Longtime sports commentator and presenter David Coleman OBE has died. He was 87. His family told the BBC that Coleman, who first began working for the news organization in 1954, passed after a short illness. Coleman was the recipient of an OBE in 1992 who covered sports for BBC, including soccer and the Olympics, for nearly five decades. In that time he presented Grandstand and Sportsnight and hosted quiz show A Question of Sport for 18 years, in addition to announcing numerous World Cup, European Cup, and FA Cup finals. He made his Olympics commenting debut in 1960 and retired after broadcasting his 11th summer Olympics in 2000. British Prime Minister David Cameron Tweeted in response to Coleman’s passing:
The former King of Cable — who recently agreed to buy more than 27% of Charter Communications – has a bracing warning for companies such as Disney and News Corp that hope to keep raising prices for their sports programming. “You have an unsustainable model,” he told CNBC’s David Faber in an interview. About 80% of viewers would not even pay the wholesale cost for sports if given a choice, he says. And pay TV providers may offer that, perhaps by teaming up with Netflix. “This stuff is getting too expensive for too many households.”
Looks like News Corp’s trying to boost the Deputy COO’s profile on Wall Street: James Murdoch’s appearance today at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference was his second high-profile presentation to investors this month. (He was also on News Corp’s latest earnings call.) Rupert’s son, who last year had to defend himself against allegations that he was at least partly responsible for News Corp’s UK hacking and bribery scandals, seemed to relish the largely friendly questions about the company’s plans. He assured the audience that the company won’t go overboard in buying rights to sports programming amid reports that News Corp plans to create a national sports network. “It’s important to have a portfolio of rights where you can walk away,” Murdoch says. For example, the Los Angeles Dodgers wanted payments that were “too rich for us,” leading the team to create its own regional sports channel.
Welcome to the pay TV world, Google. The mighty search company startled a lot of people in cable when it announced its Google Fiber TV and Internet service in Kansas City. The fiber optic service, launched in July, offers consumers broadband speeds of 1 Gb per second, far faster than cable’s typical 5 Mb per second. How could cable and its allies fight that? Google provided a clue today in a letter disclosing what it told several FCC staffers yesterday: They discussed “the importance of being able to provide customers with access to must-have live regional sports programming and the difficulty of obtaining this programming.”
Football starts on CBS on September 9 and today CBS Sports announced its on-air roster for the upcoming NFL season. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will once again lead the charge for the network with The NFL On CBS on Sundays. Additionally Greg Gumbel will call games along with Dan Dierdorf, as will Ian Eagle with Dan Fouts and Marv Albert with Rich Gannon. Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots, Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker and Steve Beuerlein and Spero Dedes will offer play-by-play and analysis as well. Randy Cross and Don Criqui, who were among last year’s pairings, were not among today’s names for the 2012 season. James Brown will anchor the in-studio pre-game The NFL Today show with reporter Lesley Visser and analysts Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Shannon Sharpe and Bill Cowher. This season will see something new as Jason La Canfora joins The NFL Today as the “NFL Insider.” The 2012 NFL season will mark the 53rd year of CBS airing National Football League games and the 45th year of The NFL Today on the network. Super Bowl XLVII is scheduled to be broadcast on CBS on February 3, 2013 from New Orleans.
Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett says it’s possible in a provocative, and well timed, note this morning. The escalation in TV sports costs has “gone to unimagined proportions,” he says. If unchecked, he adds, it could ”blow the entire media model apart.” And the business does appear to be unchecked. The huge price increases from the $15.2B NFL deals that ESPN, Fox, CBS, and NBC cut last year kick in with the 2014 season. Meanwhile, NBCUniversal likely will want higher payments for its NBC Sports Network — formerly Versus before it was rebranded in January. News Corp is considering a similar upgrade of its action sports channel Fuel into a mainstream national sports service. And the Magic Johnson-led consortium that just paid more than $2B for the Los Angeles Dodgers is thinking about stealing a page from the playbook for the New York Yankees’ YES Network by launching its own regional sports channel — which would be the sixth in LA.
The pay TV sports behemoth had 55 nominations vs NBC Sports Group’s 32, CBS’ 26, and Turner Sports’ 22. You’ll find the full list of nominees here.
More than 170 nominees were announced in 33 categories including outstanding live sports special, live series, sports documentary, studio show, promotional announcements, play-by-play personality and studio analyst. The Awards will be given out at the prestigious Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center located in the Time Warner Center on April 30th, 2012 in New York City.
This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Sports will go to the Sports Commentator and Essayist, Jack Whitaker.
DirecTV’s sports fans in Miami already know the bad news, and showbiz devotees in Boston soon will: The satellite company failed to strike a carriage deal with Sunbeam Television prior to Fox’s broadcast of the NFL playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants — and there are no plans to talk before NBC shows the Golden Globes tonight. Sunbeam owns Fox-affiliate WSVN in Miami where DirecTV has about 250,000 customers, and NBC affiliate WHDH and CW affiliate WLVI in Boston where the satellite company has 200,000 subs. In an email sent just before game time DirecTV asked Sunbeam for permission show the match without a contractual agreement “so our customers will not be deprived of yet another playoff game in your markets.” The satellite company added that it is ”available at any time to discuss our agreement when you are ready to respond to our last offer.” Sunbeam, seeking a 300% in its rates, yanked its stations from DirecTV Friday at midnight.
