Mobile Sports Report Grab Bag: New Tablets from ZTE & Huawei and MNF Flop

Toys 'R' Us Tabeo

Tired of losing your pricey iPad to your kids and then they yell when you try and take it back? Well Toys “R” Us has stepped in with a product that just might save the day with its Tabeo offering. A 7-inch tablet that runs the Android operating system will be available in stores Oct. 21, but will start shipping Oct. 1.

The $149.99 device will feature 4GB of storage that is expandable to 32GB, but the big plus for parents is that it will come with more than 50 books, games and educational apps preloaded including such popular ones as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja. The Tabeo is now available for preorder.

Chinese vendors ZTE & Huawei catching tablet fever?
DigiTimes is reporting that both Huawei Technologies and ZTE have both shown a good deal of interest in entering the tablet space. The move is seen as an effort to expand their respective footprints globally as well as take advantage of the huge Chinese market.

First Monday Night Football game of season a flop with fans
The first MNF games have come and gone, and thank goodness if you were forced to watch them. Apparently not that many did as Sports Media Watch reports that the opening game, a Ravens blowout of the Bengals only managed an 8.1 rating.

Monday Night Football

The season opener, shown on ESPN, was down 21% from last year when the Patriots and Dolphins played and down 23% from the Jets vs. Ravens in 2010. It was the lowest rated MNF broadcast by ESPN since it took over broadcast duties of the iconic show in 2007.

However just a few days later the NFL Network, with a much better matchup with the Packers vs. Bears, received the highest rating in its short history. However its numbers, at 6.3, are hurt because it still is not carried anywhere near as much by cable operators as ESPN.

Analysts predict 58 million iPhone sales in 2012
The iPhone orders only start today after the introduction earlier this week with the first phones expected to ship next week but analysts are predicting a tsunami of sales for Apple’s iPhone 5 smartphone in 2012.

According to a survey done by Bloomberg and reported in Mashable the consensus from analysts is 58 million sold this year and FBR Capital Market analyst Craig Berger is predicting 250 million over the life of the device.

Is Samsung’s LTE threat an issue still?

Samsung mentioned that if Apple included LTE in its iPhone 5 there was a high likelihood of Samsung suing Apple. Samsung owns a huge number of patents in this area and has a healthy business in the LTE area that is spate from the smartphone business.

Now so far Samsung has not acted but it might just be that the company is looking at the technology that is used in Apple’s LTE offering to make sure that it has it right. We could always hope that maybe the two are actually talking and can settle things out of court.

Samsung & MLB partner on contest
Speaking of Samsung the company has entered into a contest with Major League Baseball called Photo Hunt. It is a pretty basic game, one I think even I would have a decent chance at. Every week MLB, at @MLB, will tweet out a Samsung Photo Hunt item using the hash tag #SamsungMLB.

All a user has to do is take a picture of the item and share it with @MLB. Winners will get a Samsung S III phone and two free tickets to a game of their favorite team.

Kindle opens to lukewarm reviews
I was impressed by what I saw during the Kindle HD press conference last week, but reviewers with hands-on experience with the device have been less than complimentary. Some seems to be valid complaints, such as the speed apps load and a few issues with software.

Some of the complaints appear to be, well it is not an iPad, and that really is Amazon’s fault for proclaiming it the best tablet in the market. I still like it, but it is obviously what Amazon said it was at its introduction: a device that opens up other Amazon services to customers. It seems to me to make a product like that (in hindsight) that there will be features that are not included that a general purpose tablet user might want.

USA Today to look like iPad?
I have not been down to the local newsstand but it appears that USA Today will be sporting a new look starting this morning. The paper, which in many ways revolutionized the way papers look and how much space they devote to a story, is now taking on a sleeker appearance.

The paper took a lesson from the Web and how many sites present information. It will also feature input from social media users, including comments from Twitter and Facebook. Its web page will function more like an iPad, according to a piece in the New York Times.

Gannett Increasing Digital Sports Focus: Teams with MLB

Gannett is seeking to leverage the digital media explosion by translating it into solid revenue via a diversified approach that will cover everything from customized content to an enhanced position in sports.

