George Will moving to Fox News, eliminates travel to New York for ABC’s ‘This Week’


Upon learning that conservative commentator George Will was moving to Fox News, my initial thought was”great, now he’ll be the next to sell out his usually composed and reasonable conservative mindset in exchange for a more radical approach to appease the far right Fox News audience.”

I should give him the benefit of the doubt though since I do think (or hope) he is better then that.

According to the linked Times article above, Will wanted to eliminate the travel between his Washington home and New York, where ABC’s “This Week” is based from (on weeks when hosted by George Stephanopoulos — usually three weeks out of the month). According to the Times article, Will has been a regular roundtable participant on “This Week” since 1981.

Like the other Sunday morning news shows, “This Week” was based in Washington up until Jan. 2012 when Stephanopoulos returned as host. The New York move was done to accommodate Stephanopoulos who continues to host the New York based “Good Morning America” during the week.

When ABC first announced this arrangement in Dec. 2011, I wondered how it might impact the show’s ability of booking guest to appear in studio, considering most of the mainstream political guests are based in Washington. These same guests often appear on multiple shows each Sunday morning, the rest of which are based in Washington.

It must not have posed too much of a problem or else Stephanopoulos would have either been flying to DC himself each weekend or the network would have replaced him with a DC based host by now.

Earlier this year, ABC News vacated their studio space at the Washington-based Newseum, where “This Week” had previously been hosted.

Brian Urlacher on ‘Fox Football Daily’

Brian Urlacher, Fox Sports 1

From the little I’ve been able to watch of “Fox Football Daily” on Fox Sports 1, one thing is well obvious. Brian Urlacher needs to be properly coached on how to speak on camera.

Urlacher’s fast-paced dialogue was acceptable and natural during post-game interviews during his playing career, but as a professional analyst, he needs to talk slower and more clearly. I don’t blame Urlacher so much as I do the folks at Fox Sports.

In contrast, ESPN rookie analyst Ray Lewis began working with a network talent coach in June, giving him three months of practice before going on camera. The Fox Sports/Urlacher hire was announced not even a month before the new sports network went live.

On a positive end, fellow Fox Sports rookie analyst Randy Moss comes across more natural on screen and has a more coherent delivery than Urlacher.

Again, I’m not ragging Urlacher so much as I am Fox. I wish Brian the best and hope he only continues to improve.

Attempting to iron out any brand confusion between Comcast SportsNet and NBC Sports

Comcast SportsNet Logo

About a year ago, the Comcast SportsNet regional sports channels made some minor revisions to their logo, one of which was the addition of the NBC peacock. This change was made to reflect the new partnership between NBC Sports and the Comcast SportsNet stations, which happened following Comcast’s 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal.

Another ramification of the Comcast/NBC deal pertained to the Comcast owned sports network Versus, which fell into control of the NBC Sports division (now known as the NBC Sports Group). At the start of 2012, Versus was renamed to NBC Sports Network, which is now in the process of being phased out in favor of just the acronym “NBCSN.”

NBC Sports Network and NBCSN LogosSo we’re left with NBCSN and the cluster of regional Comcast SportsNet channels. My obsessive-compulsive mindset is thinking that a brand consolidation is needed.

The NBC Sports Network/NBCSN brand seems to be intact, so any obvious change would be to Comcast SportsNet. The most logical step would be to phase out the Comcast name and replace it with the NBC Sports monicker, along with the name of each respective city, state or region — NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBC Sports Northwest, etc. Another option is to instead implement the NBCSN name to each regional network, along with the respective city, state or region — NBCSN Chicago, NBCSN Philadelphia, NBCSN Northwest etc.

Once the NBC peacock was added to the Comcast SportsNet logo, I naturally assumed such a change was in motion. Fueling the speculation further was the simultaneous implementation of an upgraded graphics package, which is identical to what NBC and NBCSN still use on their broadcasts (the lone exception are the score bugs, which have some minor differences, especially evident during NHL games). Another consideration was the continued phasing out of the Comcast name for its cable, television and Internet packages. Such services have been bundled under the Xfinity brand since 2010.

