After the coffee. Before the ESPN and ABC upfront presentations.
The Skinny: Hoping to get to the Yankees-Mets game tonight if it doesn’t get rained out. Keep a good thought. Today’s roundup includes analysis of Fox’s new prime-time lineup. Also, DirecTV and AT&T get closer to a deal, and Major League Soccer signs new TV deals.
Daily Dose: Thursday night football will have a new anchoring team this fall. With CBS now producing the games, it’s no surprise that James Brown and Bill Cowher will have prominent roles along with Deion Sanders, who is part of the NFL Network team. Not on the team yet is longtime NFL Network host Rich Eisen, whose contract with the league-owned network is up at the end of summer. An NFL Network spokesman said, “Rich has been the face of the NFL Network since its launch in 2003, and we have every intention of keeping him for years to come.”
More drama, less singing. After enduring steep ratings declines this season, Fox unveiled a new schedule full of dramas and less “American Idol.” The network plans several high-profile dramas and miniseries including “Gotham,” “Red Band Society,” “Gracepoint” and “Empire.” On the comedy front, the network is moving “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to Sunday, where it will hopefully benefit from having football and “The Simpsons” as lead-ins. Coverage and analysis of Fox’s schedule from the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, USA Today, the Hollywood Reporter and Variety.
Inching closer. While neither side is yet to acknowledge any talks, AT&T is getting closer to a deal to buy satellite broadcaster DirecTV. According to the Wall Street Journal, the sale would value DirecTV at about $50 billion and the terms would be stock and cash. Per the Journal, it could all come together in a couple of weeks (sure, ruin my Memorial Day weekend) or it could fall part.
Goal! Major League Soccer signed a new deal with ESPN, Fox Sports and Univision at a record combined rights fee average of $90 million a season over the next eight years. The agreement not only reflects the growing popularity of soccer, but the ongoing battle by sports networks for content. More on the deal from the Sports Business Journal.
It pays to play. CBS, which is to unveil its new fall lineup on Wednesday, may command the biggest ad-fee increases from advertisers, but it won’t be for anything the network did this season. In fact, CBS had a pretty disappointing year. If it gets more money from Madison Avenue, it will be because of Thursday night football, which the network secured the rights for earlier this year. The New York Post on how the NFL will help CBS.
See you in court. Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission unveiled new rules that would make it more difficult for local broadcasters that compete against each other to also share some business operations. The FCC argued that such combinations gave broadcasters an unfair advantage over advertisers and distributors who pay to carry their signals, and that they don’t serve the public interest. Now the National Assn. of Broadcasters has sued the FCC, saying the regulatory agency overstepped its authority with the rules. Details from Broadcasting & Cable.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: The TV networks are giving more time to commercials, according to a new study from Nielsen.
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