Many sports fans (yours truly included) were hoping the introduction of the NBC Sports Network would finally mean real competition for the Worldwide Leader, ESPN. Not that ESPN is bad or evil, or that NBC would be the best thing in the history of sports on TV. But, that true competition would make ESPN better and would provide even more options for fans seeking to avoid staged debate, stale opinions, and endless crossover. However, as our friend John Ourand at SportsBusiness Journal documents in vivid detail, NBC Sports Network has actually done worse numbers than its predecessor Versus. In fact, NBCSN may be further away now from competing with ESPN than it was just 12 months ago.
How did we get here? And how can NBCSN look to recapture what momentum it's already squandered? First, let's take a look at some startling facts. The much maligned The Daily Line, you know, one of the worst sports shows in history, averaged twice as many viewers as NBCSN's answer to SportsCenter, the daily NBC Sports Talk. Now, The Daily Line did have this going for it. But, how can NBCSN justify losing almost half its viewership from a craptastic mess into a legitimate sports/news program that was supposed to become the station's flagship show? Yes, hot chicks mean viewers, but the dismal viewership of NBC Sports Talk is unfortunately a trend spreading across the entire network at its infancy.
Live NHL broadcasts continue to be the most watched programming on the network. Indycar and Tour de France... well, any live sport on NBCSN seems to do better than other programming, probably not a surprise. But, it's just how dismal NBCSN's other programming is doing that has to be causing indigestion for those banking on the network's success. Among studio shows, only NHL postgame shows and NFL Turning Point have been able to match the paltry success of past trainwreck TV like the T.Ocho Show and Junior Seau's Sports Jobs. Even the great Bob Costas could only draw around 167,000 viewers for his debut town hall on the network. And then there's the ratings Darren Rovell is drawing for his show. According to TVSportsRatings, on February 10th, Rovell's 8,000 viewers tied for 2,452nd out of 2,544 telecasts on ad-supported national cable shows. That's in the bottom .5% of cable shows...The most successful non-NHL programming happens to be the shows NBC is trying to move NBCSN away from, the outdoors. Of course, Versus has a history dating back to their origin as the Outdoor Life Network of catering to outdoor and hunting enthusiasts. However, even these popular programs are losing viewers due to the transition in branding from Versus to NBC Sports Network. Loyal viewers are being turned off by a marginalization of their favorite programs while new viewers aren't being attracted either.
ESPN wasn't a success overnight, and NBCSN won't be either. If anything, ESPN's presence as a monopoly over the sports television empire will make it that much more difficult for NBCSN to become a challenger in the next 10, 15, or 20 years. The margin for error for NBCSN is very small to show growth in these first few years, no matter how miniscule it is. And right now, it seems as if the product NBCSN is putting on the airwaves isn't good enough to draw eyeballs away from other outlets. There's no doubting the quality of programming is much improved from Versus, so what's missing?
For one, NBCSN needs time it doesn't have. It needs time to develop the channel as a destination brand for sports viewers. It's not like NBC can air exotic sports fans have never seen before like ESPN did in its heyday with Aussie Rules Football and the America's Cup. It needs to bring viewers from the rest of the Comcast empire (Golf Channel, NBC Sports, regional Comcast networks) to NBC Sports Network and keep them there. Of course, the easy answer is for NBCSN to acquire major live sports like the NFL or major college football/basketball. And no, the CAA doesn't qualify as major college athletics.
The most important thing NBCSN can do is to forge an identity as an alternative to ESPN, and not a second rate clone. That means further promotion of sports ESPN chooses to ignore like hockey and domestic soccer. That means acquiring other sports or college conferences that don't have their existence tied to ESPN (the SEC, Longhorn Network), or FOX (Big Ten Network, Pac-12). SBJ's suggestions of NASCAR, the Big East, and MLB seem to be a great start for properties to add to the live niche sports NBCSN already carries.
However, as ESPN is proving to excess, a sports network can't be built on live events alone in this day and age. A true identity for the young network can only truly begin when NBCSN gets a marquee personality to build the network around. Someone that can carry the flag for NBCSN every day that viewers want to tune in and see. This is the opposite of Bob Costas coming down from on high once every quarter. Dan Patrick does the network no good if he only anchors an NFL highlight show that airs at 10pm on a Thursday either. Why wouldn't NBCSN make a move for DP's successful radio show (airing on DirecTV) and air it live in the morning to counter ESPN's morning talk shows. So many networks are going to the radio on TV format that it wouldn't be a foreign concept, and the show has an established audience.
Just like finding the right fit is important for NBCSN to develop an identity as an ESPN alternative, they have to find marquee personalities who can carry the network as a daily alternative to ESPN. We've already speculated about names like Scott Van Pelt and Michelle Beadle. Both are soon-to-be free agents at the WWL and would be a perfect 1-2 punch to put NBCSN and any new original programming on the map.
