Sports Media Digest- December 9, 2011

Here are a few sports media news items for today:

  • The NFL Network announced that the average audience for last night Browns/Steelers Thursday Night Football match-up was 6.6 million viewers, the highest rated program n cable and 22% higher than last year’s week 14 game between the Colts and Titans.  Through five games Thursday Night Football has averaged 7 million viewers, up 23 percent from 2010.
  • HBO is putting the finishing touches on 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic.  The first of the four episode series debuts next Wednesday night, December 14th at 10:00p.m. ET.
  • ESPN has announced that Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author Don Van Natta Jr. has joined the network as an investigative Senior Writer for ESPN Digital and Print Media.  Van Natta begins in his new role on January 1st.

Lead-Up to NHL Winter Classic 24/7 Program Launches This Week on HBO

HBO is producing a 12 minute preview to its 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road To The NHL Winter Classic.  The preview will premiere on HBO this Friday, November 25th at 9:15p.m. ET

The preview program will re-air at the following days and times:

HBO replay schedule:
All times are ET/PT.

Nov. 25 (9:15 p.m.)
Nov. 26 (12:00 p.m.)
Nov. 29 (12:30 p.m. and 4:05 a.m.)
Dec. 2 (9:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.)
Dec. 4 (9:00 a.m.)
Dec. 6 (8:15 p.m.)
Dec. 9 (2:30 p.m.)
Dec. 12 (5:15 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.)
Dec. 14 (7:00 p.m.)

HBO replay schedule:
All times are ET/PT.

Nov. 25 (5:40 a.m.)
Dec. 8 (1:15 p.m. and 8:45 p.m.)
Dec. 11 (8:15 a.m.)
Dec. 15 (6:15 a.m. and 9:45 p.m.)

24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road To The NHL Winter Classic debuts on HBO December 14th at 10:00p.m. ET/PT.

NHL Officially Announces Winter Classic, HBO to Produce Another 24/7 Road Series

The NHL announced today that the 2012 Winter Classic will be held January 2, 2012 from Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia as the Flyers play host to the New York Rangers.  The event will be carried live at 1:00p.m. ET on NBC in the US and on CBC and RDS in Canada.

“NBC Sports is proud to have partnered with the NHL to grow the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic into a New Year’s tradition and one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year,” said Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group in a press release. “In addition to the intense rivalry between the Rangers and Flyers that will be played outdoors in one the nation’s most rabid sports cities, this year’s game has special meaning to us since the stature of this event makes it the perfect platform to launch the new NBC Sports Network that day.”

“CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada is excited to once again be the Canadian broadcast home of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic,” said Julie Bristow, Executive Director, Studio and Unscripted Programming, CBC Television. “This annual outdoor game has become a New Year’s tradition and a must-watch game for Canadian hockey fans, and we can’t wait to bring the nation this year’s Classic from Philadelphia.”

As an offshoot of the game, HBO will once again be producing its 24/7 Flyers/Rangers:  Road To The NHL Winter Classic series, which will take a behind-the-scenes look at the two clubs as they prepare for what is now a New Year’s hockey tradition.   The four episode reality series will premiere on HBO December 14th at 10:00p.m. ET.

NBC Sports Group Takes Home Most Sports Emmys

NBC Sports Group received nine Emmys, the most of any network,  at the 32nd annual Sports Emmy Awards presentation last night in New York.

NBC’s coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics gave the network five of its nine Emmys.  For the third year the network took home the statue for Outstanding Live Sports Series for its production of Sunday Night Football.

Three NBC personalities also took home awards:  Bob Costas for Outstanding Sports Personality-Studio Host.  Cris Collinsworth received his third consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality-Sports Event Analyst.  Mike Emrick took home his first Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality-Play-by-Play.

HBO took home seven Emmys including the award for Best Documentary for its production of Lombardi. Three Emmys for the network came for its work on last season’s Hard Knocks series featuring the New York Jets.  HBO won for best Journalism for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and editing awards for both 24/7 Penguins/Capitols: Road to the NHL Winter Classic and 24/7 Jimmie Johnson: Race to Daytona.

