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Category: Television

AT&T Wireless tops biggest national TV sports advertisers

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The research firm Nielsen said Tuesday that AT&T Wireless was the biggest advertiser on national televised sports in the 12 months ended last Sept. 30, spending $423.5 million on national network and cable TV ads.

In its report "State of the Media: 2011 Year in Sports,"Nielsen said the wireless company's national TV ad spending was more than twice that spent by the second-place advertiser, Bud Light, the Anheuser-Busch beer that spent $210.2 million.

Wireless phone companies, in fact, accounted for three of the seven largest national TV sports advertisers. Verizon Wireless was third on Nielsen's list at $207.7 million and Sprint Wireless was seventh at $147.4 million.

The report did not break down ad spending by sport, but it did say overall national TV sports advertising climbed 5.8% in the year to $10.9 billion.

The increase was slightly above the 5% increase in the amount of live national TV sports content that was available on network and cable in the 12-month period, which totaled 42,500 hours, Nielsen said.

The other top advertisers: McDonald's, DirecTV, Geico, Southwest Airlines, State Farm Insurance and Miller Lite beer.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: A television camera above the field in St. Louis before the NFL's St. Louis Rams played the Washington Redskins on Sept. 26, 2010. Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

Lydia Murphy-Stephans to head Pac-12 Networks

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Lydia Murphy-Stephans, a former Olympic speed skater and a veteran executive at ABC Sports and the MSG Network, was named executive vice president and general manager of the new Pac-12 Networks, which are to launch next August.

Murphy-Stephans is to report to Gary Stevenson, head of the new Pac-12 Enterprises that is also running the sponsorship, digital properties and legal divisions of the company that will be headquartered in an yet-to-be-chosen location in the Bay Area.

Murphy-Stephans is to oversee the development, launch and management of the Pac-12 Networks, with an emphasis on programming and production. She and her team are tasked with producing live events in virtually every sport from Pac-12 campuses, as well as creating studio shows and other original programming.

She brings more that 25 years of experience in network television to the job, including leadership positions in programming and production at ABC Sports.

Murphy-Stephans said she hoped to hire 10 to 15 people in the next 60 days, and Stevenson said that by the time the network launches, he hopes to have hired 100 to 150 people.

Although Los Angeles is home to many television production facilities -- with Fox Sports West and the West Coast edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter" headquartered within a block of Staples Center, where the Pac-12 holds its conference basketball tournament -- Stevenson said it made more sense for the new network to be based in Northern California, near the conference offices in Walnut Creek and near Silicon Valley.

"While we're talking about our linear television networks, we will also be creating content for our company, and our content will be repurposed in a lot of different ways. We have had a heck of a lot of conversations with new media companies in the Silicon Valley, and the proximity to these companies, which offer ways to distribute content in the future, was a plus, as was, at the end of the day, proximity to the conference office," he said.

Stevenson said the new network plans to produce 850 live events next year. He and Murphy-Stephans plan to tour all of the Pac-12 campuses in the next six weeks to make sure each is equipped to handle the production of live events for the new network.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Pac 12 helmet. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times.

World Series: Fox broadcast draws huge audience

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Thursday's dramatic World Series game drew more than 21 million viewers, Major League Baseball said Friday. At its peak nearly one-third of all U.S. houses using televisions were tuned in to the Fox network broadcast of the St. Louis Cardinals' 11-inning win over the Texas Rangers.

More than 8 of every 10 TVs in operation in Dallas and St. Louis were tuned in to the game.

Overall, Fox averaged an estimated 19.72 million viewers and a 12.0 rating and 19 share nationally, according to Nielsen Media Research, which tracks TV viewership. That swamped second-place CBS, which had a 12 share and 12.09 million viewers.

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-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis

 Photo: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Credit:  Rob Carr / Getty Images.

Bryant Gumbel evokes slavery: David Stern like 'plantation overseer'

Bryant Gumbel had some harsh words for David Stern, sure to spark controversy, in Tuesday night's episode of HBO's "Real Sports," evoking imagery of slavery in describing the NBA commissioner's treatment of players.

