Sports TV News
Pac-12 Commissioner Defends Late Night TV Starts
It may not be fair to characterize Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s job status as “embattled.” None of the conference’s member schools have publicly called for him to be replaced. He sure does seem to be having to constantly defend his conference’s media rights deals though, which includes dealing with outside scrutiny and unhappy fans.
On Saturday, Scott spoke to reporters ahead of Oregon State’s game against Arizona at Reeser Stadium. He answered questions about the late night kickoff times on the East Coast that Fox and particularly ESPN reserve for Pac-12 competition. Some conference members, most notably the University of Washington, have complained that late night start times for most of the country’s fans don’t give their team enough exposure and results in being excluded from the College Football Playoff and worthy players being left off of Heisman voters’ ballots.
Scott says he is sympathetic to those concerns, but calls the late night kick times a business decision. “The reason we play almost a third of our games at night is that was a way to unlock significant value from television in our last negations. ESPN and Fox placed a high value on us giving them a little more flexibility and being willing to play more night games.” It isn’t a satisfying answer for football fans, but given the well-documented struggles of the Pac-12 Network to gain clearance on cable and satellite systems across the country, it is understandable that the conference would make a decision that netted them more money.
The 10 PM Eastern kickoffs allow networks like ESPN and FS1 to sell ad inventory for 14 hour football days. The Pac-12 is the only Power 5 conference with teams in the Pacific time zone. Scott says that is where the value is. “Playing more night games than we did in the past unlocked the kind of value our schools were looking for.”
Pac-12 football is not completely excluded from daytime kickoffs, but so many networks have exclusive deals with other conferences. The afternoon slot on NBC is reserved for Notre Dame. It’s CBS for the SEC. Fox rotates between the Big 12 and the Big Ten. The only real slot for the Pac-12 would be as part of ABC’s national game, which would have to share space with a number of conferences, most notably the ACC. Assuming no Pac-12 team wants to kickoff at 9 AM (or 10 AM for Utah and Colorado), it means that the audience and television time isn’t really available for Pac-12 football until night time hours.
Sports TV News
Steve Rosenberg Out As President of Diamond Sports Group
“John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that a memo went out to the company on Monday morning announcing the change.”
A company declaring bankruptcy is never good for the people at the top. Steve Rosenberg is experiencing that right now. He is out as the president of Diamond Sports Group.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reports that a memo went out to the company on Monday morning announcing the change. In it, Diamond CEO David Preschlack wrote that CFO David DeVoe will assume Rosenberg’s responsibilities for now.
Steve Rosenberg joined Sinclair in 2020. He replaced Jeff Krolik as the company’s president of local sports.
Last week, Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company intends to work out new deals with the NBA and NHL for its Bally Sports RSNs in hopes that it will remain in tact. Ourand writes that an attempt to do the same with Major League Baseball has not yielded meaningful results as of yet.
“With the recent appointments we have made to the senior leadership team, and the talented staff we have throughout the organization, I am confident in this team’s ability to work together to execute our strategic goals at this time,” Preschlack wrote in his memo.
Sports TV News
Variety Predicts Sports Betting Broadcasts Future of RSNs
“With the state of the RSN business a little hazy for some networks, closer integration with gambling is something that VIP+ expects to be leant into more in an effort to engage the most passionate local fans.”
The sports betting market grew in 2022. With five new states legalizing mobile wagering last year, that is not a surprise. The overall take for sportsbooks was $93.4 billion. That is a whopping 84% growth over 2021.
With so much money coming from new markets, Variety wanted to get an idea of how much the sports betting industry is actually growing versus how much of the growth is artificial.
The study from the publication’s VIP+ shows that in markets with a full year of mobile wagering on the books before 2022, the growth is slower but still significant at 19%. Writer Gavin Bridge suggests that the statistic could hold the answer for the future of regional sports networks.
“While winning money was the most popular reason for sports betting, data provided by VIP+’s research partner CRG Global in our ‘Sports Gambling & Media‘ report show that one of the most popular reasons was that betting ‘makes the games I watch more exciting,’ with several other reasons relating to watching televised games also important to some betters,” he writes.
With regional sports networks looking for a new model in the face of serious economic uncertainty, Bridge points to Comcast’s regional NBC Sports networks as a reasonable path forward.
Through its partnership with PointsBet, NBC offers alternate broadcasts of the local teams it covers that have a gambling focus. The alternate feed have not been available for every game on the RSNs, but Bridge writes that we could see more of that in the future.
“With the state of the RSN business a little hazy for some networks, closer integration with gambling is something that VIP+ expects to be leant into more in an effort to engage the most passionate local fans. Ultimately, sports betting overlays and alternative game feeds can be anticipated for most major sports in the coming years as media partners look for new revenue streams and ways to engage fans for longer.”
Sports TV News
NCAA Tournament Delivers Highest-Rated Round of 64 Ever
“ For the first round on Thursday and Friday of last week, games accomplished a total audience delivery of 9.2 million viewers.”
The first two rounds of the 2023 NCAA tournament are in the books, and the TV ratings indicate historic viewership.
For the first round on Thursday and Friday of last week, games accomplished a total audience delivery of 9.2 million viewers. This was for contests on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV in addition to streaming on March Madness Live.
Action on Thursday averaged 8.4 million, up 2% compared to 2022.
On Friday, game broadcasts averaged 9.3 million, making it the most-watched first round ever.
The Sweet 16 tips off on Thursday this week.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.