Media notes version 07.19.18: What MLB says, and what it can’t do, about the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA distribution at this point


Because sometimes,  some things get lost in the translation from the PR podium to the real world in sports media land. Especially in the summertime:

Item 1:
tvtra* Pull up a TV tray and break down the things MLB commissioner Rob Manfred danced around when he was asked about the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA distribution mess while at the All Star Game press conference in Washington D.C. this week:

What he said: “They (Spectrum) own those rights. You can’t just go in and ignore those local rights that belong to someone else. You’d have to figure out a way around it.”
What he means: Our lawyers tell us our hands are tied. But if we pretend to try to find a loophole in this …

What he said: “We have explored two possible paths of influence … Unfortunately, a lot of those creative ideas we have affect the balance of power or the economic situation of the distributor or the RSN.”
What it means: We’re the most creative people we know. But we can’t create new laws that make us the kind of local rights fees.

What else he said: “It’s difficult to convince people to go along with any of these creative ideas. But we will be back at it again during this off-season.”
What he means: It’s difficult to convince Dodgers fans to go along with trying to sign up for games at this point because we think they’ve just given up.

As long as Spectrum holds the rights, it won’t compromise its exclusivity agreement with those who currently subscribe to the service. It is kind of interesting how Spectrum doesn’t offer online streaming access to its subscribers – like Fox Sports West does with the Angels. It fears perhaps that the passwords would be shared and exploited. Probably a larger issue: It won’t matter. How embarrassing would it be if they offered the channel a la cart and the response was dismal? The number of fans tuned out and turned off by this situation won’t just come clamoring back. Think of those who’ve already started up on the Spectrum subscription because of its attractive rates to new customers, but that deal has expired, and others are coming up with less expensive bundles.
When we say ‘during the off-season’ we have no idea what that means. Apparently because they’ve given up on this season.

According to the latest data by the Sports Business Daily, the Angels and Dodger rank 26th and 27th out of 30 regional sports network ratings for the first half of the season.
SportsNet LA has been drawing a 1.66 rating, actually up 13 percent from last year. The Angels’ 1.65 rating on Fox Sports West is up 74 percent — although the Angels are reporting it to be a jump of 79 percent, the highest year-over-year rating increase, and a jump of  93 percent in adults 18-to-49 and 67 percent in adults 25-54. This could result in the largest Angels’ audience on FSW since 2005.

The team with the lowest ratings: Oakland on NBC Sports California (0.67). The highest rated: St. Louis on Fox Sports Midwest (6.76, which is actually down 5 percent from last year). The biggest drop (50 percent) is with Baltimore on MASN (with its 2.89 rating).

Item 2:

170910202726-beth-mowins-nfl-1100x619* ESPN’s decision to bring Beth Mowins back for a second straight season to call an NFL game during the “Monday Night Football” doubleheader makes complete sense – and this time she gets the early game, primetime in the East.
The Sept. 10 opener featuring the New York Jets and Detroit Lions has her paird with Brian Griese as the analyst and Laura Rutledge as the sideline reporter for the 4:10 p.m. kickoff.
The second half of the doubleheader – Rams at Oakland at 7:15 p.m. – will have new MNF main play-by-play man Joe Tessitore with newcomers Jason Whitten and Booger McFarland and long with sideline reporter Lisa Salters.
This time, Mowins has a far better chance of rising above the noise to succeed, and show what she’s got. Last season, she was saddled with the Chargers-Broncos game in Denver having to babysit recently released Jets coach Rex Ryan and then throw it to the oddball sideline man Sergio Dipp.
That marked the first time a female broadcaster called a nationally televised NFL game in 30 years. She also did some regional games for CBS last season. That ESPN decided Ryan wasn’t worthy of any more booth work is a blessing to us all.
But Dipp … not bringing him back in some capacity is a lost opportunity for comedic foreplay.

Item 3:

* What in the name of Jeffrey Michael  Fisher will Bryant Gumbel tell us about Rams head coach Sean McVay that we don’t really already know?
Perhaps this video above shows what we’ve already heard.
The HBO “Real Sports” host sends himself out to do a piece on McVay called “The Prodigy” that airs during the next edition of the series (Tuesday, 10 p.m.).
Another segment worth noting: John Frankel follows up on a 2014 report called “Playing For Peanuts” about how Major League Baseball’s lack of upgrading the pay scale for minor-league players. Congress recently approved a $1.3 trillion budget that exempts the MLB from the federal minimum wage law when it comes to paying minor leaguers.
Last May, “Real Sports” won the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports News Anthology show, the fifth win for the show over the last six years.

Item 4:

* Is there any reason why ESPN wouldn’t keep Linda Cohn on staff?
The longest-tenured anchor on “SportsCenter” — she did her first in July, 1992 and logged more than 5,000 of them since – signed a new deal “to remain with the company for years to come,” ESPN announced.
This after the 58-year-old Cohn experience a bit of a suspension last year when she went on a radio show and expounded how she thought politics were becoming a problem in the industry. Maybe the difference now: John Skipper isn’t in charge any longer.
“Linda continues to deliver outstanding work for us on SportsCenter and everything else she does,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN exec VP and  executive editor of studio production. “Her passion and devotion have made her a legend, but it’s the quality of her performance every time the red light goes on that makes her such a valuable member of our team.”

