The Media Learning Curve: Universal knowledge

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Hopefully it’s not too late to glean information from Universal Sports, the Westlake Village-based network that we featured today (linked here) and has been doing great ancillary work during NBC’s Winter Olympic coverage.

They’re a lean, meaning fighting machine in the effort to get out Olympic news, and stay on the landscape as an Olympic-sports provider after the games end. Not yet on DirecTV or Dish Network, you can find it in Southern California on Time Warner (Channel 226), Charter (305), Cox (805) and Verizon FIOS (464).

Or, if you’re into finding such methods of backdoor politics, there’s a way to access the BBC’s Olympic coverage, through its website, according to a reader who has told us how to do it.

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He writes: “On a scale of 1 to 10, at least for me, it was a 3 (getting access). Just a matter of finding the feeds on the BBC website and that was not hard at all. No one tipped me off. The Beeb has a notice on their webpage when you enter it that they have live Olympics coverage. I go there all the time as part of reading football news. If you’re in North America it’s just live text that updates automatically and a scrolling live results thingy. If you’re in the UK it automatically brings up video and their “channel options” of sports to watch. Enabling this simply required finding a proxy server in the UK to mask my location. … Once the information is entered into the system settings and the browser you go to the BBC page and BAM! It now thinks you’re from the UK and it gives you a notification of video. … And in reality it’s not that hard to find information on how to do this.”

Have it it, friends…

“If my wife has her way, we’ll never watch the Olympics through NBC ever again so long as we’re able to get into the BBC. … The video quality isn’t HD. But that doesn’t matter. It’s good enough. It is the experience though that is stunning.”

We got more notes, quotes and back-door anticdotes to pass on as well:

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== Darren Sutton and Morgan Ensberg will call the USC-UCLA baseball game from Dodger Stadium that airs Sunday on Prime Ticket at 2 p.m. (with a re-air at 7 p.m. on FSW).

== The day after the AVP announced Mike Dodd had been installed as its new commissioner, the pro beach volleyball tour announced a new deal with ESPN and ABC that has been in the works for several years. For the next two years, the networks will carry 13 events — four on ABC and nine on ESPN2. Coverage starts with the Fort Lauderdale Open on April 18.

“This new agreement gives us a consistent national reach that will be essential to our growth as a sport, and we couldn’t be more excited that both our passionate fans and a growing new audience will be able to follow us on ESPN,” said Jason Hodell, Chief Executive Officer of the AVP. “The 2010 season will showcase the veterans and new stars of the AVP to a very large audience, and there couldn’t be a better place for that exposure than ABC and ESPN.”

This means: No more Fox Sports Net, no more NBC. Probably no more Chris Marlowe calling it.

The 2010 schedule, with only some of it live, and many of it either/or men’s or women’s events only:

Sun, April 18th – Women/Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (ESPN2,ESPN360, 2:30 pm)
Sun, May 2nd – Men/Santa Barbara, Calif. (ESPN2/ESPN360, 2:30 pm)
Sun, June 6th – Women/Huntington Beach (ESPN2, ESPN360, 11 a.m.)
Sun, June 6th – Men/Huntington Beach. (ABC, 1 pm)
Sun, June 20th – Women/Virginia Beach, Va. (ESPN2, ESPN360, 11 a.m.)
Sun, June 27th – Women/Belmar, N.J. (ESPN2, ESPN360, 11 a.m.)
Sun, July 18th – Men/Hermosa Beach (ESPN2, 9 p.m.)
Sun, July 25th – Women/Malibu (ABC, 1 pm)
Sun, July 25th – Men/Malibu (ESPN2, ESPN360, 8 pm)
Sun, Aug. 22nd – Women/Manhattan Beach (ABC, 1:30 pm)
Sun, Aug. 29th – Men/Chicago, Ill. (ABC, 10:30 a.m.)
Sun, Aug. 29th – Women/Chicago, Ill. (ESPN2, 9 p.m.)
Sun, Sep. 19th – Flex/Hermosa Beach (ESPN2, 9 p.m.)

== Thursday was the first of seven straight days of NFL Network coverage of the NFL combine from Indianapolis. It continues today at 11:30 a.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. There are 329 players going through the meat market process of inspection and rejection, with Rich Eisen trying to piece it all together for viewership purposes with great patience and help from Mike Mayock, Charles Davis, Jamie Dukes, Marshall Faulk, Michael Irvin, Jim Mora and Deion Sanders. As well as Fran Charles, Steve Mariucci, Brian Billick, Jason La Canfora, Michael Lombardi and Charley Casserly.

