ESPN Fires Matthew Barnaby After DWI Arrest

From Deadspin:

After the news broke this morning that analyst Matthew Barnaby had been arrested for a DWI in Clarence, N.Y., an ESPN spokesman informed us that Bristol was “looking into the situation.” We just received word that Barnaby’s been fired. From ESPN’s shit-handling department: “We spoke with Matthew and informed him that we terminated his contract, effective immediately.”

 

NHL and NBC Bring Back Winter Classic Campaign, Featuring Will Arnett and Luc Robitaille

NEW YORK (Dec. 5, 2011) — For the fourth straight year, the National

Hockey League (NHL®) and NBC Sports have partnered to produce the national

advertising campaign for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, the Jan.

2 outdoor game between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers.

The TV commercials at the center of the campaign showcase the

historical competitiveness and long-standing rivalry between the two teams

and cities, and celebrate the NHL Winter Classic as the new holiday

tradition and appointment television for sports fans.

The “Rivalry” TV spot features iconic landmarks in Philadelphia

(Liberty Bell, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the LOVE Park) and New York

City (Times Square and the Empire State Building). Flyers players Sean

Couturier, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, Max Talbot and

James van Riemsdyk and Rangers players Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Marian

Gaborik, Ryan McDonagh, Brandon Prust and Derek Stepan are also featured in

the spot. Adding a unique touch to the spot is an original arrangement of

the New Year’s classic, Auld Lang Syne, performed by Alex Skolnick, lead

guitarist of Testament and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The “Song” TV spot focuses on fans and the social aspect of the NHL

Winter Classic by featuring hockey fans performing the Stompin’ Tom

Connors’ classic, “The Hockey Song,” while assembled in bars, hosting home

viewing parties and tailgating. Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille and

actor Will Arnett are among the fans singing an NHL Winter Classic modified

version of the iconic song.

“Storytelling always has been a key element of the NHL Winter Classic

campaign, with an emphasis on the players, the teams and the host city,”

said Brian Jennings, NHL executive vice president of marketing. “This

year’s campaign shines the spotlight on our fans and the NHL Winter Classic

as our newest national holiday sports tradition.”

“We are extremely proud of the award-winning heritage we have built

with our partners at the NHL in making the NHL Winter Classic campaign part

of the exciting preamble to the game itself,” said John Miller, Chief

Marketing Officer, NBC Sports Group. “This year’s matchup provided us the

opportunity to exploit the legendary rivalry that exists between these two

teams and cities. I think fans will enjoy the new spots that celebrate a

rivalry that is as big as all outdoors…which happens to be where the game

will be played!”

In addition to the TV spots, the national advertising campaign for

the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® will be distributed across online,

radio, print, in-arena, retail/in-store point-of-purchase, mobile and

social media platforms of the NHL, NBC and VERSUS as well as additional

NBCUniversal networks and digital platforms.

The NHL and NBC Sports Agency, along with global advertising agency,

Young & Rubicam, developed the creative for this year’s campaign. In 2009,

a previous NHL, NBC and Young & Rubicam creative collaboration won a Sports

Emmy in the category of “Outstanding Sports Promotional Announcement:

Episodic.”

The spots debuted this past weekend within several sports telecasts,

including NBC’s Sunday Night Football broadcast between the Detroit Lions

and New Orleans Saints.

The NHL and NBC Sports’ joint campaign for last year’s event

delivered record viewership, making the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic

® broadcast the most-watched regular season game in the U.S. in 36 years.

The 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® continues the tradition the

NHL has established of hosting a regular-season game outdoors at the onset

of the new year to celebrate the origin and traditions of hockey. The

Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers will face-off at 1 p.m. ET on

Monday, January 2, 2012. The game will be broadcast on NBC in the U.S. and

on CBC and RDS in Canada.

Schreiber Remains 24/7 Voice Despite New Showtime Role

I know there were some worried that, because he recently landed a role in a Showtime pilot and because his voice was not behind the 24/7 preview show, that Liev Schreiber might not maintain his “voice of HBO Sports” role. Well, that appears to be untrue, according to Deadline:

With a deal to star in Showtime’s pilot Ray Donovan, Liev Schreiber may one day become the face of the pay cable network. But at the same time, it looks like he will no longer be the exclusive voice of the sports division of rival HBO. I’ve learned that HBO has opted not to renew its overall deal with the actor to be the the voice of HBO Sports, which has included narrating virtually all HBO sports documentaries, the 24/7 reality series, and the NFL reality series Hard Knocks. HBO is not severing ties with Schreiber, who has been voicing HBO Sports’ programs for the past 16 years. “Liev is set to start work next week on his next HBO Sports project, 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road to the NHL Winter Classic, HBO Sports said in a statement, declining further comment. I hear that Schreiber also is scheduled to do another HBO Sports project in January.

