December 6, 2019

NBC Is Set to Showcase Elite Soccer

The bigger one is Fox Sports 1, Rupert Murdoch’s challenge to ESPN, which will begin at 6 a.m. Eastern.

Less than two hours later, NBC Universal will open the first season of its three-year, $250 million deal with England’s Premier League, which will show every game on television or on digital streams.

NBC is augmenting the games, which are being produced by the league, with its announcers, saving on costs.

“It’s a blue-chip property that has not been exploited in the way that we will take advantage of it,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and the NBC Sports Network, which is being rebranded as NBCSN. “It provides all 380 games to every fan at no additional cost, which has never been done before.”

True, but the 184 games that will be digitally streamed free on Premier League Extra Time will be accessible only to those who pay for cable, satellite or telephone company subscriptions that include NBCSN. The strategy underscores how important NBCSN is to its parent company’s sports future and how media companies like NBC Universal want to keep subscribers from cutting their cords to pay-TV providers. Extra Time is widely available; the only major cable provider that has not signed up is Charter.

Those cable, satellite and telephone subscriptions will also be required for laptop and smartphone users looking to watch the full Premier League schedule on NBC Sports Live Extra, the TV Everywhere platform.

In all, NBCSN will carry 154 games, the surest sign that the deal was structured to benefit the cable network by filling a lot of time slots with elite soccer, with replays of the day’s and week’s best matches, and studio programming. In addition to Extra Time’s 184 games, NBC will broadcast 21 games, CNBC eight, USA six, and the remaining seven have not been assigned.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/16/sports/soccer/nbc-is-set-to-showcase-elite-soccer.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight Blog Is to Join ESPN Staff

At ESPN, Mr. Silver is expected to have a wide-ranging portfolio. Along with his writing and number-crunching, he will most likely be a regular contributor to “Olbermann,” the late-night ESPN2 talk show hosted by Keith Olbermann that will have its debut at the end of August. In political years, he will also have a role at ABC News, which is owned by Disney.

An ESPN spokeswoman declined to comment on Friday night. Mr. Silver declined to comment. The employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that Mr. Silver’s deal could be announced as soon as Monday.

Before creating statistical models for elections, Mr. Silver was a baseball sabermetrician who built a highly effective system for projecting how players would perform in the future. For a time he was a managing partner of Baseball Prospectus.

At public events recently, he has expressed interest in covering sports more frequently, so the ESPN deal is a logical next step.

Mr. Silver’s three-year contract with The Times is set to expire in late August and his departure will most likely be interpreted as a blow to the company, which has promoted Mr. Silver and his brand of poll-based projections.

He gained such prominence in 2012 that President Obama joked that Mr. Silver had accurately predicted which turkeys the president would pardon that Thanksgiving. “Nate Silver completely nailed it,” he said. “The guy’s amazing.”

Speculation about the future of Mr. Silver and FiveThirtyEight heated up shortly after last November’s election, and he was wooed by no small number of other news organizations. Jill Abramson, the newspaper’s executive editor, and Mark Thompson, the chief executive of The New York Times Company, said earlier this year that they would try hard to sign Mr. Silver to a new contract.

NBC News and its cable news channel MSNBC was another interested party.

In an e-mail several weeks ago, Mr. Silver said negotiations were continuing with The Times “and I’m still trying to make a decision.” He informed The Times on Friday of his plan to leave.

He occasionally hinted in interviews and public appearances that his relationship with The Times had moments of tension. But it was mutually beneficial. The news organization gained Web traffic and prestige by hosting his work, and he received a salary, a wider audience and editorial support.

The same will most likely be true at ESPN.

James Andrew Miller contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/20/business/media/nate-silver-blogger-for-new-york-times-is-to-join-espn-staff.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder: Kelly Wallace to Return to CNN

CNN said it will announce on Monday the rehiring of Kelly Wallace, a former correspondent there, as it continues on a talent recruitment effort led by Jeff Zucker, who took over the cable news channel at the beginning of the year.

