Onrait and O’Toole A Good Hire for Fox

Onrait and O'Toole with the Prime Minister at last November's Grey Cup (credit: PMO/Jason Ransom)

Onrait and O’Toole with the Prime Minister at last November’s Grey Cup (credit: PMO/Jason Ransom)

Fox aims to do the unthinkable when it launches Fox Sports 1 this August, overtake ESPN as the most watched sports channel in America. And it certainly has a chance. At launch it has MLB (beginning in 2014), NASCAR (including Sprint Cup races in 2015), college football and hoops, just like ESPN. Fox Sports also has UEFA Champions League and FIFA tournaments beginning in 2015. All Fox is missing out on are the big events (minus the World Cup) that ESPN and Turner’s TNT have. ESPN has the BCS, Turner has March Madness. ESPN has weekday coverage of three of golf’s majors, TNT has the other. ESPN also has all four tennis Grand Slams.

Due to the long-term nature of broadcast contracts, there isn’t a lot more Fox can do to compete with ESPN. They can compete with ESPN’s highlight programs though. Late Friday news came that the faces of TSN’s SportsCentre, Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole, were leaving TSN for new jobs in Los Angeles along with “Producer Tim”. It was quickly confirmed, as I initially speculated, that these jobs were at Fox for the new nightly news show “Fox Sports Live”, which will air weeknights from from 11pm until 2am Eastern. The new program will compete directly with ESPN’s SportsCenter, something that sports channels in the US are usually reluctant to do.

While SportsCenter is incredibly popular, it does have its faults. There is certainly a base in American looking for something new and refreshing. Fox is known for going against the establishment and trying new things, and gimmicks, in sports broadcasting. Some, like the FoxBox, have stuck. Others, like the glowing puck, not so much. Onrait and O’Toole certainly fit the Fox ideal of different, and yes, at times gimmicky. Not that it usually detracts from their broadcasts. After Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick, who also called their SportsCenter “The Big Show”, ESPN would never go for a duo potentially bigger than the network like Onrait and O’Toole.

Last year The Wall Street Journal wrote an article on Onrait and O’Toole asking “Why Can’t We Have Canada’s SportsCentre?”. Now you do, America. And before anyone asks, no I do not know if Fox Sports 1 will be available in Canada.

theScore to Rogers… Last Tuesday the CRTC finalized the sale of theScore Television Network to Rogers. Sportsnet immediately took control of it, although it will go by theScore until a rebrand on Canada Day. Live @ theScore and the Footy Show both ended Monday, without so much as a goodbye. You can read Kristian Jack and James Sharman’s final thoughts on the Footy Show here. A new “Hockey Central Xtra” replaced Live @, airing from 5-6pm Eastern on weeknights with a mix of theScore and Sportsnet on-air talent. Tim and Sid returned to theScore with a simulcast of their Fan 590 radio show on Wednesday. In other immediate changes Monday Night Raw is now live and theScore will have 8 Toronto FC matches this season.

Rogers valued the transaction at $172 million, while Rogers will contribute $17.1 million to a tangible-benefits package for amateur sports in Canada. The CRTC did deny Rogers’ idea of using the tangible benefits package to create a Canadian version of the X Games. The CRTC’s main problem is that in the broadcasting community, Rogers would exclusively benefit from the “Sportsnet Winter Games”. I agree. What’s the point in a required investment to improve amateur sports and broadcasting in Canada if the company paying is the lone company to benefit? As a result, Rogers must submit an alternative plan by the end of the month.

What interests me are the interventions put forward by other media companies. Eastlink asked the CRTC to reclassify theScore as a “mainstream sports service”, similar to TSN, TSN2 or Sportsnet ONE. The CRTC opened up this sector to Canadian competition a few years ago. Previously TSN had protection. theScore enjoys similar protection as a sports news service. Unless Eastlink plans on launching a sports news channel, which seems unlikely, I find this is an odd intervention. Bell’s intervention was also interesting. Bell wanted the new license to include a condition to prevent theScore from tape-delaying programming by 15 minutes to get around live-programming rules imposed on it. theScore has previously done this with Serie A soccer and WWE.

I expect theScore will continue to air mostly basketball, soccer, WWE and college/university/amateur sports. The channel has found a niche with these sports, and I think for the most part Rogers will continue this. Rogers has already bought rights to FIBA basketball tournaments for theScore. Sportsnet has rights to CIS football and basketball games that air on Fox and Fox Sports 1 in the US. The CIS Hockey Championship would also make sense for theScore. There’s also always more room for UEFA Champions League group stage matches. WWE will continue to anchor theScore’s line-up on Monday and Friday. Regardless of whether it’s a sport, it is theScore’s highest-rated program. It consistently competes with Monday Night Football for the best cable ratings on Mondays in the fall. Limitations on the amount of live sports broadcasts will limit how many live games can air on theScore.