The publisher, possibly best known for its flagship paper USA Today, said that it expects to reach between $75 million and 100 million in revenue from digital services division and that it expects to see strong revenue growth going forward, reaching an estimated $275 million to $350 million by 2015.

Company executives speaking at its annual Analyst Day have bullish vision for revenue growth and one of the components of that growth will be its sports USA Today Sports Media Group, which it will try and drive into becoming a top five sports media companies in the country with over $300 million in annual revenue by 2015.

Acquisitions and partnerships part of sports push

It has already taken a solid step in this direction with the announcement of a co-development deal with MLB Advanced Media, the interactive media and Internet branch of Major League Baseball today announced a joint venture to develop and produce new content and products for sports fans across all digital and mobile platforms.

It has already worked to enhance its digital sports position with the purchase of Fantasy Sports Ventures (FSV), an umbrella organization that features a number of on-line sports sites including, and and The Big Lead. The deal, which was announced, last month was for an undisclosed sum.

It gives Gannett instant relevance in the on-line advertising space, an area that it has straggled in, according to the Wall Street Journal. USA Today has been battling players such as Yahoo Sports and, which have significantly larger audiences.

FSV is the 5th largest online sports property with an average of 18.4 million unique visitors monthly, USA Today is ninth with 10 million unique visitors. Executives said that they will continue to look at additional acquisitions but has no plans currently for any large purchases.

Additionally it plans to do a major re-launch of its entire desktop, mobile and tablet products across the company within the next two years, starting with USA Today.

USA TODAY Poaches Former CBS Interactive Digital Exec

USA TODAY VP of Digital Mark Kortekaas

USA Today’s revamp of its Sports Media Group executive ranks continued this week, as it poached former BBC online technology group general manager and CBS Interactive senior vice president and CTO Mark Kortekaas.

At USA TODAY, Kortekaas will be senior vice president of digital.

USA TODAY Sports Media Group president Tom Buesse said in a statement:

“Mark has unique, battle-tested experience in developing platforms that provide a first-class digital offering for sports fans. He’s exactly the right person to help us build out a digital architecture that will present and deliver our content in the most engaging, user-friendly and relevant ways possible.”

The move continues the reshuffle of USA TODAY’s Sports Media Group.

In November, former Yahoo! executive Dave Morgan was named senior vice president and editor-in-chief, and former IMG Sports and Entertainment VP of sales Peter Lazarus was named senior vice president and head of multimedia sales, according to an earlier Mobile Sports Report article.

USA TODAY is expected to be a logical candidate to develop mobile applications that leverage its established brand, and provide consumers with advanced Fantasy Sports options, including the ability to switch players during games. In the gaming industry this is called “in-running,” and Mobile Sports Report has coined the name “In-running Fantasy Sports.”

Created in January, USA TODAY is a crucial element to the future of the media company. It manages the sports content of 81 daily media properties, 23 broadcast television stations, and, and

A laggard in recent years, USA Today’s new team faces the challenge of catching up to and then eclipsing the mounting competition. Such traditional competitors as ESPN, which is highly innovative in the mobile arena, and such upstarts as Bleacher Report and SBNation have outpaced the company in digital development.

However, there is a big market opportunity that nearly everyone in the industry is eyeing. Yahoo! Sports, which is still No. 1 in Fantasy Sports services, appears to be slipping with uncertainty in its executive ranks and the potential sale of parts of the company. If it begins to lose market share, USA Today and others could benefit.


USA Today Taps Yahoo! Sports Exec to Captain Sports Content

Dave Morgan

USA Today is setting sail in sports with a new captain. His name is Morgan.

Beginning Nov. 1, USA Today’s sports content, mobile sports applications and sports social media will be shaped by former Yahoo! executive Dave Morgan, who helped build the Yahoo! search engine and online portal into the No. 1 sports destination in the country.

On Monday, Morgan was named senior vice president and editor-in-chief of USA Today Sports Media Group.

