Myers Off Radio, Pat O’Brien Back In The Game

One of the cool things about my career is I’ve been able to work with a lot of people who I grew up following in the media. ESPN SportsCenter was in its golden age when I was in college at the Univ. of Georgia and Chris Myers was O.G. back then, manning all the major stories, including narrating the O.J. bronco chase for the Worldwide Leader.

Chris Myers on NASCAR set

(Still weird seeing Myers (l) do NASCAR after all these years)

Fast forward a decade and I’m co-hosting an afternoon drive radio show with same dude in Los Angeles on the USC football flagship. Unlike a lot of prompter jockeys, Chris has an enormous-less ego, so it was good times.

I was doing that show with him when he first got the NASCAR gig. It certainly didn’t fit his career profile or personality, but to his credit he’s made it work. Pro.

Today Don Barrett of LARadio.com reports that Myers has now officially stepped away from his fulltime midday radio show at Fox Sports Radio because of a new NASCAR commit. Read more…

NBC Could Still Top ESPN’s Bargain Bin Oly Bid

This week John Ourand and Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL have a very interesting piece examining the only thing that keeps the Olympics relevant. That is, the interest of American network television.

NBC Olympics

The International Olympic Committee is getting a tepid response from U.S. broadcasters in Vancouver as it tries to build up interest in the next round of bidding for Olympic rights in 2014 and 2016.

Two potential bidders decided against making the trip to Vancouver, and the ones that ventured north were prepared to tell IOC executives that they will not bid as much as NBC bid on the 2010 and 2012 Games. NBC paid $2.1 billion in rights for the Vancouver and London Olympics.

CBS and Fox execs did not elect to meet with the IOC about acquiring the broadcast rights to future Games, though ESPN and Turner did. With the Comcast/NBC merger not yet approved, Dick Ebersol & Co. are holding off on talks with the IOC. SBJ reports a government ruling on the merger isn’t expected until “early next year.

On the subject of ESPN acquiring the broadcast rights to The Games, ESPN PR VP Josh Krulewitz told me this week:

We are interested in the U.S. rights if we can find a deal that makes economic sense and provides value.Q: So with Olympics sugar daddy NBC on the sidelines, why is the IOC entertaining any bids at the moment?
A: The NCAA basketball tournament.

SBJ reports:

Some think the IOC will wait till early next year, after Comcast’s NBC acquisition is official. However, IOC sources said they may move earlier and beat the NCAA to market if the NCAA decides to pull out of its CBS contract. The theory is that NCAA tourney bidding could suck billions of media rights dollars out of the marketplace.

On Feb. 1,  Ourand and Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL reported that ESPN, Fox and a Turner-CBS collaboration may vie for broadcast rights of the basketball tournament. The NCAA has until Aug. 31 to decide if it will opt-out and open up the bidding on what would be a billion-dollar proposition.

With NBC on the sidelines for now, ESPN and Turner appear to be feeling out the IOC to see if they might be able to get the Olympics on the cheap. But a high level network television programming source told me today that he expects to see NBC out front of the bidding as soon as Washington signs off on the NBC/Comcast coupling.

My source, who also has intimate knowledge of the prospects of the merger, told me today: Read more…

Lindsey Vonn On Tiger: “You Go Have That Sex”

Sean Gregory of TIME Magazine has Lindsey Vonn recently riffing on the Tiger Woods speech last week:

Lindsey Vonn jokes about Tiger Woods

Like millions of Americans, Vonn can’t help poking fun at Woods’ staged event. When a member of her Vonn-tourage tells her that Woods gave a few friends hugs after ending his statement, she cracks, “They’re like, ‘Yeah, you’re awesome, you go have that sex.’ ” The room breaks into a laugh. Then she describes a skit she would want to perform if asked to host Saturday Night Live: picture Vonn at Woods’ podium, blue backdrop and all. “There’s something you don’t know about me,” Vonn says in a faux solemn, apologetic voice. “Tiger, you’re like my idol, and I too have a sex problem.” More laughter. “That would be freaking funny.”

Vonn is serious about the SNL thing. Very serious.

Will Saturday Night Live be one of them? “I’m hoping for it,” she says. “I’ve got to call [NBC Sports chairman] Dick Ebersol to see if SNL will have me. I have some ideas.” An appearance by Vonn may not get Woods’ ratings, but it would be worth tuning in.

Ebersol actually created the SNL franchise, with Lorne Michaels. Thanks to Vonn’s gold medal, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED cover appearance and subsequent spread in SI’s swimsuit issue, it’s a given she’ll be hosting SNL as soon as the Olympics conclude.

Notre Dame Games Could Be Moved To Versus

As you’ve probably heard, Comcast is in heavy negotiations to acquire NBC for roughly eleventy kerjillion dollars, give or take a kerjillion or threeve. What effect that would have on NBC’s sports programming seemed to be of minimal concern… until you realize that Comcast also owns the Versus Network, and boy would they like to have some good content on that channel, seeing as how DirecTV reportedly called it “a glorified infomercial”. You probably already know where this one’s going.

Jimmy Clausen on Vs. Network
(An Irish fan’s dream come true!)

According to the SPORTS BUSINESS JOURNAL, if NBC gets swallowed up by the cable giant, Notre Dame’s probably one of the first big sports programs headed to Versus. And the school and its fans can complain until they’re hoarse, but Notre Dame’s the first to blame; after all, a move to cable is already in their contract.

