Sports TV News
How Fox Built The Promo For Rousey vs. Holm
Promotion for UFC 193 will go into overdrive this week with Ronda Rousey just days away from facing Holly Holm in Melbourne, Australia, but the first real push to sell the fight started in early October with the release of a groundbreaking new commercial.
The 2-minute, 44-second spot debuted courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres but the work behind the video had been going on for months as the UFC teamed up with a company called Digital Domain, who along with their in-house production company called Mothership were the same people behind the amazing advertisement for Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor ahead of their proposed fight this past summer at UFC 189.
After working together on the Aldo vs. McGregor spot, that helped set a new standard for fight promos with the UFC, Digital Domain was called back in to work on something special for a card that was expected to be the biggest show of all time.
The proposal as it originally happened was for Jose Aldo to face Conor McGregor as the main event with Ronda Rousey taking on Miesha Tate in the co-main event with the show taking place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. So director Neil Huxley, who also handled the original UFC 189 promo, started brainstorming ideas with one of his collaborators at Digital Domain and before something unique began to surface.
“The original concept — it was going to be Aldo/McGregor and Ronda/Miesha Tate, that was the original card and that’s how it was going to be stacked,” Huxley said when speaking to FOX Sports. “It was not an official announcement with that card and like everything with the UFC, it changes. Fight cards change, people get injured, so this whole thing is influx for at least a couple of weeks and then it gets decided, what date, who’s fighting who, and they were looking at Dallas Stadium, and it was going to be the biggest UFC event of all time with those two fights on the card. It was going to be huge.”
So right away the production and promotion behind the card was going to be massive and the commercial to advertise it had to follow suit.
Following the Las Vegas showdown that Huxley envisioned for Aldo and McGregor at UFC 189 that included the two fighters strolling through an abandoned Sin City before meeting in the middle of the street with thousands of fans trailing behind them, he knew right away that this promo had to be different.
Considering the kind of upbringing that all four fighters had leading into the two main fights, it occurred to Huxley and his partner Aaron Shact that creating a commercial that followed Aldo, McGregor, Rousey and Tate from an early age until now was the perfect concept.
“We started writing concepts of something that could speak to this scale. I worked with the associate creative director Aaron Shact, I usually write with him and we throw ideas around together and we’re both big UFC fans. We had this idea — what if we track these four fighters from when they were kids?” Huxley said.
“Because they’ve got such interesting stories — Conor growing up in Ireland being a bit of a rapscallion when he was a kid and then you’ve got Aldo sleeping on the floor of his Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym and eating scraps of food and then growing up to be this amazing champion and Ronda had this amazing story and Miesha we were finding some interesting stuff about her as well.”
Just as Huxley and his team were beginning to put together the ideas for the commercial, everything changed with the fight card and the UFC came back to the company and revealed the new main event — Ronda Rousey vs. Holly Holm at UFC 193 in Etihad Stadium in Melbourne, Australia, with more than 70,000 fans expected to attend.
While the idea for the entire promo started with four fighters and it was now being whittled down to two, Huxley was invigorated with the idea of just focusing on these two women and their arduous journey to make it in a sport that had been dominated by men from the day it was created.
So the work started to put the promo together while following Rousey as a young girl who first becomes interested in judo as a kid while learning from her mother and former world champion AnnMaria DeMars. The story continues with Rousey being admonished for fighting in school before eventually turning into a medal-winning judoka and then one day noticing a fight on a television that featured B.J. Penn submitting Matt Hughes at UFC 46.
The same video follows Holm from her earliest days in a boxing gym when she caught more than a few knowing stares from onlookers wondering what a girl was doing lacing up gloves and stepping into the ring. A few cuts and black eyes later and Holm was standing on top as one of the best women’s boxers in the world.
Reality was even better than fiction when it came to Rousey and Holm’s life stories and while neither knew it at the time growing up on the judo mats and boxing rings that their journeys would eventually lead to this point at UFC 193.
“I love stories where these two characters are growing up in different parts of the world but their lives are kind of leading to this moment where they are going to meet in the Octagon,” Huxley described.
