RSN Surcharge On The Horizon For Verizon FiOS Subscribers – And Then Some

 

 

 

 

 

 

ESPN's Jon Gruden illustrates just how much bigger your cable or satellite bill is going to get with the rise of national and regional sports networks, and their accompanying rates.

ESPN’s Jon Gruden illustrates just how much bigger your cable or satellite bill is going to get with the rise of national and regional sports networks, and their accompanying rates.

It’s a given with ESPN’s per-household subscriber fee clocking in at a whopping $5.13 per, that live sports programming comes at the expense of the cable customer.

And that price only gets higher as the number of sports networks – regionally and nationally – expands.

So it came as no surprise last year that DirecTV started imposing a “regional sports fee” on its subscribers. The satellite provider admits that the fee, which is anywhere between $2.00 and $4.00 (and could actually grow higher at some point) was created in “an effort to manage rising programming costs,” yet it only affects new customers “in select zip codes” where DirecTV is obligated to deliver signals of “multiple sports networks” in their packages.

Now, it looks like cable operators have taken notice of DirecTV’s plan and are following suit.

Verizon has announced that some subscribers to its FiOS fiber optic cable service will begin seeing an RSN fee on their bills as soon as next month, and no later than the spring.

“Verizon has chosen a fee of $2.42 per month to address the skyrocketing incremental sports content costs associated with this popular programming,” confirms Verizon spokeswoman Heather Wilner, adding that they were in favor of this option, as opposed to “increased TV package charges” across the board.

At the same time, Verizon FiOS has created a new package, “Select HD,” for customers that could care less about live sports programming to begin with (or, if you prefer, an opportunity for cash-strapped families to have just a little of the “cable household” experience). The new channel lineup, at just $50 per month, has its pros and cons: You get CNN and MSNBC, but not Fox News. You get Centric, but not Comedy Central. You get the collection of “Music Choice” digital music channels, but not MTV (which these days, is a misnomer on MTV’s part).

Interestingly, Fox’s FX network is also included in this new non-sports-oriented “Select HD” package. FX has been known to carry a sporting event or two, but with the new Fox Sports 1 due to launch this summer, any sports broadcasts that may have aired on FX could easily end up on Fox Sports 1. Incidentally, Fox recently announced that Fox Soccer Channel, which hypothetically could have been relaunched as Fox Sports 3, will actually be rebranded FXX, gearing a younger demographic than the FX channel.

Getting back to the business at hand – the business of sports – how long will it be until Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, and the other cable operators begin conjuring up “regional sports taxes” for their subscribers? Especially now that Time Warner has heavily invested in rights fees for two popular Los Angeles sports franchises – the Lakers and the Dodgers – that will serve as the backbones of two new regional sports networks in Southern California? Los Angeles TWC subscribers will probably be the first ones to see some sort of RSN fees tacked onto their bills. New York City-area Time Warner Cable subscribers, who at this time last year were missing out on “Linsanity” as they had been engaged in an impasse with MSG Network, owned by TWC rival Cablevision, will also likely be hit with an RSN surcharge: the New York City area has four major regionals: YES Network (partly owned by the New York Yankees); SNY (partly owned by the Mets); MSG and MSG Plus (the latter of which was previously known as Fox Sports Net/FSN New York.

And what about Cablevision, who held out for the longest time (though about a month short of Time Warner Cable) in agreeing to carry NFL Network, since they did not see much value in a network that broadcasts only a handful of NFL contests every year? As long as they’re obligated to carry regional sports networks on many of their systems, you can bet they’ll also whip up an RSN surcharge. as well.

As for Verizon FiOS, the just-shy-of-$2.50 RSN fee will first apply to customers in three of the largest states, California, Florida and Texas, starting in February; Maryland and Virginia subscribers who opt to receive regional sports networks in their packages will start being imposed with the fee in April; all other FiOS customers, including those in New York City, will get hit with the surcharges in March.

If you’re a cable subscriber, it makes no sense complaining about these regional sports network surcharges, as long as regional sports networks exist. Ditto for national sports networks like ESPN, CBS Sports Network, NBC Sports Network and the soon-to-be-launched Fox Sports 1.

For as long as live sports demands high viewership and commands top dollar among cable outlets, such surcharges from cable and satellite providers are going to be the norm.

UPDATE, 2.21.12: It has begun. Cablevision has become the first traditional cable company (Verizon’s FiOS service is fiber-optic borne) that will impose what they officially call a “Sports Programming Surcharge,” which will be just shy of $3.00 per month, effective in April. “The rising cost of programming has resulted in this sports surcharge, which is similar to those introduced by other TV providers,” said a Cablevision higher-up in a press release. This will only affect customers who subscribe to Cablevision’s Family or Value packages.

