Monday Morning Commentator: 10/24/11
I’ll be honest, I was out enjoying the remnants of fall most of the weekend, so I didn’t watch a lot of sports (I only saw USC-Notre Dame, Liverpool-Norwich and Cardinals-Rangers, game 4). On top of that, last week was quite a dull week for sports media news. Once we hit November and it gets cold outside, I’ll probably watch more sports and have more to write about (there’s 1-2 cm of snow in the forecast for Thursday night/Friday!).
- As baseball season winds down, I’ve watched more hockey the past week. I know headshots is a hot button issue, but to be honest, it has gone on too long. Yes people are getting injured, but everyone has already made their point about the issue. It seems every time I turn the TV on analysts Bob McKenzie and Mike Milbury are stating their un-changing opinion for the hundredth time. It’s time to talk about something else, at least until the GM meetings in December when the issue will inevitably come up again.
- I thought TSN did an excellent job with the Rugby World Cup. Sky Sports New Zealand provided the international feed commentary and it was superb. To build off the success, I’d like to see TSN pick-up a club rugby competition to bridge the gap leading into the 2015 World Cup. Any of the southern hemisphere leagues probably aren’t worth the investment due to the time difference. None of the three major European domestic leagues (Celtic League, Premiership and French Top 14) have enough star-power to invest in either. That leaves the Heineken Cup; rugby’s version of the UEFA Champions League. The Heineken Cup wouldn’t require a weekly investment. The pool stage takes place over six weekends, with the quarterfinals, semifinals and final following in the spring. TSN2 could easily show 2-3 games per round.
- Continuing the last point, using round one (the weekend of November 11-13) as an example, TSN2 could show these games. Friday November 11, 3pm ET – Harlequins vs. Connacht; Saturday November 12, 8:30am – London Irish vs. Edinburgh; Sunday November 13, 7:45am – Glasgow Warriors vs. Bath. In this year’s Heineken Cup, 16 of the 24 teams are from Britain & Ireland, so TSN would have no trouble choosing matches featuring Home Nations teams.
- Last week’s Wednesday Night Hockey match-up between the Jets and Maple Leafs pulled in an average of 1.4 million viewers on TSN. On Thursday, the Leafs game in Boston drew 1.04 million. I’ll have a complete ratings report later this week.
- CBS has announced that the matchup between the top 2 college football teams in the US, Alabama and Louisiana State will be primetime on Saturday November 5. This is a great move by CBS, the SEC and ESPN. This game will probably decide one of the two teams for January’s BCS Championship Game. I know a lot of people like the CFL and NFL, but don’t watch college football, but this game is more than worth your time.
- Fox Sports has acquired rights to the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups, among other major international soccer events. Many of the events, like the Under-20 World Cup, Confederations Cup and Women’s World Cup will probably primarily air on Fox Soccer. World Cup games will most likely be split between Fox, FX, Fox Soccer and maybe FSN. This is great for those who like the smaller events because TV coverage will increase – much of ESPN’s coverage of smaller tournaments was on ESPN3.com only. ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 World Cup was spectacular. Everything from Martin Tyler and Ian Darke’s commentaries to Chris Fowler presenting to ESPN’s team of pundits was world-class. In fact, I think ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup better than the BBC and ITV, and probably even better than Sky could do..
- In order for Fox to achieve the same success, they will need to draw on their corporate sisters at Sky. I’d recommend borrowing commentators such as Rob Hawthorne, Daniel Mann, Bill Leslie and Ian Crocker. Analysts like Ray Wilkins, Alan Smith, Davie Provan and Don Goodman would be sensible acquisitions as well. Fox should also find a presenter who knows the sport. This person could be an American, but shouldn’t be Curt Menefee, Chris Rose, Joe Buck or any of Fox Soccer’s personalities. Fox might be well-served to borrow a couple of Sky’s commentators to call their live Premier League game between Manchester United and Chelsea on Super Bowl Sunday, as well as the 2012 UEFA Champions League final.