Since we last had some public discourse on the sports media landscape:
* For the record, the story posted by TheRinger.com about a potential misuse of social media that has sparked an internal investigation and could lead to the firing of an NBA exec within the next 48 hours, with more followup by ESPN’s “Outside The Lines,” and even more critical disbelief by NBA journalist Adrian Wojnarowski:
Then this afternoon, Jordan Schultz at Yahoo! Sports says Colangelo texted him: “Someone’s out to get me. … This is clearly not me. … hopeful to resolve this soon.”
We’ve seen enough career suicide that Twitter can bring in the media business.
So, you know … TNT has announced Anthony Anderson as the host of its live June 25 telecast of the “NBA Awards on TNT” show from the Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport. Why not nominate Bryan Colangelo for a special recognition at the annual NBA Social Media Awards division?
* ESPN’s coverage of the Golden State-Cleveland NBA Finals starts with Game 1 on Thursday and Game 2 on Sunday in Oakland.
On a conference call with reporters earlier this week, ESPN game analysts Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy were asked:
Q. Is there a way you guys have to approach this from a game perspective in terms of talking points, because some of the things about these teams are so similar this year.
Jackson: “I think you come in with points that you’re thinking about and you’re watching, but at the same time, our job is to tell the story, so the story will be on full display, and we will try to accurately describe the action and tell the stories.
The luxury that Jeff and I and Doris have working with who we believe is the best in the business in Mike Breen, who should be in the Hall of Fame right now without question, and he does a great job of leading us and being our point guard.”
Van Gundy: “Obviously the coverage is going to be star-driven, like it always is. So we’re going to tell the same stories about James and Durant and Curry that some may just be hearing for the first times and others may be sick of hearing.
“And as Mark said, the beauty of it for us is we can just talk about what’s going on during the game. I echo what he says about Mike. I didn’t realize he had not been put into the Hall of Fame yet, either as a — I don’t know what you call it, a Curt Gowdy winner, the media award, or just being put in. I mean, this is a guy that has given his professional life to basketball at the highest level and does it with class and integrity that should be recognized.”
So it sounds like you’re at a bit of a loss as what the Curt Gowdy Media Award is all about?
Ahem, the fourth person on your broadcast team, Doris Burke, will be receiving it this September.
Let’s get up to speed.
It was started in 1990, with Gowdy as the first recipient on the “electronic” side and Dick Herbert, a longtime sports editor of The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C., in the “print” designation. Chick Hearn was inducted in ’92, Dick Enberg in ’95, with Johnny Most, Marv Albert, Dick Stockton, Bob Costas, Jim Nantz, Jim Durham, Bill Campbell, Eddie Doucette and Woody Durham the play-by-play men who’ve been honored since then.
As for Breen, who just turned 57 last week? Sure, why not. In his 25th season doing NBA play-by-play, he’s got a fine body of work in New York and nationally, men and women, pros and Olympics. But at some point, someone’s going to have to recognize what Ralph Lawler has endured.
More on the discussion about the NBA Finals — including Van Gundy making some headlines in believing the Cavs won’t win a single game — and a non-correction of the transcriber’s spelling of Mike Breen as “Green” during the answer above can be found in this transcript.)
* NBA TV, which falls under the Turner Sports umbrella of operations, will mix the usual TNT studio yackers such as Charles Barkley, Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and Chris Weber in and around the NBA Finals with 90-minute shows on site.
* Again, for what it’s worth, and without much information it’s tough to even guess, but “Courtside at the NBA Finals” is what HBO is calling an “unscripted hour-long special” that will recap the NBA Finals. But you’ll have to wait for that until Tuesday, June 19 at 9 p.m. If the series runs seven games, it will end June 17. The L.A.-based Bill Simmons Media Group is also driving this production, but no clue if Simmons himself will be involved on screen or as a narrator.
* Kevin Durant and his media company has a deal with Fox on a documentary about San Quentin Prison basketball called “Q Ball” for early 2019.
* Was the 1992-93 NHL season one of the best in league history? It’s the season that the Kings made the Stanley Cup Final for the first time, losing to Montreal — and the last Canadian champion. And it’s part of the thrust of a 25-year anniversary documentary called “Picture Perfect: The 1992-93 Season” that the NHL Network launches Friday at 5 p.m. and includes interviews from Kings’ play-by-play man Bob Miller, analyst Jim Fox, then-Kings coach and current ESPN and NHL Net analyst Barry Melrose and former Kings star and Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille. Here’s a clip of them all talking about how the Kings made it through the first 39 games of that season without Wayne Gretzky as he sat out with a career-threatening herniated disk after being checked from behind during the 1991 Canada Cup.
