James Andrew Miller

Sports Media Weekly No. 162- Matt Yoder, Awful Announcing & James Andrew Miller, Author

After a week away Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I co-host a split version of Sports Media Weekly.

I take the reigns at the beginning of the show for our news segment which this week features Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing.

Matt and I preview the upcoming NFL season and the glut of studio programs across multiple sports networks.

We look back at the debut of Olbermann on ESPN2 and how Keith is making a compelling effort to divert viewers from the traditional late-night sports highlight shows.

We move onto the practice of ESPN and others to either fabricate stories to boost viewership, or in the case of Mark May and Skip Bayless, make-up facts about the Notre Dame/Michigan rivalry that do not exist.

Matt and I wrap up the segment looking at the New York sports media’s disdain for Jets coach Rex Ryan and the slow ratings start for Fox Sports 1

Ken takes over the second half of the show by interviewing author James Andrew Miller.  The pair discuss the movements at ESPN, including the behind-the-scenes re-acquisition of Olbermann.

Sports Media Weekly No. 136- Mike McCarthy, Sports Biz USA and James Andrew Miller, Author

It’s Super Bowl week and we delve into all the hype on this week’s Sports Media Weekly.

In our “Third Man In” segment Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are joined by Mike McCarthy, sports business and media reporter for his own Sports Biz USA as well as contributor to the NFL, Newsday, and Advertising Age.

We spend a good portion of our segment talking about the media coverage at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, including the madness around Media Day and what the media did, or did not cover during the week.  We also give our predictions on how the ratings may be for CBS this Sunday.

We then shift into our continuing discussion on the Manti Te’O story, specifically how some seemed to be equally interested in the story itself and how and/why ESPN did not get the story first.  It’s a fascinating discussion as to how ESPN is perceived in the realm of sports journalism.

The Te’O story dovetails well as we talk with our second guest, James Andrew Millier, author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN.  Miller co-authored a piece with Richard Sandomir of the New York Times looking at how ESPN handled the Te’O story.  He says ESPN had enough information to run the piece, but wanted an on-camera interview with Te’O before running the story.  Jim provides some compelling insight into how ESPN worked this story.

We also talk to Jim about the comings and goings of talent at ESPN; the appearance of Chris Berman on Dan Patrick’s radio show tomorrow; and the progress of the Those Guys Have All the Fun movie.

Top Sports Media News Items of 2011

It’s tradition that news organizations look at the top stories of the year as December winds down.  Why should we be any different?  Here are what we consider the top sports media news stories for 2011:

Despite Lockout, NFL Thrives: The National Football League spent the first half of 2011 mired in a labor dispute which resulted in the owners locking out the players.  The impassed ended in July and the 2011 season was salvaged.  The work stoppage did nothing to quell the support for the NFL.  NFL games continue to be some of the highest rated programs each week, and the league re-newed television broadcast agreements with ESPN, NBC, CBS, and Fox which will bring in nearly $5 billion annual until 2022.  The only television deal yet to be finalized is one which may extend a Thursday night match-up each week of the season.

NBC Retains Rights to the Olympics Through 2020:  NBC will continue its run as the U.S. network of the Olympic Games after having secured the broadcast rights to the Summer and Winter Games through 2020.  NBC, ESPN, and Fox all put in bids to telecast the games, but the International Olympic Committee decided that its relationship with NBC, along with its $4.38 billion dollar bid, was worthy of the retention.

ESPN Loses the Rights to the World Cup to Fox: Despite losing the Olympics to NBC, it was widely assumed that ESPN would be able to retain its U.S. broadcast rights to the World Cup.  But when the rights to the men’s and women’s torunaments came up for bid this summer, ESPN was outbid by Fox, which will pay $400 for all evets beginning in 2015.  Telemundo was awarded the Spanish-language rights, at a cost of $600 million.  ESPN still has the rights to the men’s World Cup in 2014.

Changes at the Top of Network Sports Divisions: Some big news was made off-the-air as NBC and ESPN announced changes at the top of their sports organizational structures.  Long time NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol resigned in May after 22 years at the helm.  He has been replaced by NBC Sports Group President Mark Lazarus.  Late last month it was announced that ESPN President George Bodenheimer was being promoted to ESPN Executive Chairman while Vice President of Content John Skipper will be promoted to President of ESPN.  That moves take place January 1st.

NBC Sports Extends its Reach in Competition with ESPN: After its merger with Comcast was complete, NBC Sports began making moves toward compteting with ESPN.  Along with its deals with the NFL and the Olympics, NBC extended its deal to air the NHL on its networks.  It also announced in August that Versus will be re-branded as the NBC Sports Network effective January 2nd.

Sports Networks Handle Sexual Abuse Scandals at Penn State and Syracuse: When accusations of sexual abuse of minors arose against former Penn State Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky and former Syracuse Assistant Basketball Coach Bernie Fine, sports media outlets became news journalists.  Sports networks break news all the time, but it seemed that it was uncomfortable at times for these outlets to tackle these sensitive issues.  ESPN was also called to task for not reporting what it knew about Fine back in 2002.  These stories will definitley evolve in 2012.

