN analyst Jalen Rose will join Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Michael Wilbon on the revamped show.

The new cast will debut on Friday. November 2nd at 7:00p.m. ET when ESPN begins its coverage of the NBA regular season.

“The unique, diverse perspectives of our new commentator team fit perfectly with the show’s free-flowing format.” said Mark Gross, ESPN Senior Vice President and Executive Producer.  “Bill brings a deep knowledge of the league past and present, an entertaining style and an ability to articulate his inventive thoughts from a fan’s point of view. Jalen’s lengthy playing experience and his strong, informed opinions will give fans great insight into how and why things happen on the court. They join a team that includes one of the greatest players of all time and one of our most versatile and engaging commentators.”

Former cast member John Barry will now be one of the network’s game analysts while Chris Broussard will continue to serve as ESPN NBA Insider for SportsCenter and other news and information programming.

Sports Media Digest- March 7, 2012

ESPN Reports Most Watched College Men’s Hoops Season Ever-  ESPN reports that the 2011-2012 men’s college basketball season was the most watched ever.  After 130 regular-season games in 2011-12, ESPN posted a 1.1 rating, up 10 percent from last season’s 1.0.  Also, ESPN ended the season averaging 1,061,000 households for a one percent increase from 2010-11.  College hoops on ESPN2 was also up by 33%.  Online viewing of college basketball on ESPN3 and WatchESPN was up 56% over the 2010-2011 season.

Strong Viewership for Combine on NFL Network-  The NFL Network today announced that for the second year in a row, over 6.5 million viewers combined tuned in for coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine.  2012 saw 6.51 million viewers tune in while 6.55 million were connected in 2011.  Sunday’s session with quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers was the most watched single day ever for the combine, with 450,000 viewers tuning in.  Online viewership of the combine across multiple platforms was up 37% over last year.

Hockey Action on NBC Sports-  NBC Sports has a wide schedule of hockey coverage, both college and the NHL, over the next week. Coverage begins this Friday as UMASS is at #1 Boston College (John Walton and Ken Hodge on the call) beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).  On Sunday at 12:30p.m. ET NBC has coverage of the Bruins at the Penguins (Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire ).  That night at 8:00p.m. ET the Kings travel to the Blackhawks (Dave Strader and Brian Engblom) on NBCSN.  Monday at 9:00p.m. ET NBCSN has the Ducks at the Avalanche (John Ahlers and McGuire).  Tuesday has the Hurricanes at the Rangers (Strader and Engblom) at 7:30p.m. ET on NBCSN while that same network will carry the Avalanche at Sabres (Emrick, Olczyk, McGuire) Wednesday at 7:30p.m. ET.

Simmons Takes The B.S. Podcast to TV-  ESPN announced today that Grantland Editor in Chief Bill Simmons will be producing an episode of his B.S. Podcast for television, with guest Magic Johnson.  The B.S. Report Special: Magic Johnson  will air on Sunday, March 11th at 10:30 p.m. ET, immediately following the 9:00 p.m. premiere of The Announcement, an ESPN Films and NBA Entertainment production looking back at Johnson’s announcement of his HIV infection.

CBS Sports Network Expands Coverage of Lacrosse-  The CBS Sports Network today announced it will boost its coverage of lacrosse with the addition of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) and Major League Lacrosse (MLL), as well as an extensive slate of college games.  The network will air 39 games this season beginning on March 30th.  Bremt Stover will handle play-by with Casey and Mike Powell as analysts.

NBC Sports Moving Eight Hours of Live Tour de France Coverage from NBCSN to NBC-  The NBC Sports Group has announced that eight hours of live coverage of the Tour de France on July 7th and 8th will move from the NBC Sports Network to NBC.  Coverage of those two mountain stages will begin each day at 8:00a.m. ET.  This marks the first time that the Tour de France will be broadcast live on network television.  NBC will have tape delayed coverage of the Tour on July 1st and July 22nd.