The USC and UCLA players expected to be at the combine: DB’s Taylor Mays, Kevin Thomas and Vern Alterraun, OL Charles Brown, TE Anthony McCoy, RB Joe McKnight, WR Damien Williams and DTs Brian Price and Kyle Bosworth.

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Former Oaks Christian QB Jimmy Clausen should also be there, but isn’t expected to throw. And don’t overlook TE Dennis Pitta (linked here), right, a former Moorpark High standout who ended up as the leading receiver in BYU history with 221 receptions (for 2,901 yards and 21 touchdowns).

== CBS has somehow decided to make next week’s UCLA-Arizona State contest a national affair (Saturday, March 6, 1 p.m.) from Tempe, Ariz., using the Lakers’ Spero Dedes on play-by-play with Bob Wenzel, who will be his broadcast partner during March Madness games next month. Dedes will be in the middle of a Lakers’ road trip that has them at Charlotte (March 5) and at Orlando (March 7). Dedes and Wenzel will likely do the Pac-10 championship game on March 13, the day before the 64-team bracket is announced.

== Sean Farnham and Michael Cage call the Cal State Northridge-UC Irvine game that airs at 7 p.m. Saturday on Prime Ticket (following Oregon-UCLA at 2 p.m. and Oregon State-USC at 4:30 p.m.)

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== “Being John Daly,” the reality show series that got some play during John Daly’s performance at the PGA’s L.A. stop two weeks ago because it seemed as if he announced his retirement while the cameras were on him following his failure to make the cut after Friday’s second round, starts with part one on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on Golf Channel. It’s the first of eight episodes. The network likens Daly to Mickey Rourke’s character in “The Wrestler” — how a man’s professional challenges and personal demons come together to make for compelling watching.

“We’ve been with Daly day-in and day-out for nearly a year following his attempts to rebuild his personal and professional life,” said Tom Stathakes, Golf Channel senior vice president of programming, production and operations. ” ‘Being John Daly’ will be a raw, unprecedented look behind the scenes, and we know viewers will be fascinated as we bring them along for the ride.”

== Golf Channel will also be debuting the second second of “The Haney Project,” where golf pro Hank Haney works on the swing of comedian and actor Ray Romano. That premieres Monday at 6 p.m. Ironically, Romano’s character on the recently completed first season of the great TNT show “Men Of A Certain Age” has Romano committing to try out for the PGA Champions Tour (or the “senior tour” as he called it). The series’ 2009 debut with Charles Barkley was the highest-rated original program in the Golf Channel’s history. Romano currently scores in the mid-90s and wants to break 80.

AND FINALLY:

== We have our views of it (linked here). But one last take on the Tony Kornheiser-Hannah Storm story that blew up in his face, unfortunately, from Dan Levy of The Sporting News’ Sporting Blog:

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Do you know how many times Kornheiser has said nearly the exact same thing about Storm in the last few years? At least 30. You should hear what he says about the exposed arms of Hota Kotb, host of NBC’s Today’s fourth hour. Kornheiser does his radio show with two TVs on in the booth – one on SportsCenter and one on, as he calls it, the Today Program for the specific reason of using it as fodder for the show. He constantly comments on Storm’s outfits on the show, so to those who listen every day, it was maybe a little more harsh this time, but not anything out of the ordinary.
If a tree falls in the forest – or in this case an old subversive radio host rips a woman on TV – and it takes two days for the blogs to hear it, is it worth reporting? In this case, because Storm and Kornheiser both get paychecks from the same company, it’s certainly worth reporting. And while he both publicly apologized to Storm on his show, and mentioned that he privately apologized as well, Kornheiser has to love this mess because it reminds people that, yes, he still has a radio show and that he’s prone to say anything about anyone at any time…especially if she’s wearing something provocative on TV during the hours he tapes his show.
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Today’s media quiz: How old is Hannah Storen, eh, Storm?

If you guessed 45, add two years. We’ll go by a story that appeared on her in USA Today in 2004 that identifed her as 41 and also revealed this crazy birthmark under her eye (linked here).

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