In the end, there is no perfect answer to the next steps for NBCSN. Bringing in marquee personalities might bring them more cachet when going after live sporting events. Having more quantity and quality of live sporting events would help to bring in marquee personalities. If anything, the fact that the channel is in its infancy allows it the latitude to have a slow start. NBC is in this for the long haul and stumbling out of the gates is worrisome, but not an immediate death knell. However, just how slow a start it is having (down over 20% from last year) makes their uphill climb to relevancy that much more daunting. If they ever want to be the AFL to ESPN's NFL, they have to start showing signs of life sooner rather than later. Or else, the XFL might turn out to be more of an appropriate analogy, a living hell NBC doesn't want to suffer through again.
Sa9273 didn't i post that earlier when i posted the changes that weren't in ESPN's Media Zone, but Mike Patrick made us aware of during the College World Series Elimination game on Friday night???
Sunday June 24
New York Yankees @ New York Mets (ESPN 8PM) Dan Shulman, Orel Hershiser, Terry Francona
Orel actually made it. Whatever.
John Smoltz was a 2nd analyst from behind the Green Monster for 1 full inning of today's Atlanta Braves at Boston Redsox's game on TBS MLB Sunday and Bret Boone was a guest analyst for a couple of innings during Root Sports Northwest's coverage of game 1 of the Seattle Mariners at San Diego Padres game on Friday night!
Who is the Studio host for Baltimore Orioles games on MASN, on the games that JIm Hunter does PBP???
How do they know which games that Peter Gammons will be a studio analyst for NESN???
the Detroit Tigers use John Keating, Mickey York,Ryan Field, Trevor Thompson,Justion White and Shannon Hogan as on- field reporters, How do the New York Yankees know which games that Jack Curry will work as an Dug out reporter and studio analyst???
How do the New York Yankees know which games that Ken Singleton and John Flaherty will work as an analyst or 2nd analyst and Studio analyst and how do they know which games to use Lou Pinella as a studio analyst for YES???
How do the Toronto Bluejays know which games to use Gregg Zaun as an analyst for radio???
How do the Seattle Mariners know who will work their radio games between Dan Wilson and Jay Buhner for select home games, Ron Fairly,Ken Wilson, Ken Levine,Dave Valle and Dave Henderson???
How do the Texas Rangers know which games to use Bryan Dolgin as an radio analyst???
How do the Cincinnati Reds know which games to use Jim Kelch for TV and Radio???
the Cincinnati Reds also have Jim Day or Jeff Piecoro as on- field reporters for TV games, Jenny Cavnar is the new Colorado Rockies on- field reporter starting this year, how do the Colorado Rockies know when Jeff Huson is a TV or studio analyst and how do they know when Roger Bailey or Eric Hillman is a studio analyst???
How do the Houston Astros know which games to use Steve Sparks as a TV analyst???
the Los Angeles Dodgers have Steve Lyons as a studio analyst for the games that he isn't broadcasting and Kevin Kennedy as a studio analyst for the games that he is broadcasting on TV, How do the New York Mets know which games that Keith Hernandez will be working by himself, Ron Darling will be working by himself and what games that Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling will be working together for SNY???
Dan Potash or Lacee Collins are the on- field reporters for Pittsburgh Pirates TV Games, How do the San Diego Padres know which games they will need to have Andy Masur work for Dick Enberg and which games they will need to have Tony Gwynn work and does Tony Gwynn work as the only analyst or as 1 of 2 analysts or work by himself for some games and with Mark Grant for some San Diego Padres TV games???
the San Francisco Giants have Raj Mathai as an on- field reporter for their TV games on KNTV and Amy Gutierrez as an on- field reporter for their games on Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, how do the Washington Nationals know which games that Jhonny Holliday will fiil in for Bob Carpenter as PBP and what games that Ray Knight will fill in for F.P. Santangelo as analyst, Byron Kerr as Stusio host and Phil Wood as studio analyst for MASN and lastly how do the Chicago Whitesox know which games to use Frank Thomas as a TV analyst???
During last night's College World Series Elimination game between South Carolina VS Arkansas, the broadcasting team for the game was changed from MIke Patrick, Orel Hershisher and Jessica Mendoza as the on- field reporter, to MIke Patrick and Kyle Peterson, with both Jenn Brown and Jessica Mendoza as on- field reporters and MIke Patrick even said that the broadcasters for game 1 of the College World Series Finals between Arizona VS South Carolina was changed from him with both Orel Hershisher and Kyle Peterson as analysts, to just him and Kyle Peterson and Jenn Brown and Jessica Mendoza both will still be the on- field reporters and that Orel Hershisher will jon Kyle Peterson as the 2nd analyst for this year's College World Series Finals starting with game 2 on Monday night!
Does anyone know why Dave Valle filled in for Mike Blowers for the Root Sports Northwest series between the Seattle Mariners at San Diego Padres in San Diego for the 2nd year in a row???
Craig Monroe fills in as an analyst for some Detroit Tigers games dosen't he???
Joel Goldberg contributes to Royals TV Games, Jeff Montgomery was a 2nd analyst for the bottom of the 6th and the top of the 7th inning of today's Saint Louis Cardinals at Kansas City Royals game,how do they know which games Steve Physioc will work on tv and radio for the Kansas City Royals this year???