ESPN also finished with seven Emmys even though some of its programming aired on ABC.  Three of the awards were for its production of the 2010 2010 FIFA World Cup.  Kirk Herbstreit won the award for Outstanding Studio Analyst while College Gameday took how the Emmy for Outstanding Studio Show/Weekly.

CBS took home six Emmys including Outstanding Playoff Coverage the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.  They also took home three awards for their work on Super Bowl XLIV.

Fox took home three awards while the MLB Network garnered two.

SMJ Inbox- March 28, 2011

Let’s take a peak, shall we, into what has come into the Sports Media Journal Inbox…

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Ratings Continue to Soar- CBS and Turner have announced that ratings for this year’s joint coverage of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament are the highest in the last 6 years.  To date, the average rating of the entire tournament on the four networks is 6.0, up 11 percent from CBS’ coverage in 2010.

March Madness on Demand Seeing Maddening Numbers- Over the first two weeks of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, there were 41.6 million view visits to the March Madness on Demand website run by CBS, Turner Sports, and the NCAA.  That number is up an astonishing 60% in total visits.

Fox Sports Announces a College Game of the Week on FX Beginning this Fall- Fox has announced that it will produce a college football game of the week that will appear on FX beginning September 3rd.  The 13 game schedule will feature match-ups involving teams in the Big 12, Pac-12, and Conference USA.

ESPN to Launch Corporate Blog Site- Who needs SMJ to talk about ESPN when the WWL can do it itself?  ESPN has announced that it will launch a corporate blog site,, beginning Wednesday, March 30th.  The blog will be update daily and will be managed by the organization’s Communications Department.  The site will provide readers with behind-the-scenes access as to what is happening at ESPN and will be run primarily by Sheldon Spencer, a 25-year sports jounralism veteran with stints at  National Sports Daily, the Seattle Post-Intellegencer, and San Jose Mercury News.

“The goal for is to provide fans a window into ESPN,” said Mike Soltys, ESPN vice president, communications, U.S. networks.

ESPN’s Kenny Mayne has recorded a video on the launch of the blog.  View it here:

HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel Returns Wednesday- The next edition of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel will air on HBO this Wednesday night beginning at 10:00pm ET.  The show will depart from its traditional format to focus on stories dedicated to the state of college sports in America.


SMJ Inbox- March 9, 2011

We’ve made it to Wednesday…Here are some items of note that we’ve received in the Sports Media Journal inbox…

ESPN Names Adrian Healey as Main Voice for MLS Telecasts- The 2011 Major League Soccer season begins next week and ESPN has named Adrian Healey as its lead play-by-play voice for network telecasts.  Healey, who has been with the WWL since 2003 working international soccer telecasts, will be joined by John Harkes in the booth.  ESPN’s premier MLS telecast will be Tuesday, March 15th at 9:30pm on ESPN.


CBS College Sports Launches NCAA Conference Basketball Tourney Coverage- CBS College Sports kicks off its coverage of NCAA college basketball conference tournament action beginning tomorrow.  The network will focus on the Atlantic 10, Conference USA, and Mountain West Championships.  Here is the schedule:

Thursday, March 10
C-USA Quarterfinal #1, 1:00-3:00 PM Roger Twibell/Wally Szczerbiak,UAB vs. ECC-USA
Quarterfinal #2, 3:30-5:30 PM Twibell/Szczerbiak,Memphis vs. USF/Tulane
MWC Quarterfinal #2,  5:30-7:30 PM (Mtn. simulcast), Colorado State vs. New Mexico
C-USA Quarterfinal #3, 7:30-9:30 PM Dave Ryan/Pete Gillen, UTEP vs. Marshall/Houston
C-USA Quarterfinal #4, 10:00 PM-12:00 AM Ryan/Gillen, Tulsa vs. SMU/Rice
MWC Quarterfinal #4,12:00 Midnight-1:30 AM (Mtn. simulcast),UNLV vs. Air Force (will join in progress after conclusion of C-USA Quarterfinal #4)

