The NFL Sunday Ticket out-of-market package has been a DirecTV mainstay since 1994. Yes, it's been around for almost 20 years. DirecTV has used Sunday Ticket to lure subscribers from cable of which I am one. I've been with DirecTV since 2001 and the major reason was NFL Sunday Ticket. Over the years, the satellite provider has been willing to pay the price to keep the Sunday afternoon games away from cable. And to keep fans in the mix, DirecTV developed the Red Zone Channel with host Andrew Siciliano, showing games when drives reached scoring potential, a feature that was so successful, NFL Network started its own version for cable with host Scott Hanson.
And while DirecTV has made mobile apps and even allowed the package to be put on gaming consoles as long as non-subscribers were willing to pay a huge fee, the satellite provider appears to be souring on the package because of rising costs. In a speech to an investor conference in Florida today, DirecTV Chief Financial Officer Pat Doyle made news by saying the company would consider sharing Sunday Ticket with cable or even dropping the package altogether if the NFL's price became too high.no comments
This year's NFL Combine broke record numbers in viewership for the event. A total of 7.25 million viewers watched at some point during the 4 days of coverage with an average audience of 268,000 viewers, up 10% from last year. While other sports are seeing small ratings decreases or remaining flat, the combine is one of the events in the sports year trending upward in ratings, media coverage, and attention from fans.
There was a time the combine was nothing more than a footnote in the football season between the Super Bowl and the draft. After all, who would think people would actually want to sit down in front of their televisions and watch football players doing drills instead of football players playing football? Alas, with the NFL's explosion in popularity over the last decade and the exponential increase in information consumed by sports fans, the combine has resonated with more and more people. A tick on the stopwatch either way could mean one player rising up draft boards or falling to your team.
And there are reportedly plans for the combine to get even bigger. Reports of a "reality show" twist to the combine indicate a future where players may compete during drills. Also, the NFL could follow athletes from regional combines to the national combine in Indianapolis and even on to the NFL Draft for a reality series.
The growth and potential direction of the NFL combine intrigues me, but so does the challenge of making vertical jumps, shuttle runs, and football players in shorts and t-shirts sprinting for less than 5 seconds compelling television. NFL Network devoted several live hours of television to the combine and we were able to chat briefly with NFLN Executive Producer Eric Weinberger about the present and the future of televising the NFL Combine...no comments
This week ESPN has been forced into covering the NHL thanks to the incredible streak of the Chicago Blackhawks, which has now reached 23 straight games with a point to start the NHL season.
Because SportsCenter actually hasn't covered the NHL in years, and because the daytime editions of SportsCenter are quickly becoming nothing but mindless talk and meaningless debate that makes you want to tear your brain out of your skull and run it through a meat grinder, the Blackhawks streak has proved to be a nightmare scenario for Bristol. The streak has become a large enough story nationally for ESPN to have to pay attention to hockey beyond the one minute cameos where Barry Melrose is let out of whatever Bristol dungeon he's kept in.
The result? ESPN embarrassingly trotting out Stephen A. Smith to try and analyze the Blackhawks' streak, even though he was not aware of the basic premises of the sport. The next day it was college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg's turn to debate the merits of the Blackhawks, evidently because he was the guy standing closest to the set at the time. Today, it was Chris Broussard's turn, and although he fared better than the previous two, he looked like he'd rather break down quantum mechanics.
But instead of just throwing our hands up in the air and wondering why ESPN has basically given up on SportsCenter and throwing random people on national television to talk about the NHL, we want to help. If the live daytime episodes of SportsCenter are going to spiral into a black hole abyss and debate completely irrelevant topics like "Who's the greatest center of all-time in any sport," (that seriously happened today) at least we should have some input along the way.
Here's a completely serious list of the people at ESPN we'd like to see break down the Chicago Blackhawks next...
