Allen thankful as he continues cancer battle

Courtesy of Houston Chronicle

bob-allenBob Allen is thankful on this Thanksgiving weekend. He spent the day with family members, and he continues to make progress in treatment of T-cell lymphoma with hopes of returning to KHOU (Channel 11) next spring.

Allen said the next significant milestone in his treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center will be another round of chemotherapy followed next month by a stem cell transplant that doctors hope will prevent a reoccurrence of the disease.

In the meantime, he’s chafing at the bit – “There are only so many TV shows to watch and books to read and movies to see,” he said Tuesday – and counting his blessings for the hard but valuable insights that come when observers become participants in life’s struggles.

“It’s strengthened my faith and put things in perspective – what is important and what isn’t,” he said. “A Texans loss isn’t quite as severe as it used to be.

“My family and I are closer and I’m closer to friends, and it makes you open your eyes and see things that you wouldn’t have taken the time to reflect upon.”

That’s a particular telling observation for Allen, who barely blinked between his long-term job at KTRK (Channel 13) and his move across town to Channel 11.

In general, he said, “I’m getting there. The prognosis is good.”

Read more at Houston Chronicle where this story was originally published.

ACC Network still being considered

Courtesy of The Charlotte Business Journal

ACC-conferenceNext week, Clemson and North Carolina will meet in the ACC football championship at Bank of America Stadium in a match-up that, as of this week, is sold out. John Swofford, the ACC commissioner, has maintained close ties between the conference and Charlotte — a relationship he told me Tuesday could extend to housing an ESPN-backed cable channel if the league and the media company decide to move forward with a joint venture.

Three of the five major conferences have dedicated cable channels already. The Big Ten Network started in 2007 and is owned by the conference (49%) and Fox Sports (51%). The University of Texas, with IMG College and ESPN, launched The Longhorn Network in 2011, which explains, in large part, why the Big 12 doesn’t have a channel. Next came the Pac-12 Network, wholly owned by the conference, in 2012. In 2014, ESPN started the SEC Network, which set a record for distribution (the number of homes the channel is made available in by cable companies). The SEC Network is based in Charlotte at ESPN’s Ballantyne studios.

The ACC, like the SEC, has a long-term contract with ESPN for football and men’s basketball games and, if an ACC cable network is created, it would be done in tandem with ESPN. The current contract with ESPN pays the ACC an average of $300 million per year through 2026-27.
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Veteran Denver sportscaster moving across town

Courtesy of The Denver Post

Vic Lombardi, multiple Emmy award-winning sportscaster for CBS’ KCNC-Channel 4, is in negotiations to join Altitude Sports in the coming weeks in a yet-undefined role.

The hire, expected to be announced next week, will give Altitude, a regional sports network owned by Stan Kroenke, a push as it expands its local programming.

Altitude holds broadcast rights to the four Denver-based professional sports teams owned by Kroenke — the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids and the National Lacrosse League’s Colorado Mammoth.

Lombardi has been with CBS4 since June 1998, providing sports news and commentary. His contract with CBS4 is due to expire at the end of the year. He said a contract with Altitude is not yet signed. An Altitude spokesperson declined to comment until Dec. 1.

Read more at The Denver Post where this story was originally published.

Bakersfield sportscaster Kerr to be honored

Courtesy of Bakersfield Now

Eyewitness News sports anchor Greg Kerr will be inducted into the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame.

The dinner and ceremony is planned for Feb. 25 at the Rabobank Theater and Convention Center.

Kerr has the privilege of being inducted during the hall of fame’s 50th anniversary.

The Bakersfield Californian reports other 2016 inductees are Steve Denman (Tehachapi High School football), Chuck Chamberlain (Arvin High School football) and Brooke Roberts (Garces, North and Centennial volleyball).

Kerr has been with Eyewitness News since the 1980s.

He’s the first broadcast journalist to be enshrined in the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame. Larry Press, retired from the Californian, is already in the hall of fame.

Read more at Bakersfield Now where this story was originally published.

KU’s Davis announces 2016 retirement

Courtesy of The Kansas City Star

Davis-BobAn iconic voice of Kansas athletics — and a former broadcaster for the Kansas City Royals — is calling it quits following this college basketball season.

Bob Davis, who has served as the play-by-by broadcaster for the Kansas Jayhawks for 32 seasons, will retire in 2016, KU announced Tuesday. That means Saturday’s Sunflower Showdown at Memorial Stadium will be his final college football broadcast.

“I’ve been really lucky to be the ‘Voice of the Jayhawks’ for 32 years,” Davis said. “It was a dream job for me when it happened.”
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Hutton out as Marlins TV analyst

Courtesy of Miami Herald

miami marlinsThe Marlins and Fox Sports Florida dropped TV analyst Tommy Hutton on Monday, a move that elicited a flood of Marlins-bashing on Twitter.

Hutton — whose lively personality, candor and willingness to criticize made him popular with viewers — was the team’s TV analyst for the past 19 seasons. He said the Marlins and Fox gave him no explanation for why they aren’t renewing his contract.