Of course, for many years, Cablevision owned a regional sports network, MSG Network, until they spun off their interest in Madison Square Garden in late 2009.

MSG Flushes Video Of Prince Amukamara's Scatological "Pregame Ritual"

Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara provided a colorful answer to a question that MSG Network’s Jill Martin asked at halftime of a Knicks broadcast. But why did they yank video of the interview from their website?

The folks at MSG have proven to be a royal pain.

The MSG Network carries Knicks games. And many famous people have been known to take in Knicks games. And when famous people are spotted at a Knicks game, MSG might send their ace entertainment reporter Jill Martin after you as part of her “A New York Minute With Jill Martin” series.

Martin has talked up everybody from Magic Johnson to Kate Upton. She’s even chatted with members of the New York Giants, like wide receiver Victor Cruz, at Knicks games. (She’s even talked to fellow Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks on the night the Giants won their most recent Super Bowl.)

This past Friday night, Martin spoke to another New York Giants player, cornerback Prince Amukamara, for a good minute. She prefaced her questions with a disclaimer that she got the questions from MSG viewers via Twitter. And sometimes when you invoke social media for feedback, it might be asking for trouble – but obviously, they’ll screen the best questions to cram into sixty seconds.

The ones they selected, all football-related, appear to be harmless. Such as the first question: “Who is the toughest wide receiver to defend?” His answer was DeSean Jackson of the rival Philadelphia Eagles.

Martin then asked Amukamara to explain his pregame ritual, and teased it with, “I heard it was an interesting one.”

Remember, the question was fielded from Twitter – and the answer is straight from Amukamara, and not from Twitter.

“Well, I used to have a ritual where I would go number two before every game, but that stopped working for me, so I discontinued that.”

“Whatever you’re doing now seems to be working,” Martin replied to Amukamara, who’s already doubled his pass deflection total and tripled his all-purpose tackle total from an injury-shortened rookie season in 2011.

Before you know it, thanks to Amukamara’s priceless answer, the interview would start to go viral. It was uploaded to MSG.com. Larry Brown Sports embedded it. Arizona Sports (Amukamara is a native of Glendale, AZ) also embedded it. It might have been the most watched segment in “A New York Minute With Jill Martin” history.

But then at some point on Saturday, management at MSG decided to really crap the bed.

For unexplained reasons, they removed the video from their website. All that exists now is a YouTube video that was shot by holding a cell phone up to the television.

Remember, this is the same MSG Network that decided that it would be a good idea to start a print ad campaign promoting the Knicks games they would be airing in November – including the one from which that very interview with Amukamara emanated – with one ad encouraging potential viewers to pass on picking up “sixes and sevens” at the local watering hole, and watch Jason Kidd “dish out dimes.”

And it’s not like nobody knew what Amukamara would say when pressed to elaborate on his “pregame ritual.” Martin herself acknowledged it would be juicy when she said she “heard it was an interesting one.”

There’s one of two things that could have possibly happened here: the Giants organization might have gotten wind of Amukamara’s now-defunct “pregame ritual” and, concerned about bad publicity, asked MSG to remove the video from their website; you may recall just this past August that Amukamara was the subject of a video in which he was thrown into a tub of ice water by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul – a video whose content Giants head coach Tom Coughlin deemed “inappropriate.”

Or, just as in the case of their brilliant “sixes and sevens” ad campaign, the geniuses at MSG realized they greenlighted something they shouldn’t have after the fact – an otherwise harmless question, but knowing the answer would be scatological in nature beforehand – and dumped it.

It’s Friday night. You can watch the Knicks play a shitty Wizards team, or, if you’re a celebrity, you can go on the air and top it.

MSG Network Deep-Sixes Suggestive Knicks Ads

Recently erected ads for MSG Network’s Friday night Knicks programming in November (like this one) are already coming down after one week, amid complaints that the wording in them was out of bounds.

The late Jermaine Stewart once said, “We don’t have to take our clothes off/To have a good time, oh, no.”

In a recently-unveiled campaign promoting the fact that the New York Knicks have games scheduled on Fridays for the entire month of November (three at home, two on the road), the Knicks’ broadcast home, MSG Network, was hoping to deliver the same philosophy, in perhaps the most questionable way possible.

One of the ads shows three Knicks players, including recent offseason acquisition Jason Kidd, with the following text behind them: “It’s Friday night. You can either go out and attempt to pick up sixes and sevens, or stay home and watch Kidd dish out dimes.”