During his commentary at the close of the show, the Emmy-winning host said Stern appeared to want the image of "some kind of modern plantation overseer" and said the commissioner treats the players like they were "his boys" and "hired hands":

"Stern's version of what has been going on behind closed doors has of course been disputed, but his efforts were typical of a commissioner who has always seemed eager to be viewed as some kind of modern plantation overseer, treating NBA men as if they were his boys. It's part of Stern's M.O., like his past self-serving edicts on dress code and the questioning of officials. His moves were intended to do little more than show how he's the one keeping the hired hands in their place."

Gumbel, who has made headlines with racially charged comments in the past, acknowledged during the rant that his comments would get some negative attention -- he also acknowledged that he didn't care.

"Some will of course cringe at that characterization but Stern's disdain for the players is as palpable and pathetic as his motives are transparent," Gumbel said.

Back in 2006, Gumbel referred to then NFL Players Assn. executive director Gene Upshaw as then league commissioner Paul Tagliabue's "personal pet," according to SportsBusinessNews.

That same year, Gumbel made this comment about the Winter Olympics, according to NewsBusters.org: "Try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention."

The NBA owners locked out their players when the old collective bargaining agreement expired June 30. The exhibition season and first two weeks of the regular season have already been cancelled. Stern spent 16 hours Tuesday with owners, players and a federal mediator in the latest attempt to salvage the season.

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-- Chuck Schilken

Video: nbavideosnow2 / YouTube

Jon Gruden agrees to five more years on 'Monday Night Football'

Gruden_275Jon Gruden's name seems to come up pretty much every time there is a coaching vacancy in the NFL. But that might not happen again for quite a while.

The former Super Bowl-winning coach has agreed to a contract extention with ESPN that will keep him in the booth as an analyst on "Monday Night Football" through the 2016 NFL season.

According to a statement from the network, the agreement will keep Gruden “out of coaching for the next five years.”

“Our 'Monday Night Football’ crew is special, and to have the opportunity to continue to be a part of this team, working these big-time NFL prime-time games every week on ESPN, I’m fired up,” Gruden said in the statement.

Gruden, 48, was a head coach in the league for 11 years, winning five division crowns and leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl title in 2002. He is in his third season on "Monday Night Football."

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— Chuck Schilken

Photo: Jon Gruden. Credit: Steven Senne / Associated Press

New HBO Sports boss: ex-Showtime Sports head Hershman

HboHBO Sports has replaced the resigned Ross Greenburg as president, selecting Showtime Sports President Ken Hershman, boxing officials confirmed Thursday.

Hershman is scheduled to assume his duties in January, according to an HBO official.

Hershman's major triumphs at Showtime included landing the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley bout in May, which included cross-promotion on CBS platforms. He also brought HBO's "Inside the NFL" to his premium cable network, and aired mixed-martial arts fighting from the organization Strikeforce.

Greenburg, who presided over HBO's standing as the top boxing viewership destination while supplementing the coverage with a reality series, "24/7," along with award-winning sports documentaries, resigned in the summer after losing Pacquiao -- the sport's top draw.

HBO responded by getting Pacquiao back for his Nov. 12 bout against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas.

Continue reading »

Should Hank Williams Jr. remain voice of 'Monday Night Football'?

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Hank Williams Jr.'s classic intro song for "Monday Night Football" -- with its signature line "Are you ready for some football?" -- was pulled from this week's game on ESPN after Williams used an analogy to Adolf Hitler in discussing President Obama.

Should Williams' removal be a permanent one? Writers from around the Tribune Co. are discussing the topic -- check back throughout the day for more responses. You can join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

In the first place, I don't think of Hank Williams Jr. as the voice of "Monday Night Football." The guy made a dumb, nonsensical analogy on a news show -- why was he being interviewed for his opinion on politics anyway? -- and now we're wringing our hands and feeling obligated to react.

Don't we have more important things to worry about? The guy has an opinion and a right to that opinion, no matter how wacked out it might be. We should stop investing so much energy into worrying about what celebrities say just because they're celebrities.

Just promise me this: Don't interview Faith Hill on her political opinions, whatever those might be. I like that intro and don't want to see it scrubbed.

Continue reading »

Pac-12 Network to be launched in 2012

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In New York on Wednesday, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott announced the creation of a new Pac-12 network by creating one national network and six regional channels.