Ms. Wallace, 46, was a national correspondent on television when she last worked at CNN seven years ago.

In a sign of all that has changed since then, she will be a digital correspondent this time, working primarily for CNN.com and appearing regularly on television, CNN said. When she starts in July, her beat will be women’s issues.

“Kelly’s hiring signifies that CNN is increasingly packed with journalists who play across all platforms, delivering to our audiences the best story in the best format on the most convenient screen,” Meredith Artley, the vice president and managing editor of CNN.com, said in an e-mail message.

Ms. Wallace worked at CBS after leaving CNN, then in 2010 joined iVillage, the Web site aimed at women and owned by NBCUniversal, where Mr. Zucker was the chief executive at the time.

At iVillage, she produced and hosted online videos (including interviews with the first lady, Michelle Obama) and developed programming for advertisers.

Ms. Wallace said CNN would provide her a more prominent and more challenging role, including as a contributor to CNN Parents, a new section of CNN.com that will be added this month.

Ms. Wallace said Mr. Zucker, who took charge in January, instigated her return to the company: “With his energy, passion and vision, it already is a new CNN. He loves the news, and I love that. Plus, he totally gets digital, and he’s shown that for years.”

Mr. Zucker has mounted something of a hiring spree, bringing Jake Tapper and Chris Cuomo to CNN from ABC, Rachel Nichols from ESPN, and Michaela Pereira from KTLA in Los Angeles, among others.

In a statement, Mr. Zucker said the decision to have Ms. Wallace work principally for CNN’s Web sites “underscores our commitment to this space as clearly as ever.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/business/media/kelly-wallace-to-return-to-cnn.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

ESPN Set to Take Over Full Coverage of U.S. Open Tennis

 But that is about to end. The latest assault on the fraying broadcast sports model came Thursday when ESPN announced that it would take control of the tournament in 2015, ending CBS’s role in it after what will be 46 years.

ESPN already has the tournament’s cable rights and will pay $825 million over 11 years to combine what it has carried since 2009 with what CBS has televised. It also promised that every match would be seen live on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN3, the broadband network.

“Look, this is just about ESPN,” John Skipper, ESPN’s president, said in a telephone interview. “It’s not about cable or broadcast. We feel that sports rights are the most valuable commodity in media. The difference between broadcast and cable is inconsequential.”

ESPN’s acquisition of the United States Open advances a trend in which cable networks like ESPN and TBS scoop up increasingly important sports events. Nearly every college football bowl game is on an ESPN network. Chunks of the Major League Baseball and N.B.A. postseasons have been on cable for a while. And the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament that had been CBS’s sole domain since 1991 is now shared with three Turner Sports networks. One of them, TBS, will carry the Final Four semifinals next year and the Final Four and championship game every other year from 2016 until 2024.

And the new college football playoff will be on ESPN. Only the Super Bowl and the World Series seem safe on broadcast television, but maybe for another decade or so.

Cable networks have increasingly used their revenue from subscribers and advertisers to lavish cash on leagues, college conferences and other rights holders. Broadcasters have reasoned that they sometimes cannot compete with cable networks, especially ESPN, for high-end sports rights, or that they do not need them as they once did, as CBS has concluded with the United States Open.

Its United States Open viewership tumbled to a 25-year low of 2 million in 2012 from as many as 3.4 million 10 years earlier. And rain has forced the postponement of the men’s final from Sunday to Monday for five straight years.

With money to spend, ESPN and other cable channels like TNT and TBS have for years been encroaching on the turf of broadcast networks, which have long carried games on weekends and occasionally in prime time. Their strategy has been similar to the one deployed with great success by cable networks like USA, AMC and AE, which developed original dramas, comedies and reality series that have forced broadcasters to reimagine their futures as viewers have left them in droves.

The acquisition of all rights to the United States Open follows a similar move by ESPN two years ago to end NBC’s 43-year grip on Wimbledon with a 12-year deal worth nearly $500 million. When the United States Open deal starts in two years, the only tennis Grand Slam left on broadcast television will be the French Open on NBC, which has the rights through 2024.