Now, some of you might require looking up “sixes and sevens” in your Funk and Wagnall’s, while others go directly to Urban Dictionary – but alas, the definition of the term as it’s used in this instance is not listed there, so I’ll spell it out for you: You can head to the watering hole and seek a one-night stand with a reasonable-looking lady, or watch a basketball team led by a player with a history of domestic abuse and cheating on his wife (and who most recently picked up a DUI this past summer).

Hmm, tough choice. Is there an option to dance and party all night and drink some cherry wine?

Anyway, this ad was first brought to the world’s attention by ESPN’s Darren Rovell. And say what you want about his taste of women, but he really got the ball rolling with the outrage against the “sixes and sevens” promotion. Because not long after he (or one of his ESPN colleagues) contacted MSG directly about the poor-taste poster, MSG confirmed that they would be doing away with the entire Friday night Knicks campaign altogether.

Yes, there’s a few more where that “sixes and sevens” gem came from. For example: “It’s Friday night. You can either see a Broadway harness malfunction, or you can watch real men fly.”

That ad takes a crack at a series of accidents that took place in late 2010 during the “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark” show.

Sounds more like an invite to see a live Dennis Miller concert at the Garden. “Broadway harness malfunction.” Really?

New York City residents and visitors may have noticed MSG Network’s splashy ads with white and orange (or blue, depending on the team) font, bearing usually edgy messages, which can be found outside phone booths, atop taxicabs, or inside subways. Consider this selection from their previous “MSG Network is the home of the (insert team name here) the way (insert New York City location here) is the home of (insert snark here)” campaign.

And of course, there’s the “Boomer and Carton” promo campaign, which is on a completely different reservation. It regularly jabs teams outside of New York or fans of them, especially Philadelphia or Boston. Lest we forget the one that advised straphangers to “always offer your seat to a pregnant woman… unless she’s wearing a Red Sox hat.”

Getting back to the “It’s Friday night” ad that led to the campaign’s abrupt demise, the one persuading their target demographic to spend Friday nights in November (a sweeps month, mind you) watching Knicks games, and worry about getting laid on one of the other six nights of the week: This is the same Madison Square Garden that had its own sexual harassment lawsuit woes several years ago.

Does the name Anucha Brown Sanders ring a bell?

Hey, if MSG really wanted to push the envelope, they’d point out that one of the Friday night Knicks games this November (in Memphis) starts at 9:30 PM local time, and market that to the “minute men,” if you will.

With Jeremy Lin now on the Houston Rockets’ roster (and think about this: do you think Lin would stand for MSG Network posting an ad like that, regardless of whether or not he was actually in it?), the Garden – and that includes MSG Network – needs all of the good publicity it can get (yes, they managed to somehow screw that up in the Linsanity era).

Catering to the lowest denominator with suggestively graphic taglines meant to be funny just piles on a mountain of negative press that’s taller than Raymond Felton.

Come on, MSG. Won’t you show some class?

How Hurricane Sandy Affected Sports Radio

WFAN’s Boomer Esiason was able to broadcast from his Manhattan studio with Craig Carton, despite inclement weather from Hurricane Sandy. However, there was no television simulcast with MSG Network. Other sports radio broadcasts were hampered as a result of this majestic storm.

On October 29, Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast. It would later be given “superstorm” status, as it became a “post-tropical cyclone.”

As a result, millions of residents are without power, and it could take days – maybe weeks – for subway systems to return to normal.

And through it all, it was up to sports radio to maintain a sense of normalcy.

Of course, news and information were available on many television and radio stations, to those that who were still able to receive them.

But for those that wanted to talk about the Jets’ loss or the Giants’ near-loss, or hear the Monday Night Football game, that was feasible, as well.

Let’s start with the New York market. On Monday, WFAN’s “Boomer and Carton” were doing their show live from Manhattan, but with no television simulcast on MSG Network. At 10 AM, their regular midday duo of Evan Roberts and Joe Benigno did their show – albeit with Roberts in the WFAN studio and Benigno via telephone. Carl Banks, WFAN’s New York Giants play-by-play radio announcer, was also able to do his regular Monday appearance in the station’s studio, located at 345 Hudson Street in downtown Manhattan, where WFAN has been operating out of for three years and counting. At 1 PM, Mike Francesa was still doing his top-rated late midday/afternoon drive show, by way of an ISDN line from his home in an undisclosed county of Long Island. It was during that broadcast that he announced that the FM simulcast of WFAN on 101.9 would commence on Friday. However, like the morning show on WFAN, Francesa’s program was not simulcast on YES Network. By the evening, WFAN, with the “Monday Night Football” broadcast of the San Francisco 49ers/Arizona Cardinals game, was simulcasting on WXRK 92.3 FM, as WFAN’s transmitter is located on High Island in The Bronx, which was in danger of being wiped out due to high rising waters; likewise, all-news WCBS-AM 880, also transmitting from High Island, was simulcasting on WWFS/102.7 FM.

