TV SportsFox, UFC look for otherworldly coverage in broadcast debut
By Michael Hiestand, USA Today
- November 4th, 2011
Fox Sports President Eric Shanks pinpoints the key to Fox's Nov. 12 Cain Velasquez-Junior dos Santos mixed martial arts debut: "We have to make sure it's being produced for Martians."
Not because Martians are the latest elusive viewer demographic that advertisers are trying to reach through MMA action. Shank's point is that Fox's seven-year deal with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, in which the broadcast network will air four events annually and its FX cable channel will air six, needs "to remember to respect the audience by remembering that we're introducing this to America."
UFC will do most of the introducing, since it maintains control of the fight coverage and will use announcers Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan, who call its pay-per-view fights. But Fox will control the pre- and post-fight shows, where it will use Curt Menefee as host and fighter Brock Lesnar who might eventually fight the Nov. 12 winner and UFC President Dana White as analysts. Or, maybe, head cheerleader?
Fox's Shanks says using White is obvious. "Dana is a big part of their (PPV) shows and why those shows are successful. There was never a question he'd be part of this it's a no-brainer."
And what would MMA action be without red-carpet interviews? Pre-fight coverage of the event in Anaheim, Calif., will be on Fox's FUEL TV cable channel. Hosted by Jay Glazer, that show will include red-carpet reports sure to include lots of purported celebs and people who just happen to appear on Fox shows.NFL analysts need unique voices to stand out
Ex-NFL players starting out as TV analysts would always be wise to take some on-air shots to get noticed if they want to stick around. But now, says CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason, who survived being dropped from a prominent NFL TV perch and co-hosts a New York sports talk radio show, shrillness can't always lead to a breakthrough.
And broadcast network analysts, he suggests, no longer have the luxury of staying above the fray. "It's really a beast now, with so many shows, so many things producers do to provoke controversy. And when somebody does say something, it's (publicists') jobs to get it out as fast."
Which makes sense. From ESPN to regional networks, NFL shows are proliferating talk is cheap to produce in addition to an entire channel largely devoted to NFL yak: the NFL Network. "On ESPN, there are something like 19 guys on 17 shows for crying out loud. And they throw subjects on the screen like, 'Does Tony Romo choke?' So while the guys might never say 'choke' they get associated with it anyway. It's a young producer of the 18th NFL show on ESPN or the 17th on NFL Network posing a very opinionated question as a trick to get guys engaged. (Former) players recognize if you don't have an opinion, people will see through you. It's hard for players to start out now."
Esiason arrived seemingly made for TV, going straight from 14 NFL seasons to Monday Night Football with Al Michaels in 1998. That didn't work out "I wish I knew then what I know now; I'd understand the mine fields I was stepping into but Esiason went on to radio calls of Monday night NFL games and CBS' Sunday studio show.
And everybody else turning up the volume has changed that show. "By the time it gets to Sunday, so much has been talked out that the only things that differentiates ourselves is our opinions, our personalities. We have the credibility to give legitimate criticism. How about when Matt Millen was running the Detroit Lions into the ground. Are we not supposed to talk about it because he's an ex-player? I wasn't afraid."
Esiason says he never "wanted to do anything mean-spirited to make my name" and bases his "honest analysis on fact." But in a rare case of one network TV analyst taking shots at another, ESPN's Keyshawn Johnson told The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger that Esiason said "something all the time" about him as a player and "he's still tweeting about me. It's like he's infatuated with me."
Esiason, who says he "didn't always think Johnson was a good team player" and "quit on Tampa Bay under Jon Gruden," chuckles at that: "I love it when people think I'm infatuated with them." And it shows there are still a few things to say that still stand out in NFL yak.CBS' Wolfson used to different levels of cooperation
Tracy Wolfson's scouting report for LSU-Alabama on Saturday: "LSU will give us a body part whether a player is out. Alabama will not."
Wolfson, in her eighth season as CBS' college football sideline reporter, says teams "make up their own set of rules" about relaying news on things such as player injuries. With LSU, she'll get a heads-up from the trainer or equipment manager but with Alabama she'll talk to a sideline PR person "and I don't get much."
Not that she's complaining. TV sideline reporters face fewer restrictions than their NFL counterparts. And for what CBS bills on-air as Saturday's "Game of the Century" "millennium" was too long for an onscreen graphic Wolfson expects both teams will let her near the benches: "You have to keep moving, try to hide and be a good lip reader."
Halftime talks with coaches can be edgy. "They know even if they're down by 24 points that I'll put a mike in their face. And they know I won't throw them under the bus."
Wolfson, who started in TV as a CBS gofer, has more control at home. She has three sons including a 3-month-old whose birthdays weren't accidental: "I plan them around football."Sunset won't affect Michigan State-UNC aircraft carrier game
The USS Carl Vinson, the aircraft carrier used for Osama bin Laden's burial at sea, will host a Michigan State-North Carolina basketball game at 7 p.m. ET on Nov. 11.
And ESPN senior coordinating producer Dave Miller says sunsets shouldn't affect play on the docked ship in San Diego: "The sun sets on the side, so it won't be behind either basket."
Rain, though, would move play indoors: ESPN will also set up a hangar below deck.
ESPN, using 12 cameras rather its usual five to six, will put one on the ship's mast. But its angle, Miller says, shouldn't be unfamiliar: "It's sort of like the shot from the far corner of the (42,000-seat Syracuse) Carrier Dome."Spice rack:
For Sunday's New York Marathon, the New York City Road Runners will offer a $3 mobile app that lets runners track 10 other runners on a step-by-step basis, get local TV coverage of the race and get messages when they near sponsor Dunkin' Donuts' stores along the course. Technology can tempt as well as inspire. So far, New Orleans has the highest local TV ratings for NFL home games it's averaging 50.1% of households for Saints games. Detroit has the biggest ratings increase over last year up 25% while the Minnesota Vikings and St. Louis Rams tied for the biggest ratings drops with each down 20%.http://www.usatoday.com/sports/colum...all/51065618/1