CBS was looking at losing money on the United States Open if it had to raise its annual rights payment to the United States Tennis Association to about $32.5 million in a new deal, from $20 million.

“We could not come to an agreement with the U.S.T.A. that made economic sense for CBS,” said Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports.

ESPN’s $75 million annual payment for the Open nearly quadruples what it has been paying. It will combine what it had been paying with what CBS has been paying and absorb a sizable increase. Still, it amounts to pocket change for ESPN, which in 2014 will start a long-term deal in which it will pay $1.9 billion a year to continue to carry “Monday Night Football.”

U.S.T.A. officials sounded so enamored of ESPN’s power to reach tennis fans that on a conference call with reporters Thursday they sounded ready to move on, immediately if possible, from CBS.

The U.S.T.A.’s executive director, Gordon Smith, said the deal “puts the U.S. Open at the center of American sports culture as never before.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/17/sports/tennis/ending-an-era-the-us-open-will-move-to-espn.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: Clips, Quips and Snips: A Wrap-Up of Upfronts

NEXT, ‘THE LUNATICS’? Executives at CBS were unabashedly high on a new comedy with Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a father and daughter team at a Chicago ad agency. The show is called “The Crazy Ones” — in other words, they’re not mad, as in “Mad Men,” they’re crazy, as in the 1990 movie about advertising, “Crazy People.” Interestingly, the cast includes James Wolk, currently portraying a character named Bob Benson on Season 6 of “Mad Men.”

The plot of the first episode of “The Crazy Ones” is centered on efforts by the agency to keep its biggest client, which is an actual company, McDonald’s, rather than, say, Colonial Airlines, the make-believe client company in the 1986 movie “Nothing in Common,” set at a Chicago ad agency. Such verisimilitude is characteristic of “Mad Men,” but already, the knives are out: one online report described the episode as “one long McDonald’s ad” and another described how the characters “all shill for McDonald’s.”

OH, GIVE ME A GNOME …McDonald’s enjoyed a guest appearance during upfronts week when CBS showed a clip of “The Crazy Ones” at its presentation on Wednesday. Another brand, Travelocity, took more direct steps to secure a cameo role by having two executives — Jonathan Rogers, head of brand management, and Bruce Horner, marketing principal — take the Travelocity brand character, a garden gnome, to the events they attended.

“He automatically becomes the biggest star in the building,” Mr. Horner, who held the statue, said, smiling, as he and Mr. Rogers left the NBC presentation. They also brought the gnome “to the bulk” of the Digital Content NewFronts, he added, which preceded the upfronts week.

DON’T FORGET THE ELEPHANT At the ESPN presentation on Tuesday, those attending wondered if executives would discuss the challenges that ESPN faces from a potentially formidable new rival, Fox Sports 1, a national cable channel to be introduced on Aug. 17, along with competitors like CBS Sports Network and NBC Sports Network.

The attendees did not have long to wait. Soon after the presentation began, John Skipper, president of ESPN, said, “I’d like to address the elephant in the room.” He was then accompanied on stage by the elephant mascot of the University of Alabama, Big Al.

“I’ll tell you what, I like our team, and at ESPN, we like competition,” Mr. Skipper said. “I like our hand, and I’d like to extend that hand to you.”

There was another visual pun when Ed Erhardt, president for global customer marketing and sales at ESPN, who typically closes the presentation each year, came out with Mariano Rivera, the relief pitcher for the New York Yankees considered the best closer in baseball.

DO AS I SAY… At the NBC presentation on Monday, Ted Harbert, chairman of the NBC Broadcasting division of NBCUniversal, joked about the proliferation of presentations. “You’ve made it to the final week of the upfronts,” he said, after 70 events since the start of the upfronts season.

There are just too many, he added, “unless you’re a shrimp salesman” or “our friends at Grey Goose.”

Left unmentioned was that the NBC presentation was the first of three this week hosted by NBCUniversal, along with Telemundo Media on Tuesday and USA Network on Thursday. And the 70 events included presentations by NBCUniversal cable channels like Bravo, E!, Oxygen and Syfy along with one for NBCUniversal’s digital properties.