But by Tuesday morning, it was another all-news station in the CBS Radio family, 1010 WINS, that was broadcasting solely on 92.3 FM, as WINS’ transmitting facilities in Lyndhurst, NJ were done in by Sandy. WINS was actually broadcasting on WCBS-FM 101.1 on Monday night; as of this morning, WCBS-FM and WWFS have returned to regular music programming, and WCBS-AM and WFAN are maintaining regular spoken word programming on their respective AM signals. And as of Tuesday, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton were once again on the air, albeit sans an MSG simulcast for the second day in a row; and after “Boomer and Carton,” it was not “Joe and Evan,” but rather Richard Neer, who regularly does his weekend WFAN broadcasts via ISDN from his home in North Carolina. Neer stressed to listeners that, while he is “desperate for phone calls,” he wanted those with limited or no power to refrain from calling WFAN.

As for the other sports radio station in New York, WEPN/”ESPN Radio 98.7″? They, along with their previous home on the radio dial, AM 1050, now known as “ESPN Deportes,” were both simulcasting audio from co-owned television station WABC-TV/Channel 7, the ABC network’s flagship owned-and-operated station, starting Monday; they continue to do so on Tuesday.

Sandy also battered New Jersey pretty badly – not just the northern part of the state, where Lyndhurst is located, but southern New Jersey, as well. Atlantic City’s sports radio station, “ESPN 97.3,” suspended sports talk on Monday, carrying live, local storm coverage along with sister stations “1450 WPG” and “SoJo 104.9.”

Meanwhile, Connecticut was another state in the Northeast that was hit hard by Sandy. As a result, the syndicated “Dan Patrick Show”, which was broadcasting as normal on Monday (he even dropped an S-bomb during a “live look-in” segment of the TV broadcast), went on as scheduled on Tuesday, but with Pro Football Talk founder and personality Mike Florio subbing for Patrick from his West Virginia home. Incidentally, the television broadcast of “Dan Patrick,” which had ended abruptly on Fox Sports Net, will continue as anticipated on NBC Sports Network as of Monday, November 5; until then, the television simulcast continues exclusively on DirecTV Channel 101. And so, they lean on someone from the NBCSN family to fill in for Dan.

And in the Washington, D.C. area, WJFK-AM/”106.7 The Fan”, along with three other sister FM stations, was simulcasting CBS Radio’s 99.1 WNEW-FM’s all-news programming, from Monday evening until Tuesday morning.

Are there any other sports broadcasting situations that were altered due to Hurricane Sandy? Let us know and we’ll update our post accordingly.

Requiem For Linsanity

With reports surfacing that Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin could be joining the Houston Rockets, it means that he'll more than likely take "Linsanity" with him. Which means no more Lin puns, and most importantly, no more ignorant comments or headlines referring to his ethnicity.

Jeremy Lin, the sports media hardly knew ye.

For it was only February, when injuries to the Knicks team enabled you to display your basketball talent and spark the phenomenon known as Linsanity. And the sports media took notice.

Unfortunately, at the same time, a few individuals within the sports media couldn’t quite understand Linsanity for what it was.

Like Jason Whitlock.

You remember when, after that victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in which you scored a career-high 38 points in a game, the Fox Sports columnist tweeted that “some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight?”

Or the fine folks at Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, who retracted one of the original ingredients in their “Linsanity” flavor – fortune cookie pieces?

Maybe the MSG Network cameraman who thought it was a good idea to show a fan sign superimposing your face over a fortune cookie at a Knicks game might owe you an apology?

And, of course, there’s ESPN. You remember, Jeremy, how after your first loss as a Knicks starter, multiple instances of the phrase “chink in the armor” began emanating from the Worldwide Leader’s many platforms? And a couple of ESPN employees in Anthony Federico, Spero Dedes – Knicks play-by-play man on New York’s ESPN Radio – and Max Bretos, who paid for their use of the phrase in regards to you with their jobs (or in the latter’s case, a good chunk of it)?

Of course you remember, Jeremy. “They’ve apologized and so from my end, I don’t care anymore. You have to learn to forgive, and I don’t even think that was intentional.” That was what you said in response to ESPN’s mishandling of Linsanity.

And now comes word that you’re leaving the Big Apple for the team that waived you right before the start of the previous strike-shortened, Linsanity-stricken season, the Houston Rockets.

