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Will Cowherd Face FS1 Pre-Empts?

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Now that Colin Cowherd and ESPN have officially made their split, it is time for the host to look into his crystal ball and analyze his time at Fox Sports 1. His show is going to be simulcast in a similar fashion to The Mike Francesa Show, though Cowherd’s radio side will reportedly have a national syndication arm through Premiere. Seeing the way Francesa’s show has been regularly pushed to the lightly distributed Fox Sports 2, should Cowherd be worried his show gets the same treatment?

It hasn’t always been rocky for Mike Francesa. After splitting with Chris Russo in 2008, Francesa began hosting solo from 1-6:30 eastern on WFAN. His show was simulcast on the regional YES Network until 2014, when they opted to air The Michael Kay Show instead. Since then, everything has seemingly gone downhill for Francesa. He found a new television home with the Fox Sports startups, who agreed to air his show from 1-4 eastern on FS1 and 4-6 eastern on FS2.

Little did Francesa know his show would be regularly preempted for live sports programming, where his show would be pushed to Fox Sports 2, or, even worse, solely on the Fox Sports Go app. This was a new obstacle for the Sports Pope, who only saw live Yankee games take the place of his show when it was on YES. Preemptions happen, though Francesa finds soccer to be less entertaining than watching his show. He should have known better, as his local sports talk show has been annihilated in the ratings by the world’s most popular sport. Francesa has vocalized his disdain toward preemptions on numerous occasions, complaints that have soured his relationship with Fox Sports and CBS Sports Radio. At least Jay and Dan have had some fun with the whole situation.

Mike Francesa is a big fish in the biggest local pond, but Colin Cowherd is a big fish in the national pond, something that gives him a much larger reach. If Cowherd’s new radio show is a direct replacement for Mike Francesa, these same preemptions could be a problem. That said, with Cowherd’s impressive reach, the ratings issue wouldn’t be as big of a deal, not to mention his following would find Fox Sports 2 or clamor at their cable providers to carry the channel. This would lead to Fox Sports 2 in more homes and could help turn it into a viable third-tier sports network.

Part of the problem with forecasting preemptions for a Colin Cowherd show is that a time slot has yet to be revealed. This issue has already been covered, though it was likely complicated by Cowherd’s comments that ended his time at the Worldwide Leader. Assuming he inhabits the same slot that made him a big name at ESPN, live event preemption won’t be as big of a problem – most of the NASCAR and soccer events that Fox has the rights to occur in the afternoon. Furthermore, Cowherd would actually reach more subscribers than he did on ESPNU and would be a big draw for a network struggling to earn viewership outside of live events. Fox Sports has to tiptoe across a very fine line considering their radio arm airs two competitors in the Dan Patrick Show and the Rich Eisen Show and now their television arm will be simulcasting a direct competitor. If that last sentence sounds complicated to read, just imagine what is happening behind the scenes at Fox.

When it comes to the marriage of Colin Cowherd and Fox Sports 1, there are multiple factors that could affect future success, including competition within and without. But the one thing that’s the biggest difference between Cowherd and Francesa at Fox is the network’s investment. Fox is merely simulcasting Francesa’s show from WFAN and can move it and preempt it as they wish with no loss to themselves. They’ll be paying Cowherd in the range of several million dollars per year. That fact alone makes Cowherd’s show a programming priority that Francesa’s show never could be.

Credit to Awful Announcing who originally published this article

Sports TV News

NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings

“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”

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The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer. 

In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD. 

“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”

There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week. 

No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.

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Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Sports TV News

Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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