AARON IN UPFRONTSLAND Before the USA Network presentation, the channel hosted a media luncheon with cast members of a new drama, “Graceland,” almost all experiencing the bazaar-cum-cocktail party of the upfronts for the first time.

“It’s cool to see how they roll everything out for the new stuff,” said Aaron Tveit, who has appeared in movies (“Les Misérables”) and as a guest on TV shows (“Gossip Girl”) but was never a series lead until “Graceland.” USA executives “explained that it’s about promoting the series, meeting the advertisers, thanking our supporters,” he said.

For “Graceland,” which will make its debut on June 6, USA offered, for the first time, a two-week preview of a series’s pilot episode on video-on-demand on local cable systems. Chris McCumber, co-president of USA, who attended the luncheon, said the episode was watched from April 29 through Sunday “370,000 times and change, and we’re still counting.”

GETTING TOUGH, EN ESPAñOL Executives at Univision Communications, the leader in television aimed at Hispanics, aggressively went after their English-language competitors during their presentation on Tuesday. They repeatedly reminded the audience that although viewership is declining for most English-language broadcast networks and cable channels, rating are increasing for Univision’s.

In a video, Randy Falco, chief executive of Univision Communications, spoofed the current series of ATT commercials featuring cute children to make a point about how marketers should not buy commercial time from television companies that charge higher rates as their ratings decline.

“Univision is the only network where you pay for more, not for less,” he said.

There was even an animated clip during the presentation that showed a broom sweeping away the NBC logo, symbolizing how the Univision broadcast network finished the February sweeps month in fourth place among viewers ages 18 to 49, ahead of NBC, which fell to No. 5.

GETTING TOUGH, EN ESPAÑOL 2 NBC’s loss to Univision in the February sweeps was the subject of a pointed joke from Jimmy Kimmel, who performed during the ABC presentation on Tuesday. He suggested that NBC’s strategy for the coming season would be to oppose immigration reform.

Bill Carter and Brian Stelter contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/17/business/media/clips-quips-and-snips-a-wrap-up-of-upfronts.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Disney Profits Soar as Most Divisions Show Strength

Strength in all of Disney’s primary businesses — theme parks, cable television, movies and consumer products — helped the entertainment conglomerate increase its quarterly profit 32 percent from a year earlier, to $1.51 billion. Revenue climbed 10 percent, to $10.55 billion.

The financial results, reported on Tuesday, revealed a couple of smaller weak spots: the ABC broadcast network and Disney’s video game division. But the company’s performance as a whole beat that of rivals like Comcast, Time Warner and Viacom, and Disney shares climbed 1.6 percent to close at $66.07. Earnings were reported after the close of regular trading.

Reasons for Disney’s growth include the improving economy; expanded theme parks in Florida, California and Hong Kong; a stabilizing moviemaking operation; and climbing merchandise sales, particularly for products related to the Disney Channel. The company also benefited from a calendar quirk that moved part of the New Year’s and Easter holidays into the quarter and reduced revenue deferrals at ESPN.

Operating income at Media Networks, a division that includes ESPN, the Disney Channel and Disney Junior, was $1.86 billion in the quarter, an 8 percent improvement from the year-earlier period. During the quarter, which ended on March 30, ESPN delayed $120 million in subscriber payments, compared with deferments of $190 million a year ago.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts reported operating income of $383 million, a 73 percent increase. New attractions — a “Cars”-themed land in California, a Fantasyland expansion in Florida — helped Disney’s North American parks notch increases in attendance and per-capita spending on food and hotel rooms. A new cruise ship, the Fantasy, also contributed to the division’s results.

In the year-earlier quarter, Disney’s movie studio lost money as it struggled with runaway costs tied to the science-fiction debacle “John Carter.” On Tuesday, Walt Disney Studios, citing the successful release of “Oz the Great and Powerful,” reported operating income of $118 million.