And you know what? I don’t blame you.

I don’t think you’re hightailing it to Houston for the money (i.e. an offer sheet of $25 million over three years, with most of it in the final year, that the Knicks are not expected to match).

No, I think your decision to leave New York was made easier due to a few bad apples in the sports media, particularly ESPN.

See, Houston – or even Oakland, for that matter – is a smaller media market than New York. Hence, ESPN probably won’t be as captivated by Linsanity on the Houston Rockets as it used to be on the New York Knicks. So if you were to score 39 points or higher in a game for Houston, it’ll now be confined to a mere honorable mention on “SportsCenter,” as opposed to the previous fawning over your presence on the program during your Knicks tenure.

In other words, while you’ll continue your storied basketball career and keep writing new chapters for your amazing story, as long as you’re not in a Knicks, Lakers, Heat or Bulls uniform, you’re more or less off the radar.

But the good news is, there will be no more negative vibes coming out of the sports media to worry about.

Yes, Jeremy, I realize that the Asian-American Journalists Association created a list of “danger zones” for journalists to avoid in the wake of the “chink in the armor” episodes at ESPN and others. But it should have never come to that. Because a few individuals neglected to use common sense when reporting, discussing or tweeting about you, that put a damper on Linsanity far before your season-ending injury with roughly a quarter of the regular season remaining.

I understand why you’re leaving, Jeremy. But don’t take it personal, okay?

Meanwhile, there’s still a chance the Knicks might equal that offer sheet from the Rockets (all James Dolan has to do is crank up Cablevision subscribers’ bills a little bit – which would be similar to how Time Warner Cable agreed to crank up their own subscribers’ bills to keep MSG Network on the air at the height of Linsanity).

If you remain a member of the Knicks, Jeremy, Linsanity will live on.

But if you indeed end up heading for Houston, then Linsanity, as we know it, is dead.

Sure, you’ll be in a market where the worst offense in the local sports media is plagiarism – but most importantly, you’ll no longer need to answer to the Jason Whitlocks and the Anthony Federicos of the sports media.

I guess that was your plan all along.

The Lin giveth, the Lin taketh away.

Michelle Beadle On "Boomer And Carton": I "Don't Know" Erin Andrews, "Never Spoken With Her"

New NBC employee Michelle Beadle joined "The Boomer & Carton Show" on Friday morning to discuss her future with NBC Sports Network, as well as some of her past at ESPN - including a rumored fling with a Packers player that she has debunked.

In one of her first television interviews since her official departure from ESPN on June 1, Michelle Beadle, now on NBC Universal’s payroll, sat down with Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on WFAN/MSG Network on Friday morning.

“I’m excited I get to come do this show,” Beadle exclaimed.

“Two weeks ago, you would not have,” said Esiason, alluding to the fact that ESPN’s mandate prohibited Beadle from appearing on any sports radio stations other than those affiliated with the Worldwide Leader.

Boomer then zinged a couple of Beadle’s former colleagues. “I’m surprised you actually wanted to stay in sports broadcasting after working with Michael Kay and Colin Cowherd.”

Beadle responded with a resounding “wow,” before admitting both Kay and Cowherd are “good tweeks” and “for me, they were always good.”

Later, Beadle shared a bit of advice for potential sports personalities: “It seems like, in this business, if they hate you, you’re actually better off.”

Carton lated opined that Cowherd, Beadle’s former “SportsNation” host, is “good at what he does,” before eventually saying that the “SportsNation” format “got old.” (As was reported two weeks ago, ESPN will likely replace Cowherd as “SportsNation” host next year, as he gets his own new show.)

One of the topics of discussion was her alleged exploits at an ESPY Awards party in Los Angeles last year, specifically, shacking up with Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, and subsequently drunkenly telling the team’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “I just wanna get f***ed”.

Or as Carton brought it up, “The video came out after the ESPY’s, and they said, oh, Michelle Beadle is hooking up with A.J. Hawk or whoever it is…”

When Carton asked if Beadle hooked up with any Packers players, she responded with a resounding “no,” before adding: “Because somebody decided to say something to the Internet, I looked like I was — it’s ridiculous.”

Esiason also relayed a question from a viewer/listener/ESPN fan: Is there a feud between you and Erin Andrews?

“I don’t know her, and I’ve never spoken with her,” Beadle replied.

(She also took the same stance on Keith Thibault’s “Sports Media Weekly” podcast a few weeks ago.)

Esiason then wondered, “Why is there a perception?” Carton then jumped in with the theory that Andrews is “a jealous woman.” Naturally, Beadle bubblingly declined to comment on that facet of the subject.

