The Big Lead

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 89- January 25, 2012

It’s just Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and me on this week’s edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

We start the show by again talking about the strong ratings for the NFL Playoffs.  We also touch upon a practice by some networks to tie in an advertiser into coverage of the pre and post game shows.

We also spend some time touching upon how the media has handled the passing of former Penn State Head Coach Joe Paterno, especially in light of the scandal that rocked the university in November.

We also touch upon the news this week that USA Today has purchased Fantasy Sports Ventures and Big Lead Sports.  Ken’s blog is an independent venture under the Big Lead Sports banner.

We end the show talking about the executive decisions made by new ESPN President John Skipper, the Breeders’ Cup returning to NBC, and a rant by me on keeping an eye on Twitter during a big sporting event.

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Sports Media Digest- January 24, 2012

Here is a look at some of the sports media items making news today…

USA Today to Purchase Fanatasy Sports Ventures/Big Lead Sports- It was announced today that USA Today was acquiring Fantasy Sports Ventures (FSV) and Big Lead Sports.  It is speculated that the move will help USA Today bolster its online sports presence.  FSV was the fifth-largest sports property online by traffic last year, drawing an average of 18.4 million monthly unique visitors.  Jason McIntyre, editor of The Big Lead, talks about how the acqusition will impact his site here.

Big Ten Network has Coverage of Paterno Memorial Service-  The Big Ten Network today announced that it will provide live coverage of the public memorial service in honor of former Penn State football head coach Joe Paterno.  “A Memorial For Joe” will air beginning at 2 p.m. ET this Thursday and will re-air later that nioght at 10:oop.m. ET.

Latest HBO Sports Documentary Debuts Saturday Night-  HBO’s presentation of Namath, a documentary on the legendary Jets quarterback, will premiere on HOB this Saturday at 9:00p.m. ET.

TNT Sets Thursday Twin Bill-  TNT is getting set for this weeks, Thursday night BNA double header.  The action begins at 8:00p.m. ET as Marv Albert, Mike Fratello and Craig Sager will have the call of the Celtics at the Magic.  The nightcap tips-off at 10:30p.m. ET with the Grizzlies at the Clippers with Dick Stockton, Steve Kerr, Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller calling the action.

NBC Sports Preps for NHL All-Star Weekend-  The NBC Sports Group is devoting over 10 hours of coverage to the NHL All-Star Game which will be played this weekend in Ottawa. It all starts Thursday at 8:00 p.m. ET with the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft on NBC Sports Network (NBCSP). NBCSP will air the 2012 Molson Canadian NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET.   Coverage of the 59th NHL All-Star Game will take place on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. ET on NBC, live from Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.

CBS Debuts its 2012 Coverage of the PGA Tour This Weekend- The first of CBS’s 23 golf telecasts for 2012 will be this weekend on coverage of the Famers Insurance Open from San Diego.  Jim Nantz and Sir Nick Faldo will lead the coverage Saturday from 3:00p.m.-6:00p.m. ET and Sunday from 3:00p.m.- 6:30p.m. ET.

MLB Network Has Program on Top 50 Prospects-  The MLB Network will unveil the MLB.com’s top 50 baseball propects for the 2012 season during a program tomorrow night at 10:00p.m. ET.  Greg Amsinger will host the show and be joined by analyst John Hart and MLB.com senior writer Jonathan Mayo.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast #39- Jason McIntyre, The Big Lead

Sports Media Weekly Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I are back for another edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

This week we do not spend any time with the sports media news of the week, we spend the entire show with our guest.

Joining us this week is Jason McIntyre, Editor of The Big Lead, one of the most popular sports blogs on the web.  Jason and The Big Lead were in the news of late as the site was recently purchased by Fantasy Sports Ventures, which owns and markets multiple sports websites and blogs.

We talk to Jason about his career and growth of The Big Lead.  We also touch upon the role large sports blog networks like Fantasy Sports Ventures has in providing diverse, and relevant sports content.  We explore how The Big Lead has impacted the way the sports media is covered.  And we ask Jason whether he sent ESPN’s Colin Cowherd a thank you card after the site’s acquisition was complete.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast #37- Dan Hoard, Pawtucket Red Sox

Sports Media Weekly We are back for another edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

On this 37th episode Ken Fang of Fang’s Bites and I talk about the media reaction to the World Cup just underway in South Africa.  Specifically we attack those in the media who criticize the sport of soccer for its lack of scoring and think we ALL should join in the revolt.

