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CBS Going Big on Thursday Nights

Jason Barrett

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For a new show on the CBS schedule for the 2014-15 season, network executives are promising advertisers and viewers that it will be intensely dramatic, although it is not a drama series; offer compelling competitive matchups, although it is not a reality competition series; and feature famous faces, though its stars belong to no actors’ union.

The show is “Thursday Night Football,” which joins the CBS prime-time lineup on Sept. 11, the result of a deal CBS made with the National Football League for a package of games that would complement the network’s Sunday football programming. “Thursday Night Football,” presented in partnership with the league’s own NFL Network, is getting a huge promotional push from CBS.

“I don’t think the CBS Corporation has ever mounted a larger promotional campaign,” Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, said on Monday at a “media day” event for reporters at the CBS Broadcast Center on the Manhattan’s West Side. “We’re determined to work with the N.F.L. to make sure this is a success.”

In a phone interview, George F. Schweitzer, president of the CBS Marketing Group, called the effort “the biggest promotional and marketing event we’ve had at the network.”

“No stone will be unturned, from radio, outdoor, cable, digital and interactive guides to good old TV commercials,” he said. “It’s literally around the clock,” he added, “a lot of firepower.”

On the air, CBS has, for the last two months, been running an energetic spot with the theme “Football starts here,” featuring stars of CBS entertainment series like “The Big Bang Theory,” “Elementary” and “Two and a Half Men.” Some wear eye black inscribed with the words “Thurs” and “Night” while others strip off outerwear to reveal they are wearing “Thursday Night Football” jerseys. There are also versions for local stations that are owned by CBS, among them KCBS in Los Angeles and WCBS in New York.

The network’s 200 affiliated local stations have received materials so they may produce their own versions, Mr. Schweitzer said, in which “they can cut to their weather guy taking off his shirt” to reveal the jersey.

Last week, episodes of “Big Brother,” the CBS summer reality competition series, featured a contest with a “Thursday Night Football” theme. The three winners got to leave the Big Brother house to meet members of the Dallas Cowboys and the team’s owner, Jerry Jones, at the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

Reminders about “Thursday Night Football” will also be woven into episodes of CBS’s scripted series, Mr. Schweitzer said. For instance, Boomer Esiason, an analyst on “NFL on CBS,” is to appear in an episode of “Blue Bloods,” he said, and another “NFL on CBS” analyst, Phil Simms, will get a guest spot on “Elementary.”

Viewers of CBS’s daytime lineup will find “Thursday Night Football” promoted during “The Talk” as well as during the game shows “Let’s Make a Deal” and “The Price Is Right.” And rather than tap an actor from a CBS entertainment program to host the 2014-15 edition of the network’s annual fall preview show, Mr. Schweitzer said, the host will be Jim Nantz, who will handle the play-by-play duties during “Thursday Night Football”; the preview show is to be broadcast at 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time) on Sept. 1.

The focus of the campaign is to marry “the world of sports and the world of entertainment,” Mr. Schweitzer said, to help signal that “Thursday Night Football” will be broadcast during prime-time hours normally devoted to entertainment programming rather than on Sunday afternoons.

In that regard, CBS follows in the footsteps of “Monday Night Football,” a ratings powerhouse for decades for ABC before being shifted to a sibling cable channel, ESPN, and “Sunday Night Football,” tremendously popular since it joined the NBC prime-time lineup in 2006. “Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched program for the 2013-14 season, topping all the scripted and unscripted entertainment offerings on broadcast television.

According to Nielsen data, “Sunday Night Football” drew a 12.8 rating for 2013-14, meaning that 12.8 percent of all television households watched the show. The runner-up, the CBS entertainment series “NCIS,” has a 12.5 rating, Nielsen reported, followed by “The Big Bang Theory,” also on CBS, at 12.0. An average of about 22 million viewers watched each Sunday-night game, according to Nielsen, followed by about 20 million for “NCIS” and 20 million for “The Big Bang Theory.”

The sales of commercial time during the eight games that will appear on CBS under the “Thursday Night Football” banner are being handled by CBS Sports, which has been promising potential advertisers a 12.0 rating.

“The response has been very, very positive,” John Bogusz, executive vice president for sales at CBS Sports, said in an interview after the media day presentation, partly because Thursday leads “into the all-important weekend” for marketers in categories like “automobiles, movies and fast food.”