(See if you can spot the people that actually cover hockey!)no comments
Just when you thought ESPN was the only network out there trotting out an endless array of debate shows, this trailer for a new MLB Network show popped up during the World Baseball Classic... and I've lost all faith in humanity.
The new show is called MLB Now, will debut on Opening Day of the MLB season, April 1st, and will feature Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds arguing "new school" vs "old school" in regards to various topics throughout the league.no comments
Tuesday was the day for the official unveiling of the sports media's worst-kept secret, Fox Sports 1. This was such a big deal for Fox it brought out its heaviest hitters, Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Erin Andrews, Curt Menefee, Howie Long, Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip, UFC President Dana White and Tim McCarver.
As one arrived at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York, Fox made sure you were aware that this was their event. Security was everywhere to ensure you didn’t see any Fox Sports 1 logos ahead of the official unveiling.
When the news conference began, former Fox Sports El Jefe del Mundo and current News Corp. Senior Executive Vice President David Hill came out to discuss the history of Fox Sports, how it grew from being Fox Sport and just having the NFL to being a multifaceted division with several major properties including MLB, NASCAR, the World Cup, UEFA Champions League and major college sports. Hill said that Fox had been thinking of creating a national sports network for 15 years and the time was right to launch the network. And although he downplayed his role, there’s no denying that without Hill, Fox Sports would not be in the position it is today without his chutzpah, his acumen and his ability to think outside the box.no comments
The tenure of Dick Enberg as the play by play announcer for the San Diego Padres has been oddly enjoyable. Entering his fourth year calling Padres games (now on Fox Sports San Diego), the 78-year old Enberg has provided a recognizable voice to telecasts featuring a largely unrecognizable and unremarkable team.
During the first inning of Monday's Padres-Rangers Spring Training game, Padres left fielder Travis Buck hit a ball to deep right center field. Rangers right fielder Engel Beltre got on his horse and came in from out of camera view to make a nice catch jumping against the wall. Despite Beltre immediately throwing the ball back into the infield, Enberg called the play as a home run for Buck before realizing his error as Buck began to jog towards the dugout.
Enberg's excuse? "We thought it carried through, with the way Buck was rounding second base." He then admitted to watching Leonys Martin, the center fielder, instead of Beltre.
Even announcers need Spring Training, folks. Considering this was just the second game Enberg and FS San Diego have broadcast this spring, I'll give them a pass... for now.no comments
Mike Tirico and Dan Dakich are quickly becoming an excellent pairing in the broadcast booth and did a terrific job calling #14 Ohio State's victory on the road at #2 Indiana last night. Dakich in particular shined breaking down the game and calling out players when need be, which is a rarity in college hoops. But his highlight was when a young woman held up a "Dan Dakich dated my mom" sign. It's probably a good thing Dakich stopped just short of sharing any beer pong stories.no comments
All Times Eastern
WCC Tournament, Las Vegas, NV
Loyola Marymount vs. Portland -- BYU TV, 9 p.m.
Michigan at Purdue -- Big Ten Network, 7 p.m.
North Carolina at Maryland -- ESPN, 7 p.m.
Georgetown at Villanova -- ESPN2, 7 p.m.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State -- ESPNU, 7 p.m.
Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth -- CBS Sports Network, 8 p.m.
USC at Washington -- Pac-12 Network, 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Nebraska -- Big Ten Network, 9 p.m.
West Virginia at Oklahoma -- ESPN2, 9 p.m.
UConn at South Florida -- ESPNU, 9 p.m.
New Mexico at Nevada -- CBS Sports Network, 10 p.m.
UCLA at Washington State -- Pac-12 Network, 10:30 p.m.
Stanford at Cal -- ESPN2, 11 p.m.
Big Ten Tip-Off Show -- Big Ten Network, 6;30 p.m.
Courtside with Seth Davis -- CBS Sports Network, 6:30 p.m.
Inside College Basketball -- CBS Sports Network, 7:30 p.m.
Big Ten Finale '12-'13 -- Big Ten Network, 11 p.m.
College Basketball Live -- ESPNU, 11 p.m.
College Basketball Live -- ESPN2, 1 a.m. (Thursday)
Maryland-Baltimore County at Maryland -- ESPNU, 5 p.m.
Paris-Nice, Stage 3: Chatel-Guyon to Brioude -- NBC Sports Network, midnight (delayed)
On the Range: WGC-Cadillac Championship -- Golf Channel, 8 p.m.
MLB Spring Training
Washington vs. Philadelphia -- The Comcast Network, 1 p.m./MLB Network, 9 p.m.
Baseball Tonight -- ESPN2, 3 p.m.
MLB Tonight -- MLB Network, 8 p.m.
Chicago at San Antonio -- ESPN, 9 p.m.
NBA GameTime -- NBA TV, 7 p.m.
NFL Live -- ESPN, 4 p.m.
Path to the Draft -- NFL Network, 7 p.m.
Colorado at Chicago -- NBC Sports Network, 8 p.m.
NHL Live -- NHL Network, 5 p.m.
NHL Live -- NBC Sports Network, 7 p.m.
NHL on the Fly -- NHL Network, 7 p.m.
NHL Live -- NBC Sports Network, 10:30 p.m.
NHL Tonight -- NHL Network, 10:30 p.m.
NHL Overtime -- NBC Sports Network, 11:30 p.m.
CONCACAF Champions League
Tigres UANL vs. Seattle -- Fox Soccer, 10 p.m.
UEFA Champions League
Round of 16, 2nd Leg
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Valencia -- Fox Soccer, 2:30 p.m.
Juventus vs. Celtic -- Fox Soccer Plus/Fox Sports Net, 2:30 p.m.
UEFA Champions League Pregame -- Fox Soccer/Fox Soccer Plus/Fox Sports Net, 2 p.m.
UEFA Champions League Highlights -- Fox Soccer Plus, 11 p.m.
NFL AM -- NFL Network, 6 a.m.
The 'Lights -- NBC Sports Network, 6 a.m.
Morning Drive -- Golf Channel, 7 a.m.
The Dan Patrick Show -- Audience Network (DirecTV)/NBC Sports Network, 9 a.m.
Tim Brando Show -- CBS Sports Network, 9 a.m.
The Box Score -- Audience Network (DirecTV)/NBC Sports Network, noon
SVP & Russillo -- ESPNews, 1 p.m.
Outside the Lines -- ESPN, 3 p.m.
Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable -- ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.
SportsNation -- ESPN2, 4 p.m.
The Best of the Dan Patrick Show -- NBC Sports Network, 4 p.m.
Pardon the Interruption -- ESPN, 5:30 p.m.
ROME -- CBS Sports Network, 6 p.m.
The Crossover -- NBC Sports Network, 6 p.m.
Sportfolio -- Bloomberg, 9:30 p.m.
Lead Off -- CBS Sports Network, midnight
UNITE -- ESPNU, midnight
World Baseball Classic
First Round, Pool A, Fukuoka, Japan
Japan vs. Cuba -- MLB Network, 5 a.m.
Dominican Republic vs. New York Yankees -- MLB Network, 1 p.m.
Italy vs. Anaheim Angels -- MLB Network, 4 p.m. (same day coverage)
World Baseball Classic Today -- MLB Network, 8 a.m.
After months of reports, speculation, and intrigue Fox finally had the coming out party for their new 24 hour cable sports network, Fox Sports 1, earlier today in New York City. As has been reported for months, FS1 will replace Speed Channel as Fox looks to build a network that can challenge the generation-long dominance of ESPN. Fox Sports President Eric Shanks laid down the gauntlet in today's announcement:
“Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming.”
After the slow start of NBC Sports Network, the mantle has now turned to Fox to provide an alternative in the marketplace. And from today's news, it's clear Fox is starting at a much stronger position than NBC Sports Network, especially in terms of live sports rights. Here's all you need to know about Fox Sports 1...no comments