Sports media mid-week notes worth posting:
== What will be this year’s take-away/extended hang wringing from Fox’s coverage of the 117th U.S. Open from Erin Hills, Wisc.?
It’s just year three of a 12-year deal between the network and USGA, and nothing really has been fairway friendly over that time. This recent GolfDigest.com piece lays that all out, why the contract continues to be scrutinized and what exactly are the Golf Gods trying to do to all of us.
Fox reports to having more than 45 hours of coverage between FS1 and Channel 11 (and Fox Deportes, plus its Fox Sports Go app), with live streaming on USOpen.com and the U.S. Open app. Among those 45 hours, however, Fox is also counting shows that are emanating from the course, like “Undisputed.”
FS1 has a preview show Wednesday (6:30-to-9 a.m.) and live first and second round coverage from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, with Channel 11 jumping in from 3-to-6 p.m.
Fox’s weekend coverage starts at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The technical enhancements are always more intriguing than trying to see what’ll come out from Joe Buck, Paul Azinger, Brad Faxon, Curtis Strange or any of the other mismatched talent in front of a live camera. (This year, they’ve added Darren Clarke for international flair).
Drone technology is one area of advancement worth watching for, as well as the “augmented reality” aspects with the graphics to show things the eye can’t normally focus on. All 18 holes can use shot-tracking technology; nine of them have “Trakman radar” that shows a ball tracing with data, with the other nine using “Toptracker” that puts the live ball over video in a “Fox FlightTrack” sequence.
DirecTV also has a 4K service showing featured holes.
Audio — a Fox signature move — will include using more than 200 microphones around the course, much of it picking up player-caddie conversations as well as official ruling discussions.
== You can ultimately judge whether another so-labeled ESPN “30 for 30” three-part piece on the Lakers-Celtics “Best of Enemies” rivalry is/was worth investing five hours of your time spread over two nights.
It’s summer, not much else on, the NBA Finals are over …
And it is Lakers and Celtics with 12 NBA Finals meetings in five decades.
Let the rehash begin (which it does Tuesday night with episodes 1 and 2 from 5-to-8 p.m. and continues Wednesday night with episode 3 from 5-to-7 p.m., and it’s also available on demand)
While we wish more was told about the early 1960s run, there is more attention on the 1980s era that still seems to be an endless loop of highlights, as well as most captured video by the networks at the time. Race is a common theme covered for the West Coast-East Coast components, as are social incidents that happened during this time.
We tend so far to lean with Ben Koo of AwfulAnnouncing.com that a five-hour, two-night commitment is “an awfully big ask,” unless you’re a hard-core follower. He does wonder if it also went “too far back” to study history — the answer is no, you gotta go there.
And the A.V. Club’s assessment that director Jim Podhoretz gives more “scope and context” to the rivalry is cool, but we were also weary of this element, which writer Noel Murray points out: “The opening minutes … aren’t especially promising, and almost seem designed to put viewers off. The doc has two narrators—Donnie Wahlberg representing Boston, and Ice Cube for L.A.—and they speak in first-person throughout, describing a personal connection to their respective hometowns while casually trash-talking each other’s teams. But they’re reading from a script, and the stiff, performative aspect of their fandom is grating at times.”
Besides, who cares what they thought? It’s your filter that matters most.
More background from ESPN’s PR department.
== Los Angeles (19.1) was among the top 10 national markets for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, about half of what the San Francisco-Oakland No. 1 market (39.6) and No. 2 Cleveland (37.1) generated. The Warriors’ series finale over the Cavs did a 16.0 overall national rating overnight, peaking at 18.8 at 8:30 p.m.
ABC/ESPN also reported Tuesday that the Warriors-Cavs final was the most-watch final since 1998, according to Nielsen, averaging a total live audience (TV plus streaming) of 20.84 million. That is up from 20.578 million last year for a seven-game series.
== San Diego (2.7, ranking No. 27) actually did better than Los Angeles (2.1, No. 36) and the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose market (1.1, No. 55) by Nielsen national measurements of the six-game Stanley Cup Final between Pittsburgh and Nashville that ended Sunday. NBC says the series produced the best Total Audience Delivery measure of 4.762 million average viewers for a Stanley Cup Final. TAD is measuring more than just TV ratings, but also those watching on the Internet and hand-held devices, which it relies more on now especially with explaining how many watch international Olympics coverage.
Pittsburgh (32.0) and Nashville (22.0) were the only two cities in double-digit market Nielsen ratings. The only Western city in the top 10 of markets that watched was Denver (4.3). NBC also notes the entire 2017 playoffs on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app were the most-streamed in history with more than a half-billion live minutes (527.4 million), up 31 percent over last year.
== For those who aren’t adverse to remembering the NFL’s return to L.A. in 2017, NFL Films will launch eight episodes of “All Or Nothing: A Season With the Los Angeles Rams” on Friday, June 30 via Amazon Prime Video. The series started last year with a focus on the Arizona Cardinals. Jon Hamm narrates.
== An entry point to perhaps rub elbows with Al Michaels, Vin Scully and Bob Miller as the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Broadcasters honor Michaels on Friday at noon at the Sportsmen’s Lodge (limited tickets must be ordered soon):
— scsbnews (@scsbnews) June 8, 2017
LINKAGE WORTH A LOOK:
== AwfulAnnouncing.com wonders who will succeed Vin Scully in its latest “rate the local MLB announcers” poll. It started Monday and some of the divisions may already be closed — but the NL West is last (and probably has the best selection)
== A posthumous autobiography by ESPN’s John Saunders called “Playing Hurt: My Journey from Dispair to Hope” doesn’t come out until Aug. 8 — about a year after his death — but an excerpt released shines a light on how far his depression once took him.
== A New York Post reporter is guilty in trying to get Yankees radio broadcaster John Sterling to “reveal” his all-time favorite call. This should not be encouraged.
== SCNG reporter Rich Hammond remembers what it was like covering the first Kings’ Stanley Cup Final win five years ago.
== “ESPN must prove commitment to journalism in wake of recent talent cuts,” writes public editor Jim Brady. “It’s hard to predict what long-term journalistic impact these layoffs will have, outside of an obvious reduction of daily reporting firepower in some areas. It’s what happens in the coming months that will say a lot. If the network continues to produce the strong long-form and investigative journalism it’s consistently produced for years, if the revitalized E:60 continues to get the public support and backing it has received from ESPN in the face of the layoffs, if more excellent 30 for 30 documentaries hit the airwaves, if ESPN continues to generate high-quality investigative reporting in digital and ESPN The Magazine, and if ESPN makes an effort — as best it can — to plug the coverage holes the cuts created, then it’ll be hard to argue that its commitment to journalism has waned. And, in talking to dozens of senior execs at the company over the past 18 months, I do believe that commitment to journalism is real.”
— Tom Hoffarth (@tomhoffarth) June 9, 2017
== And at least the reporter was accurate:
One astute reporter observed all the Dodgers walk-off wins have been at home. https://t.co/rFIfVP1t0L
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) June 12, 2017