Miami-area sports fans who are also DirecTV customers are having to scramble this weekend to catch football playoffs on Fox. That’s because Sunbeam Television, owner of Fox affiliate WSVN, pulled the plug on DirecTV at midnight Friday. It’s the latest showdown between providers over increases in carriage fees. Sunbeam yanked their station feeds to DirecTV when the satcaster balked at a 300% increase in fees for the right to carry local station signals. (And Time Warner Cable thought Madison Square Garden’s purported demand for a 53% increase was steep. That New York dispute is still unresolved.)
Unless a settlement is reached before this afternoon, DirecTV subscribers who haven’t secured an alternative will miss today’s highly anticipated playoff between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers. Yesterday’s NFC playoff game between the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints had DirecTV subscribers converging on electronics stores such as Best Buy nearly emptying shelves of broadcast antennas so they wouldn’t miss football and other Fox programming. Others turned to sports bars, which apparently weren’t affected.
WSVN general manager Robert Leider said DirecTV’s offer was below fair-market value, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. DirecTV has about 270,000 subscribers who are affected in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Approximately 270,000 customers were affected in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Sunbeam also cut DirecTV feeds from Boston’s NBC affiliate WHDH and CW affiliate WLVI.
The Federal Communications Commission took the first step today toward elimination of local TV station blackouts of professional football games and other sporting events. The commission asked for public comment on eliminating its own rules that support sports league policies by requiring that games must be sold out 72 hours before kickoff before local stations can broadcast the competition. Cable and satellite operators are also barred from carrying games on out-of-town channels that are out by local stations. Consumer groups and others petitioned the commission to eliminate the rules because they limit access to local sporting events “particularly with ticket prices and unemployment at their current high levels.” The NFL said it opposed any change in the rules. Comments should be submitted by February 13.
The per-household subscription fees ESPN charges cable systems amounts to “a tax on every American household,” Liberty Media Corp. CEO Greg Maffei said Monday at an investor conference sponsored by UBS AG in New York City. ESPN charges are the highest of any cable channel, according to SNL Kagan, which estimates those per-subscriber fees have jumped 42% since 2006 to $4.69. By comparison average cable channel fees were up 24% for that period to 26 cents a month. The problem isn’t just ESPN, Maffei said later, because regional networks such as Fox Sports also contribute to the overall escalation of fees networks pay to carry events. NFL, for example, is negotiating contracts that could raise broadcast networks’ fees by 60% to about $3.2 billion a year, the Wall Street Journal noted. Some executives think it might be better to position expensive sports channels such as ESPN on a separate tier that would allow uninterested subscribers to opt out and lower their bills. Otherwise, rising sports rights fees could lead many consumers to drop services. MTV Networks and Nickelodeon owner Viacom Inc.’s CEO Philippe Dauman also singled out ESPN as a significant factor in higher costs because it is “double the cost of all our networks combined.” Even though they still resist the idea of a la carte packaging, media exec are beginning to see the merits of selling smaller, cheaper programming bundles as …
This afternoon, in a live broadcast of the 37th Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, Indy car racing league driver Marco Andretti had contact with another car out of the pits. Explaining what happened, Andretti said from inside his auto, loud and clear, “I have no fucking idea.” For a few minutes, the Versus announcers were silent. Then one of them said, “We apologize for the language.” And last week during a game, live cameras caught Lakers star Kobe Bryant calling referee Bennie Adams a “faggot” after being whistled for what the basketball star thought was an unjust foul. Gay rights organizations quickly demanded disciplinary measures, so NBA Commissioner David Stern slapped Bryant with a $100,000 fine. Kobe took to the airwaves to express remorse for uttering a homophobic slur. Both moments were recorded on national TV because so many sports events are covered live. But should they be? After all, a 7-second delay “bleep” button is available to delete offensive material from a live broadcast before it’s transmitted. The button cuts off the video circuit, or the sound, or both, between the recorder and the transmitter.
On the one hand, it can be argued that truly “live” events show people without PR cover, and I suspect both the Indy Racing League and the NBA would have covered up Andretti’s and Bryant’s moments. Now the world knows. On the other hand, many parents are watching sporting events with their kids. I find it interesting that the groups complaining the loudest about the increasing bad language on TV …
2ND UPDATE, 3:35 PM: A federal court said it could take weeks before it decides whether to grant an injunction sought by NFL players to stop a league-imposed lockout. That’s because the judge wants both sides to agree to federal mediation to help resolve an impasse in finalizing a new collective bargaining agreement, according to Bloomberg. “Both sides are at risk. This is a good time to come back to the table,” the judge said. “This is really a matter to be resolved, in my view, with the services of the federal court.” Today’s hearing in St. Paul lasted five hours.
