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Category Archives: Fox Sports

Hockey Producer Doug Sellars Dies

Here’s some sad news. Longtime hockey producer and sports television executive Doug Sellars has died. Sellars had been ill for a little while, and if you’ve watched any Fox Sports Net telecast over the past few days, you probably heard the broadcasters mention him and his illness.

From a CBC press release –

The world of sports broadcasting has lost one of its finest and most talented leaders. Doug Sellers passed on Friday and his extended CBC family is mourning the loss.

“While unfortunately I didn’t know Doug personally, I understand he had a wonderful disposition, and his calm and kind way made him a gifted leader, respected by everyone who had the pleasure of working for him. On behalf of Doug’s many friends at CBC, I extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to his family,” said Kirstine Stewart, Executive Vice-President, English Services, CBC.

Doug began his career at CBC in 1985 working on Hockey Night in Canada.

Two years on, he produced the Grey Cup Game at just 27 years of age. In 1989, Doug was promoted to Head of Sports Production, where he oversaw all CBC Sports properties, including several Olympic Games and two Commonwealth Games. A multiple Gemini Award-winner, Doug went on from CBC to Fox Sports, where he worked his way up to Executive Vice-President, Fox Sports Media Group.

Sellars joined FSN in 2000 and was in charge of all production for the various sports networks under the FSN umbrella. In August 2011, Sellars was promoted to EVP of Fox Sports. This expanded role put Sellars in charge of production for all of Fox Sports’ programming. Sellars regularly made it onto The Hockey News’ most powerful people in hockey list. While Sellars wasn’t on this year’s list, he was ranked as high as number 32 in 2006. Condolences go out to his friends and family.

(editors note: The original CBC press release misspelled Doug’s last name as you see from the above quote. They sent out a correct release this afternoon. Apparently this misspelling is common so I have decided to leave it uncorrected due to many people searching for info using that spelling)

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Posted by on January 1, 2012 in CBC, Fox Sports, NHL, Television

 

NHL Hypes Regional Ratings

This is a huge press release from the NHL, detailing various business and broadcasting numbers. I will post the full release after the jump. But first, I’m going to highlight some of the regional ratings that are included since much of the other information mentioned is dated and already known –

First Quarter Filled With TV Ratings Highlights

Eleven local Regional Sports Networks experienced double- and triple-digit growth, including:

• Nashville (+200 percent)
• Carolina (+125 percent)
• Florida (+100 percent)
• Tampa Bay (+71 percent)
• Philadelphia (+60 percent)
• Boston (+57 percent)
• Minnesota (+53 percent)
• San Jose (+44 percent)
• Buffalo (+26 percent)
• Edmonton (+21 percent)
• New York Rangers (+14 percent)

There’s some huge bumps in there, but keep in mind that for many of the Southern teams, ratings couldn’t go much lower. In the case of the Predators, their local ratings are rarely published, so we don’t know where they previously ranked on the totem pole. Clearly, Florida is seeing a boost from their strong start but they have a long ways to go when it comes to being respectable ratings wise. It will be interesting to see if Carolina can continue that momentum since they have been struggling on the ice. A quick update. The Carolina and Nashville ratings include the Atlanta market for the first time. This helps explain their jumps a little bit. Either way, its good to see more people tuning in. Thanks to Dirk Hoag at On the Forecheck for the info.

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A Few Scribbles

Here’s a few scribbles on NHL ratings and business as the weekend comes closer.

RATINGS UPDATE

We have some TSN ratings for you in addition to my prior post. TSN PR man Greg McIssac reports that Wednesday’s Toronto/Boston matchup drew a strong 1.27 million viewers on average. That’s not a surprise as the Leafs ratings continue to soar. Add in an rival and you have a very good number.

There’s been plenty of Boston Bruins ratings that have been leaking out lately. Each one seems to set a new record and that streak continues. Fang’s Bites reports that NESN had a record November with the B’s averaging a 5.3 rating. That’s up from the previous high of 4.0 which was garnered this past March.