And Jenn Sterger, who once proclaimed that Beadle is “not quite as hot as me,” even came up in conversation. “That was fun,” giggled Beadle. “How is she doing?” Carton: “She’s bowling for cash.”

As for her immediate sports media future, Beadle confirmed that she starts on “Access Hollywood” on June 18, and after assisting with the NBC family of networks’ coverage of the London Olympics in the summer, she also confirmed that she will host “a new show in the fall” on NBC Sports Network.

Beadle promised that, as an “Access Hollywood” correspondent, she “will not be nice to” the Kardashians.

Let’s just say that she’ll be as nice to Kim, Khloe & Co. as Boomer is to Colin Cowherd and Michael Kay.

Click here to view the entire segment with Beadle on “Boomer & Carton” via MSG Network’s website.

15 Years After: The Marv Albert Arrest

It was fifteen years ago today, May 27, that sports broadcaster Marv Albert was arraigned on sexual assault charges. This post chronicles his comeback since his firing from NBC upon pleading guilty to assault charges (the sodomy charge, a felony, was dropped as a result of the plea deal).

May 27, 1997. A day that would greatly impact Marv Albert’s broadcasting career.

Fifteen years later, it’s as if Marv Albert never missed a beat.

It was fifteen years ago today that Albert was arrested amid allegations that he had bitten a female acquaintance on the back several times, allegations of which he initially pleaded not guilty on this day in 1997. He was officially indicted for charges of forcible sodomy, as well as assault, on May 19 of that year.

The charges stemmed from a tryst with Vanessa Perhach, whom Albert had known for ten years, and who had maintained a friendship of a mostly sexual nature, on the night of February 11, 1997. Perhach accused Albert that night of throwing her on a bed in a Virginia hotel room, sodomizing her, and biting her on the back up to 15 times, among other allegations. DNA tests would eventually link Albert not only to a bite mark on Perhach’s back, but semen collected from her skin and underwear. Yet the trial would commence on September 22 of that year.

Albert, who never testified during his trial, would eventually admit at his sentencing hearing that their sexual activities were “consensual” and that biting was a “normal” procedure. “I didn’t realize until her testimony that she felt she was harmed by it,” Albert said in court. “For that, I am sorry.”

There is a theory that the motive for Perhach to even pursue the criminal lawsuit against Albert in the first place was because after a decade of carnal collaborations, he decided that he was going to settle down with Heather Faulkiner, a producer at ESPN, and that didn’t sit well with Perhach.

Following jaw-dropping – or, if you prefer, hair-raising – testimony from a surprise witness, Hyatt Hotels concierge Patricia Masten, who recalled a night in Dallas in 1994, in which she saw Albert dressed in women’s underwear, and an awkward moment that came about when she rejected his biting advances (“I went to grab his hair, and his hair lifted off”), Albert decided to enter a plea agreement and end the trial after four days. “I just felt I needed to end this ordeal,” he said afterward outside the courthouse.

The sodomy charge, a felony, which could have possibly led to life in prison for Albert had a jury found him guilty, was dropped. But not before Albert pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor assault and battery charges.

Albert’s guilty plea led to his subsequent firing by NBC, ending a twenty-year relationship with the network, in which he called not only NBA games, but NFL and Major League Baseball games, as well as college basketball contests and NHL All-Star Games. Albert also ended up resigning from his duties at MSG Network, terminating an even longer business relationship with Madison Square Garden dating back to 1966, when he became the radio play-by-play voice of the New York Rangers.

Though he faced punishments of a year in jail and a fine of $2,500, the judge in the trial said that Albert can deter a prison term, so long as he maintains counseling and stays out of trouble.

And so, for the next eleven months, Marv Albert would not only stay out of trouble, but out of the limelight. It helped that his good friend-turned-plaintiff, Vanessa Perhach, never filed a civil lawsuit, which was speculated as a possibility, but never materialized. In fact, it’s as if she dropped off the face of the earth. I’ll admit I’ve had no luck in attempting to reach her for a comment on this post – though in fairness, I would certainly understand if she chose not to.

The road back to broadcasting for Marv Albert began September 14, 1998 – five days after he tied the knot with his fiancee, Heather Faulkiner, and just two weeks shy of a year since his simultaneous firing from NBC and his resignation at MSG Network. It was on this day that Albert resumed work for MSG, serving as anchor for “SportsDesk,” the network’s local version of “SportsCenter.” It was the first time he’s worked solo since his days as sports director at NBC’s flagship station in New York City, WNBC-TV, a post which he’d serve for thirteen years starting in 1975.