Read more…

Speed Read: NBC, NHL Screw Local Hockey Fans

One of the most jarring aspects of the Stanley Cup finals, other than the ease with which the Red Wings dispatched the Penguins on Sunday night to push the series to 3-2, has been NBC’s hardball with fans in Detroit and Pittsburgh. For the duration of the playoffs, both teams have been able to hold massive viewing parties in and outside their arenas. It was such a wonderful, organic expression of the communal nature of fandom that it was basically destined to be ruined by business in short order.

JoeVision Detroit Red Wings
(Thousands of fans watching the game with each other? Nope, can’t have this!)

And lo, in stepped NBC, stopping the broadcasts. As HOCKEYBUZZ.COM reported, initially, they blamed the NHL, despite the NHL’s assertion that that was quite not the case. Then came the truth, that it was a business decisions (all the crappy ones are), and their “business is ratings driven.” CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS has the, ahem, money quote:

A near-sellout of Joe Louis could shave a ratings point off the local television ratings measurement, and such ratings are used to establish advertising rates.

So to that, if the all-important ratings model can’t deal with 8-10 thousand people watching a show in one place on one screen, you know what? The ratings model is completely worthless.  Seriously. How can NBC or Nielsen not figure out what to do with a giant honking party of some of the most hardcore fans all watching one screen? Is that really a deal-breaker?

And if so, if they’re really curious as to what the ratings would look like if everyone stays home, away from the shared community aspect from which most of the value of a ticket to a game is derived, there’s a really easy answer to all of this. You ready? Dick Ebersol, you taking notes?

All NBC has to do is announce that in exchange for showing the game outside both arenas, attending fans have to fill out a simple, anonymous survey about where they would otherwise watch a game (their place or someone else’s), with how many people, and whatever other information the network needs to most closely approximate what ratings would look like. Use that and Nielsen data to extrapolate what the final ratings would be with that many eyes on a TV, and adjust. That’s it. Easy.

This is a rare, rare opportunity for the NHL and NBC. At no other point are they ever going to be able to get this kind of a free pool of television watchers from whom they can mine valuable demographic information. Forcing them back into their homes and away from a group of thousands of like-minded, passionate fans for the sake of moving a needle one or two points does the city, fanbase, and team a disservice. It’s so easy to work around. Figure it out.

Speaking of soccer [I thought we were talking about hockey. No, I’m dead certain of it.–ed.] [Shut up.–AJ] [You have problems.–ed.], UEFA just got a seismic news flash as Real Madrid, evidently furious at having seen FC Barca take the title, has bought the contract of Kaka from AC Milan. Too bad UEFA contract holder SETANTA SPORTS probably won’t survive to see him in the new kit.

Kaka Kiss
(This is where we mention Kaka’s wife and fine whatever you’re all perverts.)

Kaka, a sensational striker from the one-word-name factory that is Brazil, will reportedly command a 6-year, $94 million contract. That’s enough to make it the most expensive in soccer’s history, barely beating out Zinedine Zidane’s 6-year, $65 million deal with Juventus from eight years ago. Meanwhile, David Beckham is running around for a crappy MLS team in Los Angeles for 30 cents on the dollar and going home to a bag of antlers with oversized sunglasses and the “I’m married, but still vain” haircut straight from Jon & Kate + 8. Sic transit gloria mundi: Glory is fleeting.

We mentioned Andrew Thomas Gallo, the man accused of killing Angels rookie Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk driving collision, yesterday. Gallo pled not guilty to murder, drunk driving, and fleeing the scene of an accident charges yesterday. Great.

Nick Adenhart Killed In Hit and Run Accident
(No, nothing criminal led to this. No way.)

But as we (rightfully) focus on the three people killed far before their time, we should point out that one passenger in Adenhart’s car, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite, has, in fact, survived the crash that left him in critical condition (via the RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE). Wait, that doesn’t appropriately convey the gravity of what happened. He survived internal decapitation.

As MANOLITH explains, internal decapitation, which is exactly as horrifying and life-threatening as it sounds, happens when the skull detaches from the spinal column. It’s usually fatal. Wilhite somehow survived without total paralysis, which is unbelievably rare, and he’s now in rehab with the help of several major leaguers. He’s got a long way to go, but he’s on the right track.

Since we need to get back on a higher note, here are some more links to consider while you’re riding in a cab with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson:

Nick Collison Red Afro
(Yes.)

What do the Raiders need the most on offense?

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Barkley’s DUI: ‘Blowjobs’, Wine Coolers, TV’s Urkel

The SMOKING GUN scares up the police report from Charles Barkley’s already widely-reported DUI arrest last night in Phoenix.

Charles Barkley Blowjob

Following his arrest earlier today for drunk driving, Charles Barkley told Arizona cops that he ran a stop sign because he was in a hurry to pick up a girl who had “given him a ‘blow job’ one week earlier,” which the former NBA star described as “the best one he had ever had in his life.”

Barkley also told a law enforcement official that he’d “tattoo your name on my ass” if the person could help him get the DUI charge dropped.

The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS has even more hilariously embarrassing details from Barkley’s evening - before he was popped at the Maricopa County checkpoint.

Read more…

NBC Sports Prez Adds To Olympic Nudity Fervor

For this year’s Olympics, there’s been a recent rash of athletes going naked. Amanda Beard stripped off her swimsuit again, but for PETA this time and not Playboy. British cyclist Rebecca Romano went biking in the buff for a Powerade ad.

Dick Ebersol work naked

And now NBC Sports president Dick Ebersol adds to the air of going au natural, suggesting that he’d rather see his employees without clothes than without their visas. Read more…