Moreover, the road ahead looks bright for the studio: “Iron Man 3,” which arrived in North American theaters last week, is expected to take in $1 billion or more at the worldwide box office, to say nothing of DVD sales, and analysts have high hopes for Pixar’s coming “Monsters University.”

“Iron Man” and other Marvel-related merchandise contributed to operating income of $200 million at Disney’s consumer products unit, a 35 percent increase. Disney Channel properties and Mickey and Minnie Mouse also saw strong retail sales.

Over all, Disney reported earnings per share of 79 cents for the quarter, up 36 percent from 58 cents a year earlier. Analysts expected earnings per share of 76 cents.

With so much going right for the company, Disney’s two troubled areas — broadcast television and video games — stood out. But both of those businesses have a relatively small impact on Disney’s financial performance.

Broadcasting operating income fell 40 percent, to $138 million, as lower advertising revenue and higher programming costs at the struggling ABC network offset sturdy financial results at Disney’s local TV stations. Disney’s Interactive division, which includes Disney.com and video games, lost $54 million in the quarter, an improvement from a loss of $70 million in the year-ago period.

Disney continues to hope that a turnaround is on the horizon for its video game business. On Monday, the company announced an exclusive multiyear deal with Electronic Arts to produce “Star Wars” games aimed at young men, with the first offerings likely to be available in 2015.

Disney is also preparing to introduce Infinity, an ambitious video game and toy initiative that it hopes will be its version of Skylanders, an Activision Blizzard product that has generated more than $1 billion in global sales since its 2011 arrival. Infinity was initially supposed to arrive in June but was delayed and is now scheduled for release in stores in August.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 7, 2013

An earlier version of this article misstated the performance of Disney’s stock on Tuesday. Disney shares rose 1.6 percent to $66.07 at the end of regular trading, not during after-hours trading.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/business/media/disney-profits-soar-as-most-divisions-show-strength.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Frank A. Bennack Jr. to Step Down as C.E.O. at Hearst

Mr. Bennack, the 80-year-old chief executive of Hearst, used profits from titles like Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping to build the magazine and newspaper chain into a diversified company with investments in television, a ratings agency and health care information.

Steven R. Swartz, the company’s chief operating officer for the last two years and a former newspaperman, will succeed Mr. Bennack on June 1. Mr. Bennack told the 24-member Hearst board on Wednesday morning of his plans to retire.

The change comes as some of the nation’s largest magazine companies look to new leadership to migrate profitably from print to digital formats.

Time Warner, for example, announced this month that it planned to spin off its magazine division into a separate publishing company by the year’s end. That company will lose its second chief executive in recent years since the head of Time’s magazine division, Laura Lang, said she would leave once the creation of the new company was complete. Condé Nast announced this month that it promoted the editor of Vogue, Anna Wintour, to artistic director and gave her some of the responsibilities that the company’s chairman S. I. Newhouse had for the last three decades.

The news is especially significant at Hearst, which Mr. Bennack has led since 1979. In a recently published anniversary book called “Hearst One Hundred and Twenty Five,” Mr. Bennack reflected on how much the company had changed under his tenure as it moved into cable in 1981 and expanded into China in 1998, growing well beyond media assets, with major equity stakes in Fitch Group and recently expanding into health care information.

Hearst also has expanded far more into television by introducing cable networks with ABC, AE, History and Lifetime, by investing in ESPN and by partnering with the producer Mark Burnett. Hearst also vastly expanded its magazine portfolio by starting titles like O: the Oprah Magazine and HGTV Magazine along with purchasing more than 100 magazines from the French publisher Lagardère.

“The degree of change exceeds anything that I thought about,” said Mr. Bennack. “If you sat me down in 1979, it’s far different from what I could have described.”

Though Mr. Bennack has kept a relatively low profile at Hearst, he has been more of a public figure at Lincoln Center, where he served as chairman from 2005 to 2009 and currently is chairman emeritus. In his tenure as chairman, he worked with president Reynold Levy to raise nearly a billion dollars for an ambitious redevelopment project that has transformed the Lincoln Center campus. He did that by courting new donors and appealing to old ones with a straight-talking style tinged with his native Texas twang.

