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McKenzie Playing a Key Role in TSN’s Success

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When the country’s two sports television networks tear into each other on Monday in the ultimate bit of Canadiana – all-day live coverage of deadline day in the NHL for making trades – the goal of each of them, aside from ratings, is beating the other guy by a few seconds to announce a trade first.

But no matter who wins the intense battle for scoops between TSN and Sportsnet, there is one fact neither network can argue: TSN’s Bob McKenzie is the most trusted source of hockey information on any media platform. He may not always be first with the trade announcements or other news, although he is not often beaten, but he is always right.

There is nothing stylish about McKenzie, 59, who was part of the great migration of print reporters to broadcast outlets that began in earnest in the 1990s. But unlike many of his colleagues, particularly in the United States where current and former print types make up the casts of dozens of sports-talk screamfests, McKenzie stuck with what worked for him from the start, a solid work ethic that developed the widest variety of sources in the sport, from junior scouts to NHL owners.

That means any information he provides, whether to his 1.22 million Twitter followers, on a TSN television panel, a radio appearance or in a written report on TSN.ca, is solid.

The 2015 trade deadline was the first year TSN did not have any national NHL broadcast rights, having lost the package to Rogers Media, which agreed in 2014 to pay $5.2-billion over 12 years for the NHL’s Canadian national broadcast rights. But TSN trounced Rogers’s Sportsnet network on deadline day, drawing an average of 206,000 viewers to its 10 hours of coverage compared with 76,000 for Sportsnet. TSN drew more than double the total viewers to its show, 2.3 million, than Sportsnet (1.1 million).

While this cannot all be attributed to McKenzie, a major share of it can, given that he dominates the hockey discussion on Twitter, where viewership starts. And he is the one looked to by most for confirmation of a trade.

McKenzie, though, will not tell you he is driving the ratings.

“I just get up and do my job every day and make sure I don’t feel like I have to back up to the pay window at the end of the week,” McKenzie said.

To continue reading the full article visit the Toronto Globe and Mail where it was originally published

Sports TV News

NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings

“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”

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The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer. 

In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD. 

“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”

There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week. 

No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.

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Sports TV News

Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Sports TV News

Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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