But before long, Albert would once again be calling Knicks games alongside John Andariese – just like they used to, starting in the early 1970’s. Though rather than calling plays on MSG television, Albert would be delivering game action on the Knicks radio network, which is operated by MSG. (It was at this point that Hall of Fame Knick Walt “Clyde” Frazier, a man of many words and just as many suits, had transitioned from the radio side to television.)

Albert’s first day back in the booth was February 7, 1999, calling the Knicks/Heat contest from Madison Square Garden. It was the Knicks’ home opener in a lockout-shortened season. (The Knicks would make the playoffs as the eighth seed and go all the way to the NBA Finals, losing to the San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, the Spurs appear quite dominant in this current lockout-shortened season… deja vu?)

Roughly one week after Albert started his new chapter in play-by-play, Turner Sports added him to their payroll to call NBA games on TNT. What started as a half-dozen game assignment on TNT in April 1999 would expand to 25 the following season.

At the time of his hiring by Turner Sports, Albert was quoted as saying, “I’m so happy with this situation. I don’t know what’s in store down the road.”

Clearly, he didn’t. NBC, the network that severed ties with Albert in the wake of his guilty plea to assault, announced that they would be rehiring him, just twenty-one months after firing him, a task that then-NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said the network “had to do” at the time. “But Marv did what he had to do in the interim,” Ebersol explained to the New York Daily News’ Bob Raissman in 1999. “He worked hard dealing with all aspects of his life.”

The fact that Albert, who for years had been the No. 1 NBA play-by-play man at NBC, was rejoining the network as their No. 3 guy did not make any difference to him. “I’m just happy to be back. The No. 1 announcer thing is not even a factor.”

It was to Bob Costas. The NBC veteran, who was thrust into the lead NBA play-by-play role by the network after axing Albert, decided that he would give up calling NBA games on NBC, in order to concentrate on a new HBO series, “On The Record With Bob Costas” – thus once again making Albert the network’s de facto No. 1 play-by-play voice. Admitting he could have easily balanced his “NBA on NBC” and HBO jobs, he chose to step away from the game of basketball because “it was time for Marv to come back.

“There’s a difference between doing something well and someone so closely identified with basketball as Marv is.”

Other than his Turner Sports employment, there would be no difference between his workload before the sexual assault charges in 1997 and after, as MSG Network would return Albert to the television side of Knicks broadcasts after working two years of Knicks games on radio.

Though he was not finished with radio at that point. In 2002, he signed on as the play-by-play announcer for the radio broadcasts of “Monday Night Football” on Westwood One Radio (now known as Dial Global Radio). Once again, he would be regularly broadcasting games for two different sports, just as he was for NBC up until 1997.

2002 would also serve as the final year that NBC would air NBA games. It was that year that ABC became the league’s new broadcast partner, a relationship that still exists today (though mostly made possible by ABC corporate brother ESPN). It would again mark the end of Albert’s tenure at NBC, albeit with far less fanfare than his ouster in September 1997.

2002 was also the year he and his TNT boothmate Mike Fratello were injured in a horrific accident, when the driver of the limousine they were sleeping in had made contact with a Dunkin’ Donuts truck on I-295 near Trenton. And it couldn’t have happened at a worse time: the NBA playoffs were due to start in hours. Recovering from his injuries from the accident, Albert returned to action calling a Western Conference Semifinials game; subbing for him during the quarterfinal round assignments was his old friend, Bob Costas.

While the auto accident hardly rattled him, Albert had become personally rattled by the seemingly inept play of the New York Knicks. The 2003-04 season, which saw a coaching change and another clinching of the eighth seed in the playoffs – though it would be a completely different journey than the 1999 campaign, as they were swept by the Nets in the first round – would prove to be the last season that Albert would call Knicks games. “It stopped being enjoyable for me, and I decided to move on.” So marked the end of an era – some 35 years starting in 1967 – as Albert mutually parted ways with MSG Network.

While not taking for granted the fact that he’s gained two regular gigs after having to start over six years earlier, Albert hoped that something would come along to fill the Knicks void.

Enter a network synonymous with Albert’s trademark call: YES.

The Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network had approached Albert about becoming the new lead announcer for New Jersey Nets games “and [I] just had to listen.” YES Network president Tracy Dolgin was adamant in hiring Albert. “It’s like getting the greatest basketball player. You do it,” he said in March 2005, when the network named YES officially hired the announcer who redefined the word, “Yes!”

And with the 2005-06 season, the Nets would be the local complement in Marv Albert’s trifecta of broadcasts, the others being national NBA telecasts on TNT, and “Monday Night Football” on radio. It would continue through the remainder of the 2000’s. Hard to believe that this was the same Marv Albert that was kicked to the curb by NBC after two decades of service, and having to step down from MSG Network after thirty years. (As an added bonus, Albert would be reunited with Fratello when he signed with YES Network in 2008.)