Mr. Bennack is also one of only two board chairman to have served at the Paley Center, which was formerly the Museum of Television and Broadcasting. The only other was William S. Paley, who built CBS and the person for whom the center is named.

Those chairmanships have been much more than figurehead positions. Mr. Bennack had to do the real work of getting Lincoln Center rebuilt and paid for. He oversaw the center’s construction project, and initiated work on the new Hearst Tower on Eighth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan.

Steven R. Swartz, 51, started out as a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and worked his way up to become Page One editor. He was founding editor of the magazine Smart Money, which was a joint venture run by Hearst and Dow Jones. In 2001, he joined Hearst’s newspaper division and worked his way up to run the group, which includes 15 newspapers like The Albany Times Union and The San Francisco Chronicle. He has been the company’s chief operating officer for the last two years. Mr. Swartz is also active at Lincoln Center, where he is chairman of the Lincoln Center fund and a board member.

“He has established himself as a visible and respected executive in media, advertising and the civic communities that are important to Hearst,” said Mr. Bennack. “He has fulfilled my expectations and those of the board.”

Mr. Swartz said that he planned to continue to diversify the company in all types of information and build on Hearst’s well-known brands.

“We think of ourselves as a media services and information company,” said Mr. Swartz. “We define ourselves more broadly. We’ve been in the information business since we got started.”

Mr. Bennack will remain on the board of directors and the executive committee of Hearst.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/business/media/frank-a-bennack-jr-to-step-down-as-ceo-at-hearst.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: Regulating Mexico’s Telecom Industry and Fox’s Push for College Sports

Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, and other political leaders presented an overhaul of laws regulating the country’s telecommunications industry, the most comprehensive effort yet to control television and telephone companies there, Elisabeth Malkin writes. If passed, the rules would give regulators the ability to require a company with control of a majority of the Mexican market to divest some assets or submit to special rules to prevent it from abusing its market dominance. Companies like Carlos Slim Helú’s América Móvil, which controls more than 70 percent of Mexico’s phone and Internet lines, and dominant broadcasters Televisa and TV Azteca could be reined in if the rules make it through a series of legislative hurdles that await.

Fox Sports 1, the all-sports cable channel coming this summer, will have epic levels of boola-boola in its bloodstream, much like rival ESPN, Richard Sandomir reports. The network’s college roster features the new Big East conference, the Big 12, the Pacific-12 and Conference USA. Fox also owns 51 percent of the Big Ten Network, broadcasts the Big Ten football championship game and alternates the Pac-12 football title game with ESPN. It spent at least $500 million for the rights to broadcast the new Big East, a basketball-only conference formed by seven Catholic colleges, for 12 years. ESPN will pay about $20 million annually to carry the old Big East conference, which will feature Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple, South Florida, Navy (in football only) and new teams from the South.

Lowe’s, the home improvement retailer, is beginning an ad campaign based on multiple platforms, Jane L. Levere writes. The ads include a 60-second spot that began running on Monday featuring a family moving into a new home, improving it and inspiring neighbors to do the same; an ad targeting men that will appear during the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament that likens home improvement to a sport; and 15-second TV spots that will run in different parts of the country based on different weather conditions as spring advances. Digital commercials will be determined by the weather — one ad begins by saying Sunday’s forecast is sunny and 68 degrees, then continues “It’s a beautiful day outside. Now’s the time to clean up your yard.” Lowe’s executives hope the campaign will help them gain ground on Home Depot.

The Unicef Tap Project is relying on social media and celebrities to raise money for clean water for children, Jane L. Levere reports. The agency Droga5 has created a Facebook app that lets users make a $5 donation, using PayPal or a text message, and then turn on their own tap, which allows them to send water to two friends who are then able to donate. The campaign began last week and will be heavily promoted through March, especially by celebrities like Angie Harmon, Alyssa Milano, Marcus Samuelsson and Nas, who will start their own water networks or promote the effort on Twitter. Ryutaro Mizuno, managing director of research and marketing for the U.S. Fund for Unicef, said the campaign hoped to raise $1 million.