The Bruins aren’t the only team with some impressive numbers. The Buffalo Sabres are always near the top of the ratings heap and their numbers are only growing. Ironically, the Bruins were involved in this one too. Puck The Media has the details –

The Buffalo Sabres’ tilt with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 23 drew the highest television rating so far this season for telecasts on MSG. The divisional matchup posted a 12.1 rating and a 20 share regionally. Ratings for the telecast actually peaked at 14.9 during the shootout when Boston’s Benoit Pouliot beat Jhonas Enroth to seal a 4-3 victory for the Bruins.

“The matchup was arguably the most anticipated of the season,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. Our fans are awesome and we are very pleased and humbled by the fact that for the second straight month, the Buffalo Sabres’ television ratings on MSG continue to lead all US-based NHL teams.”

The 12.1 rating indicates that 12.1 percent of television-equipped households were tuned into the game at some point during the broadcast and the 20 share means 20 percent of households watching TV in the region Wednesday night were watching the game.

Last Wednesday’s ratings were the highest among the 19 Sabres games broadcast on MSG so far this season. The second-most viewed contest was the team’s home opener against Carolina on Oct. 14, which drew an 11.5 rating and 18 share regionally.

On average, MSG telecasts of Sabres games have earned an 8.81 rating regionally so far this season. The team posted the highest ratings in three years during the month October when telecasts drew an average rating of 8.3.

BLUE JACKETS GET A NEW REPORTER 

When John Michael was named the new radio voice of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, that left the Columbus Blue Jackets searching for a new reporter. With the NBA lockout coming towards an end, the Jackets and Fox Sports Ohio have made their choice. Natalie Taylor will join Fox’s coverage beginning on December 8. Taylor is somewhat familiar to Ohioans as she’s previously worked in Columbus and for FS Ohio. Additionally, Taylor does have hockey in her past. She spent two years as the Atlanta Thrashers sideline reporter on SportSouth.

FORBES NHL VALUES

One of the most controversial things to come out every year is Forbes’ NHL valuations. The latest have been released and Toronto continues to hold the number one spot. The New York Rangers, Montreal, Detroit and Boston round out the top five. For more insight on the rankings and the league’s financial growth, check out Puck Drunk Love’s interview with Forbes Sr. Editor Kurt Badenhausen.

NHL SEES STRONG SALES OVER HOLIDAY WEEKEND

The Thanksgiving weekend brought record sales to NHL.com and the NHL store. From NHL.com –

The League saw strong sales growth of its licensed product over the holiday shopping weekend (Nov. 26 -29), illustrating an increased fan demand.

North American retail sales are up 11 percent post Black Friday, while NHL team store and concessionaires are up 15 percent in per cap sales year-to-date. Products driving sales growth include NHL Video Games, specifically EA Sports NHL 11 (up 20 percent), 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic apparel (up 41 percent), women’s apparel (up 52 percent), men’s apparel (up 22 percent), and Franklin NHL street hockey equipment (up 32 percent).

The NHL has also once again registered record-setting merchandise sales at both the NHL Powered by Reebok Store and at Shop.NHL.com over the Thanksgiving weekend. NHL Powered by Reebok recorded its largest Black Friday sales figures in the four year history of the New York City store with a 7 percent increase over last year’s record-breaking sales. The record-setting Thanksgiving weekend generated additional momentum in sales figures for the store. For the full month of November, sales were up 16 percent this year compared to last, and overall store sales this year (Jan.-Nov. 2010) have increased 9 percent from 2009.

Shop.NHL.Com experienced its second-highest grossing sales day ever on Black Friday with a remarkable 153 percent increase for the day over 2009. The highest grossing sales day to date on Shop is still the day after the Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.   Remarkably, 50 percent of customers on Black Friday were new to Shop.NHL.com.

The top-five selling items on Shop.NHL.com from Black Friday through Cyber Monday were:

* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 Winter Classic Premier Jersey
* Reebok New York Rangers Premier Third Jersey
* Reebok Pittsburgh Penguins 2011 NHL Winter Classic Hooded Sweatshirt
* Reebok Philadelphia Flyers Premier Home Jersey
* Warner Home Video Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin Great 8 DVD

SPONSORSHIP UPDATE

Finally, there’s some sponsorship news out there that I have Tweeted but I haven’t posted about them so here we go. First off, you’ve probably noticed all those ads and rink signage for “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol,” the new movie that will be released on December 21. The ads are part of a deal the league signed with Paramount Pictures. According to Variety, the league has long suited a film studio for a deal and it now has its wish.