ESPN Continues Its Dominance In Coverage of the NCAA:  2011 was another seminal year for ESPN in terms of its coverage of college athletics.  In August the network launched the Longhorn Network, the first network devoted to the sports of one educational institution.  Later in the fall ESPN also renewed its deal to televise 24 NCAA Championships through 2024.  Event though Fox Sports has made inroads in securing rights deals, especially with the Pac 12, ESPN remains the dominant force in telecasting college atheltics.

The Latest Book on the History of ESPN is Released Amid Much Talk: It was the most anticipated sports book release of the year, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales.  Excerpts of the book leaked out up until its release in May, giving readers a look at some of the seedier moments behind-the-scenes in the history of the network.  In the end some were disappointed that there was not more sleeze, while those interested in television history in general, and ESPN in particular, found much to like in the book.  You can hear our two interviews with co-author Miller on the Sports Media Weekly Podcast here and here.

Those are what we feel were to top sports media stories of 2011.  There were plenty of others, including the controversies at ESPN over the firing of Ron Franklin and the “suspension” of Bruce Feldman, Gus Johnson leaving CBS for Fox, The launch of Bill Simmons’ Grantland, Bob Costas and Al Michaels sharing the mic for a Major League Baseball game, and the NCAA tournament games being shared by CBS and Turner Sports.

Needless to say the sports media beat is now a 24/7 endeaver and we’ll continue to do our best, within our resources, to bring you what’s making news within the industry.  Please let me know what you think of SMJ and how we can improve.  Thank you for your continued support and we wish you all the best for 2012!

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 85- Best of 2011

Welcome to a very special end-of-the year edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I use this show to take a look back at some of the best interviews we conducted during 2011.

We re-play our talks with James Andrew Miller, Michelle Beadle, Curt Menefee, and Ian Eagle.

We hope you enjoy this stroll down memory lane.  Ken and I will return next week for a fresh edition of the podcast as we begin 2012.

Happy New Year!

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 81- James Andrew Miller, Author

ESPN-talk dominates this week’s edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.  Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I lead-off the show talking about ESPN’s handling of the Bernie Fine sexual assault allegations.

Joining us for his second appearance is James Andrew Miller, co-author of Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN.  In advance of the release of the paperback version, we ask Jim about what’s new in the paperback version as well as getting his reaction to a number of ESPN stories since the release of the book in May.

Book Review- Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN

It’s impossible to satisfy all readers when it comes to the content of a book that is as highly anticipated as Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN.  And because early reviews seem split as to what should, or should not, have been included in the book, it looks like authors James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales have a success on their hands in at least whetting the appetite of them all.

Those who are interested in how ESPN became arguably the most successful cable television network in history will have little problem digesting the behind-the-scenes tidbits into what made ESPN, well, ESPN.  I fall into this camp.  As much as I appreciated Miller & Shales’ first-hand accounts of those who played a role in the history of the World Wide Leader, I feel it could have been done in less than the 745 pages (763 if you read the acknowledgements and index) in this book.  To successfully navigate the book I suggest ingesting it in small chunks.  There is  THAT much information.

For those who are looking for more details into the in-fighting between staffers and who had affairs with whom, some of that is in the book,  but I’m sure not enough for some.  I, for one, thought the personality conflicts and romantic hook-ups, although not my cup of tea, were relevant to the discussion of what was happening at the network at the time.

The seminal events that shaped the development of ESPN are all in this book; the humble beginnings of Founder Bill Rasmussen selecting the sleepy town of Bristol, CT as the network’s headquarters, the hiring of on-air and production staff, how ESPN built the brand that is SportsCenter, its acquisition of rights to the NFL, MLB, and NBA, and its eventual rise as the self-proclaimed “World Wide Leader in Sports”.

The not-so-attractive events are also in the book; charges of sexual harassment of women and the perception of ESPN as a “frat house” in the early years, the dismissal and suspension of various on-air and administrative staff, and broadcast blunders such as LeBron James’ “The Decision”.

What I found great about the book was being reminded of all the events that happened at ESPN that may have escaped many of our memories.  Remember Bonds on Bonds and Dream Job?

Along with being an oral history, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, is also a business book on how a television network was born with less than $40,000 and grew to one with annual revenues of upwards of $8 billion.   All in a little over 30 years!

Miller and Shales conducted interviews with over 500 people to be used in the book.  All the big names are included; Berman, Ley, Patrick (Dan & Mike), Olbermann, Simmons, Tirico.  President Obama also has a blurb as do those who are in competition with ESPN, namely Dick Ebrsol (formerly of NBC) and David Hill (Fox Sports).

I would have liked to have read more into what are on peoples’ minds about the future of ESPN.  I guess we’ll find out soon as the network plans to make a bid next month on the 2014 and 2016 Olympics.  If successful I’m sure Miller & Shales will include the details in the paperback version of the book.

All-in-all Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN is a must read for anyone interested in the history of television in general and of sports media in particular.

Make sure to listen to our podcast with author James Andrew Miller.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 57- James Andrew Miller, Author

Sports Media Weekly It’s the talk of the sports media world, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, the new book by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales. James Andrew Miller joins Ken Fang from Fang’s Bites and I for the entire episode.

Among the topics we discuss with Miller; the impetus behind his writing the book, some of the more interesting behind-the-scenes snipings, and why ESPN is so sensitive about how it is perceived by the outside world.

We wish we had more time with Miller.  Neither Ken nor I were able to delve into all the topics we wanted to cover.  We plan on having Miller back to continue the discussion on a future podcast.