(On a side note, while the CSN networks use the NBC Sports graphics, why do they continue to use their own separate theme music, such as for NHL games? While I do actually like the CSN NHL music bed used during Blackhawk games, I can’t help but yearn for the official NHL on NBC theme music.)

By no means am I suggesting that Comcast as a corporate name is on the way out. I’m just thinking that they’ve adapted a strategy where less emphasis is placed on the corporate name and instead placed on individual brands within the company.

Comcast Logo with NBC PeacockAnother prominent occurrence at the end of last year was the change to the Comcast corporate logo, which also included the addition of the NBC peacock. I hated it then and I hate it now. That logo, in my opinion, defines brand confusion. The NBC peacock is supposed to be for the NBC brand of television networks — not for a cable, phone and Internet conglomerate. A second reason I hate the logo is because it’s plain and ugly. It comes across as a lazy attempt.

If such a configuration is used for Comcast’s corporate logo, then the addition of the NBC peacock to the Comcast SportsNet logo may have been just the same, with no intention of shifting to the NBC Sports brand name. I do suspect a name change will happen to the regional networks, eventually. It might be something as simple as using the acronym CSN in place of Comcast SportsNet. The CSN monicker has already been in use, unofficially, but merely as more of a nickname (i.e. CSN Chicago). For the sake of brand continuity, I’d rather see all the regional networks adapt the NBC Sports or the NBCSN name.

The Fox Sports property now includes the newly launched national Fox Sports 1 network in addition to their own cluster of regional sports channels — all of which use the Fox Sports monicker. Why wouldn’t NBC want to further capitalize on their brand by doing the same with their own regional sports channels?

The marketing guy in me has obviously put a lot of thought into this. The sports fan in me? I won’t care what the name of the station is come spring time as long as the Blackhawks are poised to win another Stanley Cup and that at least one of Chicago’s baseball teams plays decently.

By the balls: Football’s flagrant hold on ESPN

On Friday, the New York Times released a damning piece that revealed just how much of a grip the NFL has over ESPN, concerning the network’s participating in a documentary about players suffering from football related head injuries. The story has garnered a lot of attention within the sports media community, calling into question the journalistic integrity of ESPN as a result.

On a semi related note, you may recall an ESPN television show 10 years ago called “Playmakers,” which depicted a fiction pro football team overcoming day-to-day hurdles in a fiction pro football league. The NFL didn’t appreciate having such “hurdles” spotlighted — even if the show was fiction — and pressured ESPN into dropping the series.

On Saturday, the Times released another football related piece about ESPN, concerning the network’s influence in the creation of specific games, of which would also air on the ESPN networks. While not as damning as their now lack of involvement in investigating head injuries, this piece is still revealing, at least at the big picture level, as it concerns the relationship between media partnership.

The two type of above circumstances are not exclusive to ESPN or sports media. Concerning our news and political media, I’d argue that any agendas, whether it be the New York Times, NBC News or Fox News, are more often business/financially driven as opposed to being politically driven. Political talk radio should be the most obvious example (unfortunately, that is often missed by the hardcore fans of a Rush Limbaugh or a Glenn Beck).

Ball game or not, at the end of the day, news reporting is all business.

You can slam dunk that or bank on it. Whichever you prefer.

‘That Other Pregame Show’ to debut on CBS Sports, err… that other cable sports network

That Other PreGame Show

Compared to the efforts of the NBC Sports Network and the newly launched Fox Sports 1, it would appear that the CBS Sports Network isn’t even trying (put aside the aggressive luring of Jim Rome away from ESPN).

In an effort to curb such pessimism, CBS Sports Network announced yesterday they are launching a new expanded NFL pregame show to air each Sunday morning during the NFL season. The name of that show, according to Ed Sherman, will be “That Other Pregame Show.”

Are they serious?

I get the attempt at standing out and all, but “That Other Pregame Show” sounds more the name of an amateur podcast (no offense to the many fine amateur podcasters out there) or the name of a show on Fox Sports Net in the year 2000.