The regional six regional networks to be launched in 2012 will be dedicated to Washington, serving Washington State and Washington; Oregon for Oregon and Oregon State; Northern California, for Cal and Stanford; Southern California for USC and UCLA; and the Mountain States for Colorado and Utah.

According to Scott, the regional networks will be carried locally on basic and digital cable, and the national network will be on sports tiers that require an extra fee.

The regional networks will be carried locally, within their geographically proscribed areas, on basic and digital cable, and the national network will be shown on sports tiers that require an extra fee.

Continue reading »

Jay Mariotti to stand trial on stalking and assault charges

Mariotti_250 Former ESPN personality Jay Mariotti must stand trial on felony stalking and assault charges in connection with allegations by his ex-girlfriend, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday.

Mariotti, a former sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times who appeared frequently on ESPN's "Around the Horn," faces up to five years in state prison if convicted on all counts. He has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well as to two misdemeanor counts of disobeying a court order.

Andrew Blankstein of The Times' L.A. Now blog reports:

Prosecutors contend that Mariotti confronted his ex-girlfriend the same day a court ordered him to stay away from her. In addition, they say he argued with his former girlfriend again outside a Venice restaurant April 15. He allegedly pulled a chunk of her hair out and grabbed her cellphone while shouting at her, prosecutors said.

Read more: "Former ESPN personality Jay Mariotti to stand trial on stalking and assault charges."

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-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Jay Mariotti. Credit: ESPN

How to watch Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic at French Open

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It happens every year. After nearly two weeks of watching live French Open tennis coverage on Tennis Channel and ESPN2, NBC jumps into the mix when play reaches the semifinals. And Friday that means tape-delay on the West Coast because NBC puts its broadcast on after the "Today Show" at 11 a.m. EDT and PDT.

It's a losing battle. The "Today Show" is coming on and live French Open tennis on your big screen is not. But NBC is making a concession Friday. You can watch NBC's coverage live on NBCsports.com, which will live-stream whatever matches it is showing.

Even fans in the East have complained in the past about missing something. Play begins at Roland Garros Friday at 5 a.m. PDT with the Rafael Nadal-Andy Murray semifinal and followed by the match between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

It is that second contest that is much anticipated. Djokovic has an unbeaten season going, 41-0 so far, and if he beats Federer, even if he doesn't win the title, Djokovic will be ranked No. 1 in the world next week. Federer, who turns 30 this year, is fighting the sense that his days of winning major tournaments are over. He hasn't won a Grand Slam title since the 2010 Australian Open but has been efficient so far in the French Open. Federer hasn't lost a set.

Tennis Channel is going to show the Nadal-Murray match live. NBCsports.com will live-stream the entire Federer-Djokovic match. In the East, NBC will either pick up with the finish of the Nadal-Murray match (Tennis Channel will be allowed to show the match in its entirety) or, if Federer and Djokovic have already started, NBC will pick up the match in progress. But NBCsports.com will start its live-stream whenever Federer and Djokovic hit the first ball.

In the West, it is possible, as has happened in the past, that by the time NBC puts tennis on at 11 a.m. there will be nothing live left in which case NBC will show the entire Federer-Djokovic on tape delay.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Roger Federer. Credit: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images.

Chris Evert joins ESPN tennis broadcast team

Chris Evert Chris Evert will do studio analysis and match calling for ESPN beginning June 20 at Wimbledon and later this summer when ESPN covers the U.S. Open. Evert won three Wimbledon titles and another six U.S. Open championships.

There was space in the ESPN tennis booth after Mary Carillo left the network last year. Carillo is working the French Open for NBC this weekend.

“Chris Evert is an iconic figure, and with more than 100 hours on our plate at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, fans will benefit from Chris’ insights, experience and passion for the game,”  said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president.

Evert said, “I am really excited about working again in tennis as an analyst. I've been away from TV for 10 years because my priority was raising my three boys, and now that they are older, it is the right time to join the exceptional tennis team at ESPN."

In the past, Evert has worked for CBS and NBC.

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Reggie Bush to appear on reality TV show

BCS chief will meet with Department of Justice officials

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Chris Evert. Credit: Mike Kroll / Associated Press

 

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