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Hometown Cable Companies Set To Party Hard in Super Bowl City

Hometown Cable Companies Set To Party Hard in Super Bowl City 1/27/2013 7:00 PM Eastern

Fans of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will descend upon New Orleans for this Sunday’s (Feb. 3) Super Bowl XLVII.

And in the week prior to the game, talent and crews from a pair of Comcast SportsNet services will have arrived, as well. CSN Mid-Atlantic and CSN Bay Area have kept tabs on the squads throughout the National Football League season, seeing as the two teams are based in Comcast Cable markets.

Comcast SportsNet will produce more than 73 hours of coverage focused on the Ravens and Niners all week leading up to the Super Bowl, most of it from the Big Easy. Daily programming, including SportsNet Central, Sports TalkLive and CSN Bay Area’s Chronicle Live, will focus on the title tilt and originate from New Orleans.

Throughout the week, each network will air a daily show — Ravens Showdown on the Bayou on CSN Mid-Atlantic and 49ers Central on CSN Bay Area — live from New Orleans with the latest updates, preparations and strategies.

CSN Bay Area will also produce a one-hour Ninersfocused special edition of Xfinity Sports Sunday for local NBC station KNTV (which brands itself as NBC Bay Area), as well as numerous daily live segments for NBC Bay Area’s sports coverage throughout the week.

More than 60 members of the networks’ technical staff and on-air talent, including Super Bowl champions Brian Mitchell, Brad Jackson, Bill Romanowski and Dennis Brown, will be working on the ground in ’Nawlins.

Like smart coaches, the RSNs are ready for last-minute changes to the game plan, as there is a possibility of a joint Mid-Atlantic/Bay Area show that will premiere on Friday (Feb. 1) and air through the weekend. The show will be made available to all other CSN markets.

Of course, one of the RSNs will get to showcase championship coverage, reaction and parade programming. The other will chronicle more subdued and disappointing moments.

The hometown cable operator, Cox Communications, is upping its technological and programming game for the championship, too. Cox this month launched CBS Sports Network, which is presenting more than 50 hours of programming from Jackson Square and the Superdome, in HD.

Cox also has upgraded its distribution network within the venue to transmit better HD signals. Cox will provide video and Internet circuitry for NFL Network, CBS and ESPN in the Superdome and other Crescent City locales.

Cox Sports Television also will be busy, presenting a number of Super Bowl-themed shows, including CST Tonight, its live Saturday-night studio show, on Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. (CT).

‘Fuse News’ Now Ready For Primetime Launch After Overhaul: Execs

Fuse, having fine-tuned its planned daily music series Fuse News with help from a well-known consultant, is now ready to add the show to its schedule.

Former CNN president Rick Kaplan was brought in to oversee the launch, slated for primetime on Feb. 6, five months after it was initially slated to premiere as a daily afternoon show on the MSG Networks outlet.

Fuse president Mike Bair said he pulled the plug on the first version of Fuse News — which he described at the time as “SportsCenter meets E! News for music” — after the network’s online music news division suggested viewers wanted strong, well-reported news about the music industry and not short, gossipy items about performers or bands.

“I thought there was a much richer opportunity to do a show like this that would be deeper, more thoughtful and mature, and that would have a greater degree of reporting and writing than we had previously planned,” Bair said.

The hosts are music and fashion personality Alexa Chung and former Entertainment Tonight contributor Matte Babel. They replace the four-host strategy under the show’s previous iteration.

Two of the originally planned hosts — reality-series star Jack Osbourne and former Gawker writer Elaine Moran — are now senior contributing correspondents. Ashanti, the singer and actress, departed the show altogether.

Former NBCUniversal talent producer Liz Walaszczyk rounds out the senior contributing correspondent lineup.

“Our two anchors [allow us] to keep the show manageable,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan said Fuse News would bear no resemblance to quick-hitting, often gossip-driven shows like E! News. Topics will include ticket scalping by performers, improving live-gate results, copy infringement, the exploits of an upstart band and the best consumer music headsets, he said.

“It’s a news program where you will get a healthy dose of the day’s news,” he said. “It will have a mix of topical and indepth programming.”

Added Bair: “We want to be the voice of the music industry.”

The series launches Feb. 6 (8-8:30 p.m.) with three shows dedicated to the Feb. 10 Grammy Awards, Fuse officials said.

—R. Thomas Umstead

Cable Marketing Guy Seeks ‘Freaks’ Online With Search Startup

What’s freakier than cable TV? The Internet, of course.

Edgar Villalpando left his post as head of marketing for interactive TV vendor ActiveVideo Networks last year to form Zowwi, a startup developing what he describes as a search tool that will cull info from “millions of passionate ‘freaks’ living on the Web.”

“I saw an opportunity to reduce the noiseto- signal ratio of information on the Web,” said Villalpando, who previously also worked in marketing for HBO and DirecTV.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Zowwi (zowwi.com) plans to launch in private beta in the first quarter, Villalpando said. He declined to reveal the privately- funded startup’s backers, and said Zowwi will announce partners at launch.

To Villalpando — who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UCLA — tapping into the wellspring of “pre-curated” knowledge from the Internet’s subject-matter experts will make Zowwi stand out from the crowd.

“Everyone’s a freak about something,” he said. “And the information you collect around your passion is more valuable than what’s available on the Web.”

Zowwi will need some especially special sauce to vie with the likes of Internet heavyweights Google and Facebook, which are looking to better merge social and search.

But in any event, it seems as if Villalpando is having fun. Zowwi’s site last week listed “Bjorn Yester” as “VP of product” among its management team — which was just a joke, Villalpando explained a bit apologetically.

Just what we’d expect from a group of freakseekers.

—Todd Spangler

September