A press conference to announce all the details will be coming up within the next few weeks, but on Tuesday night the Easton Area School District board of directors approved a proposal that would give Service Electric exclusive rights to televise the Red Rovers' annual Thanksgiving Day game with Phillipsburg, but only on a tape-delay basis.
For more than a decade, the game had been televised live and made available on both Service Electric and RCN by the Sports Traditions Network on WBPH-Channel 60.
For a long time, the Easton-P'burg game, one of the great traditions in Lehigh Valley sports, had been the one event unaffected by live TV coverage and attendance remained strong with close to 15,000 fans showing up on Turkey Day morning.
However, Easton athletic director Jim Pokrivsak said that the game wasn't sold out last year.
"Approximately 900 seats were available last year," he said. "Now, we sell a lot of standing-room tickets at Easton, which means that the actual total of unsold tickets was probably not 900. But at 900 tickets at 10 dollars each, that's a significant amount lost..
"No offense to anyone, but you have local businesses that open up early in the morning and football fans stay all day long eating and drinking and watching the game on TV. And if they don't go to restaurants they go big house parties where everybody gathers to watch. We got very little from the TV company to make up for that difference in lost revenue."
The deal with Service Electric would entail a $2,500 donation made by Service Electric and also a guarantee of 500 commercials to promote the game as well as plenty of pregame coverage on SECTV's "Sports Scene" show.
Service Electric would provide the in-house video on the Fisher Stadium scoreboard and also agree not to interrupt the game for commercial breaks. TV2 would also provide complete coverage of the pregame festivities as well as the performances by the bands at halftime.
In return, Service Electric would get a full page ad in the game program as well as well 30 tickets that could be used as giveaways to promote the event and four mentions over the PA system to announce the time of the tape-delay broadcasts.
Pokrivsak said that there will be a pay-per-view capability for people to see the game over the Internet, which means RCN subscribers wouldn't be totally shut out, nor would alums scattered across the country.
Details are still being ironed out, but as someone who grew up around here when attendance was much better across the board and tape-delayed high school broadcasts were the norm, I can't blame Easton and Phillipsburg for going this route to protect one of the true treasures on the local sports calendar.
NASCAR's move to NBC could give series traction
The real value for NASCAR in hooking up with NBC for the final 20 Sprint Cup races and last 19 Nationwide Series races each season starting in 2015 is that NASCAR is going to a network that needs NASCAR as much as NASCAR needs it.
The new deal announced on Tuesday puts seven late-season Sprint Cup races on NBC and 13 on its sister station, the programming-starved NBC Sports Network (one will likely be the August race at Pocono).
If, as anticipated, NBC puts its seven races on during the NFL season, NASCAR will suddenly be linked to the No. 1 franchise in all of television, NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
The fall is where NASCAR seems to lose its way thanks to the vastness of the NFL.
So, being on the same network that has the best NFL games, and probably having its races lead into the NBC pregame show and Al and Cris, has to be a plus for NASCAR.