And earlier this week, Visa Canada renewed its deal with the league. The new pact is for three years and makes Visa the official payment card of the NHL in Canada. While this is confusing, the deal doesn’t affect the league’s sponsorship with Discover in the US. The two companies have the same branding but can only use it for the country they are paying for, so don’t expect any Visa commercials on NBC and Versus anytime soon.

 

Hartford’s Howard Baldwin Problem

 

Is it time to cue up the Brass Bonanza? People in Hartford are starting to salivate over the thought of the Whalers coming back. Howard Baldwin is a chronic dreamer and he now has a new dream. He plans to renovate the XL Center in the hopes of luring back an NHL team. It’s a nice thing to think about but how Baldwin could ever do it for only $105 million is an interesting question. That seems like a very low number for this type of project. The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau goes so far as to anoint Baldwin as Hartford’s version of Mark Chipman. There’s only one problem. There’s no David Thomson in the picture and Baldwin is notorious for talking things up and watching them go nowhere.

Unless a Thomson like figure shows up, I don’t see how this deal would ever happen. Baldwin isn’t exactly a terrific financial manager. His management of the Penguins helped lead it to bankruptcy. True, the Penguins had plenty of success on the ice, but it was another story off of it. Just how ugly was it? Under Baldwin’s tenure, the Pens signed one of the worst regional television contract deals in league history.

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Fox, DirecTV Reach Agreement

Here’s some good news. Fox Cable Networks and DirecTV have come to terms on a new carriage agreement. The deal includes Fox News and Fox broadcast even though their deals were not up until the end of the year. Terms were not disclosed but fans can now rest easy as Fox Sports Net will stay on DirecTV’s lineup.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Fox Sports, NHL, Television

 

Viewers Are Pawns In Carriage Battles

November 1 could be a very ugly day for DirecTV subscribers. That day is when over 20 News Corporation owned networks might be dropped from the provider’s channel lineup. It’s a terrible situation for subscribers and fans of those networks. Both sides have launched PR campaigns to woo the public although Fox seems to be winning that battle at the moment. Stuck in the middle are the viewers. In many cases, the viewers are loyal to both the channels and their providers, yet they are still getting screwed and now they don’t know where to turn and who’s to blame. It’s not pretty and that’s why so many people would love to see an ala carte system in place but in reality, the media companies don’t want it nor do the providers. I’ll write more about that a little later but first some background on this current carriage battle.

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Posted by on October 26, 2011 in Fox Sports, Television

 

FSN & DirecTV Launch PR Campaigns Ahead of Carriage Deadline

Fox Cable Networks and DirecTV have each launched PR campaigns as a carriage deadline approaches. The 19 Fox Sports Net regional networks are included in this battle. According to Broadcasting & Cable, the current deal ends on November 1. DirecTV CEO Mike White claims in a statement that Fox is asking for an exorbitant increase.

News Corp. “has demanded that DirecTV customers pay nearly 40% more for the same channels they already received. If a new deal is not reached, we will be forced to suspend the channels as early as Nov. 1.”

White adds that “we respectfully ask for your patience as we work to achieve a fair agreement as quickly as possible.”

The folks at Fox have rebutted DirecTV with a statement of their own.

“DirecTV sent us a proposal on Tuesday afternoon. They have given us no chance to respond before taking an unnecessarily aggressive posture and going public. It is disappointing that they have chosen bad faith tactics over meaningful negotiation.”

Fox says it has proposed to allow DirecTV to continue to carry its networks for the current price and terms while negotiations continue. “Unfortunately, DirecTV has decided that unless they get their way, they are going to pull the plug on their customers Nov. 1.”

So, now the public relations battle begins. Each side is setting up a website to help their cause. DirecTV has launched “Our Promise To You“, while Fox plans to launch a website later this afternoon, keepmynets.com.

This is the second carriage battle to occur in the last month that directly affects NHL fans. NHL Network was pulled off of AT&T U-Verse at the start of the month and is still off the air.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2011 in Fox Sports, NHL, Television