One thing I think Sportsnet really needs to capitalize on is the Footy Show’s popularity, even if it is gone. James Sharman, Kristian Jack, Brendan Dunlop, John Molinaro, and Thomas Dobby are all working for the same company again. The best time period for the podcast is when they were on it, in my opinion. Either a podcast or radio show would be great.

Late Starts… Anyone reading this live in St. Louis, Chicago or Minnesota? I hate the idea of 8:30pm local starts in the playoffs just for TV. The NBA does it regularly, but the NHL only started this year. I think one reason for this, aside from pleasing CBC and NBC, is to test the waters for next season when the divisional playoff format begins. One or two series in next year’s first round will feature two Central Time teams. That will create headaches for the NHL with three-quarters of all playoff games in the Eastern or Central time zones. Moving to an NBA-style schedule is one way to fix it. In other news, puckdrop of game 5 of the Kings-Blues series will be at 9pm Eastern, which means CBC will have to miss the first period since it conflicts with the Leafs-Bruins game. No word if cable/satellite providers will make this game available on an alternate channel yet.

Dowbiggin GoneToronto Sports Media is reporting that the Globe & Mail will not re-new Bruce Dowbiggin’s contract. I have heard the same thing. While Bruce could, at times, write a good piece on sports media, I thought his columns took a sharp dive when he began writing mostly about hockey and sports in general. Since Dowbiggin does love to include Tweets in his columns, here’s one to prove my point:

Now before I get into a rant defending Gryba (not on the hit, but in general), I just want to say he had a +28 rating in the minors this year. He was -3 logging 20 minutes a game for the Senators during the regular season. He blocked more than a shot a game, good enough for tenth among rookies. As this Ottawa Citizen article points out, you can’t judge Gryba (or many other defensemen) by their offensive output. Seems obvious, but isn’t to everyone I guess.

The Globe will have other writers write about sports media when needed. Media columnist Steve Ladurantaye already writes about sports media from time to time, while soccer columnist John Doyle has written about Fox Soccer Report and (the lack of) beIN Sport in Canada. While it is sad to see the last regular sports media in a mainstream paper, it wasn’t the same since Bill Houston retired and the Star axed Chris Zelkovich’s column anyway.

New Details on Rogers Takeover of theScore

The CRTC has released new details of the Rogers takeover of the Rogers takeover of theScore Television Network from Score Media. Rogers has petitioned a few changes to the channel’s license to the CRTC. theScore now has to break for sports highlights every 15 minutes (which soccer fans know is awkward). Rogers proposes to change this restriction to an hour during live sports, especially when there is no natural break in action. Rogers is also asking the CRTC to allow 15% of theScore’s quarterly broadcast schedule (or just over 100 hours a month, on average) to come from the “analysis and interpretation” and “long form documentary” categories. This is an increase of 5% from theScore’s current license. This would allow theScore to broadcast more talk shows (such as Live @ theScore) than it can now.

Rogers is also promising to create a “Sportsnet Winter Games”, which will apparently be similar to the Winter X Games. My opinion, if they put this in the right venue, it could become massive. Canada is a force in freestyle skiing and snowboardcross. If they can get more high-profile athletes than FIS World Cup and the Canadian Open halfpipe events, then it could easily become the top skiing/snowboarding event in Canada. This is just another example of networks creating and managing their own original programming. Both TSN (Skins Game) and Sportsnet (Grand Slam) have already done this with curling.

2012-13 NCAA Football Bowl Canadian TV Guide

The 2012-13 NCAA football bowl season begins this Saturday with a doubleheader. The schedule kicks into high gear the week of New Year’s Day with the six biggest games outside of the BCS Championship Game taking the primetime spotlight between December 31 and January 4. Three of the other biggest games will take place on New Year’s Day in the afternoon. There are 35 bowl games, all except two will air on Canadian television.  Here is the complete bowl broadcast schedule, including AP poll rankings and commentators for each game.

