Plans for this Sunday’s column are to feature Claire Smith, the first woman to receive the J.G. Taylor Spink Award Winner for writing excellence by the Baseball Hall of Fame. She receives the award on Saturday (MLB Network will have a one-hour taped highlight show on Sunday at 8 a.m., prior to its Hall of Fame induction ceremony live at 10:30 a.m.)
ESPN plans to air a six-minute piece on Smith’s career during SportsCenter segments this weekend (with a preview clip above).
And then there’s this:
— SFChronicle (@sfchronicle) July 26, 2017
But before all that …
MAKING (NO) NEWS
== At this morning’s bloviating Pac-12 Football Media Day in Hollywood, conference commissioner Larry Scott will be well aware that there are 44 games televised nationally on ESPN and Fox Sports, and 35 more games on its own Pac-12 Network, going into its sixth season of existence.
The lack of distribution with that last one continues to be a rock in the sole of Scott’s loafers. DirecTV/AT&T continues to not budge on budgeting the channel in for its subscribers. Scott did announce that over-the-top distributors such as Sling and Century Link.
Scott’s otherwise major revelations today is that, when non-conference games are on the Pac-12 Net, they will cut back on commercial spots and halftime length in order to fit them into three-hour windows.
Ummmm…..some of us still don’t get PAC 12 network. How about they work on that. #Pac12
— Kristi Nott (@PepperNott) July 26, 2017
Sling TV for Pac-12 Network/ESPN, Amazon Fire Stick for NJPWWorld. Cord-cutting has been very easy for me.
— Kyle Kensing (@kensing45) July 26, 2017
Pac-12 Network here on the east coast is almost non-existent
— Eric Murphy (@VGVideoGalaxy) July 26, 2017
For less than what it costs for a Netflix subscription, TheAthletic.com is trying to appear to be a cost-efficient way of rethinking a sports journalism field that seems to be taking a lot of punches to the gut lately for its ways of doing business.
A Bloomberg News piece arrived this week about the site banking on Alex Mather and Adam Hansmann, who have no previous journalism experience, having “hastily pulled together $5.8 million in new capital from investors in a round they closed last week.” One of the backers is L.A.-based The Chernin Group — that would be led by Peter Chernin, the former News Corp. exec found himself a a co-chief operations officer for the Dodgers during Rupert Murdock’s ownership run. Chernin sits on the board at Twitter, American Express and Pandora and once tried to buy Hulu.
The plan, as Bloomberg notes, is for The Athletic is to “scoop up laid-off writers and put them to work building a new kind of sports news operation as the traditional industry leaders are in retreat.”
Says Mather: “We try to connect with the local die-hards who probably aren’t served by the same old fluff that ESPN will produce at the local level, or the cantankerous columnist at the local paper. They’re tired of that.”
A story earlier this month in TechCrunch.com noted that, since the opening of the site in Chicago, it “wants to grow into other large sports cities, eventually having a presence in every major sports market in the U.S. And, when it’s large enough, eventually expand beyond writing into things like video and podcasts so it can become a premium sports media brand spanning all mediums.”
Speaking of burgeoning Chicago-based journalism outfits, The Athletic is paving a way: https://t.co/WeSxJhDQRW
— Scott Smith (@ourmaninchicago) July 26, 2017
NiemanLab.org points out that as the company has lured over the Sports Illustrated Group’s former editor-in-chief Paul Fichtenbaum to lead its nationwide expansion as chief content officer, with posts in San Francisco and Philadelphia coming next after Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Toronto.
Fichtenbaum has recruited recent SI.com layoff Seth Davis and FoxSports.com writer Stewart Mandel to come board. Last week, Tim Kawakami announced he would be leaving the San Jose Mercury News to join the San Francisco startup. The Athletic is based in San Francisco.
Axios.com cites a study earlier this year found that 53 percent of people are willing to pay for news that suits their interests and fosters a good user experience. Such are the spikes in subscriptions for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic.
= Also: The Columbia Journalism Review wrote last March about sportswriters Jeff Gluck and Derek Bodner are “among the most successful independent journalists on Patreon, which was founded as a way for all sorts of artists and content creators to get paid by their fans.”
What could derail this venture? Someone with a greater sense of business experience might be able to spitwad, but if the quality of journalism is worth a few bucks a month for the consumer, more power to everyone.
== The Dodgers-Giants series at Dodger Stadium was booked weeks ago for some national attention, so that’s why you’ll get to see (without SportsNet LA) two games in two days — Saturday at 1 p.m. on FS1 (Kenny Albert and AJ Pierzynski) and Sunday at 5:05 p.m. on ESPN (with Dan Shulman, Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza).
== We have come to a point where Jim Rome’s annual “Smack Off” warrants a press release, as CBS Sports Radio did to promote the Friday event — No. 24 for those keeping tabs. The 9 a.m.-to-noon broadcast can be heard …. only in L.A. if you’re plugged into online (www.jimrome.com). There are 25 contestants aiming for a $5,000 prize, and the field includes 2012 winner Chael Sonnen as well as MLB columnist and author Jeff Passan making his debut. Leff in Laguna is the defending champion who used the strategy last year by showing up unannounced at Rome’s Irvine studio and delivering his rant in person. A strategy might be worth considering for past winners such as Brad in Corona, MIke in Indy, Vic in No-Cal, Iafrate, Doc Mike or Silk in Huntington Beach.
== Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” has added former linebacker Ray Lewis to its lineup for the 40th season of the series — matching up with Phil Simms, Boomer Esiason and James Brown. The latest season launches Sept. 5. Lewis spent three years with ESPN before moving to FS1 this year.
LINKS WORTH LOOKING AT
== Retired Kings Hall of Fame play-by-play man Bob Miller receives a Governors Award at last Saturday’s L.A. Area Emmy Awards ceremony, with this post on FoxSports.com. It’s also the topic of the latest All The Kings Men podcast.
== This summer is the 50th anniversary of Leonard Koppett’s book, “The Thinking Man’s Guide to Baseball.” In this essay for TheNationalPasttimeMuseum.com, Dave Kaplan describes Koppett’s influence on baseball from the press box and how his writing introduced analysis to the game both on and off the field.
MORE TWEETS OF THE WEEK WORTH REPEATING?
— Tom Hoffarth (@tomhoffarth) July 25, 2017
== We’d call you a lie detector, but that would be a lie:
Back from vacation and noticed some new decor on the Fox lot! Call me the lie detector. pic.twitter.com/FnZsxhLG8H
— Kristine Leahy (@KristineLeahy) July 25, 2017