The new show could turn out to be great for all I know, but the seemingly half-assed naming attempt only reinforces the notion that CBS Sports Network is the weakest link within the cable sports channel arena.

Though day-to-day ratings between the three cable networks may not show a lights out difference, both NBC and Fox so far have more invested in their respective sports networks. With the seemingly long-term goal of one day becoming a legitimate competitor to ESPN, the games have just begun, so CBS isn’t out of it yet.

Nevertheless, I can’t help wonder if Jim Rome now regrets going to CBS. If he would have waited a while longer after his ESPN contract expired, perhaps he’d be at either NBC or Fox by now.

Ed Shultz roundabout at MSNBC

Ed Schultz

MSNBC announced yesterday that progressive talker Ed Schultz is moving back to weekdays, albeit, at the earlier time of 4 p.m. CT. Schultz was removed from the coveted 7 p.m. primetime slot earlier this year to make room for Chris Hayes, who has been a rising star in the progressive community.

Politico’s Dylan Byers explains how Hayes’ program “All In” has so far been unable to spark the ratings for primetime cable news. Moving Hayes to primetime was a very gutsy move, and one that might have been inspired by MSNBC President Phil Griffin’s heart rather than his head.

I wonder if moving Schultz to the 4 p.m. slot is the first step in what eventually results in a switch — moving Hayes to 4 p.m. while Schultz moves back to 7 p.m. That might be a clever way for Griffin to save face without completely embarrassing Hayes, someone who Griffin obviously thinks very highly of.

I am in the camp that prefers Schultz’s performance style over that of Hayes or Rachael Maddow. Hayes and Maddow are better at actively discussing important issues in a way that that might have more impact on an opposing mindset. In the short-term however, the added fire and showmanship of Schultz does a better job at keeping my attention.

Fox Sports 1 debuts with auto racing, Fox Sports 2 nowhere to be found

Fox Sports 1, the all new sports network by Fox, made its debut this morning by officially replacing Speed.

Fox Sports 1 has kicked off the festivities with the airing of auto race qualifying runs. The same thing most racing fans watched on the former Speed channel last Saturday morning.

Yes, Fox Sports 1 is a big picture project. Don’t judge the network for another five to 10 years once they can capture other big name sports. Yet with all the self-hype going into this new all sports network that is not ESPN, to have the first day flogged with auto racing seems highly ironic. It comes more across like a sorry plea to Speed channel viewers — “We’re sorry! We still love you and your NASCAR. We promise! Please don’t leave!”

Meanwhile, if Fox Sports 1 is the new golden prize of Fox Sports, then Fox Sports 2 is the bastard stepchild. By design, the press for Fox Sports 2 has been minimal, if non existent, and finding the bitch is nearly impossible. You sure won’t find it anywhere on the Fox Sports website.

Again, by design, Fox Sports 2 is more or less a spillover channel for Fox Sports 1. And they want all eyes on Fox Sports 1 today, and understandably so. Yet by doing it this way, they are already telling everyone that Fox Sports 2 doesn’t matter. Not the best way to introduce a new brand, in my opinion.

Would have been better off saving the Fox Sports 2 launch for when they had a useful reason for its existence. From the way it appears now, when they will eventually need Fox Sports 2, it won’t be much different then finding your local Comcast SportsNet Plus channel.

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is an asshole

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong was doing a swell job at demoralizing employees at the Patch, an AOL owned individual community digital news platform, on a Friday teleconference. Nothing portrays a superb boss like accepting blame for a failed venture to only then blame the people beneath for lack of leadership (and emphasizing leadership with a capital L) before announcing that most of the division will be gutted, meaning many people will lose his jobs. At least those who don’t voluntarily exit (he also encouraged that people voluntarily leave). but that his job is safe (he didn’t actually say his job was safe, but you get the idea).

No, that can’t possibly be bad enough…

Why not demoralize your employees further by publically firing an employee, loud and clear during the teleconference!?

Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you’re fired. Out!

Who is Armstrong attempting better emulate, Ebenezer Scrooge or Mr. Spacely?

