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John Smoltz Named Lead Fox MLB Game Analyst

Jason Barrett

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A first-ballot Hall of Famer, World Series champion and Cy Young Award winner, John Smoltz has been named the lead analyst for FOX Sports’ presentation of Major League Baseball regular and postseason games, beginning in 2016. The announcement was made Tuesday by John Entz, President of Production & Executive Producer, FOX Sports.

“It is rare in this business that you’re presented the opportunity to have a Hall of Fame-level player who is also one of the sport’s top broadcasters,” Entz said of Smoltz. “Having been able to work with John each of the last two seasons, we’ve gained an even greater appreciation for his insight into the game and what he brings to the booth.”

Smoltz initially joined FOX Sports in 2014 and served as an analyst for both regular and postseason telecasts in 2014 and 2015, including the 2014 National League Division Series and 2015 American League Division Series. As the network’s lead analyst, he now teams with seven-time Emmy Award winning play-by-play announcer Joe Buck in the booth for marquee Saturday regular-season games on FOX broadcast network and FS1, in addition to the All-Star Game and a full slate of postseason games that includes Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series assignments.

A right-handed pitcher, Smoltz gained first-ballot admission into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015, a testament to the excellence of his memorable playing career. He played 21 seasons in the major leagues, tossing 3,473 innings over 723 games (481 starts) and posting a 213-155 record and lifetime 3.33 ERA, with 3,084 strikeouts. Impressively, Smoltz also registered 154 saves over a four-season stint as a closer from 2001 to 2004, becoming the first player in MLB history to record both 200 wins and 150 saves in his career.

“I am extremely excited to be able to continue my broadcasting career with FOX Sports, and I am honored to be named lead analyst alongside Joe Buck,” Smoltz said. “Joe is a good friend of mine and the best in the business. He’s someone I have known and respected for a long time, and I am really looking forward to getting to work with him on a more regular basis. This is a tremendous opportunity, and I couldn’t be happier.”

As part of Smoltz’ addition to the Fox MLB broadcast team, Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds will no longer provide analysis in the booth during the post-season. They are expected to have a role in Fox’s coverage, but specifics have not yet been determined.

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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