Our 2012 Sports Media Wish List: Part Two

Yesterday we ran through the first half of our sports media wish list for 2012, so be sure to mosey over that way if so inclined. Below is the second half of what we’re hoping to see in 2012.

The Return Of Hard Knocks

We were pretty diligent in covering how the lockout was impeding HBO and NFL Films from procuring a team to participate in the wildly popular all access show. While many were just happy to have the NFL labor issues resolved, it was deflating not to have Hard Knocks building up anticipation for the upcoming season.


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Looking back at past seasons, there have been times I’ve thought, “That’s one of the best hours of television I’ve ever watched.” Here is one of many memorable clips from over the years…

While it’s likely we’ll see Hard Knocks return after a one year hiatus, the bottom line is that an NFL team needs to sign off on giving that access and being subjected to additional exposure and scrutiny. It’s a big decision and one with a lot of risk involved. 

Given how awesome and unique Hard Knocks is, we’re definitely saving a wish for its return. Off the top of my head the Broncos and Lions seem like some worthy candidates for next year.

Smooth And Successful Production Of The Movie Version Of “Those Guys Have All The Fun”

Although a bit lengthy, “Those Guys Have All The Fun” was one of the more interesting reads I’ve had. We’ve certainly enjoyed having Jim Miller on our podcast a couple times to talk about the book and ESPN in general. With over 30 years of history, the million dollar question is what will the movie focus on in particular? We suggested five scenarios which caught the eye of Keith Olbermann.

All that said, there is no guarantee the movie will be made. Being a movie expert (as in I followed Moneyball’s pre production saga and watched Entourage), the book still needs to have a script, a director, and actors signed on before filming commences.

With the recent success of Moneyball and The Social Network, it’s likely this project has the momentum to cut through the normal Hollywood red tape and stumbling blocks. However, if we don’t hear an update at some point in the coming year, the likelihood of the book materializing onto the big screen will suffer.

With the right script adaptation and creative visionary, this could be a very solid movie. Having an announced production date or actual filming of the movie sometime in 2012 is a no brainer for us in terms of a 2012 media wish.

The End Of The MLB Blackout Policy & MLB On Fox

John Ourand predicts Major League Baseball will ditch Fox and either go exclusively with ESPN or a combination of ESPN and Turner. He also thinks NBC will be in the mix as well. 

Baseball fans will largely embrace this possible move as Fox has long been teased for poor production and announcing talent covering America’s pastime. In fact, during Fox’s decade plus of broadcasting the World Series, the fall classic’s ratings have actually been cut in half.

MLB leaving Fox is definitely what’s best for the sport. However, what we’re most interested in is the MLB Blackout policy that has long been a MAJOR source of discontent for fans. If you’re unfamiliar with the blackout, rule here is an excerpt from the ridiculously robust Wikpedia page for the policy.

“Broadcasters cannot show games of in-market teams, regardless of whether the game is home or away, if the game of the local team has a certain start time (usually there are no other games scheduled at these times). This, at least theoretically, is to make people watch the out-of-market game on ESPN or Fox. The reasoning is that since people will not be able to watch their favorite team, they may be willing to settle for some baseball, even if it involves teams they are not as excited about. This results in higher ratings for the national broadcaster by pulling baseball fans away from watching their own team.”

The idea is kind of like Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football as you want to have a true national game that everyone will watch. The problem is that unlike those games, other baseball games are taking place during Fox’s “national” game. Maybe I’ll watch a random baseball game that’s on but I am certainly not going to be happy missing the team I follow to watch two random teams play. Unlike football, baseball doesn’t have that broad appeal at a national level for non-local teams.

The policy is so stupid, we’re unsure if this or MLB’s video policy is more asinine. We’re definitely wishing with the television rights up for grabs, MLB will retire this policy and give fans what they want. 

ESPN Retaining BCS Rights

Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night thinking of the three years in which Fox held the rights to the BCS. It’s rare to see something as universally panned in sports media as those games were, in addition to the odd strategy of not broadcasting any other college games all year up until the BCS bowls. 

ESPN’s college football talent pool is DEEP. Sure there are some we’d like ESPN to kick to the curb but it’s hard to deny that ESPN doesn’t do a solid job covering an expansive amount of games and storylines. If not for the painful years of Fox broadcasting the BCS games, I doubt I’d be so gracious in my praise for ESPN.

Once again the BCS rights are up for bid and Ourand predicts Fox will make a serious run. To their credit, Fox did a decent job with Gus Johnson on FX with some marginal games and finished strong with two conference championship games. They also have Pac 12 games next year, but at the end of the day, Fox just can’t and won’t do as good of a job broadcasting these big games as ESPN can. Announcing talent, production quality, shoulder programming, and familiarity with the sport are all places where Fox is inferior to ESPN.

I’m sure if Fox won the rights that gap would be decreased over time, but rather wishing for the best with Fox, we’re definitely wishing that ESPN retains BCS bowl rights.

Unleashing Gus Johnson 

At CBS, Gus Johnson was known for March Madness as well as some memorable calls of NFL games. At Fox he was pegged as their college football guy and while that’s certainly been enjoyable, we’re looking at two weeks in a row of not having Johnson do an NFL game when the college season has wrapped up.

It’s not quite clear if Johnson will eventually be able to do college basketball with Fox as they don’t have much to work with there, hence his employment with Big Ten Network on that front.

The bottom line is that we seem to be getting less Johnson in this setup as we did with him at CBS.

Some have suggested that at some point down the road, CBS or Turner would extend the olive branch out to Fox and Johnson and essentially rent his services for March Madness. It sounds unlikely, but CBS has done this with Jay Bilas and others in the past.

Although an acquired taste, the poor quality of Fox’s NFL announcing talent, as well as a huge void in the NCAA tournament, leaves us wanting more of Gus as we move into the new year. Although somewhat of a long-shot, we’re wishing that Turner potentially steps up to find a way for Johnson to return to March Madness.  And, for the role of Gus Johnson at Fox to expand beyond what we saw this year.

That’s it for now. For part one of this series click here. To all of our readers, happy holidays and please chime in with your 2012 wishes.

Ben Koo

About Ben Koo

Copying and pasting my Twitter bio. I'm also refusing (for now) to write this in the third person. This is me - CEO of @Bloguin, GM at @AwfulAnnouncing, world's greatest chinese jew, proud Buckeye, funny dude, and sports and digital media zealot.