Chris Suellentrop asks Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s pioneering video game designer, about the industry’s direction and the disappointing sales of Nintendo’s newest console, the Wii U, in an interview.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/12/the-breakfast-meeting-regulating-mexicos-telecom-industry-and-foxs-push-for-college-sports/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fox Sports and New Big East Are Teaming Up

But Fox Sports is showing enough passion to imagine that Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s head coach, will one day be spotted on campuses on fall Saturdays donning oversize mascot heads to predict the winners of the football games carried by his empire.

The levels of boola-boola in Fox’s bloodstream have been rising for years — one symptom was luring the play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson from CBS — but they are peaking now because of the start-up in mid-August of Fox Sports 1, an all-sports cable channel. Fox Sports executives laid out many of the network’s plans last week, but they did not discuss a deal with the Catholic 7 — the basketball universities that are seceding from the Big East — which is expected to be announced in a week or so.

The seven universities acquired the Big East name last week by leaving behind tens of millions of dollars in exit and entry fees that they would have received — had they not left — as a result of other universities’ comings-and-goings from the drastically realigned conference.

The new Big East will join a Fox Sports 1 college roster that features the Big 12, the Pacific-12 and Conference USA. Fox also owns 51 percent of the Big Ten Network, carries the Big Ten football championship game and alternates the Pac-12 football title game with ESPN.

The seven Catholic universities had privately voiced concerns that the Big East was changing to chase football cash; aware of the discontent, Fox last fall made clear its desire to talk to the group. The universities also knew that the terms of what essentially acted as a prenuptial agreement would let them leave the Big East as a unit, without paying exit fees, and make their own TV deal.

Fox won them over with a 12-year deal worth about $500 million, according to reports. But the contract could spike to $600 million if the conference grows to a dozen teams, according to two people briefed on the contract but not authorized to speak publicly about its terms. A number of universities are said to be candidates to join the new Big East, including Xavier, an Atlantic 10 member, and Creighton, of the Missouri Valley Conference.

ESPN, by contrast, will be paying the old Big East about $20 million annually to carry a conference featuring Connecticut, Cincinnati, Temple and South Florida — which are not leaving, for now — in addition to Navy (in football only) and a group of new, mostly Southern universities.

Football is the financial bell cow of college sports, but Fox chased the basketball-only conference for several reasons:

¶ Fox Sports 1 doesn’t need football, but basketball is the cream of the old Big East, especially as Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Rutgers exit the conference.

¶ Basketball adds volume to Fox Sports 1 as it plans to make its debut Aug. 17 with as many as 90 million subscribers.

¶ The seven universities bring Fox history and rivalries, especially Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Providence, four of the original seven Big East teams, and Villanova. (Marquette and DePaul are the sixth and seventh programs.)

But as Fox has increased its devotion to college sports, it has not hung on to a major bowl position.

From 2007 to ’10, it carried the Bowl Championship Series on broadcast television.

But ESPN outbid Fox by nearly $100 million for the next four years and moved all the games to cable. The advertising recession forced Fox into a conservative bid, but it would have been more aggressive if Fox Sports 1 had existed to bring in subscriber revenue.

ESPN made deals recently to make certain that no one, including Fox, could get the B.C.S. games and the new B.C.S. playoff system until 2026.

Among the nearly three dozen bowl games, Fox shows only the Cotton Bowl. Last January, it was seen by an average of 11.9 million viewers, who watched Texas AM quarterback Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner, amass 516 total yards in a 41-13 win over Oklahoma.

Triumphant as it was, the game did not prompt Murdoch to feed victory treats to Reveille, Texas AM’s collie mascot.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/12/sports/ncaabasketball/fox-sports-and-new-big-east-are-teaming-up.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Fox Planning National Sports Network It Hopes Can Challenge ESPN

But two decades after shaking up the sports broadcasting world for the first time by acquiring N.F.L. rights, Murdoch has plans to challenge ESPN head on and claim some of the lucrative revenue that the sports media giant has had largely to itself for more than three decades.