* Here’s more about NHL Stanley Cup-related programming that involves a Wayne Gretzky touch.
* As might be the case with every announcement of a Keith Olbermann hiring in the last 20 years, a warning label for the employer could include: “Past performance does not necessarily predict future results.” The 59-year-old former KCBS-Channel 9 and KTLA-Channel 5 anchor, about as a volatile commodity as there is in the sports media, is often worth taking a chance on because of smartness and attention to historic detail and context he often brings in the upside.
ESPN shot out an announcement last Friday that Olbermann would be given another chance at working for the network — the sixth, by his recollection, from a Twitter account that will no doubt sound be regularly monitored. It has already been pointed out that Olbermann’s previous tweets in light of recent news about Roseanne Barr are quite caustic and ripe for resurfacing. And you’d think Disney-owned ESPN isn’t trying to offend anyone right about now.
Olbermann’s turn this time will include appearances on “Outside The Lines” and “SportsCenter” as warranted. He already missed his first assignment — doing play-by-play of the Houston game at Yankee Stadium on Memorial Day, because of food poisoning.
And note here, it’s Olbermann’s voice doing the “dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb” noises in this recent tweet:
* More Olbermann discussion here included on this podcast:
* What is there to read into the numbers that last Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 — the last one on ABC for at least the next four years after a 50-year-plus run — was the lowers overnights on record at 3.4 since live telecasts began of the race in 1986. Last year was a 3.6. The 2016 edition had a 4.1, but maybe it was because of the 100th anniversary celebration.
The ratings decline even hit Indianapolis, where the race is always blacked out live and shown on tape-delay. The 8.7 rating was down 41 percent from last year. To compare, Fox had a 2.4 overnight for the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600, a new low as well.
But the fact IndyCar topped NASCAR on any weekend is a bit of news.
NBC has the rights to the Indy 500. Can it rework it into something that’s attractive to watch on TV? Bob Kravitz of WTHR.com asks that question, wondering if NBC can do for IndyCar what it did for Triple Crown horse racing, once an ABC property before switching to the Peacock.
“My hope is we can,” said Jon Miller, the President of Programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN. “…We took over the (Kentucky) Derby in 2001, and at that time, the Derby and the Indy 500 were roughly equivalent in terms of the kinds of audiences they were delivering – in the 9 to 9 ½ million range. Since we’ve had it, (the Derby has) grown to over 17 million watching it. We made it a big event. We put all the assets of NBC Universal into play. And it’s transcended its normal audience where it’s not just a male-dominated audience; now it’s more than 50 percent female. We made it into an event with fashion and parties and the like. We’re going to unleash all our marketing power and promotion power to hopefully do something similar (for the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar).”
Liz Clarke of the Washington Post probably put this whole big-picture thing into perspective when she recently wrote before last weekend: “The U.S. motor sports industry … is confronting a generational dilemma: Can it continue to prosper in a world in which fewer young Americans drive cars, let alone show an inclination to watch them race?”
* A not-so-flattering piece about how Tennis Channel has “taken the French Open hostage” by Deadspin.com
* An update on the health of legendary San Diego sports broadcast Ted Leitner that will take him off Padres’ radio broadcasts for awhile.
* The San Jose Merc’s Jon Wilner on why Alden Budill left Manhattan Beach and her Oprah Winfrey Net deal to become the Pac-12 Network’s distribution chief since the summer of ’16 … how’s that working out?
“Would we love to have DirecTV? Absolutely. But our focus is on that slow and methodical build of value across our portfolio of partnerships — and doing that in parallel with evolving our content strategy to create a compelling product.”
* A story of note about cord cutters and what younger audiences are looking for with live sports, by Nielsen.com, with all sorts of bar charts and colorful graphics.
* Fox and the Pro Bowlers Association, who announced a new alliance last March, put out what they called “an historic television schedule” for 2019 this week that has 30 telecasts and a new playoff system in place that will take place in Maine. The 60 hours of total telecast is double last year’s schedule on ESPN, 19 will be live, and four will air on Fox’s over-the-air channel, with the rest on FS1. Again, Southern California is not on the PBA Tour radar; the closest event is the USBC Masters in Las Vegas in April.