Friday, March 11
C-USA Women’s Semifinal #1 11:00 AM-1:00 PM Brent Stover/Tammy Blackburn
C-USA Women’s Semifinal #2 1:30-3:30 PM Stover/Blackburn
C-USA Semifinal #1 4:00-6:00 PM Roger Twibell/Wally Szczerbiak
C-USA Semifinal #2 6:30-8:30 PM Dave Ryan/Pete Gillen
MWC Semifinal #1 9:00-11:00 PM Ted Robinson/Steve Lappas
MWC Semifinal #2 11:30 PM-1:30 AM Robinson /Lappas

Saturday, March 12
A-10 Semifinal #1 1:00-3:00 PM Jason Knapp/Steve Wolf
A-10 Semifinal #2 3:30-5:30 PM Knapp/Vince Curran
Patriot League Women’s Championship – 6:00-8:00 PM Bob Socci/Krista Blunk
C-USA Women’s Championship – 8:00-10:00 PM Stover/Blackburn

Tennis Channel Preps for Next Two Big Tour Stops- The Tennis Channel is getting set to provide over 130 hours of coverage of the upcoming BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.  Here is the schedule over the next three weeks:

Tennis Channel’s Live 2011 BNP Paribas Open Schedule
(Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)

Saturday, March 12, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Second-Round
Sunday, March 13, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Second-Round, Third-Round
Monday, March 14, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Third-Round
Tuesday, March 15, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Third-Round, Round of 16
Wednesday, March 16, 2 p.m.-2 a.m. Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals
Thursday, March 17, 2 p.m.-8 p.m.; 10 p.m.-midnight Men’s and Women’s Quarterfinals
Friday, March 18, 2 p.m.-4 p.m.; 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals
Saturday, March 19, 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. Men’s Doubles Finals

Tennis Channel will also offer encore replays of the men’s and women’s singles semifinals and finals:
Saturday, March 19 – 2 a.m.-4 a.m.; 8 a.m.-10 a.m. (ET): women’s singles semifinals
Sunday, March 20 – 12 a.m.-4 a.m. (ET): men’s singles semifinals
Monday, March 21 – 12 a.m.-4 a.m. (ET): men’s and women’s singles finals

Tennis Channel’s Live 2011 Sony Ericsson Open Schedule
(Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)

Saturday, March 26, 11 a.m.-midnight Second-Round, Third-Round
Sunday, March 27, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Third Round
Monday, March 28, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Third-Round, Round of 16
Tuesday, March 29, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Round of 16, Women’s Quarterfinals
Thursday, March 31, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Men’s Quarterfinals

Tennis Channel will also offer encore replays of the men’s and women’s singles semifinals:
Friday, April 1 – 1 a.m.-3 a.m.; 9 a.m.-11 a.m. (ET): women’s singles semifinals
Friday, April 1 – 11 p.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday, April 2 – 6:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. (ET): men’s singles semifinals

NBC Sports Group Set For This Weekend’s PGA Stop At Doral- The NBC Sports Group has complete coverage of this weekend’s WGC-Cadillac Classic at Doral.  The Top 50 golfers in the world will be on display, including the pairing of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, & Graeme McDowell for the first two rounds.  The Golf Channel will handle tourney coverage this Thursday and Friday from 2pm-6pm as well as Saturday from 12pm-2pm and Sunday from 1pm-3pm.  NBC has coverage Saturday from 2pm-6pm and Sunday from 3pm-7pm.

HBO Has Middleweight Doubleheader on Saturday- HBO will have Jim Lampley, Max Kellerman, and Roy Jones, Jr. ringside for this weekend’s middleweight twin bill from the MGM Grand Arena at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.  In the opener Andy Lee (24-1, 18 KOs) takes on undefeated Craig McEwan (19-0, 10 KOs).  The main event features Sergio Martinez (46-2-2, 25 KOs) and undefeated Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-0, 34 KOs).  Coverage begins at 10:30pm ET.

SMJ Inbox- July 26, 2010

I’d like to start a new feature here at SMJ.

Many sports media bloggers post press releases from various media entities.  And no one does it better than my friend and Sports Media Weekly Podcast Co-Host Ken Fang over at Fang’s Bites.

