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NBA Mandates Regional Sports Networks Send Announcers To Games

The NBA and its teams “felt that the quality of the telecasts suffered when announcers called games remotely”.

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The NBA has informed its regional sports network partners it is required to send announcers to away games.

The league hands out broadcasting guidelines to its regional and national TV partners to begin each season, and it reiterated, especially to the regional sports networks, its desire for the announcers to be on-site for each game.

According to a report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, several regional sports networks had asked the NBA for “flexibility” on the rules for cross country trips. For instance, an Eastern Conference team playing in the Pacific Time Zone generally garners the lowest ratings of the season, and networks had asked if announcers could call those games remotely. The NBA reportedly responded by saying it would work with teams on an case-by-case basis.

Remote broadcasts became a necessity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, including to begin the 2021-2022 season last fall. However, according to Ourand, the NBA and its teams “felt that the quality of the telecasts suffered when announcers called games remotely”.

In August, it was reported the Portland Trail Blazers would have both their radio and television broadcasts announce away games remotely. After backlash from both its fans and the broadcasting industry, the team reversed course to allow its broadcasters to travel with the team.

Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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Sports TV News

DirecTV Accuses FOX Sports Of ‘Scare Tactics’ As Contract Expiration Looms

FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch indicated that this is just the first of a string of current negotiations that are upcoming.

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Cable and satellite TV subscribers should by now be accustomed to threats of seeing some channels disappear from their lineup due to contract disputes. The warnings by FOX Sports to viewers on DirecTV are no different, but the nation’s largest satellite provider isn’t appreciative of efforts by the network to make viewers aware.

FOX is currently coming up on the end of its current contract with DirecTV. With no new agreement between the two sides in place right now, FOX network, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network and FOX-owned local affiliates will be blacked out to viewers at 3 a.m. on December 2.

As is customary with these sorts of situations, FOX has instituted a crawl on the above networks making viewers aware that they could soon see the channels gone and encouraging them to tell DirecTV not to let these channels go.

For sports fans, blackouts could be massively disruptive for football fans and soccer fans. The World Cup is currently airing on FOX and FS1,while the NFL and college football also occupy time on those same channels.

Still, DirecTV has accused FOX of utilizing the crawl to use “the same old, tired programmer scare tactics,” according to a statement to Deadline.

Earlier in the fall, ESPN and Dish were in a similar situation. The negotiation deadline passed, and viewers, college football fans in particular, were unable to catch any games on TV for a day.

FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch indicated that this is just the first of a string of current negotiations that are upcoming.

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