The Sundance Film Festival will soon get underway, when filmmakers arrive with distribution deal dreams. Even those lucky enough to get such deals often watch the films they slaved over disappear or go straight to video, especially documentaries. That was the dilemma facing the makers of Everything In Between, a film that tracked the 4-month period from when Tim Tebow led the Florida Gators to a blowout 2010 Sugar Bowl victory to the NFL draft. The subject matter was compelling: despite Tebow’s unprecedented college success, many pundits—especially at ESPN—felt his mobile style of play and throwing motion would leave him lucky to be drafted at all, and that his NFL dream was a long shot. Director Chase Heavener became Tebow’s constant companion as he worked to prove the skeptics wrong, while dealing with the burden of fame (his clean-cut Christian values have made him an icon). Heavener talked Tebow into participating, helped by the fact their fathers were college roomies at Florida 40 years ago. The director financed the film through his company, Fiction, with former WMA agents Rob Lee and Dave Phillips, and Bill Heavener producing.
Chase Heavener ended up with 1000 hours of footage he cut into a feature. Unfortunately, the market for such a film is daunting. Even The Tillman Story, the superb Sundance-launched docu about the government cover-up of fratricide in the death of football star-turned Army …
Every time I write about yet another deal made by Stan Lee, the same thing happens. Fanboys groan that he’s selling out, or cashing suckers’ checks, or making egotistical moves. And he does it because he can. He is after all Stan Effin’ Lee whose Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four and Iron Man among other superheroes propelled Marvel Comics to superstardom. As a result, I can’t help but view this latest announcement from Stan today with even more cynicism. It’s actually inducing nausea in me.
He’s partnering with the National Hockey League and forming Guardian Media Entertainment to create the platform to launch:
Stan Lee’s vision for his latest superhero franchise, The Guardian Project, which will encompass the creation of 30 Guardians (one to represent each NHL team) as a new series of superheroes, with a creative concept that organically and authentically incorporates various NHL elements but is not set in the world of hockey. “I’ve always believed that every great plan starts with a great story,” says Mr. Lee. “In the creation of GME and its unique and unprecedented relationship with the NHL, I truly believe we have the perfect combination from which to launch 30 new superheroes and excite young fans around the globe.”
Created and developed by Stan Lee and Tony Chargin, EVP of GME Creative Affairs, and Jake Shapiro, each Guardian has been derived from its corresponding hockey team, complete with special powers representative of each team and city. These 30 Guardians will be unveiled together in
It’s no secret in Hollywood that Peter Guber is really really rich. So, like most rich guys, he’s indulging his sports fantasies. CNBC just broke the news that he’s bought the NBA team with Joe Lacob, managing partner at private equity firm Kleiner Perkins, for the winning bid of $450 million, beating the previous NBA record of $401M (paid for the Phoenix Suns in 2004). What CNBC did not report was that Guber, the chairman of Mandalay Entertainment and former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, is an add-on to Lacob’s bid. They beat out rival bidder Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle. (And the Warriors play at Oracle Arena!) Lacob bought a share of the Boston Celtics in 2006. Guber’s Mandalay Entertainment already owns and operates minor league teams, including two affiliates of the New York Yankees. The sale was brokered by Galatioto Sports Partners. The Warriors franchise was bought by Chris Cohan in 1995 for $119M, and since then has had the 2nd worst record in the league behind the LA Clippers. And NBA commissioner David Stern has said the league as a whole will lose $370M from this past season, and there might be a work stoppage after next season. Still, the Golden State team was valued at $315M by Forbes in December of last year because “the Warriors’ location in the Bay area undoubtedly added more interest and thus a higher price,” CNBC said. Now the …
UPDATED: You know that LeBron James hourlong primetime sports special The Decision tonight all about where he’s going to play next season? Well, it was not put together by LeBron James’ sports agency CAA. According to my Hollywood agency sources, Ari Emanuel of arch-rival tenpercentery WME was at one of the NBA playoff finals. Surely you’ve seen him at Laker games sitting in his look-at-me floor seats so courtside he gets drowned by the players’ sweat rivulets.
He began talking with LeBron’s manager Maverick Carter. (WME arranged the financing for LeBron’s documentary More Than A Game and with Carter sold it to Lionsgate.) Then sports announcer Jim Gray came over and suggested that LeBron do a TV show about the decision. (ESPN is now saying its execs were talking to LeBron’s manager about a decision-style show as far back as February during All-Star Weekend.) Emanuel immediately suggested that, instead of offering the show to a broadcast or cable network first, they package it by producing and selling ads for it themselves. The conversation ended on that note.
Carter talked to LeBron, and then Emanuel got a call from the manager telling him, ”Let’s go do this.” LeBron himself makes no money. Instead, all the sponsor dollars are being donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs Of America. I’m told the figure raised for the charity was $3 million, and Nike pledged to match up to another $1 million.
“Richard Lovett keeps touting how he supposedly reps LeBron …