The Media Learning Curve: July 23-30

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New Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott doesn’t have many more details in his attempt to launch a network for his business partners so they can publicize their sporting events and make money. It just seems as if he’s got new ideas on how it will come about, most likely in 2012, based on some recent media reports.

“We’re not that far along in our planning,” Scott told the New York Times this week (linked here).

Yet, in taking his message to the East Coast earlier this week before Thursday’s gathering at the Rose Bowl for Pac-10 media day, Scott told the paper that a Pac-10 Network would be similiar to the one the Big Ten started in 2007, but with more “quality” games than those that are currently farmed out to ESPN or Fox Sports Net for bigger paydays and viewership.

Adding Utah and Colorado to the conference next year will automatically increase the TV households from 16 million to 18.5 million.

Scott also told Darren Rovell at CNBC (linked here) that he has has done plenty of due diligence about creating the network, including a visit with Big Ten Network chied Mark Silverman.

“I went through the whole process and understood that it’s not as profitable to the partners as people think because you do have to invest in the production and distribution of all the other sports,” said Scott.

That said, the Pac-10 network would be more of a marketing tool than something seen as a money maker right away.

“UCLA has had more titles than any other school, Stanford is always competing for the Director’s Cup … A network would create more awareness and understanding of how powerful and balanced our conference really is among all sports, Scott told CNBC.

Scott also appeared on ESPN’s “College Football Live” to talk about how Utah and Colorado give the soon-to-be-Pac-12 a time zone closer to the East for many starts.

“We’re the only conference that could be late-night East Coast exclusively,” he said. “I think you are going to see us willing to play in more different kinds of time windows. That’s one step. The other thing we’ve got to do is obviously get more exposure for the programs outside of USC.”

Yup, it always comes around to USC.

Some of the other media notes after today’s column (linked here) that are worth packing in:

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== Thanks to the Sports Business Daily, here’s a roundup of some of the things written right after it was apparent that ESPN.com pulled Arash Markazi’s story on the LeBron James Las Vegas party:

Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard on ESPN’s own “Pardon the Interruption”: “The way the relationship is with LeBron James though, and this network’s relationship after ‘The Decision,’ makes it complicated because there is the perception that ESPN is in bed with him. Now you bring more attention to the story when you pull it. You bring more attention than if you had just run it and left it alone because it’s a pretty harmless piece.”

Boston Globe media critic Mark Leccese: “First of all: Wow. Not ‘wow’ that James behaved badly. … It’s that ESPN pulled the thing … (it) “exposes ESPN as a positive publicity machine for James and the NBA and damages its reputation as a news provider. … It’s not a little, dumb thing — it is a manifestation of ESPN’s corporate values. … Other than fear of libel suit, the only possible reasons to pull the story are 1) the editors don’t trust the reporter (doubtful); and 2) to avoid offending James or the NBA.”

== Newday’s Neil Best: “This was ESPN.com’s call. But why? The story was kind of interesting and offered insights into ‘Entourage’ in real life.”

== The Desert News’ Jamshid Ghazi Askar: “Color ESPN as officially beholden to Bron-Bron.”

== The N.Y. Observer’s Zeke Turner: “Unless ESPN.com’s editors can show evidence that there are errors in the piece, this was a terrible mistake. Their motives, to say the least, are suspect.”

== The Sporting News’ Chris Littmann: “Right now I’ve got to think @ArashMarkazi feels a little bit like William Miller in ‘Almost Famous.’” He added: “But isn’t this just classic? Like the Jordan Crawford dunk video, the decision to yank/hide this will attract more attention than the story.”

== Yahoo Sports’ Kelly Dwyer: “I’m sorry, but when Arash Markazi is too edgy and critical of athletes for your taste, it’s time to look in the mirror, ESPN.”

== Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy: “At least the ombudsman has something to write about next time.”

== Fanhouse.com’s Bethlehem Shoals: “Iin this climate, Arash’s piece was bound to come off as salacious, even inflammatory, and stand their ground accordingly. … In between ‘The Decision’ and The Cover-Up, there was, simply, The Mistake. … (James’ reps) “should have known better … this depiction of LeBron simply reinforces everything nasty said about him this summer.”

