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Cubs TV Future Factors Into All Business Decisions

Jason Barrett

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Telecasting nonstop programming from Kyle Schwarber‘s tape-measure home run to Ron Santo clicking his heels after victories is a vision that runs deep in the minds of Cubs executives.

“We look forward to the day we have the rights to start our own channel,” Chairman Tom Ricketts said recently at the Cubs Convention.

But as profitably tempting as operating their own regional sports channel may be — as the Yankees can attest through the YES Network — there are many variables that have the Cubs keeping an open mind for 2020 when they can control television rights for their games.

“We’re studying it to death to look at pros and cons and weigh the risks of launching on our own or launching with a partner,” Crane Kenney, the Cubs’ business president, said.

The structuring of contracts for free agents Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist suggests the Cubs will have deeper financial pockets in 2019 and beyond, which also will allow them to retain talents such as Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell in their arbitration years.

“The money is still out there,” media analyst Jeff Kagan said. “(The Cubs) brand is recognized around the country, and now they’re viewed as winners.”

But Kenney realizes that grossing millions of dollars that can bankroll the player payroll easily doesn’t guarantee a new contract will be a success. Because of distribution issues, less than 40 percent of the Southern California audience has TV access to Dodgers games.

And the Pacific-12 Network hasn’t reached a deal with DirecTV to carry its football games for the last four seasons.

Kenney acknowledged that the Cubs are continuing to negotiate with Comcast SportsNet Chicago, in which they hold a 20 percent ownership stake. Two years ago, the Phillies and their local Comcast affiliate agreed to a 25-year, $2.5 billion contract.

“(But) as we have conversations, which are on-going with all sorts of partners, if somebody offers us something dramatically better, we’ll of course look at it,” Kenney said. “But what we control is the idea of launching our own network in 2019.”

But the biggest decision, should the Cubs choose their own network, is selecting the right business partner. The YES Network has achieved success through the 80 percent ownership backing of 21st Century Fox. The Dodgers’ 25-year, $8.35 billion contract is considered an anomaly because Time Warner has absorbed all the financial risks.

 

Kenney said the Cubs would need a two-year setup before televising games in 2020 if they choose to operate their own channel. But they won’t be rushed into making a deal soon.

“Maybe aside from changing (baseball) leadership, this is the biggest decision we’ll have,” Ricketts said. “So we have to get it right.”

To read the full article visit the Chicago Tribune where it was originally published

 

Sports TV News

Peyton Manning Rejected ESPN Proposal To Add To ManningCast Schedule

“ESPN has certainly mentioned going up to 12 games or more, and Eli and I held strong.“

Jordan Bondurant

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There’s no secret based on the last two seasons that NFL fans really do enjoy tuning in to watch Peyton and Eli Manning on Monday nights.

Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, affectionately known as the ManningCast, has proven to be a ratings success for ESPN. Monday night’s wild card playoff edition drew in an audience of 1.7 million. That’s an increase of 17% compared to last year.

The Mannings spoke to Jeff Beer of Fast Company and Peyton said as much as the fans love watching, the two brothers and legendary quarterbacks love doing the show.

“One thing I think comes through is just how much Eli and I enjoy this,” Peyton said.

But Peyton added that they do care about oversaturating the space, which is why he said they turned down the idea of increasing the number of shows this season from 10 to 12.

“We laugh a lot. If you maybe go to 17 games, maybe we’re not laughing as much, and it starts to get repetitive,” he said. “ESPN has certainly mentioned going up to 12 games or more, and Eli and I held strong. We just feel the show is better if we keep it to the 10.”

“I don’t want to see him every week and get his voice memos of breaking down (game) film,” Eli joked. “There’s something to people wanting more, and if we’re on too much, they might not want more. It keeps me motivated.”

One of the things that people love so much about the show is just how organic the exchanges between Peyton and Eli and Peyton, Eli and their guests can be. Peyton gets the appeal from fans and knows viewers think of it as meeting up with them at a bar to watch the game.

“Football is always more fun when you watch it with friends,” Peyton said. “Eli and I get to sit on our couches and watch it together, and the viewers are all of our friends, and the guest is just right there with us. We’re on the couch, we’re at a bar, let’s have a conversation.”

Eli said they do try to make sure things stay focused on football and the game they’re watching when the time calls for it. But he also admitted that he and his older brother are always going to find ways to have fun with each other when they can as well.

“If there’s great football happening, and it’s a tight game, you want to keep it about football,” he said. “But if it’s a blowout, you have to do something else, maybe tell a story, take a shot at Peyton, you don’t know where that’s going to go. It’s authentic. That’s what would happen if we were sitting on the couch watching the game and it’s a bit boring; I might take a pillow and throw it at my brother’s head.”

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Sports TV News

Expanded NFL Season And Playoffs Could Cost NBC Golden Globes

“The 2023 edition of the show was on NBC after the two sides struck a one-year deal back in September.”

Jordan Bondurant

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There’s no hiding the fact that the NFL reigns supreme in TV ratings. Unfortunately for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Golden Globe Awards, the NFL is too strong to compete against.

Since the NFL expanded the regular season to 17 games over 18 weeks, and added a seventh playoff team in each conference, in 2021-22, NBC’s obligation to football has taken precedent over its obligation to airing the Golden Globes.

The award show this year aired on Tuesday, January 10. On January 8, NBC aired the final regular season game of the year on Sunday Night Football between the Lions and Packers. The game drew an audience of 23.9 million, which NBC said was the highest rating a SNF finale has gotten in six years. NBC carried an AFC wild card playoff game this past Sunday night with the Bengals and Ravens. That game averaged 21.2 million.

Meanwhile the Golden Globes drew in 6.3 million. That number was down 9% compared to the 2021 ceremony. NBC didn’t air the Golden Globes in 2022 amid a Los Angeles Times expose into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

With the HFPA mired in scandal and waning interest in their award show, NBC could be done with the Golden Globes. The 2023 edition of the show was on NBC after the two sides struck a one-year deal back in September. So there are questions abound about if NBC will continue to air it. However knowing that even with the expanded season and playoffs, the option to shift the award show to later in January on a Sunday night after NBC has fulfilled its obligation to the league is on the table. But that could throw a wrench in the award season schedule as well.

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Sports TV News

LIV Golf Nearing TV Deal With The CW Network

“LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.”

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LIV Golf

According to a report from Front Office Sports, LIV Golf has laid out a deal with The CW Network for television carriage in the United States.

The deal is a multi-year agreement that will see the tour own real estate in lesser-viewed time slots on the network. A revenue-sharing relationship between the tour and the television network is expected to be struck.

LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.

After a standup comedy show in West Palm Beach last week, Feherty reportedly told the crowd “Have you heard of CW? I might get fired for this, but…,” according to report from Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand had previously reported a deal between the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and the network was likely.

Nexstar Media Group — the nation’s largest television owner — is the majority owner of The CW Network. There are around 220 affiliates of the network on over-the-air television stations. Rumors of an acquisition of LIV Golf’s rights come on the heels of The CW Network being linked to the potential launch of a college football bowl game that would air exclusively on the network.

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