“All I got was, ‘We’ve made a decision to go in another direction,’ ” he said. “They insisted it wasn’t about budget. I was surprised and shocked the way it was handled given the fact it was two months into the offseason and a couple days before Thanksgiving.”
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Weinberger to head Bill Simmons Media Group

Courtesy of Deadline Hollywood

NFL Network executive producer Eric Weinberger is joining former ESPN and Grantland honcho Bill Simmons as President of the newly formed Bill Simmons Media Group. Weinberger will be one of the EPs of Simmons’ upcoming HBO talk show. He also will oversee the building of a new content website and a podcast network and help to develop scripted and non-scripted projects, shortform digital content and other creative projects, as part of Simmons’ first-look deal with HBO.

“I can’t wait to start working with Eric,” Simmons said in a statement. “He’s a talented guy with an impeccable reputation, someone who is uniquely equipped to help me build an innovative multi-media company from scratch. We’re both beyond excited to start brainstorming about my show and other HBO Sports projects as well. I know from experience that you’re only as good as the people around you, and Eric is one of the very best.”

At NFL Network, Weinberger helped create and oversee the network’s more than 2,500 hours of live studio programming that included NFL Total Access, NFL GameDay Morning, NFL GameDay Final, Around the NFL Live, and Path to the Draft as well as the cable network’s daily four-hour daily morning show, NFL AM. Prior to NFL Network, Weinberger was Senior Producer of Fox Sports Net’s Best Damn Sports Show Period and was one of the original staffers at Fox Sports.

Read more at Deadline Hollywood where this story was originally published.

Hawaii sportscaster leaves on-air for sales

Courtesy of The Honolulu Star Advertiser

Sportscaster Francesca Weems has left Hawaii News Now and started today as an account executive at Communications Pacific.

“I’m looking forward to applying my skills in broadcast to this new venture,” Weems said. “I’m excited to do something new and I thank (Communications Pacific CEO) Kitty Lagareta for the opportunity.”

Weems has not worked in public relations before, but “brings relevant experience to our firm,” Lagareta said.

“She is very talented, well educated, and brings relevant experience to our firm,” Lagareta said.

Weems was hired at HNN as a sports reporter/anchor in March. The Kealakehe graduate was working at WLBT/WDBD in Jackson, Mississippi, after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cal and working part-time for various Bay Area outlets.

Weems and HNN president Rick Blangiardi both declined to comment about why she left the TV job.

“I’m glad Fran has decided to stay in Hawaii,” Blangiardi said. “She can have a great impact on this state.”

When HNN’s Mark Carpenter left for San Francisco, the station hired Collin Harmon as sports director and moved Ian Scheuring to sports from a previous position as digital content producer. Those moves, along with the hiring of another new reporter at the same time as Weems, Taryn Hatcher, left HNN with a four-person sports desk.

It was not going to stay that way in a market where the other network affiliates have two sports reporter/anchors.

Read more at The Honolulu Star Advertiser where this story was originally published.

WEEI hopes new Red Sox deal a home run

Courtesy of The Boston Herald

weei-fmWEEI, which has been choking on the whopping $200 million, 10-year deal it has with the Red Sox for the right to broadcast their games, is thisclose to getting rid of that Major League headache.

Entercom Boston boss Phil Zachary tells us that the station and the Sox “hope to have a new deal in place by Christmas.”

The new arrangement is huge for the sports yakkers because the station’s bottom line constantly bottoms out due to the roughly $17 million it currently sends annually to Yawkey Way.
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NFL targets massive payday for Thursday TV package

Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

nfl logoOne of the last big sports rights opportunities for several years is about to become available to TV networks. The NFL’s Thursday Night Football — which for the past two seasons has aired on CBS via one-year deals — is generating intense interest as the league is likely to extend the length of the package significantly to bring it in line with other TV rights pacts, most of which run through the 2022 season. (ESPN’s eight-year, $15.2 billion Monday Night Football deal extends through 2021; contracts for Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox and NBC’s Sunday Night Football expire in 2022.)

Analysts predict a long-term Thursday Night Football arrangement could go for $600 million annually and potentially much higher when dealmaking begins in earnest in January. “Thursday night will sell for less than Sunday night, though how much less depends upon how fierce the competition,” notes Patrick Rishe, founder and CEO of analyst firm Sportsimpacts.

CBS, Fox, NBC and Turner have signaled interest in the Thursday package. As the incumbent, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus would seem to have an advantage. (The net paid $275 million for the eight-game Thursday package last season and re-upped this season for about $300 million.) But the games are said to be a top priority for NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke. Certainly, NBC Sports under Mark Lazarus has been aggressive in acquiring and keeping live contests. Last year, the company agreed to pay $7.75 billion for six Olympics, locking up the Games through 2032. Turner Sports also has indicated a strong desire for Thursday Night Football.

Last year, TNF averaged a little more than 12 million viewers a game on CBS and NFL Network, where they are simulcast. (CBS’ Sunday afternoon package averaged 18.7 million viewers last season.) This season, the Sept. 17 TNF opener set a record for the franchise, with more than 21 million viewers watching the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. But critics say the Thursday games often feature inferior matchups, and the fluctuating ratings reflect those hit-and-miss contests.

Plus, the Thursday package may not be the only rights deal for the NFL: The league also might look to package global digital rights for its international series. The NFL pulled in $20 million from Yahoo for the rights to the Oct. 25 Buffalo Bills-Jacksonville Jaguars game from London’s Wembley Stadium. Yahoo’s first free global live stream of an NFL game notched 15.2 million unique viewers. The league may expand its international series from three games next season, possibly adding a fourth game in Mexico. It is expected to announce its 2016 international series Nov. 25.

Read more at The Hollywood Reporter where this story was originally published.