In 2010, roughly a week shy of his 69th birthday, Albert seemed as if he would start to scale back his tasks, as he abruptly announced his departure from “Monday Night Football” radio broadcasts after eight seasons. Earlier that year, his primary employer, Turner Sports, entered into a new multi-year, multi-platform deal with CBS to air the annual NCAA men’s basketball tournament. March of the following year would once again find Albert calling college basketball games during the early rounds of “March Madness.”

Then in 2011, roughly a week shy of his 70th birthday, Albert announced that he would be relinquishing Nets play-by-play on YES Network – no, he had no harsh criticisms about their underachieving play – in order to accept a position at CBS calling regional NFL games. Incidentally, the job offer came at some point during his NCAA work for CBS and Turner. And while he admitted the NFL role “wasn’t something I was looking for,” not only does it return him to the familiar territory of calling football games on Sunday afternoons, but it’s got to be far more appealing than calling Nets games – or for that matter, Knicks games.

So, let’s review: After losing two prime announcing gigs as a result of sexual assault charges fifteen years ago, Marv Albert immediately gained them back, and then some. What if he never entered the plea bargain, and the trial dragged out with perhaps even more sordid stories about his life off the air – and inside women’s underwear? Can you fathom CBS or Turner hiring him, let alone NBC and MSG rehiring him?

And Albert has to thank his lucky stars that the Internet age was in its infancy when the sexual assault allegations against him unfolded. Last year, San Francisco 49ers radio analyst Gary Plummer was fired by the team following an interview he conducted with a local radio program in which he went into vivid detail about his sex life as a member of the squad. Once a sports blog got wind of the interview and went viral, Plummer found himself out of a job.

Granted, Plummer’s exploits may have been tame compared to what was described at Arlington County Courthouse the week of September 22, 1997. But that’s beside the point. If Facebook existed back then, Marv Albert probably wouldn’t have a prayer.

Not to say that Albert lucked out by dodging the digital bullet. Regardless of that – and regardless of his sexual fetishes – it’s quite remarkable to see how an announcer that MSG Network has called “one of the preeminent play-by-play telecasters of his generation” (yes, that was after he left MSG in 2004 after being critical of the Knicks’ play) has, to borrow a common basketball term, rebounded, and become an even more eminent announcer of the Facebook generation.

Ken Fang, curator of the “Fang’s Bites” sports media news website, who was working at Clear Channel’s WHJJ-AM/WHJY-FM in Providence back in 1997, tells me he was “pretty shocked” when Albert was hit with sexual assault charges. “Marv had a clean reputation at the time. When the salacious details came out, it was extremely distressing.”

It was likely so distressing for Albert, he made sure to steer clear of the New York Post – specifically, its renowned celebrity gossip column “Page Six” – until his trial was behind him. Paula Froelich, who oversaw the Post’s “Page Six” from 1999 to 2009, shared with me her favorite Marv Albert trial memory: “The New York Post had the best headline ever during the trial: a picture of Marv snarling with wig askew: ‘Marv Bites Back!'”

That classic headline was sparked by Albert’s defense team gaining an advantage in Day 2 of the trial. And I’ve scoured the Internet and could not locate a JPG of that front page. Of course, had the trial taken place in 2007, that might be a different story. (For what it’s worth, E! Online used that same phrase as its headline for their item when Albert first returned to broadcasting in 1998.)

At the time of this post, roughly two weeks shy of his 71st birthday, Marv Albert is doing NFL games for CBS, NCAA playoff games for CBS and Turner, and he’s locked up until 2016 calling NBA games for TNT. Suffice it to say, life is good if you’re Marv Albert. He’s still going strong – a conclusion that likely would have been made had he not been arrested and arraigned on sexual assault charges fifteen years ago today. A big part of that has to do with his professionalism. People forget that his arraignment hearing was scheduled just after he called a couple of conference final round NBA games that weekend for NBC.

Then again, people have almost entirely forgotten about Marv Albert’s arrest. The lurid testimony. And yes, that mugshot.

Just as there were people who reminisced fifteen years to the day of O.J. Simpson’s car chase, I’ll be curious to see how many websites and blogs today will be asking, “Where were you when you found out Marv Albert was arrested?”

How about we pose this question: Who else but Marv Albert can return from a fall from grace with utmost grace?

And my response is this: Yes. It counts.

Fifteen years removed from his arrest, Marv Albert will be calling Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Now that’s vindication.