“It’s that classic story set up where two people are on a trajectory that’s eventually going to intersect. It will change their lives forever, this fight. I love stories like this. That was kind of where it came from.”
To read the rest of this article visit Fox Sports where it was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
Stephen A. Would Welcome Shannon Sharpe to First Take
“If that included him wanting to come on First Take, the bosses at ESPN know that is something I would support. Not every day, but one of those days every week.”
Following a report of Shannon Sharpe leaving FOX Sports 1’s Undisputed at the conclusion of the NBA Finals, there may be a new landing spot for him in the future at ESPN on First Take. On Friday’s edition of The Stephen A. Smith Show, a digital podcast live streaming on YouTube, show host and executive producer Stephen A. Smith extended an open invitation to Sharpe to join him at ESPN.
“I don’t know what his plans are. I don’t know what he’s trying to pursue. I don’t know what he’s after, but if Shannon Sharpe needs me, I’m happy to be here for him. And if that included him wanting to come on First Take, the bosses at ESPN know that is something I would support. Not every day, but one of those days every week.”
The decision to publicly voice his support for Sharpe comes a day after incoming ESPN midday host Pat McAfee stated that he hopes Sharpe joins the network, as he feels he has a voice that can contribute to coverage. Sharpe has been working with Skip Bayless on Undisputed since 2016, but reports of tension between the two co-hosts presumably led to his purported exit. Front Office Sports reported that Bayless will have the final say on who replaces Sharpe and sits opposite him each morning.
“I’ve gotten to know Shannon Sharpe a little bit over the last few years,” Smith said. “I genuinely like him and respect him. He is a three-time Super Bowl champion; he is a Hall of Famer; he is one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the National Football League, and I personally think he’s done a hell of a job on television and with his podcast Club Shay Shay.”
Smith implored those listening that he will not speak against Skip Bayless, despite having contrary points of view on most topics. The duo previously worked together at ESPN on First Take for four years and elevated the morning show to new heights, attaining record ratings in sports television. When it was disseminated by the New York Post that Sharpe is leaving FS1, Smith recognized how big of a loss it would be for the network, but is content with the show’s current setup of having different panelists on the show throughout the week. Smith and co-host Molly Qerim are the only constants on the program at the moment on a day-to-day basis.
“I get to handpick who’s on First Take once they’re in-house for ESPN,” Smith said. “I don’t get to bring them from the outside in without the bosses’ okay. We have to be honest – I’m not the boss. That’s Dave Roberts; that’s Jimmy Pitaro; that’s Burke Magnus; that’s those dudes. I answer to them – it’s not the other way around when it comes to all matters pertaining to ESPN, but they know where I stand.”
Sports TV News
Judge Rules Diamond Sports Must Pay MLB Teams in Full
“As with the Padres, MLB will stand ready to make games available to fans if Diamond fails to meet its obligations.”
A judge has made his ruling has been reached in the caustic bankruptcy trial between Major League Baseball and Diamond Sports Group. Diamond Sports Group must pay the full value of the contracts with the four teams that are involved in the legal proceedings. These teams include the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers.
There was an additional caveat to the final ruling. The judge urged both sides to talk to one another, perhaps realizing the level of contemptuousness evident throughout testimony from both sides in the trial.
“Maybe market forces change terms of deals, but market risk is always there [and] inherent in every contract,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez said in his ruling. “Knowing that I think the contract rate is the reasonable and the right rate, the way that teams are locked in [and] the evidence that’s presented before me, I’m going to find that the fees are the actual necessary cost of preserving the state. The teams can keep the 75% I believe they’ve already received and they should get the [other] 25%.”
Diamond Sports Group now has a decision to make regarding if it will oblige by the ruling and pay the four teams as directed. If not, they will be forced to relinquish the broadcast rights for those teams, just as the entity did for the San Diego Padres earlier this week.
Sources close to the situation have indicated that this represented somewhat of a breaking point between the two sides, and that the hostility will be too much to overcome for future deals. Diamond Sports Group is tasked with renewing rights for 28 teams across the NBA and NHL at the conclusion of next season, in addition to five Major League Baseball teams.