Also on the agenda, the saving of the Big 12 Conference thanks to an agreement reached between the conference and ESPN,  how ESPN and NBC may fair telecasting this week’s U.S. Open in prime time, and we react to the news from a few weeks ago on the sale of The Big Lead to Fantasy Sports Ventures.

Our guest this week is Dan Hoard, play-by-play voice for the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.  Dan talks about his career, which also currently includes serving as voice of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats football and men’s basketball as well as his new upcoming job as television voice of pre-season games for the Cincinnati Bengals.

In our discussion we ask Dan about his work in minor league baseball, his two successful blogs, and one post in particular that became popular involving the story of a PawSox player leaving tickets for ESPN’s Erin Andrews.

The Big Lead Interviews ESPN.com Editor in Chief

TBL has a really good interview with Rob King, the Editor-in-chief over at ESPN.com. (courtest Boston Sports Media Watch for the link) It’s arguably the most important job in sports journalism today as his editorial decisions can have a huge impact on not only the way stories are covered by the sports media at large, but the way they’re viewed in the long term. ESPN has been, for most of its existence, a TV-based outlet. But after the last few years when I hear “Oh, did you hear about so and so and the Rays? It’s on ESPN” I think ESPN.com, not the channel.

It’s a small change, but it’s a very important one because ESPN.com (along with Fox Sports and Yahoo Sports, to be fair) represents what will, most likely, be the long-term future of journalism: web-based outlets dedicated to one area of coverage where a few national sites are the sort of go-to for their subject, but who branch out and link to a wide array of diverse opinions to better cover their little part of the world.

On the subject at hand, however, King was surprisingly candid in his remarks about Rick Reilly and Bill Simmons as well as talking about ESPN.com as a whole. It’s refreshing to see somebody in such a position of editorial power to be so open about his job and what it entails.

As the media , and especially the sports media, has become big business it has become less and less common to see the real movers and shakers of the industry openly discussing the decisions they make — especially when they work for what is arguably the most-watched (and most-critiqued) media outlet in your business. Transparency, which should be the hallmark of a free press, now seems to come at a premium.

Honestly, it’s great to finally put a face on ESPN.com that isn’t a writer and that he’s so enthusiastic about where his business is going, unlike a lot of people who seem to be already mourning the death of journalism. Here’s what he had to say about just that topic:

I also consume a lot of news online, whether on individual sites, through feeds or via search. That said, when I hear phrases such as “Print is dead,” I know what folks are saying. Paper and ink and trucks are expensive. But writing and reading are priceless, and they will endure. Of course they will. That’s why you do what you do with this site, and why so many newspapers and magazines are working so feverishly to re-imagine their futures. That’s why mobile devices aren’t just telephones, and why they have to feature (for now, anyway) full keyboards. That’s why the online versions of the NYT, The Washington Post, USA Today and many others enjoyed such dramatic growth in 2008. And I have every confidence that systems built to deliver what is commonly referred to as “print” will continue to emerge, whether they’re things like the Kindle, or the iPhone, or something else altogether.

It’s important not to lose sight of the human toll of this transition, however. Pension plans suspended or abandoned, furloughs, buyouts, layoffs and shuttering of newsrooms … These developments are exacting a terrible price on the energy and commitment that have always driven American journalism. That’s why examples of work such as Eric Nalder’s Polk Award-winning series on malfeasance in military housing contracts, work generated against a backdrop as worrisome as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s, seem more courageous than ever before.

Well put.

Jason McIntyre and Michael Schur, Welcome to Our World

SI’s Richard Deitsch has the story today about two of the sports blogsphere’s biggest sites revealing their true identity.

The Big Lead and Fire Joe Morgan became extremely popular online destinations because of their off-beat commentaries and opinions.  The only problem was that the writers of the sites would not identify themselves.  Until today.

Both Jason McIntyre (The Big Lead) and Michael Schur (Fire Joe Morgan) have both come out of the anonymity closet, if you will.  Both have well established writing backgrounds and it’s easy to unerstand why their sites have been so popular.  They have experience and contacts.  That affords them sources that many of us do not have.  McIntyre now works The Big Lead full time. 

As much as these sites are popular, I did not like their choice of remaining anonymous.  If what you do as an online journalist (yes, bloggers are journalists in my mind) is hold others accountable for their actions, either on the field or off, then you have the responsibility to face the same scrutiny.  Hiding or creating a nom de plum doesn’t cut it with me.

I think its great we know the identity of these two writers.  I’ll be in touch.

Sincerely…Keith Thibault.