How do they know which games Jim Palmer and Mike Bordick will work for the Orioles on MASN???
Scott Bailes is a substitute analyst for Indians road games on the radio this year and Mike Hegan is a substitute analyst for Indians Home games on the radio this year, Katie Witham is a on field reporter for Indians Home Games for the 2nd year in a row on STO, Nate Bukaty is a on field reporter for most Royals home games on Fox Sports Kansas City,how do they know what games Mark Langston is a radio analyst for the Angels???
How do the Minnesota Twins know what games to use Roy Smalley as an analyst???
how do the New York Yankees know what games to use David Cone and Lou Pinella for this year for the YES Network???
Ron Coomer is an analyst for some Minnesota Twins TV broadcasts, Angie Mentik and Jen Mueller report from the stand for some Seattle Mariners games, Bill Krueger is a studio analyst and very rarely a game analyst for Seattle Mariners TV Games in Seattle and Dan Wilson and Jay Buhner are 2nd analysts for select Seattle Mariners Home Games on TV, Jim Knox is a on field reporter for select Texas Rangers home games, it wouldn't suprise me if Mark Mclemore was an analyst for some Texas Rangers games, Jody Jackson is an on field reporter for most Arizona Diamondbacks home games and Joe Borowski is a 2nd analyst for 1/2 to 1 inning of some Arizona Diamondbacks games on tv,Marc Stout has been a 2nd analyst in the botoh for some Colorado Rockies games, it wouldn't suprise me if Mark Sweeney helped out as an analyst from the studio for some San Diego Padres TV games, how do the Arizona Diamondbacks know wjich games to use Joe Garagiola Sr,
Luis Gonzalez and Tom Candiotti as an analyst for???
How does Fox Sports South know which games to use Tom Glavine or Dale Murphy as an analyst for???
How does Peachtree TV know which games to use Brian Jordan, Ron Gant or Tom Glavine as an analyst for???
How do the Cincinnati Reds know which games to use Thom Brennaman and George Grande as tv PBP guys???
how do the Miami Marlins know which games to use Craig Minervini as PBP for TV???the Miami Marlins have Jeff Conine as the studio analyst for Home games and Cliff Floyd or Preston Wilson as the studio analyst for Miami Marlins Away games this year, the Boston Redsox have Matt Stairs as a studio analyst this year, how do the New York Mets kno hat games that Ralph Kiner will work as an analyst for SNY and how do they know what games that Jim Duquette will work for Josh Lewin???
Kristina Akra is the new on field reporter for Nationasl TV games, Leila Rahimi is the on- field reporter for Padres TV games starting this year, Gregg Murphy is the on field reporter for Philadelphia Philles games on CSN Philadelphia starting this year, Rob Incrniwoski is the on field reporter for Minnesota Twins TV Games, Meresith Marakovits is the new Dugout reporter for New York Yankees games starting this year and Jenny Dell is the new on- field reporter for Boston Redsox games on NESN starting this year too!
For those of you that were wondering, Tim Belcher filled in for Tom Hamilton for the 3 game Interleague rivalry between the Cincinnati reds VS in- state foe Cleveland Indians from Monday June 18th- Wednesday June 20th!
Tom Verducci will fly from being the field level reporter for tonight's MLB Network Showcase game between the Miami Marlins at Boston Redsox game, to being the booth analyst for the Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles game on Saturday too!
Fox's MLB coverage that weekend will be borrowing 3 analysts from the MLB Network and being using 1 Away team's TV analyst, while they will also be using 1 away team's TV PBP voice and another MLB Away's team radio over TV PBP voice!
Matt Vasgersian and not Bob Costas was the PBP voice for tonight's MLB Network Showcase game between the Miami Marlins at Boston Redsox!
Didn't ESPN use to show previous games from that year's tournament or the year before, when the College World Series and the Littlle League World Series were in a rain delay???
Because i believe that they did and if they did, they didn't stop doing it untill 2010, when ESPN started aiting Sportscenter during a Rain Delay at the College and Little League World Series!
I am suprised that MLB Network only had an MLB InterLeague SIngleheader and not that the usual Tuesday MLB Doubleheader, because 3 Interleague games were played at 7 PT on Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants were playing at the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim,the Texas Rangers were playing at the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers were playing at the Oakland Athletics!
Tonight's College World Series Elimination game between the Kent State Goldenflashes VS the 2 - time defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks on ESPN was postponed and will be played on ESPN2 tomorrow at Noon ET!
in a rarity Jon Sciambi was the studio host again Monday Night!
on a side note you do know that you put the MLB announcing schedule for May 18-24th when you actually meant the MLB Announcing schedule for June 18th-June 24th right???
So we now have a Screengrab Snafus of own own!
I'm only a fan of John Kruk when he's a siren. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRRIjldrNok
You think that Interleague play has been going on endlessly this season, just wait untill starting next MLB season when the Houston Astros move from the NL Central to the AL West, evening both leagues at 15 teams!
They will have to have 1 Interlague Series every day of the MLB Regular season!