“MLB appreciates the ruling from the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Houston requiring Diamond to pay the full contractual rate to Clubs,” the league said in a statement. “As always, we hope Diamond will continue to broadcast games and meet its contractual obligations to Clubs. As with the Padres, MLB will stand ready to make games available to fans if Diamond fails to meet its obligations.”
Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. described a meeting he had with Diamond Sports Group’s management where the company threatened bankruptcy – despite having money in liquidity to pay the rights fees – in order to restructure itself and selectively reject contracts. He also divulged that the league will cover at least 80% of the payments the afflicted teams were supposed to receive from Diamond Sports Group, which operates as a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group. Major League Baseball says it is ready to take over production and dissemination of local broadcasts and prepared for this move in advance by strengthening its media division, including the hire of Billy Chambers as executive vice president of local media.
While Diamond Sports Group is technically a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, the role of the latter has been diminished because of the former’s declaration of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Creditors agreed to trade the debt they owe for equity in Sinclair Broadcast Group, rendering the management structure somewhat ambiguous. The company’s decision to engage in bankruptcy protection will aid in eliminating $8 billion of outstanding debt after Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired the regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Company in 2019 for $10.6 billion. Major League Baseball, in partnership with Liberty Media, bid nearly $9.6 billion for the networks ($3.5 billion in leverage), but ended up falling short. Diamond Sports Group has local broadcast rights for 28 teams across the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League, with all of those deals – along with five among Major League Baseball teams – set to expire at the conclusion of next season.
Sports TV News
Ernie Johnson: Death of Kobe Bryant Solidified Inside the NBA Crew’s Bond
“I’m in the fortunate position [of] getting us from point A to point B to point C with three guys who have been in every conceivable situation in a basketball game.”
As the Eastern Conference Finals concluded, Inside the NBA signed off for the final time of the 2022-23 season, officially closing the 33rd year of broadcasts led by Ernie Johnson. Kenny “The Jet” Smith joined the show on a full time basis in 1998, and Charles Barkley joined him two years later, creating a trio for the next 20 years.
They were joined by different fourth analysts over the years, including Reggie Miller, Magic Johnson and Chris Webber, but the company made a permanent hire in 2011 by adding Shaquille O’Neal. From that moment on, the four gradually blended into a family and now share a unique chemistry not often seen in television.
“Nobody tries to make themselves the show,” Ernie Johnson told Dan Le Batard on South Week Sessions. “They’ve never tried to make the show about themselves. I’m in the fortunate position getting us from point A to point B to point C with three guys who have been in every conceivable situation in a basketball game.”
Johnson undoubtedly knows his role on the show is to facilitate discussion and position the analysts in the best position possible to share their basketball knowledge gained through their playing years. He is a veteran studio host and broadcaster, contributing to TBS’s Major League Baseball coverage during the offseason, and is able to seamlessly transition between different sports over the course of the year.
“If you try to stray outside your lane and be something you aren’t, then it doesn’t work,” Johnson said. “The fact that we don’t rehearse and the fact that we just let it rip – there you go.”
The feeling is mutual between Johnson and his co-workers that they view each other as family and hold one another in extremely high regard. Le Batard acknowledged how he has heard Barkley talk about Johnson in such a venerated manner, and that he and the others give the impression that they would do anything for Johnson.
Johnson simply replied, “And I would do the same for them. We all would.”
Johnson vividly remembers when Kobe Bryant passed away and the Inside the NBA crew was doing a show from Los Angeles reflecting on his life and legacy. At one point on the broadcast, O’Neal addressed his colleagues and told them that he loves them, realizing that he does not say it enough. It was a heartwarming moment for Johnson, and one that brought their bond to light.
“I think one thing that whole moment of time taught all of us was that you don’t know how long you have,” Johnson said. “It behooves us to make sure that everything’s cool between us – not just between the four of us on the show, but between everybody in your life… If the unthinkable happens, do you want to leave that with, ‘Man I wish I had said this. I wish that silly feud; I could have stepped up and defused it.’… I think it was a pretty brutal reminder of that.”