Item 5:

* We’ve got no problem with the Raiders apparent decision to have 79-year-old Brent Musburger take over on radio play-by-play, a three-year deal that will start with two seasons of games in Oakland and continue to when they move to Las Vegas, where Musburger currently lives and works. Musburger loves to dress in silver and black anyway.
The issue seems to be how Bob Papa gets let go after 25 years, after taking over for the legendary Bill King.
Here’s some context provided by the Sacramento Bee.

Other items of interest:

* From a Joe Posnanski piece for The Athletic about how Ted Williams will be the first male athlete featured in PBS’ American Masters series (Monday, 9 p.m., KOCE) after more than 250 pieces on other “American masters” including Billie Jean King and Althea Gibson.
“(Producer Nick) Davis’ documentary is fantastic. It is both a reminder of what it is to be larger than life … and an intimate portrait of a baseball player driven by his demons.”
Posnanski notes that Davis wanted to use the Dodgers’ Corey Seager as someone to play Williams in close-up recreations –“My thought was Seager is the All-American hitter, right,” said Davis – but since Seager’s swing didn’t match Williams’, it sent Davis looking elsewhere. He found a hitter in the Astros’ Double-A farm system named Kyle Tucker, who looks amazing like Williams and was even given the nickname “Ted” by his teammates.
Here’s a New York Times piece on another cool aspect of the show.

* The annual Pac-12 football media day from Hollywood and Highland gets Pac-12 Network coverage Wednesday starting commissioner Larry Scott’s opening remarks – no doubt, another question about Pac-12 Net distribution – at 8 a.m. Last year’s deal at the same location was a two-day affair – this time, all in one day.

* You need a World Cup wrapup?
Fox Sports says it peaked at 14.6 million viewers during last Sunday’s France-Croatia final, and averaged 11.8 million viewers across the network and streaming sources. That means it was the most-watched TV event since the NBA Finals.
Fox also says the World Cup provided the top three “authenticated streaming events” in its history:
– Croatia-England semifinal (830,000)
– France-Belgium semifinal (657,000)
– Brazil-Belgium quarterfinal (615,000)
Telemundo reports Los Angeles’ KVEA was the No. 2 market for World Cup Spanish-language viewership with a 1.8 rating and 13 share, well behind No. 1 Miami/Ft. Lauderdale (4.3/25).Telemundo coverage of the final reached 5.45 million viewers across its network, website and sports apps, with a TV-only viewership average of 5.32 million. The entire event reached 36.6 million viewers, 13 percent better than its 2010 coverage and within 1.3 million of the 2014 World Cup.
While Hispanics make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, Telemundo made up 41 percent of the average World Cup viewership. The Mexico-Germany Group Stage match on June 17 had 7.13 million viewers and was the second-most watched match of the entire World Cup final, only behind the English-language World Cup final telecast.

* The Culver City-based Tennis Channel has eight World TeamTennis matches scheduled for this summer, starting Monday (Washington-Philadelphia, 6 p.m.) and including matches involving the Orange County Breakers on Thursday (6 p.m., vs. San Diego), Saturday July 28 (4 p.m., at San Diego) and the championship on Friday, Aug. 10.

Other tweets we found of interest:

And finally:

Obit Mitch Chortkoff
Mitch Chortkoff, seated, with former Lakers great Jerry West during a 2015 visit. (Associated Press)

* We raise a final toast to our departed friend, Mitch Chortkoff, who passed away this week at that age of 78 after a long battle with diabetes.
Chortkoff was best known for his Lakers’ beat coverage for the Herald Examiner and then Santa Monica Outlook, which overlapped with the South Bay Daily Breeze and spread his byline again. We worked with him for years at the Breeze during those times when, during the off season, he was often asked to come into the office and do copy editing.
We’d have to teach him how to sign onto the computer each time.
Chortkoff was so well known in the organization that he was referred to by his first name, Mitch, but Lakers player, eventual assistant GM and then GM Mitch Kupchak had to by his own proper name, Mitchell, to distinguish himself. Pat Riley was one of his most reliable sources on all things Lakers.
Chortkoff’s latest job since 1998 was working for the Culver City Observer, a weekly paper that kept his name in the game and his press seat warm whenever he could get to it. Stories like this in ’13:

We enjoy finding this tribute Chortkoff once did about Chick Hearn, noting the photo used, Chick’s hand is blocking Mitch’s face at the broadcast table (with Mike Ventre off to the far left).
Here’s a post by former Daily Breeze sports editor Mike Waldner, who visited Chortkoff frequently in recent months, with some Twitter tributes attached. We have these to add:

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