Despite the efforts of the College Football Playoff committee and some media outlets downplaying the financial hit ESPN took by being forced to televise the two national championship semi-final games on New Year’s Eve, media buyers say the network owes upwards of $20 million in ad makegoods for ratings shortfalls for the two games.
ESPN may have gotten a bit greedy when setting its ratings estimates and offering higher guarantee levels to advertisers for the two games, knowing audiences might not flock to their TV sets, despite the optimism of the CFP committee. However, advertisers are concerned about next season’s potential audience levels for the games, which will also be televised on New Year’s Eve. Even if the ratings guarantees by ESPN are set lower, advertisers would prefer the games be moved to New Year’s Day or even on consecutive primetime nights, exclusive of New Year’s Eve, when more people would likely watch.
But CFP committee officials are on record as adamantly supporting the continued airing of the playoff series games on New Year’s Eve as scheduled, which will occur in seven of the remaining 10 years of the 12-year original deal. And that position has been taken even after the 36% combined ratings decline for the two games was disclosed.
So ESPN is caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, it has to keep its mouth shut and parrot the CFP’s belief that ratings will get better in subsequent New Year’s Eve telecasts, even though privately they believe that to be nonsense. It can’t been seen criticizing its long-term partner publicly. On the other hand, ESPN has to hear the wrath of its advertisers who saw their ad dollars spent on the severe under-delivery of the guaranteed audience for the two games.
Some media outlets have pointed out that since ESPN sells packages for all the bowl games and a sizable number of advertisers are in all of the games, that the New Year’s Eve ratings shortfalls were considerably mitigated.
One buyer called that analysis “a bunch of spin,” adding that College Football Playoff Committee executive director Bill Hancock’s statement that the New Year’s Eve games’ ratings declines were simply “modest” was “just plain wrong.”
Try selling the “modest” ratings declines to the movie studios that were in those New Year’s Eve games who paid big bucks to reach an audience they wanted to reach immediately that turned out to be more than one-third less than the size that they paid for.
Sure they can get makegoods down the road, but some marketers needed those eyeballs sooner, not later.
ESPN is trying to make things right with its advertisers, although its sales executives will not discuss the situation publicly beyond a general statement issued by a network spokesperson.
“As is standard practice with any sponsored television event, inventory is managed and contingencies are put in place to protect advertisers,” the ESPN statement reads. “The specifics of those deals vary and we work with our advertisers to make them whole in the event of a shortfall.”
Media buyers are sympathetic to ESPN’s situation and are also appalled and angry at the attitude of the NCAA and the College Football Playoff committee and the public comments being made by their executives.
The CFP’s Hancock told The New York Times this week, “We don’t make decisions based on television numbers. I don’t have a TV number that influences my measurable for success.”
Talk about a slap in the face to his media partner ESPN which is now some $20 million in the hole because of Hancock’s arrogance, after the network paid the CFP $600 million for the TV rights of the bowl games, including the two New Year’s Eve semi-finals.
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Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys
The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.
Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.
But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.
Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:
Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.
Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”
Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.
The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.
Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.
“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”
Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”
He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.
Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.
NFL Likely To Launch NFL+ Streaming Service This Summer
“A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+.”
According to the Sports Business Journal, consumers could be downloading NFL+ by July. Now, just what NFL+ will be is still yet to be finalized.
Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal reported in the site’s newsletter that live games will certainly be at the center of the league-owned streaming service. It is likely to only be available on phones and tablets with no option to stream to a larger monitor.
The viewing options would be limited. No out of market games would be available on the app. It is meant to replace the deals that recently expired with Yahoo and mobile phone carriers that recently expired.
The app could also include other content. Radio calls, team-created digital content, and league-owned podcasts are all options.
A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+. The pricing structure can and likely will change before the app hits the market.