In hiring Morgan, USA Today Sports Media Group gains a charismatic leader. When he left Yahoo!, Morgan was so popular that several top writers changed their Twitter avatar to a photo of Morgan, according to a Mediabistro report.

Big Job

USA Today Sports Media Group President Tom Beusse made the announcement, and it is — indeed — a big job. USA Sports Media was created by Gannett Co. Inc. in January to shepherd not only the online efforts of the nationwide USA Today newspaper, but 82 daily newspapers, 23 broadcast televisions stations and the stand-alone portals and

Statements made in conjunction with the appointment, and Morgan’s pedigree, indicate USA Today Sports Media Group will push in new directions designed to capitalize on the sports social media boom.

Morgan’s Credentials

Previously, Morgan was executive editor of Yahoo! North American Audience, where he built Yahoo! Sports into the No. 1 online sports destination. Morgan left Yahoo! in May, underscoring the brain drain of executive talent from the company, according to a report in SportsBusiness Daily.

In recent comments to the TEDx Penn Quarter, former AOL Sports head Jimmy Lynn credited Yahoo! for remaining as the No. 1 sports destination by relying on fantasy sports, when it could have easily lost its focus as sports social media broadened.

In addition to a fantasy focus, Morgan has a news background, including setting a website record of 40 million unique visitors for coverage of the Winter Olympic games in Vancouver.

The unanswered question is whether Morgan has enough savvy in the development of mobile applications to drive USA Sports Media toward meaningful content for smartphones, iPhones and iPads, which is considered the wave of the future for sports fans and publishers alike.

Changing “Virtually Everything”

Without a doubt, Morgan will bring change to Gannett’s USA Today Sports Media Group. A former executive at the Los Angeles Times, Morgan told The Associated Press Sports Editors in 2008 the following:

“I was posed this question: what would I do differently if I went back to newspapers now that I have been in the web world?,” Morgan wrote.

“Virtually everything.”

Rising Competition

Morgan’s appointment comes during turbulent times in sports media. Rival new online media/sports social media properties are enjoying increased success, and seem to have little trouble raising millions in venture capital.

For example, SBNation and bleacher report have gone from start-ups to rank among the top 10 most-trafficked online sports destinations in the last three years. Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports and others are increasingly hard pressed to stay ahead of newfangled competitors.

Flat out, USA Today Sports Media is an also-ran among competitors, which Morgan will have to shore up to be taken seriously in the brave new world of mobile sports content.

USA Today Sports Media Group’s Beusse said Morgan will take responsibility for fully developing the potential of its sports business, including charting strategy.

Lazarus: A 2nd in Command with Connections

Along with Morgan, USA Today Sports Media Group named Peter Lazarus as senior vice president and head of multimedia sales. Lazarus came from Univision Communications Inc., where he oversaw advertising operations for the Univision, TeleFutura and Galavision networks.

In naming a sales executive in the same announcement as Morgan, Gannett signals that it sees partnership as key to building a sports social media content powerhouse.

Prior to Univision, Lazarus was senior vice president of sales at the sports management agency IMG Sports and Entertainment. It is likely that Lazarus will use his IMG connections to forge alliances between USA Today Sports Media Group and athletes. For example, USA Today could use its newspapers to promote contests that encourage people to follow an athlete’s twitter account, where products the athlete uses are endorsed.

What to Watch

Creation of the Sports Media group in January is consistent with widespread consolidation underway at old-media stalwart Gannett, which is concentrating on shared national services as a means to make money with print newspapers. will be watching Morgan’s appointment closely to see whether Morgan and Lazarus can marshal the resources necessary to create a broad social media network that captivates national audiences, as well as meaningful corporate-sanctioned applications that allow individual newspapers and television stations to maintain market share in their local communities.

In addition, Morgan and Lazarus will need to re-invigorate a sports staff shaken by years of layoffs and weak leadership, and identify leaders on local newspaper sports desks ready to step up. In addition, it is likely some Yahoo! sports staffers will be anxious to rejoin their popular former leader at Gannett. With Gannett facing stiffer competition with each passing day, it is safe to say Morgan and Lazarus have their work cut out.