A story on this in today’s New York Times (linked here) goes much more indepth about the timeline of what happened, and how Markazi presented himself.

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== Fox and ESPN have taken custody of the Dodgers-Giants games on Saturday (1 p.m., Channel 11, with Kenny Albert, Eric Karros and Chris Rose) and Sunday (5 p.m., ESPN, with Jon Miller, Joe Morgan and Orel Hershiser). Fox reporter Ken Rosenthal, who will be monitoring all the trade rumors happening on the trading deadline, will be at Fox’s Detroit-Boston game (going to 37 percent of the country, with Dick Stockton and Mark Grace). The most seen game for Fox on Saturday is Atlanta-Cincinnati (with Thom Brennaman and Kevin Millar, to 42 percent). TBS’s Sunday morning game (10:30 a.m.) goes with the Yankees-Rays from Tampa with Ernie Johnson, Buck Martinez and Dennis Eckersley. MLB Network also has Yankees-Rays on Saturday at 4 p.m.

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Meanwhile, the MLB Network plans to air five hours of live trade deadline coverage on Saturday starting at 8 a.m. with Peter Gammons, John Hart, Jon Heyman, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci. It leads into a countdown as the “40 Most Memorable Trades in MLB History” documentary starting at 3 p.m.
ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” has a trade deadline show starting at 9 p.m. Saturday with Tim Kurkjian, Buster Olney, J.P. Ricciardi and Eduardo Perez.

== The benefit of catching MLB Network: During Wednesday’s “MLB Tonight Live,” the “ballpark cam” system that is in place for the “Batting Practice Live” daily shows at all stadiums captured Joel Pineiro warming up about before his scheduled 12:35 p.m. start for the Angels against Boston at Angel Stadium. There was a slight delay as the trainer approached Pineiro at about 12:25 p.m., but then it was live when Pineiro had been scratched and Scot Shields started warming up at 12:29 p.m.

== Jim Lampley, Emanuel Steward and Harold Lederman will call Saturday’s HBO PPV bout ($49.95) of Juan Manuel “Dinamita” Marquez’s rematch against Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz. It starts at 6 p.m. from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

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== Versus has its second live UFC fight Sunday, 6 p.m., from the San Diego Sports Arena matching light heavyweight Jon “Bones” Jones (in the red trunks) and Vladimir Matyushenko. Versus’ first UFC live fight on March 21 averaged 1.24 million viewers. A new wrinkle: At least six commercials presented during the telecast will run split-screen, to not interrupt the coverage over seeing fighters in their corners and in the locker room (they will not air during fight action). It is similar to what Versus does during its IRL coverage.

== Former ESPN head of programming and production Mark Shapiro has been hired by the NFL Network by his old boss, Steve Bornstein, to consult for ways of improving the league-owned network’s game-day presentation. Shapiro left ESPN in 2005 to join Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and run Six Flags amusement parks, and he’s currently president of Dick Clark Productions. The NFL Network has already announced this week that Fox’s Daryl Johnston and Jay Glazer will be part of its studio shows.

AND FINALLY:

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== SI.com’s Richard Deitsch (linked here) reports more on the upcoming ESPN book by Tom Shales and Jim Miller – it has a title. “Those Guys Have All The Fun: Inside the World of ESPN” will come out early next year and goes all the way up to the LeBron James “The Decision” show earlier this month. Miller says in Deitsch’s story that of the 472 subjects interviewed over the last two years, there were three different types of people among the current and former ESPN employees.
“The first type is the person who says, ‘I love or loved being at ESPN. It was the greatest experience of my life. What can I tell you?’” said Miller. “The second person says, ‘It’s a great place but it certainly has its challenges and problems and I’ll be happy to share both.’ Then there’s the third person who is resentful and angry and was maybe even scorned.
“I think there are many people there looking forward to the book, and I think there are many people wondering, ‘Can we trust these guys? ‘What are they up to? Are they out to get us?”
ESPN officials respectfully declined to cooperate with the book.. Said ESPN Senior VP/Corporate Communications Chris LaPlaca: “Two primiary reasons: First, time. Officially devoting company resources to a book of this proportion was a concern. Secondly, our general policy is not to officially ‘endorse’ any publication.”

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