The Media Learning Curve: Whoop, there it is

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WhoopAss, as in a “big ol’ can of,” was the name of an energy drink that claimed to “revitalize attitude and restore faith in mankind,” cranked out by those snarky guys at the Seattle-based Jones Soda Company.

Somehow it disappeared in 2008, but it was said to be actually quite popular in Canada, even though the character on the front has a kid making a fist with the letters “U-S-A” across his knuckles.

Our theory that NBC will do all it can to exploit not just American gold digging in the Winter Olympics coverage from Vancouver, but how the U.S. does it at the expense of Canada and ruining their party, is all over today’s media column (linked here).

And we also discuss it with Ken Jeffries on the Daily News podcast (linked here).

So as you’re gearing up for your first three-hour delay of something important — the 6 p.m. opening ceremony tonight won’t be on your TV until about 9 p.m. — here are some other cans to open:

== NBC will have Bob Costas and Matt Lauer co-anchor the thing tonight (7:30 p.m.), with Al Michaels popping in as well as Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Mary Carillo, Cris Collinsworth and Dan Patrick. The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore will do everything but make it snow. The order of entrance is in French alphabetical order, but Greece always goes first, Canada now goes last and USA will be No. 82 in line.

== Steve Physioc and Marques Johnson have the FSN national call of Sunday’s USC-UCLA men’s game from Galen Center (Prime Ticket, 7 p.m.) Jim Watson and Mary Murphy call Saturday’s Trojans-Bruins’ women’s contest (Prime Ticket, 11 a.m.)

== FSW airs a half-hour special (Saturday, 7 p.m.) called “Freeway Faceoff: Bound for BC” that highlights the Kings and Ducks players headed for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Set to discuss matters are the Kings’ Jack Johnson, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick (for Team USA) and Drew Doughty(for Team Canada), plus the Ducks’ Bobby Ryan and Ryan Whitney (Team USA), Corey Perry (Team Canada) and goalie Jonas Hiller (for Team Switzerland). The show leads into the Kings-Colorado telecast at 7:30 p.m. and reairs at 10:30 p.m.

== NHL.com will also use Kings.com and FSW reporter Heidi Androl to host its coverage of the Games from Vancouver (linked here).

== The NFL Network has claimed coverage of the revived Arena Football League, which will return on Friday, April 2 at 5 p.m. with an AFL Game of the Week telecast for 18 weeks. The playoffs start in August leading into the 2010 ArenaBowl at a yet-to-be-determined facility. No doubt recently retired QB Kurt Warner could be considered as a possible analyst for the game coverage.

The NFL Net notes that Arena Football was actually invented in 1981 by Jim Foster, a promotion manager at NFL Properties at that time who went on to launch Arena Football league play in May, 1987. NBC and ESPN are among the networks that have carried games, with ESPN holding joint ownership in the old AFL until it shut down after the 2008 season.

The 15-team AFL will not include a team in Los Angeles, but has places such as Chicago, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Orlando, Salt Lake City and Phoenix on board.

== Entertainment Weekly cites multiple sources that “Friday Night Lights” will end after Season Five wraps up in June (linked here). The fourth season of the show ended its DirecTV run Thursday, but it doesn’t debut on NBC until April 30. The fifth season starts on DirecTV in the fall, and may not be seen on NBC until 2011.

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== NBA Digital says it will have more than 50 hours of exclusive content to today through Sunday with the NBA All Star Game and surrounding loudness from Dallas. At the All-Star Scene site (www.nba.com/allstarscene), players and celebs will shoot HD pocket video cameras. Included is Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin from “Superbad”). Meanwhile, NBA TV going 20 hours with stuff such as behind-the-scenes on media day and the West and East team practices.

== Part of tonight’s TNT one-hour special on the 10th anniversary of “Inside the NBA” (8 to 9 p.m.) is this insightful clip (above) of when Kobe Bryant came into the studio to demonstrate on Kenny Smith how he sets himself up for a game-winning shot — hesitating, counting the clock down in his head, clipping the defender’s arms — but then he can’t hit the shot:

Best of Inside: Kobe Bryant Visits Kenny’s Court from Turner Sports on Vimeo.

== HBO will reair the first three half-hour episodes of “24/7 Jimmie Johnson: Race to Daytona” on Saturday (11 p.m.). Episode 4 finishes the series Tuesday (10 p.m.) with a follow-up as to how he did in Sunday’s race.

== CBS somehow sends Super Bowl weary Jim Nantz back out with Nick Faldo for the final two rounds of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am (Saturday and Sunday, noon). During Saturday’s coverage, which traditionally focuses more on the celebs, Nantz and Faldo will do interviews from the 17th tee, rather than have Gary McCord handle it (he’s still at the 16th).

== Wired.com announced it has added a sports blog Playbook (http://www.wired.com/playbook/), starting with how athletes at the Winter Olympics are confused about Twitter rules.

== SportsMediaWatch.com reports (linked here) that the final round of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera last Sunday on NBC had a 1.9 overnight rating, down 46 percent from a year ago and the lowest overnight for the event since at least ’02.

== AND FINALLY:

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AP Photo/J Pat Carter
Danica Patrick talks to her crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and other team members during the practice session for the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto race in Daytona Beach, Fla. Wednesday.

== ESPN vice president of motorsports Rich Feinberg , on how Saturday’s coverage of the Nationwide race (ESPN2, 10:15 a.m.) won’t be all about Danica Patrick:

“We actually talked about that in our staff meeting this morning. First of all, I watched the ARCA race, and I thought SPEED’s presentation was very balanced. I enjoyed it. There was a lot of Danica, but the reality is that was why I personally turned on the race, so it gave me what I was looking for.

“As big a story as that is, there are a lot of other stories here. First and foremost, it’s about racing in Daytona. It’s the biggest race for a lot of people. You win at Daytona and things change for you. And that’s going to be our primary thing. After that, the next biggest story, and quite frankly opportunity for all of us, is Danica. It’s our strong belief that there will be people that turn on Saturday’s Nationwide telecast that perhaps don’t watch a lot of Nationwide races or NASCAR at all, because of the interest in her.

“We want to serve that curiosity. We want to serve that interest because our belief is if they like what they see, and we provide them what they’re interested in, they may come back next week, and next week, and watch Fox’ Daytona 500 coverage (Sunday), and read more stories. The more people that watch, the more successful the entire sport is.

“It’s a balance thing but we also view it as an opportunity.”

Truth is, Patrick’s stock car racing debut last week put Speed Channel on the map. That race gave Speed 2.6 million viewers, compared to 1.3 million a year go. That the highest-rated ARCA telecast ever, and the most-watched race of any kind in Speed TV history. It almost had as many viewers watching Fox’s coverage of Daytona 500 qualifying on the same day (2.4 million), even though Fox is in 40 million more homes than Speed.

Who are you kidding? Just fire up the Danica-Cam and let it play out itself. Especially if clods like this are getting in her face:

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(AP Photo/Terry Renna)
Danica Patrick signs an autograph for race fan Steve Burke of Winter Springs, Fla., during the NASCAR Nationwide Series auto racing practice at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday.

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