Four major marketers have signed as sponsors of “Thursday Night Football” segments, Mr. Bogusz added: Lowe’s and Verizon, for the pregame show; Lexus, for halftime; and Mazda, for the postgame show. In total, “we’ve written a good amount” of business for Thursday, he said, and “still have availability.” (Operators are standing by. Just kidding. Sort of.)

At the NFL Network, said Brian Matthews, senior vice president for media sales at the N.F.L., Lexus will also be the halftime sponsor and Mazda the postgame sponsor, with the jewelry retailer Zales as the pregame sponsor. The NFL Network will simulcast the CBS games, he added, which run through Oct. 23; the NFL Network will carry eight subsequent games on its own starting Oct. 30.

Credit to the NY Times who originally published this article

Sports Radio News

1010XL Jay Fund Radiothon Raises Nearly $250,000 For Pediatric Cancer Research

“In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 billion for the Jay Fund.”

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Jacksonville’s 1010XL used its airwaves to raise money for the Jay Fund for the fifteenth year earlier this week. The radiothon was a smashing success, raising $249,784 to fight pediatric cancer.

This year’s total is a new record for the event. In the 15 year history of the radiothon, the station has raised just under $1.6 million for the Jay Fund.

“I’m truly amazed at the generosity of the 1010 XL listeners in times when a carton of eggs cost six dollars,” said General Manager Steven Griffin, “and equally amazed how the hosts, producers, radio staff and volunteers come together with a singular focus to year-after-year produce these results in one broadcast day.”

Former Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin started the Jay Fund in memory of  Jay McGillis, who developed leukemia while playing for Coughlin at Boston College.  The organization has helped over 5,000 families and given away over $16 million in grants in Northeast Florida and the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area.

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Parkins & Spiegel Wonder If Trent Dilfer Will Still Appear On Their Show After Taking UAB Job

“I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”

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Former ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer has been hired as the new head coach at UAB. However, Danny Parkins and Matt Spiegel wondered if that meant Dilfer would no longer be making his weekly appearances on Parkins & Spiegel on 670 The Score.

“Our guy is no longer gonna do a radio show out of Chicago?” Parkins joked, referencing an incident last month where Dilfer failed to say “Parkins & Spiegel during an appearance on The Herd with Colin Cowherd.

“I don’t know that that’s the case,” Spiegel replied.

“We don’t know that yet,” producer Shane Riordan said. “We have only shared a couple of text message — Trent and I — this morning and I will just say that his status with the show and the station is uncertain.”

Later in the show, Parkins and Spiegel jokingly wondered what jobs they could have on UAB’s staff, with Parkins balking at being a sports information director. He did say he would welcome being the offensive player caller, but believed that job might fall under the purview of Dilfer.

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Mike Milbury: Jack Edwards Is ‘Awkward’ and ‘A Different Breed’

“Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”

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Boston Bruins television play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards has come under fire for recent comments he made about Tampa Bay Lightning forward Pat Maroon and his weight. In turn, Maroon donated money in Edwards’ name to a mental health organization. On The Greg Hill Show Thursday, former NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury both slammed and defended Edwards.

“Jack Edwards. Who’s Jack Edwards? He went through all of junior high school being picked on and bullied,” Milbury said. “Now he’s trying to get even. Wouldn’t you want to smack that guy, Wiggy? Skinny, scrawny, mouthy son of a bitch.”

“Jack is screaming at the TV all the time,” he continued. “I gotta turn it down half the time.”

When asked by Courtney Cox if it was appropriate for Edwards to make comments about Maroon’s weight, noting that the comments were “awkward”, Milbury said Edwards is a divisive presence.

“Jack is awkward. I think half of Boston hates him and half of Boston loves him. He certainly loves the Bruins and is passionate about it but he’s a different breed of cat. Like him or love him, I’m not gonna judge him. As a guy that’s been cancelled, I have no right anymore.”

Milbury was “cancelled” after saying NHL players in the league’s playoff “bubble” weren’t being distracted by their wives and girlfriends being present. He was dropped by the NHL on NBC after the comments and has not resurfaced on a major network.

The comments and questions to Milbury came after Cox and co-host Jermaine Wiggins disagreed about whether Edwards’ comments were warranted.

Wiggins said he “thought hockey players were supposed to be tough”, adding “he’s got a few extra LBs. It’s a joke.”

Cox countered by saying “it’s not a joke. No one should be talking about it. Jack Edwards went on for like five minutes about it. It wasn’t funny.”

Hill said when Wiggins was in the NFL, nobody cared what television broadcasters said about them. Cox argued by saying “in your day, nobody talked to a therapist, either”.

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