Media Roundup: NESN Resigns Orsillo, Not Watney; CSNNE Launches Felger & Mazz Simulcast

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 11: NESN reporter Heidi Watney interviews American League All-Star Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox during the Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Chase Field on July 11, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

NESN had a busy week, re-signing the play-by-play voice of the Boston Red Sox, Don Orsillo, but it did not bring back sideline reporter Heidi Watney. In other news, Comcast SportsNet New England began its simulcast of Felger & Mazz.

This week, it really is a roundup, with a number of items to go over.

First, let's get to NESN. It was reported this week by Sean McAdam that Red Sox play-by-play man Don Orsillo will be on board through the 2015 season. It had been speculated that TBS might try and lure Orsillo away for a national gig. It also came out that sideline reporter Heidi Watney would not be returning in 2012. The network confirmed this on Thursday morning with a brief statement:

"Heidi Watney will not be returning to NESN next year. She is pursuing other opportunities that would bring her closer to her family on the west coast.  We respect Heidi’s decision and would like to thank her for everything that she has brought to NESN over the past 4 years and wish her the very best."

In other NESN news, with college hockey in full swing, the network announced their schedule for Hockey East broadcasts this season, along with a new four-year agreement with the conference. Here are some of the highlights of the new deal:

  • A four year term through the 2014/15 season with at least 16 games per season
  • NESN to produce every game in high definition
  • A new "flex" scheduling plan that will allow Hockey East and NESN to pick the best games during the closing weeks of the regular season
  • Four games will air immediately following Bruins Saturday afternoon games
  • Five Hockey East Tournament games in 2012, including the Women’s Championship game plus exclusive New England rights to the men’s tournament semifinal games and championship game from TD Garden in Boston
  • All ten Hockey East teams will appear on NESN each season
  • Pre or post-game shows will be produced around all games from NESN’s studios in Watertown, MA

NESN has broadcast Hockey East games since the conference was formed in 1984. NESN’s Hockey East coverage is set to begin with live coverage of the Sun Life Frozen Fenway event on Saturday, January 7, 2012. This special doubleheader of outdoor games at Fenway Park will begin immediately following NESN’s coverage of the Boston Bruins-Vancouver game at 4:00 PM when Massachusetts takes on Vermont followed by Maine vs. New Hampshire at 7:30 PM

NESN is also enjoying success with their Bruins telecasts. Tuesday night’s Bruins-Devils game earned a season best 5.3 HH Rating, the 3rd highest regular season rating in network history. The previous best HH rating this season was on Monday, November 7 when NESN garnered a 5.2 HH rating for a game against the Islanders.  NESN’s season average is now a 3.9 HH rating, which is up 46% over last year after the same number of games.

The Felger and Massarotti show on 98.5 The SportsHub began their simulcast on Comcast SportsNet New England this week. Some early thoughts/observations on the show - the studio is nice, though it seems a little "cold," the sweatervests worn by the hosts are very hip, Felger loves to throw his arms all over the place when making a point, and Massarotti's eyes appear ready to burst from their sockets every time he starts ranting. Good stuff.

In the "Strange timing" department, WEEI's Dennis and Callahan unveiled their new set for their simulcast on NESN this week. It's a little more sports-oriented, with photos of athletes and venues.

There have been more than the usual amount of potshots between the stations since the Penn State scandal broke. With WEEI devoting most of their hours to the topic, they evidently feel they have the moral high ground and seem hell-bent on proving that they are more against the sexual assault of children than anyone else is. They've sent barbs in the direction of 98.5, which has addressed the topic, but has actually woven in entire segments of sports talk, as well. Dennis and Callahan could be heard making comments about how hosts at other stations have certainly not read the jury report of the case, and Glenn Ordway took more than a few shots at Andy Gresh during the week.

Then there was Big Show producer Andy, who referred to 98.5 Afternoon sports update guy Marc Bertrand as "the white precious."

You kids play nice now. 

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