They all do a great service.  But instead of re-posting the entire press releases, I’m going to try to boil them down in capsulized form in one daily post.  The challenge for me will be to do this on a consistent basis.

Here are today’s sports media news coming into the SMJ Inbox:

– ESPN has announced that Brad Nessler and Trent Dilfer will be handing play-by-play and analyst duties for game two of the network’s Monday Night Football doubleheader on September 13th.  The duo replaces Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic who handled those duties the last three seasons.

– ESPN has announced that NFL reporters Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter will be making appearances at all 32 NFL training camps over 19 days for NFL Live, SportsCenter, Monday Night Countdown, and other ESPN platforms.
Find out what else ESPN has planned for the upcoming week, including X-Games coverage and NASCAR Programming.

– HBO has announced that it will be airing Countdown to Hard Knocks, Training Camp with the NY Jets, a 12 minute preview of he full program, beginning on July 28th at 11pm.

– The NFL Network has announced its entire 65 game pre-season schedule.
Our friends at Sports Business Journal has its weekly sample of sports media stories, including baseball ratings of regional sports networks, how low ratings at the British Open are impacting ESPN’s decision to keep the tournament on cable, and how social media is helping fans follow their favorite teams.

That’s it for today.  Let me know what you think of this new feature.

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel- August 2009 Preview

The next installment of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel airs Tuesday night at 10:00PM ET on HBO. Here is a preview of this episode…

Nick Schuyler’s Story

Bernard Goldberg sits down for a moving interview with Nick Schuyler.  This past February Schuyler, a former University of Southern Florida football player, was the lone survivor after spending over 40 hours in the Gulf of Mexico following a boating accident during a fishing trip.  The ordeal claimed the lives of three of Schuyler’s friends; former NFL players Marquis Cooper and Corey Smith, and former teammate Will Bleakley.

Schuyler relives the events of that fateful trip, and how he continues to deal with the death of the friends he could not save.

Home Base

Segment two chronicles the story of a homeless man who revitalized little league baseball in a Los Angeles suburb.  John Frankel talks with Tim Lewis, a 52 year-old recovering addict who lives in a van near the little league field that made the City of Compton, CA famous, turning out future Major Leaguers such as Reggie Smith, Lonnie Smith, and Roy White.

Frankel describes how the Compton little league lost its charter in the late 1970’s when the city became the victim of inner city blight.  Lewis fell victim to the ways of the decline, becoming addicted to drugs while losing his job and his relationships with his family.

But last year Lewis realized that the future of the children in Compton’s inner city could gain a boost by the resurgence of little league baseball.  He took it upon himself to restore the city’s little league charter and create a five team league which teaches children more than just the skills of baseball.  It also shows them the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity.

Dedication Personified

Frank Deford has an update on the story of Ryan Belflower, a Fresno, CA young man who used sports as an outlet to overcoming his developmental deficiencies.

The piece begins with Belflower’s rise as manager of his high school basketball team to the day his senior year when he entered the final game of the season and made a late three pointer.

The update follows Belflower to Fresno State University, where he works in the sports department helping student athletes with their training regimens.

The success on the court in high school also sparked Belflower off it, to where now he serves as a speaker against youth bullying.

Hard Knocks and reality

Watching the first episode of this year’s GooseHard Knocks — which, like just about everything HBO does, was extremely well-produced — I was reminded of conversations I had with The Sun‘s Ravens reporters about the initial year of the series, set at Ravens training camp. They said many Ravens very much played to the cameras, acting in ways that could be quite different from their normal demeanors. In particular, one veteran — who usually was at best indifferent and otherwise disdainful when it came to rookies — acted far more concerned about a first-year player than he did in previous camps without HBO’s presence.

That’s not saying any of the Bengals are “acting.” But I’m just sayin’.

Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel- July 2009 Preview

The next edition of Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel is set for tonight at 1opm ET on HBO.  We were once again given a preview copy of tonight’s segments. I’m not sure if it was intentional or not, but all four segments deal with individuals overcoming an illness or other afflictions.

Here’s a breakdown of the show: