My only request to Tim is that he do a Dick Stockton tribute next week...
NBC announced that starting January 2012, Versus will be rebranded as the NBC Sports Network. That's just enough time for you to forget this announcement and then remember when you sober up and crawl back to work after the new year.
There really isn't anything specific to report as there any particular details surrounding programming changes. However, at a high level there will be some style changes in production and more collaboration and promotion between NBC and the network formally known as Versus.
"As part of the overhaul, NBC says the cable channel's broadcasting style and presentation will parallel that of NBC Sports' by emphasizing storytelling and profiles of athletes."
"There will be greater coordination in sports coverage between NBC's broadcast-TV operations and the cable channel, officials say."
Although the news became official today and won't go into effect for 5 months, this move was assumed for quite some time. The acquisition was announced in December of 2009 and finally approved in January 2011. During that span it was widely reported and speculated that the Versus brand would wind down and some type of NBC sports branded name would replace it. Versus has become a more recognizable and distributed network, but it pales in comparison to the NBC brand name.
A handful of years back, Disney went the other way yielding the ABC Sports brand to ESPN so now sports programming on ABC is presented as "ESPN on ABC". Versus doesn't have nearly the cache as ESPN and this move is basically for the same motives but just in the opposite direction.
As a business guy, it's kind of funny to me how long these things take to finalize and announce. Even earlier in the year there were rumblings that they had circled in on this name but were still finalzing details. "NBC Sports Network" is three words and yet it's part of a lengthy process that is still ongoing. Brand identity and integration is important, but I think this was the end result the folks at Comcast/Versus were going to get no matter how many meetings, focus groups, powerpoints, and consultants were involved in the process.
The real meat of this decision will lie in all the details that are to be determined. Graphics, logos, personnel, cross promotion, programming, and production will be things we'll keep a close eye on.
With NBC/Comcast having fended off competitors from the Olympics and NHL packages, but also having failed to procure a partnership with the Pac 12, they've essentially treaded water and held their position in 2011. Going forward, NBC and NBC Sports Network will benefit from having two channels of inventory to bid on programming rights in the future but unfortunately the rest of 2011 and 2012 are quiet years in terms of expiring sports programming rights.
NBC Sports Network is believed by many to be the favorite to get the new 8 game NFL package. Such a move would really boost the network's distribution (around 70 million now) upwards to ESPN's number of around 100 million households as well as help drive carriage fees higher.
I think the previously linked philly.com article is interesting as it doesn't beat around the bush about Comcast's motivations, as the second headline reads, "Comcast is rebranding the homegrown channel and changing its format. Subscriber fees could rise."
The article goes on to say:
"The goal of the Versus name change - and other changes expected to be announced in the coming months - is to make the sports channel more popular with fans so that Comcast can charge higher per-subscriber fees for it."
In a nutshell, Comcast changes its name, as expected by everyone, in a plan to make more money. Truly breaking news here.
Looking to continue the success of ESPN's acclaimed "30 For 30" series, the WWL has released a Fall schedule of seven additional documentaries from ESPN Films. If you're anything like me, there were some "30 For 30" docs that you knew right away were must-see tv (Pony Express, The U), while some were just suspect (Marion Jones, Fernando Nation, etc). The same looks to be true with the announcement of ESPN's latest set of original documentaries. Hey, if there's anything I'm alright with making a premature judgement on, it's movies and documentaries. Let's take a totally subjective look at the new "30 For 30" documentaries and gauge the watchability of each based on what we know so far...
(1) Catching Hell - Sep. 27
-The story of Steve Bartman and his fateful night in 2003 finally takes the small screen after many had suspected it would be part of the original 30 For 30. Full disclosure, I am a Cubs fan, so I was very much looking forward to examining Bartman's role in the famous Cubs collapse and how Cubs fans have treated him in the years since. It seemed like the doc would be a healing experience for Cubs fans, examining their own shortcomings and exploring the unique connection between fan and team.
That is, until I read that director Alex Gibney was going to use part of the documentary to examine his own anger against Bill Buckner as a Red Sox fan. GAG! Typical ESPN to have a tie-in to one of their darling teams, the Red Sox. I will be extremely disappointed if the Sawx take over this Cubs documentary. If the Buckner aspect is minimized and well done, it could certainly add to the Bartman story, but knowing ESPN, I won't hold my breath.
Watchability Scale: Reluctantly, with one eye open
(2) Renee - Oct. 4
-This documentary examines the story of Renee Richards, a transgender tennis player in the 1970's. Personally, this story just doesn't appeal to me. I'm certain ESPN will handle the matter gracefully and with care, but I'm just not that interested. There's way too much controversial subject matter for me to even attempt a lame joke at this stage, so let's just move on, shall we?
Watchability Scale: Be my guest
(3) The Dotted Line - Oct. 11
-Director Morgan Spurlock of "Super Size Me" fame takes a look at two professional sports agents (Peter Greenberg and Eugene Lee). Now, if I'd ever heard of the two agents being profiled, maybe I'd be more interested. The only hook for me would be the intrepid Spurlock, or if he actually catches the agents breaking NCAA rules on camera.
Watchability Scale: (shrugs shoulders)
Yesterday, Jackson Strong - who has a top 10 best name ever btw, right up there with Max Power - made history by being the first to succesfully land a MotoX frontflip at the X-Games.
Unfortunately, the announcer calling the action somehow mistook it for a some kind of historic record breaking BACKflip. That is, the kind of flip any MotoX rider worth his salt wouldn't be caught dead performing without the word "double" in front of it. The kind that was first nailed way back in 1993, 6 years before Tony Hawk put the X-Games on the map by sticking the 900. That is to say, the kind of flip that involves rotating the opposite direction, and is at this point completely pedestrian. Imagine if, when The Birdman finally nailed his white whale of skateboarding, the announcer had enthusiastically proclaimed, "TONY HAWK HAS JUST PERFORMED THE FIRST EVER 540!!" Kinda takes the wind out of your sails no?
Lucky for him nobody was watching.
Updating our earlier story that Hard Knocks was unlikely to happen, today our inbox was greeted with the sad confirmation of the news.
"HBO Sports® and NFL FILMS announced today that the five-episode Hard Knocks reality series will not be presented this summer. The uncertainty of the NFL’s summer schedule and the incredibly expedited timetable this month made it impractical for a team to commit. The series is scheduled to return for 2012 training camp.However, a special 90-minute edition of Hard Knocks, celebrating the past ten years of the seven-time Emmy®-Award-winning series will premiere Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, exclusively on HBO."
Unlike Chris Berman, Stuart Scott, Steve Berthiaume and Scott Van Pelt, Everett is a nice balance of personality and professionalism. He rarely goes over the top with his catch phrases and typically keeps his composure. He’s at his best when he’s doing highlights; I like his delivery, energy, improvisation and timing. The guy just always seems comfortable, regardless of what sport he’s doing highlights for. Not every anchor is capable of being at ease in every situation. You ever hear Linda Cohn do a soccer highlight? She’s like a camel trying to swim across the Atlantic.
For the most part, Everett does a good job, but every anchor has their issues. To me, Everett’s biggest problem is that he sometimes gets too carried away with his writing. His scripts are a tad too wordy and his lead-ins are a smidge too cute. I also can’t stand those lame skits that he often takes part in, but something tells me those are his producer's ideas instead of his.
Anyway, last night, as Baseball Tonight was wrapping up, Everett popped on the tube with a tease for the upcoming SportsCenter. I almost choked on my midnight snack after I saw Everett turn in a performance that the late ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage would be proud of...
I understand that his adrenaline was probably pumping before the show and that he was trying to peak the interest of the audience, but there was no reason for Everett to scream and gyrate the way he did at the tail end of that tease. Hopefully, someone in the control room got in his ear and told him how ridiculous his epileptic episode actually was. The “X-GAMES ARE TAKING OVER!” What the hell does that even mean?
Don’t let anything like this happen again Neil. If you keep pulling the sort of garbage that I saw from you last night, you’ll be eliminated from my SCATDMMWTBMBO list. There is no place on my list for an anchor that behaves like some roided out wrestler. Why do you think Berman never made the cut?
*Update: Today is the final day to vote in our Joe Morgan Memorial Tournament Final!!! Voting ends tonight at midnight, and as of right now, it looks like Cinderella Craig James has an insurmountable lead. But, as we know, anything can happen! So, stuff those ballot boxes between now and midnight and tell us who should join the three faces of awfulness currently on AA's Mt. Rushmore to replace Joe Morgan...Joe Buck or Craig James. And make sure you come back on Monday for the unveiling of our new and improved Awful Announcing banner!
Our month long Joe Morgan Memorial Tournament has reached the final. Thanks to all of you who have taken part in the tournament so far, especially for the amazing 24,669 votes for the semifinals. It's been an awesome month of awfulness here at AA, but it is now time to turn 32 into 1 and decide who will replace Joe Morgan on Awful Announcing's Mount Rushmore. When we started this tournament July 5th, few people would have predicted ESPN college football analyst Craig James for one final slot. However, a month of horrible PR came from nowhere for the Senator thanks to stunning revelations in the new Mike Leach book combined with the #FreeBruce saga. Those stories lifted James to unprecedented heights of unlikability. In the final he meets Fox play by play man Joe Buck, who in spite of winning some sympathy through battling a vocal cord virus, has rode a wave of years of discontent from sports fans through to the final. Let's hope the final will be just as dramatic as the Colin Cowherd-Joe Buck semifinal, where Buck passed Cowherd in the final two minutes before the clock struck midnight and won by 33 votes out of 12,635. Voting ends Friday night at Midnight on the East Coast.
The future of Awful Announcing's Mount Rushmore lies in your hands. Who will join Pam Ward, Dick Vitale, and Tim McCarver in AA immortality? Will it be Craig James or Joe Buck?
Craig James vs Joe Buck
Fact File: ESPN college football game and studio analyst
Why He's Here: James became an integral part of one of college football's biggest stories when his son Adam's allegations of being locked in a closet led to Mike Leach's firing at Texas Tech. This led to an awkward series of revelations made by Leach about Craig's meddling in his program, lawsuits, and other developments. ESPN was put in the position of having one of their analysts be an integral part of the controversy. How did Craig James respond? Well, rumor has it he wants to be a Senator of course. And now that his coverup and controversy briefly resulted in the "suspension" of respected CFB writer Bruce Feldman, James is more despised than ever.
The Mike Leach Book Excerpts Make Craig James Look Like An Even Bigger Douche
Craig James Wants You To Help Texans Help Save America
Announcer working Alamo Bowl gets Alamo Bowl coach suspended
Craig James running to the Senate
Craig James loses it
Round 1 Result: Defeated Mike Patrick 75.17% - 24.83%
Round 2 Result: Defeated Rick Reilly 66.32% - 33.68%
Round 3 Result: Defeated Stephen A. Smith 60.76% - 39.24%
Final 4 Result: Defeated Chris Berman 77.16% - 22.84%
Fact File: Fox's #1 play by play man for NFL and MLB. Has announced several World Series and Super Bowls.
Why He's Here: Joe Buck has quickly risen to the top of the most disliked sports announcers. His dry, monotone style doesn't quite fit in with an age where Gus Johnson and Kevin Harlan are two of the more popular sports announcers in the business. Beyond that though, Joe Buck has a certain air of smugness towards his announcing duties, even admitting in the past that he isn't that big of a sports fan. His attempted and failed late night career told sports fans that he had bigger and better things to do than announce the biggest games in sports.
Judge Kimberly Small, known for her tough stance on drunken driving, ordered the former NBA player and University of Michigan basketball star to serve 93 days in jail, but she suspended all but 20 of those days.
Small, during a 40-minute sentencing hearing in 48th District Court in Bloomfield Township, told Rose: “You’re not here because you drank. I have no problem with that. Have at it. I do mind when you get behind the wheel of a two-ton vehicle and use it as a weapon against the rest of us.”
Now common sense would tell you that any sort of jail time for Jalen Rose would wake him up and make him be extra cautious on the roadways. Going through that amount of public scrutiny and punishment should be enough to reflect on how careful one should be when driving. However, in the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend. You see, after he was sentenced to go to jail, Rose was almost immediately pulled over for speeding. Again, the Free Press has the details...
Former Michigan Fab Fiver Jalen Rose was given a speeding ticket in Clawson hours after he was sentenced to nearly three weeks in jail for drunken driving, authorities said today.
Rose was clocked going 46 m.p.h. in a 25-m.p.h. zone shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday night, Clawson Police Chief Harry Anderson said. He was given a citation for going at least 10 m.p.h. over the limit.
If that wasn't stupid enough, Rose then traded in his car for a scooter, straight up. Can he not just hire a driver?? Seems like that would be safer for the rest of us. With the jail sentence and all of the negative publicity that Rose has faced in the past year, it would not surprise me in the least to see the leader quietly part ways with the former Fab Fiver. With the NBA lockout proving ex-jock analysts fairly useless, Jalen may fade away like those Fab Five banners.