On Tuesday, Fox will announce its intention to start Fox Sports 1, an all-sports network, in August.

The channel will carry Nascar races, Major League Baseball games, college basketball and football, soccer and U.F.C. fights. It will also broadcast studio shows, including one that is to be hosted by Regis Philbin, a celebrated Notre Dame fan.

Murdoch’s effort is a long shot to topple ESPN, or at least take a huge bite out of it.

ESPN brings in more than $6 billion annually from its industry-high subscriber fees. It owns the rights to televise Major League Baseball; the N.F.L.; the N.B.A.; Nascar; tennis; myriad collegiate conferences; the Bowl Championship Series and its new playoffs; and a raft of other sports. Both ESPN and ESPN2 have 98.5 million subscribers.

It is a true empire, with eight domestic cable channels; the ESPN3 broadband network; the Web sites ESPN.com and Grantland.com; a radio network; digital properties like ESPNw, which focuses on women’s sports; a magazine; the WatchESPN app, which enables viewing of ESPN on computers, smartphones and tablets; and ownership of the Global X Games, college basketball tournaments and seven bowl games.

Fox Sports 1 will join a market that is far more crowded than it was when Murdoch first contemplated squaring off against ESPN. Not only will Fox face the dominance of ESPN, but NBC and CBS have their own sports channels, which are struggling for viewers and identities. The Big Ten and Pacific-12 conferences have created their own networks, and the Southeastern Conference is planning one. And in the past decade, M.L.B., the N.F.L., the N.B.A. and the N.H.L. have started their own channels.

Still, Fox and its parent, News Corporation, have a companywide faith in sports as a DVR-proof way to attract viewers — especially young men — and a belief that their new sports channel will differentiate itself from the competition, as the Fox News channel has demonstrated in its successful challenge to CNN and then MSNBC. To ensure that Fox Sports 1 has some of the style and attitude that Fox Sports has had since it began in the mid-1990s, Murdoch and Chase Carey, News Corporation’s president and chief operating officer, brought back one of their favorite executives, David Hill, for its creation and launch. Hill, the former head of the Fox Sports Media Group, left the division last year for another job within News Corporation.

“We think sports is a huge arena that has room in it to build a really attractive businesses,” Carey told analysts on an earnings call last month. He said that the company recognizes the escalating costs of sports rights but “in a world of increasing fragmentation, we think sports continues to be a more and more important and unique part of that overall landscape.”

The channel’s success might not have to come as a result of beating ESPN at its game.

David Bank, managing director of global media and Internet research at RBC Capital Markets, said that Fox Sports 1 would be a success “from Day 1” and could, in future years, bid against ESPN for N.B.A. rights and any cable package of N.F.L. games that might come to market.

“Do I expect them to be ESPN? No,” he said. “Mega-success will be hard to determine for five years.”

But, he said, “Rupert and Chase have had a pretty decent run at building long-term value.”

Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Nomura Securities, wrote in a recent report that Fox Sports 1 would be a “good start” for News Corporation but was “unlikely to make a material dent to ESPN’s business for the investable time horizon.”

One way to measure Fox Sports 1’s future success will be how many subscribers it gets and the subscriber fees it can accumulate. Fox has spent months working to convert Speed, a motorsports-centric network with 81 million subscribers, to Fox Sports 1. A companion service, Fox Sports 2, will replace another niche channel, Fuel.

Fox is seeking substantially more for Fox Sports 1 than the 31-cent monthly subscriber fee that Speed gets, according to the media research firm SNL Kagan.

Bank estimated that Fox Sports 1 will probably charge cable, satellite and telephone companies 75 cents to $1 a subscriber. “At $1 a sub, it’s a massive home run,” he said.

By comparison, ESPN charges $5.15 a month and additional fees for its other channels.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/05/sports/fox-planning-national-sports-network-it-hopes-can-challenge-espn.html?partner=rss&emc=rss