Final note… if you’re someone with my resume looking for more information about me, and you fail to see the problem with how AOL CEO Tim Armstrong conducts his business, then do me (and yourself) a favor. Throw that resume into the trash. I wouldn’t want to work for you.

Newspapers await for an iTunes or Netflix model of their own

Farhad Manjoo wrote an excellent column for Slate explaining how CEO Jeff Blezo’s influence on e-commerce and marketing has been so innovative and how that might be relevant to the Washington Post.

Manjoo’s explains how the inexpensive information — and not necessarily the hard news — inside a newspaper played a huge role in attracting readers, and how the Internet curtailed that strategy.

For decades, newspapers made money by bundling two distinct kinds of data: low-cost information and high-cost news. The information—classifieds, stocks, sports scores, weather, entertainment listings, recipes, horoscopes, coupons, police blotters, obits—was widely popular and cheap and easy to produce.

… newspapers worked as a business, because they had a monopoly on the low-cost information. As long as there was no other place for their audience to go to for classifieds and all the rest, readers and advertisers kept paying for the ink, indirectly subsidizing the serious stuff.

Another column worth reading is by Cade Metz at Wired, about how Bezos’ Post purchase will likely tie with Amazon.

Metz also points out that high-cost news has not its own game-changing revolution the way music had via iTunes or movies via Netflix. Both iTunes and Netflix took existing products/services people already paid for and created a new model for them to receive the same but at less expense. Meanwhile, the best newspapers have come up with so far are paywalls behind their websites or mobile apps. Asides from the major publications, there’s no guarantee that model will work.

The thought of paying for online news is beyond outrageous among the young people today. You have the same problem, to a lesser extent, with music and movies, but the situation is a night and day difference because while newspapers have given their content away for free online for well over a decade, music and movies have not readily been available online for free. The workaround of downloading via BitTorrent (or previously with Napster) is illegal.

After a full day to think about it, the general consensus is that Bezos will somehow attempt to incorporate the Posts’s news content into the Amazon universe. And if Bezos is able to garner any type of success, it won’t be long before other tech giants, such as Google or Facebook, follow.

Will Jeff Bezos redefine the new normal for modern journalism?


There’s plenty of buzz coming from yesterday’s shocker that founder Jeff Bezos is purchasing the Washington Post. Obviously, the Post website has a lot of great content and reaction from various writers regarding the sale. Politico also has a variety of content worth checking out.

Dylan Byers has an excellent round-up of the purchase, what it potentially means down the road and more. Mad props as well for the headline “Bezos adds Washington Post to cart” (note, the headline has since been changed to “Jeff Bezos re-Kindles hope at The Washington Post” — still cute, but I like the original better).

I’m looking forward to observing how the Post evolves in the coming years, after enough time has passed for Bezos to implement his ideas and strategy. The looming question concerning newspapers is profitability and how to monetize the online and mobile app presence in order to pay for the high cost of journalism.

The last great hope is that someone like Bezos, a highly successful and innovate entrepreneur, and an outsider to the industry, can instill new ideas that result in a new money making model that other newspapers or news producing organizations may possibly borrow.

The demand for straight news on all mediums remains highly uncertain, as the soon to debut cable network Al Jazeera America is likely to soon find out. Can a news producing organization by itself be profitable? Before cable television, the respective news divisions at ABC, NBC and CBS were money losers that were primarily subsidized from the revenues generated from each network’s line of soap opera programming. I think something like that almost has to happen again, in a more modern sense of course.

Sam Zell’s purchase of the Tribine Company was the textbook example on how to turn a bad situation at a newspaper into a worse one. The combination of personal greed and unrealistic expectations curbed any chance Zell had from day one. I like to believe that Bezos is Zell’s opposite. I’m more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt  (as opposed to someone like Boston Red Sox owner John Henry, who is now eying to purchase the Boston Globe).

While we don’t yet know what Bezos’ expectations are for the Post, it might help if our expectations for Bezos remain in check. Running a news producing organization, such as one as large and influential as the Post, is quite the unproven endeavor in today’s modern world of journalism.

If Bezos turns out not to be the miracle man journalism has been waiting for, I have no doubts, it won’t be due to a lack of honest effort.