Soccer Journalist Steve Davis Joins NBC Sports Digital-  The NBC Sports Group today announced that respected soccer journalist Steve Davis will be joining the NBC Sports Digital team and be the featured writer for ProSoccerTalk on NBCSports.com, which officially launched today. Davis will contribute regular posts and provide video reports to NBCSports.com, and is expected to be an occasional guest onNBC SportsTalk, the daily hour-long news and information show the new NBC Sports Network.

Robles Joins ESPN and NCAA Wrestling Analyst-  ESPN today announced that it has hired three-time All-American and the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Champion Anthony Robles to serve as a wrestling analyst.  ESPN3 and ESPNU will provide coverage of the NCAA Wrestling Championships beginning March 15th.

Sports Media Digest- March 1, 2012

James Brown Joins CBS News as Special Coorespondent-  CBS announced today that James Brown has been named a Special Coorespondent for CBS News.  Brown begins his expanded dutings this Saturday on CBS This Morning Saturday and will contribute original reported pieces and will appear on various CBS News broadcasts.  Brwon will continue in his role as host of The NFL Today pre-game show.

Keller Joins ESPN as Soccer Analyst-  ESPN today announced that former U.S. National goalkeeper Kasey Keller is joining the network as a soccer analyst. Keller will make his debut March 12th and will primarily serve as a studio analyst for select MLS and U.S. Men’s National Team matches, and be part of ESPN’s presentation of the UEFA European Football Championship™ 2012 from June 8 – July 1.

President Obama Joins Simmons for B.S. Report–  ESPN has announced that President Barak Obama is the next guest on Bill Simmons’ B.S. Report podcast on Grantland.  The President spent 25 minutes with Simmons.  You can see clips and download the podcast here.

College, NHL Hockey Action This On NBC-  NBC Sports will carry both college and NHL hockey through the middle of next week.  College hockey takes center stage tomorrow night as #9 Denver takes on Nebraska-Omaha at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (NBCSN).  Two NHL games take place Sunday with Boston at New York Rangers at 12:30 p.m.ET on NBC then Philadelphia at Washington at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Monday has Buffalo at Winnipeg at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.   Tuesday brings Minnesota at Colorado at 9:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN while Toronto will be at Pittsburgh beginnint at 7:30 p.m. ET also on NBCSN.

 2012 NBA TV Mid-Season Report Tonight on NBA TV- NBA TV will produce its 2012 Mid-Season Report tonight at 6:00p.m. ET.  David Aldridge will host the program along with analyst Steve Smith and NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner in studio.  Guest analysts include Ken Berger from CBSSports.com and Howard Beck from the New York Times.

NBC Sports and the Golf Channel Provide Innovative View of Honda Classic-  This week’s PGA Tour stop, the Honda Classic, will air on the Golf Channel and NBC.  NBC wil have traditional coverage of the tournament Saturday and Sunday at 3:00p.m. ET.  The Golf Channel will be simultaneously live, but be providing coverage of only the 15th, 16th, and 17th holes at the PGA National Resort Championship Course dubbed “The Bear Trap” after designer Jack Nicklaus. On-air commentators will for the Golf Channel will include Gary Williams calling the action at the 15th and 17th holes, Jerry Foltz at 16

Path to the Draft Returns to NFL Network-  The sixth season of the NFL Network’s pre-draft series Path to the Draft will debut on Monday, March 5th, at 6:00p.m.ET.  The program will run Monday through Friday until the NFL Draft on April 26th.   Paul Burmeister and Fran Charles will serve as hosts.  Mike Mayock will be the lead analyst, providing news reports, one-on-one interviews, in-studio guests, player rankings and profile features, exclusive mock drafts and analysis on if a prospect’s stock is rising or falling.

NBC Sports to Air America’s Cup Races in 2013-  The NBC Sports Group has announced that it will televise the 34th America’s Cup races in September 2013.  The first two days of live racing from San Francisco will be broadcast over-the-air across the United States on September 7-8, 2013 on NBC, with the remaining races airing on NBC Sports Network.

