TV Sports NotesDirecTV to offer more back-nine views at The Masters
By Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY
, February 20, 2008
The latest in TV's quest to show that enough is never enough: On this year's coverage of The Masters, some holes will star on their own TV channels.
DirecTV, the satellite TV service reaching about 16.8 million households, will formally announce Wednesday that it will debut a Masters Mix Channel for all four rounds of play. It will include one channel devoted to Augusta's so-called Amen Corner — holes 11, 12 and 13 — and one devoted to holes 15 and 16. Each of those two will have their own dedicated cameras and announcers.
DirecTV will offer another channel devoted to tournament highlights, and one carrying ESPN's live coverage of The Masters' first two rounds and then CBS' coverage of the final two rounds. For viewers with the necessary home equipment, all four channels will be viewable simultaneously.
The arrangement shows how complicated TV coverage has become since CBS first showed up at The Masters in 1956 with four cameras to cover the course's last four holes. CBS will produce ESPN's early-round coverage, which ESPN inherits this year from USA Network, and will produce DirecTV's coverage, which will air only when regular TV coverage is also airing. And CBS won't mind if you watch DirecTV when its coverage is on the air. Because DirecTV will air CBS' commercials, you'll count in CBS' TV ratings. Another twist: DirecTV's coverage of the specific holes, says DirecTV executive vice president Eric Shanks, also will be online at masters.org.
This is just the latest DirecTV attempt to complement regular TV coverage with special services that might entice viewers to switch from cable TV to satellite. Some sell for extra fees, like out-of-market NFL games or NASCAR coverage that includes various channels devoted to following specific drivers. Some are free, like coverage of tennis' U.S. Open and golf's U.S. Open includes coverage from those events' world TV feeds that might not otherwise show up on U.S. TV.
DirecTV's Shanks says the Masters Mix will be free this year — and stay that way. "It's a four-day event, and it's a tough value proposition to ask somebody to plunk down money for four days."Ouch:
TNT's coverage of Sunday night's NBA All-Star Game, based on its overnight TV rating, seems ready to set a record-low national rating for the event. TNT drew a 4.3 overnight, which translates to 4.3% of TV households in 56 major TV markets, down 16% from the overnight for last year's game, which was the lowest-rated ever. Ratings for the game have dropped each year since TNT picked it up in 2003.
On the up side, TNT's Saturday night All-Star coverage, including the dunk competition, drew a 3.1 overnight to tie last year's rating, even though last year's Saturday night TNT coverage included a much-ballyhooed race between TNT's Charles Barkley and NBA referee Dick Bavetta.Finally:
Now you can pretend to work in your office cubicle when you're actually watching online fishing.
Starting Friday, the ESPN-owned Bassmaster Classic will deploy its first unmanned on-boat cameras — on boats used by angling stars Boyd Duckett and Skeet Reese — to catch casts that will stream live online on bassmaster.com. BASS general manager Tom Ricks suggests the new BassCasts will help provide online coverage to deal with "the size of our playing field."
Also new online, the NFL Network this week has its first live online video from the NFL combine, focused on potential draftees sprinting, weightlifting, jumping, etc. — for about 60 hours. It's about time.Dumb luck
: In scheduling done before the NBA season started, ESPN has Shaquille O'Neal's debut for the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night — vs. the Los Angeles Lakers — as well as Boston-Suns on Friday and Detroit-Suns on ABC on Sunday.
This will be a good chance for ESPN/ABC analyst Bill Walton to expand on his recent on-air comment that "Shaq's arrogance is an insult to people who think." Walton said he based this on what O'Neal did with his former team, the Miami Heat, where, said Walton, "he said, 'I can't play at all,' (but) now I'm going to win the championship (in Phoenix) — which is ludicrous."
O'Neal responded that the oft-injured Walton's NBA playing "resume isn't quite good enough to speak on what I've done. I look at what Mr. Walton has done and what he's said — and one thing I hate is a hypocrite."
They go back: Walton, who on-air in 1995 said O'Neal "is one of the five biggest people on the planet," tutored O'Neal on his game when O'Neal was at LSU.http://www.usatoday.com/sports/colum...terstitialskip