The Media Learning Curve: Sept. 3-10

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As long as we’re focused in today’s media column (linked here) on Mike Florio’s blogathon for ProFootballTalk.com, via NBCSports.com, we thought it was worth rehashing a post that popped up this week on the site (linked here) involving the NFL Network’s hiring of Joe Theismann for game-calling later this season:

This is one of those decisions that makes you question everything about sports television executives. They decided to add a lot more money to their budget in order to drive a significant portion of their audience crazy.

The reason? We suppose they think a “name” will attract viewers, impress advertisers, or make NFL Network somehow look more legitimate.

Theismann dominates the airtime whenever he gets the chance. Unlike (current analyst Matt) Millen, he rarely tells the viewer something we don’t already know. The focus is often on Theismann, not the game. Even worse, he sometimes seemed unprepared during Washington’s preseason telecasts this year.

Time that Theismann blows hot air will just take away from (play-by-play man Bob) Papa and Millen, who are both pros. NFL Network had many far better options in their own stable of analysts if they wanted to add a third member.

NFLN hasn’t stuck with a consistent lineup for their Thursday Night broadcast for various reasons and we suspect this three-man booth won’t last long either. Fans will revolt, and eventually the Network will listen.

We just hope they don’t wait two years, like they did with Bryant Gumbel.

The post, however, wasn’t by Florio, but by another who contributes, Gregg Rosenthal. Touche.

Some of the comments posted even left us laughing.

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realitypolice says: “For the first time ever, I am happy my cable provider doesn’t carry the NFL network.”

Swive says: “Maybe this is their strategy to make Millen more credible – by comparison to Theismann, he’s a freaking genius.”

Slim Charles says: “When Theismann got floated for the Notre Dame broadcast gig, I almost became a USC fan. Nice job NFL Network.”

FinFan68 says: “Find some hot chick that actually knows something about football. The guys there are getting for these jobs have their moments but are horrible most of the time…and that is not limited to NFLN coverage.”

JackBurden says: “Theesman (intentional misspelling) has always been a joke. Agreed he is often unprepared and his stories are irrelevant to the game and self-serving. Most troubling are his seemingly racial comments. He often refers to white players as hard-working, playing with passion and leadership. They are “students of the game”. Dark-skinned players are referred to as instinctual, natural athletes, etc… Very troubling.”

Blackbeard says: “Please hire LT to break his leg again!”

nutbuster says: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOO!”

What else is there left to learn:

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== Because the overhead shots are what we’ve come to expect (check out your kids’ Xbox video games related to any sports contest), there has been some nice work done by the ESPN2 “SpiderCam,” used this week over Arthur Ashe Stadium during the U.S. Open coverage. The camera is, according to ESPN information, is suspended by four thin Kevlar ropes connected to large winches via pulleys high above the court surface on light poles. The wiring for the images is on fiber optics within the Kevlar roping.

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“We have started using SpiderCam as a live camera source, bringing a cinematic approach to the coverage,” said Jamie Reynolds, vice president, ESPN event production. “As an analytical device we are using it for replays directly overhead, and then taking it into new areas, as we tie it to use of the Orad MVP tracking technology. This allows us new perspectives to breakdown strategy and deconstruct points.”

CBS has the men’s doubles final (today, 9:30 a.m.) with Camarillo’s Mike and Bob Bryan trying to defend their title, as well as an attractive women’s semifinals double dip (a window that goes until 3 p.m.). ESPN2 has the women’s doubles final (Sunday, 10 a.m.). Otherwise, CBS has the rest, including the women’s final Saturday (5 p.m.) after the two men’s semifinals (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.), and the men’s final Sunday (1 p.m.). Dick Enberg, John McEnroe and Mary Carillo are on the call.

With Venus Williams on board, the TV talk about whatever outfit she chooses will definitely be up for conversation. In her CBS appearance last week, McEnroe said at one point as Williams kept tugging on the tight outfit: “I think that dress has distracted (Williams).” Enberg responded: “It’s distracting you.”

More info: http://www.usopen.org/en_US/about/tv_us.html

== Kings’ Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller will miss Saturday’s “Kings Fest ’10″ at the team’s El Segundo training facility because he’s undergoing a precautionary surgical procedure on Friday that needs to be done early enough so he can be ready for the start of the season.

== Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis call Saturday’s USC-Virginia game from the Coliseum (Prime Ticket, 7:30 p.m.), with Rebecca Haarlow (who’s not shy about presenting her wares on her website) down on the sidlines. Lindsay Soto and John Jackson have post-game coverage. For the UCLA 7:30 p.m. home opener against Stanford at the Rose Bowl, ESPN sends Carter Blackburn, Mike Bellotti and Brock Huard back out (they did the Bruins’ game last week at Kansas Sate).

== You have a problem with former Raider Tim Brown working as an ESPN analyst, and pimping a sports betting website? (linked here).

== Terry Gannon, Carolyn Peck, Rebecca Lobo and Heather Cox will cover the Atlanta-Seattle WNBA best-of-five finals starting Sunday (noon, Channel 7). The rest of the series is on ESPN2.