200px-New_Mexico_Bowl_logo_starting_2011New Mexico Bowl (University Stadium in Albuquerque, NM)
Saturday December 15, 1:00pm ET
Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)
TV: TSN2 (Bob Wischusen & Danny Kanell)

200px-Famous_Idaho_Potato_Bowl_logoFamous Idaho Potato Bowl (Bronco Stadium in Boise, ID)
Saturday December 15, 4:30pm ET
Toledo (9-3) vs. 18 Utah State (10-2)
TV: TSN2 (Tom Hart & Mike Bellotti)

200px-PoinsettiaBowlPoinsettia Bowl (Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA)
Thursday December 20, 8:00pm ET
Brigham Young (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)
TV: theScore (Carter Blackburn & Rod Gilmore)

200px-BeefOBradysBowlSt. Petersburg Bowl (Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL)
Friday December 21, 7:30pm ET
Ball State (9-3) vs. Central Florida (9-4)
TV: TSN2 (Dave Neal, Andre Ware & Desmond Howard)

150px-NewOrleansBowlNew Orleans Bowl (Superdome in New Orleans, LA)
Saturday December 22, 12:00pm ET
East Carolina (8-4) vs. UL-Lafayette (8-4)
TV: TSN2 (Beth Mowins & Joey Galloway)

Maaco_Las_Vegas_Bowl_logoLas Vegas Bowl (Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV)
Saturday December 22, 3:30pm ET
20 Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)
TV: TSN2 (Brent Musberger & Kirk Herbstreit)

200px-SheratonhawaiibowllogoHawaii Bowl (Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI)
Monday December 24, 8:00pm ET
Fresno State (9-3) vs. Southern Methodist (6-6)
TV: TSN2 (Carter Blackburn & Kelly Stouffer)

150px-Little_Caeasars_Pizza_BowlLittle Caesar’s Pizza Bowl (Ford Field in Detroit, MI)
Wednesday December 26, 7:30pm ET
Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6)
TV: theScore (Mark Neely & Ray Bentley)

150px-MilitaryBowlMilitary Bowl (RFK Stadium in Washington, DC)
Thursday December 27, 3:00pm ET
24 San Jose State (10-2) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)
TV: TSN2 (Bob Wischusen & Danny Kanell)

150px-Belk_Bowl_LogoBelk Bowl (Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC)
Thursday December 27, 6:30pm ET
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6)
TV: theScore (Mike Patrick & Ed Cunningham)

150px-BrigepointEducationHolidayBowlLogoHoliday Bowl (Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA)
Thursday December 27, 9:45pm ET
17 UCLA (9-4) vs. Baylor (7-5)
TV: theScore (Dave Pasch & Brian Griese)

200px-Advocare-Bowl-LogoIndependence Bowl (Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA)
Friday December 28, 2:00pm ET
Ohio (8-4) vs. UL-Monroe (8-4)
TV: theScore (Dave Lamont & Kelly Stouffer)

200px-Russell_Athletic_BowlRussell Athletic Bowl (Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL)
Friday December 28, 5:30pm ET
Rutgers (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)
TV: theScore (Joe Tessitore & Matt Millen)

150px-Meineke_Car_Care_Bowl_of_TexasTexas Bowl (Reliant Stadium in Houston, TX)
Friday December 28, 9:00pm ET
Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Minnesota (6-6)
TV: theScore (Mark Jones & Brock Huard)

ArmedForcesBowlXArmed Forces Bowl (Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX)
Saturday December 29, 11:45am ET
Air Force (6-6) vs. Rice (6-6)
TV: theScore (Beth Mowins & Joey Galloway)

150px-Pinstripe_Bowl_LogoPinstripe Bowl (Yankee Stadium in Bronx, NY)
Saturday December 29, 3:15pm ET
Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
TV: theScore (Chris Fowler & Jesse Palmer)

Alamo BowlAlamo Bowl (Alamodome in San Antonio, TX)
Saturday December 29, 6:45pm ET
15 Oregon State (9-3) vs. Texas (8-4)
TV: TSN2 (Sean McDonough & Chris Spielman)

Buffalo_Wild_Wings_Bowl_logoBuffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, AZ)
Saturday December 29, 10:15pm ET
Texas Christian (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6)
TV: TSN2 (Brad Nessler & Todd Blackledge)

150px-FAMC_Music_City_Bowl_logoMusic City Bowl (LP Field in Nashville, TN)
Monday December 31, 12:00pm ET
Vanderbilt (8-4) vs. North Carolina State (7-5)
TV: TSN2 (Carter Blackburn & Rod Gilmore)

150px-Hyundai_sun_bowl_2010_logoSun Bowl (Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso, TX)
Monday December 31, 2:00pm ET
Southern California (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7)
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist & Gary Danielson)

150px-AutoZoneLibertyBowlLogoLiberty Bowl (Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, TN)
Monday December 31, 3:30pm ET
Tulsa (10-3) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
TV: TSN2 (Mark Jones & Brock Huard)

