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Whitlock Makes Fox Sports Debuts, Explains ESPN Issues

Jason Barrett

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Jason Whitlock has joined Fox Sports, and made his debut this afternoon on Colin Cowherd’s radio program. You can click here to watch the video.

Whitlock also wrote a piece detailing his departure from ESPN, why his project “The Undefeated” didn’t work out, and what he still hopes to accomplish. The full column can be read by clicking here. The key highlights are listed below.

I left FOX Sports in 2013 and rejoined ESPN to follow my dream. I wanted to build a website, The Undefeated, dedicated to examining the intersection of sports, race and culture because I believe locker rooms, stadiums, arenas, and teams epitomize and best utilize America’s diversity. ESPN required me not to respond to the avalanche of criticism. I agreed that the website and the work that appeared on the website would be the most effective response. I was removed from the project in June. The website has yet to launch. The project will not be my defense.

Why did I fail at The Undefeated? There are numerous reasons, including my foolish belief I could manage like a football coach. I learned there’s an art to corporate politics that I’m not good at. Another part of the answer is quite simple and rather obvious: 1) ESPN is cost-cutting, undergoing a significant cultural shift that has led to the departures of Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann and yours truly; 2) If you believe the 2014 reporting of Robert Lipsyte, ESPN’s in-house ombudsman at the time, key ESPN executives disagreed with my vision to build a site as ambitious and well-funded as Grantland and FiveThirtyEight. The analysis of race and culture is far more difficult than the analysis of movies, burritos and numbers.

So why have I been portrayed in countless stories as the black plague of journalism? That’s the deeper explanation, and it begins with understanding the conversation I wanted The Undefeated to provoke among black people. Who are we? And do the black journalists and leaders alleged to represent our views really represent what we believe?

Or are they unwitting pawns handed 30 pieces of silver, 100,000 Twitter followers and a standing invitation on FOX News, CNN and MSNBC to provoke a battle that will ultimately lead to further rollbacks of the victories won by Dr. King, Rosa Parks and our greatest generation?

The self-appointed leaders of groupthink are comfortable basking in the admiration of their neo-liberal, white supporters, uninterested in legitimate discourse and worked nonstop to characterize my vision as irresponsible, anti-black and too revolutionary for Disney. My vision is not out of step with traditional black values. Fair journalism – the kind of work done by Simon and Alexander – would properly analyze black culture.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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