== We’ve noticed ESPN has now distinguished these two in press releases: Chris Mortensen is “senior NFL analyst” and Adam Schefter is “NFL Insider.” What’s the insider scoop on that delineation?

== Larry Gifford, who announced in a press release last week that he’s leaving as the program director for KSPN-AM (710) as of Monday, Sept. 13, has started a website (linked here) to consult with those who could use some consultation. He and his wife are also opening the Body of Light Healing Arts center — both are certified practitioners of energetic medicine.

== Your MLB national games: Fox (Saturday, 1 p.m., Channel 11) has San Francisco at San Diego (with Chris Rose and Eric Karros, going to 21 percent of the country, instead of St. Louis-Atlanta or Philadelphia-N.Y. Mets); The MLB Network takes San Francisco-San Diego on Friday (7 p.m.) and the N.Y. Yankees-Texas on Saturday (5 p.m.). TBS also has Yankees-Rangers (Sunday, 10 a.m.); ESPN has St. Louis-Atlanta (Sunday, 5 p.m.)

== With the Dodgers in Houston this weekend, pay attention to the MLB Net’s feature on J.R. Richard, which Bob Costas narrates (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.).

== Mighty decent news for Anaheim Mighty Ducks fans on the TV schedule coming up (linked here). Where’s the Kings’ schedule?

== Sirius XM satellite radio has added former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach for a daily college football show as part of a new college football channel (Sirius 122/XM 143). Leach will also debut as a CBS College Sports channel analyst when he’s Roger Twibell’s partner on the North Carolina State-Central Florida game (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.). The net starts its college football coverage with Hawaii-Army (9 a.m., Dave Ryan and Jason Sehorn) and Georgia Southern-Navy (12:30 p.m. with Craig Bolerjack and Randy Cross).

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== There’s no reason why Cincinnati Bengals receivers Terrell Owens and Chad OchoCinco need more TV time, but Versus said this week they’ll give it to ‘em in return for some presumed attention to their network. Owens and OchoCinco will do “The T.Ocho Show” starting Oct. 12 at 7:30 p.m., right after an NHL telecast. This is more a warning than an announcement or endorsement that it even exists.

Versus notes that “The T.Ocho Show” will be “the first ever weekly national football talk show to feature two active players.” A yet-to-be-named host will “referee the on-screen mayhem sure to take place.”

Both Owens (“The T.O. Show”) and OchoCinco (“The Ultimate Catch”) had reality shows recently wrap up on VH-1.

Versus programming VP Andy Meyer told USA Today earlier this week: “We’d love this to be the creation of a new genre of television” where athletes can speak “without layers of editors or beat writers filtering them out.”

For these two, having someone filter them out is probably to their benefit. God bless Versus, but this will probably be viewed in the NFL offices by as many punishment police as possible. It’s a suspension waiting to happen.

AND FINALLY:

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== More lowlights from a post-Hawaii trip and pre-Virginia game from USC radio play-by-play man Pete Arbogast blogging on WeAreSC.com:

From Sunday (reviewing the Sept. 2 opener): “Our broadcast felt like we had been together in the booth for the past ten years. The flow was nice and easy. The only troubles came when the old wiring from the press box to the locker room failed on us during the post game interviews. We tested it over and over before the game and it was fine. Of course. Oh, and we had no stat keeper nor stat monitor, which never worked from the moment it got plugged in.”
(Amazing the broadcast even made it to air, doing it with two coconuts and a string).

Also from Sunday: “Good reports from the few who had pre-purchased the small radios that will be available by the thousands at the Coliseum, for fans to be able to listen to the Trojan Radio Network broadcast without the irritating ten second delay. Bring 25$ and get one, it’s good for road games too, and word is you can use it again in following seasons with a small calibration (for a fee) that will set it up at the start of each season.”
(Play-by-play men are the ones we’ve discovered over the years most irritated by the delay on a game call, because they think the fans listening to radios in the stands consider them to be slow on the call. Simple solution: Have the station take off the delay. Then these extra devices for 25 bucks — ! — aren’t needed. We also believe they refer to twenty-five dollars as “25$” in preschool when the kids are mixed up about how to use the dollar or cents symbol.)

Wednesday: “Who are the geniuses who put the SC and UCLA games on against each other in the same general geographic location? How bout one at noon, the other at night? Bigger crowds at both and TV watchers in So Calif could watch both games.”
(It’s called TiVo. Try it. Want to guess which of the two has more national attention? The one in Pasadena).

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Also from Wednesday: “I miss the Tuesday press luncheons, and redundant or not, I think it was a bad idea to stop them. We all enjoyed hearing the coach in an informal setting, and spending time with practice being run around us, just hobnobbing with our friends in the business. How much could it have cost for that pasta and salad lunch every week, really? Bring it back — and I think I speak for most of the men and women who would attend.
(And enjoy a free lunch).

Again from Wednesday: “And at the risk of sounding like I am a shill (and I am most certainly NOT in this case) don’t forget to bring enough dough Saturday to the Coliseum to buy one of the little radios that allows you to listen to the Trojan Radio Network without that lousy delay we had last year, and still will have if you don’t have one.”
(Only a shill would say he isn’t one before shilling).

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