PeachBowlChick-Fil-A Peach Bowl (Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA)
Monday December 31, 7:30pm ET
9 Louisiana State (10-2) vs. 14 Clemson (10-2)
TV: TSN2 (Mike Patrick & Ed Cunningham)

TaxSlayerGatorBowlGator Bowl (Everbank Field in Jacksonville, FL)
Tuesday January 1, 12:00pm ET
21 Northwestern (9-3) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)
TV: theScore (Bob Wischusen & Danny Kanell)

citrusCapital One Citrus Bowl (Citrus Bowl in Orlando, FL)
Tuesday January 1, 1:00pm ET
6 Georgia (11-2) vs. 23 Nebraska (10-3)
TV: ABC (Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer & David Pollack)

150px-Outbackbowl2008logoOutback Bowl (Raymond James Stadium in Orlando, FL)
Tuesday January 1, 1:00pm ET
11 South Carolina (10-2) vs. 19 Michigan (8-4)
TV: TSN (Mike Tirico & Jon Gruden)

150px-Vizio_Rose_BowlRose Bowl (Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA)
Tuesday January 1, 5:00pm ET
8 Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)
TV: TSN (Brent Musberger & Kirk Herbstreit)

150px-2011_Orange_Bowl.svgOrange Bowl (Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL)
Tuesday January 1, 8:30pm ET
13 Florida State (11-2) vs. 16 Northern Illinois (12-1)
TV: TSN (Joe Tessitore & Matt Millen)

150px-Sugar_Bowl_logo.svgSugar Bowl (Superdome in New Orleans, LA)
Wednesday January 2, 8:30pm ET
4 Florida (11-1) vs. 22 Louisville (10-2)
TV: TSN2 (Sean McDonough & Chris Spielman)

150px-Fiesta_Bowl_logo.svgFiesta Bowl (University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ)
Thursday January 3, 8:30pm ET
5 Oregon (11-1) vs. 7 Kansas State (11-1)
TV: TSN2 (Brad Nessler & Todd Blackledge)

150px-AT&T_Cotton_BowlCotton Bowl (Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX)
Friday January 4, 8:00pm ET
10 Texas A&M (10-2) vs. 12 Oklahoma (10-2)
TV: FOX (Gus Johnson & Charles Davis)

150px-2011CompassBowl.svgBBVA Compass Bowl (Legion Field in Birmingham, AL)
Saturday January 5, 1:00pm ET
Mississippi (6-6) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)
TV: TSN2 (Eamon MaCananey & David Diaz-Infante)

GodaddyGoDaddy.com Bowl (Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, AL)
Sunday January 6, 9:00pm ET
25 Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)
TV: theScore (Mark Jones & Brock Huard)

150px-2013_BCS_National_Championship_Game_logoBCS National Championship (Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL)
Monday January 7, 8:30pm ET
1 Notre Dame (12-0) vs. 2 Alabama (12-1)
TV: TSN (Brent Musberger & Kirk Herbstreit)

2011-12 College Football Bowl Canadian TV Guide

The 2011-12 college football bowl season begins this Saturday with a tripleheader. In all, there are 35 bowl games this year. 31 of those are available on Canadian TV. Here is the complete bowl broadcast schedule, including AP poll rankings and commentators for each game.

New Mexico Bowl (University Stadium in Albuquerque, NM)
Saturday December 17, 2:00pm ET
Tempe (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)
TV: TSN2 (Clay Matvick & Brian Griese)

Idaho Bowl (Bronco Stadium in Boise, ID)
Saturday December 17, 5:30pm ET
Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)
TV: TSN2 (Dave Flemming & Mike Bellotti)

New Orleans Bowl (Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, LA)
Saturday December 17, 9:00pm ET
San Diego State (8-4) vs. UL-Lafayette (8-4)
TV: TSN2 (Carter Blackburn & Brock Huard)

St. Petersburg Bowl (Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL)
Tuesday December 20, 8:00pm ET
Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)
TV: theScore (Mike Patrick & Craig James)

Poinsettia Bowl (Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA)
Wednesday December 21, 8:00pm ET
16 Texas Christian (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
TV: theScore (Joe Tessitore, Lou Holtz & Mark May)

Las Vegas Bowl (Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV)
Thursday December 22, 8:00pm ET
8 Boise State (11-1) vs. Arizona State (6-6)
TV: theScore (Chris Fowler & Kirk Herbstreit)

Hawaii Bowl (Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI)
Saturday December 24, 8:00pm ET
22 Southern Mississippi (11-2) vs. Nevada (7-5)
TV: TSN2 (Mark Jones & Ed Cunningham)

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