Your NHL National TV Schedule For the Week of December 5

Monday, November 5

Phoenix vs. Chicago, 8:00 p.m. ET, VERSUS
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Tuesday, November 6

Detroit vs. St. Louis, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS/TSN2
Play by Play:
Dave Strader
Inside the Glass: Brian Engblom

Wednesday, November 7

Washington vs. Ottawa, 7:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Gord Miller
Inside the Glass: Mike Johnson

Philadelphia vs. Buffalo, 7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS/TSN2
Play by Play:
Mike Emrick
Color: Eddie Olczyk
Inside the Glass: Pierre McGuire

Carolina vs. Edmonton, 9:30 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Thursday, December 8

Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network

Friday, December 9

Colorado vs. Edmonton, 9:00 p.m. ET, TSN
Play by Play:
Chris Cuthbert
Inside the Glass: Ray Ferraro

Saturday, December 10

Montreal vs. New Jersey, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBC/NHL Network
Play by Play:
Bob Cole
Color: Greg Millen
Reporter: Cassie Campbell

Vancouver vs. Ottawa, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Jim Hughson
Color: Gary Galley
Reporter: David Amber

Winnipeg vs. Detroit, 7:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Dean Brown
Color: Kevin Weekes

Tampa Bay vs. Philadelphia, 7:00 p.m. ET, NHL Network

Edmonton vs. Calgary, 10:00 p.m. ET, CBC
Play by Play:
Mark Lee
Color: Craig Simpson
Reporter: Scott Oake

Radical Realignment Could Boost Local, National Television Numbers for NHL

The Dallas Stars currently play 20 games a year (at Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose and Anaheim in division, and at Colorado, Vancouver, Calgary and Colorado in the Northwest) in which start times could easily be at latest 9:30 p.m. central time. That’s one full quarter of your schedule beginning after young children – the people you want to sink your marketing claws into and make devotees for life in a difficult, football dominated market – have gone to sleep, with little care as to what the local hockey team is doing.

If the radical realignment proposed by commissioner Gary Bettman goes through, that would conceivably drop the number of games starting after 9 p.m. CT to eight per season, which would be the same as every other team that plays in the central and eastern time zones. Really, there’s no reason that this shouldn’t go through, beyond the shortsidedness and greed of some eastern owners. In the end, it is good for the game on television, a medium that is paying the league $2 billion over the next year, not counting the hundreds of millions being made off of regional television contracts. It’s also good for revenues. The Florida teams get more snowbird audiences, while Carolina and Washington get a heaping dose of New York and Philly transplants, while everyone else stays with their rivals. Money should do the talking here.

Here’s the screenshot via Puck Daddy of what the NHL could look like next year:

All of those divisions look pretty nasty to me. From my perspective, here’s my only real problem with what’s been proposed. Divisional playoffs would return, meaning the top four teams from each division – which, to me, is unfair. Make it the top three, and then the next best four teams are wild cards assigned to conference winners based on record. Also, make sure you don’t name the new conferences based on geography, we wouldn’t want an MLS-esque problem of having a team from New York win the Western Conference (Seriously, that happened) – would make the playoffs. This means that the Penguins and Capitals, Red Wings and Blackhawks, Flames and Oilers, Rangers and Devils, Flyers and Penguins can never meet in a conference final. Worth thinking about a Stanley Cup Playoffs that would never feature Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin in the final four together.

Otherwise, here’s what I like about realignment:

  • The re-seeded Final Four. The NHL would re-seed the four conference winners, 1-4 and 2-3. It’d likely mean one less banner to hang up (or one more, considering you’d have four conference champions) and the end of the Prince of Wales Trophy and the Campbell Bowl, but who really cares about those? You’d reward the best regular season teams even further by ensuring they get the (conceivably) most advantageous conference final match-up. Sure, you’d have some stinker final fours each year, but you could potentially one day see a Pittsburgh-Detroit, Toronto-Vancouver Final Four, appeasing networks both above and below the border to no end.
  • National Television schedules improve. The NHL has already made it so that all the Canadian teams play each other twice a year, but the new schedules would mean CBC and TSN could divvy up two visits to Toronto and Montreal per year from Detroit, Pittsburgh, New York and Chicago, while giving extra meaning to those always highly-rated all-Canadian match-ups. For VERSUS/NBCSN/NBC, the regular season battles between the Rangers and Flyers and Blackhawks and Red Wings and Penguins and Caps now mean even more with the knowledge that they’re likely going to have to get through each other in the post-season. The NHL has been trying to convince casual fans for years that the regular season matters. Divisional playoffs will help.
  • The obvious help for local TV ratings out West. A rivals-heavy schedule, plus two games against everyone else, will only help the teams in non-traditional markets and out West. The LA Kings get to promote six match-ups with cross-town rival Anaheim, plus two games against Pittsburgh and Washington each. So does every other team. These are the games that both local fans and transplants tune into. Sure, they’ll also see Detroit two fewer times on the schedule, but it’s certainly worth it to get Toronto, New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington twice instead of once, which is the case in most years.
  • A “simple” Detroit to the East swap would decimate Western TV exposure. If you put the Red Wings in the East in a trade for Winnipeg, you take 8-10 national television appearances away from Western Conference teams that are already precious few. During the regular season, the NHL On NBC hasn’t aired a game of a team west of Minnesota since 2008. They haven’t aired a game from a team west of Dallas since 2007. Putting Detroit in the East just further isolates those teams from big-time exposure, and continues the knock on the NHL and it’s television partners for only promoting it as an east coast league.

There are a lot of reasons to stick with the status quo, but to me, the benefits of giving every team an even playing field in terms of television ratings and attendance makes too much sense. Plus, the Stanley Cup Playoffs – the greatest sports tournament on earth – would become even more intense, with match-ups guaranteed to be built on rivalries fought and bled for in the regular season. The sense I get from people seems to be that Commissioner Bettman will push this through. I hope he does.