Gymnastics on NBC and Universal Sports this Weekend- NBC Sports and Universal Sports Network will provide live, exclusive coverage of the year’s first international gymnastics competition, the 2012 AT&T American Cup. Coverage begins this Saturday on Universal Sports Network at 11:30 a.m. ET and continuing on NBC at 1:00 p.m. ET.  Universal will also have coverage of the Nastia Liukin Cup beginning Friday at 7:30p.m. ET

Cast of Journalism Stars Tapped to Write for Simmons’ Grantland

The new ESPN-driven website for Bill Simmons has a name, and a staff to go along with it.

The new site, which has been in the works by Simmons and the WWL for quite some time, will be called Grantland, named after legendary sportswriter Grantland Rice.

Simmons will be the Editor-in-Chief, overseeing a staff of editors and writers in what is being billed as a sports and pop culture website.  Former GQ and Entertainment Weekly Senior Editor Dan Fierman will be the lead editor on the site.

Among the consulting editors will be Chuck Klosterman, Malcom Gladwell, and Dave Eggers.  Here are some of the feature writers..

  • Michael Weinreb, author of the much-acclaimed books Bigger Than the Game and Game of Kings, as well as a feature writer for ESPN.com’s E-Ticket and GQ;
  • Katie Baker, a contributor to the New York Times Magazine, Deadspin, Gawker, and Mediaite.com, who worked for Goldman Sachs for six years before deciding to write full-time;
  • Molly Lambert, a popular blogger and most recently the managing editor of This Recording;
  • Chris Ryan, who has written about soccer for GQThe Village Voice, and the Wall Street Journal;
  • Robert Mays III, an award-winning feature writer, who most recently worked at the Boston Globe;
  • Bill Barnwell, managing editor of Football Outsider and a statistical consultant for Major League Baseball, who has written for The New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and ESPN The Magazine.
  • Patrice Evans, creator of The Assimilated Negro (TAN) blog and author of the forthcoming book Negropedia. He has contributed to The New York Times, Gawker, EbonyJet.com and other major outlets.

Simmons from the ESPN press release:

“I grew up loving The NationalSpy Magazine and Inside Sports,” said Simmons, who authored the No. 1 New York Times bestseller, The Book of Basketball, and was a co-creator of ESPN’s Peabody Award winning series 30 for 30. “Those three publications meant an inordinate amount to me, and I’m hoping that people will feel the same about this site.

“As we planned it over the last 18 months, my No. 1 goal was to figure out how to capture the spirit and creativity of 30 for 30 and transfer it to a website. We wanted original voices, and we found a bunch of them already. We’re going to take chances, come up with a few premises and ideas that you haven’t seen before, and be consistently entertaining day after day. You will never know what to expect when you come to the site – in a good way. That’s our ultimate goal.”

I have always been neutral about Simmons’ work, while others have strong opinions.  Being and old school journalist I love the name and await the site’s launch.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast #26- Keith McSpurren, CoverItLive

Sports Media WeeklyToday marks the half-year anniversary of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast with our 26th edition.

Ken Fang at Fang’s Bites and I look at the announcer line-up for CBS’ coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, changes afoot at ESPN Radio, and the media feud between ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons and former WWL’er and current NBC/MSNBC personality Keith Olbermann.

Our guest this week is Keith McSpurren, President of CoverItLive. CoverItLive is arguably the leader in providing websites with live blogging capability.  Keith talks about how he came up with the product and how media companies as small as SMJ and as large as ESPN use it.

Here is a piece I wrote on CoverItLive two and a half years ago.

The Access Conundrum: When is More Less?

Bill Simmons has been the archetype of the modern sports columnist. Incredibly popular. Disseminated online. Widely, widely read but with almost zero “real” access, which makes him the perfect example for discussing how our sports media world today affords us more and more access to less and less of our athlete’s lives.

Bill’s column for ESPN The Magazine, released today, touches on exactly that subject.

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