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Dick Vitale Signs Contract Extension with ESPN

Brandon Contes

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Dick Vitale signed an extension to remain with ESPN through the 2020-21 season. The new contract ensures that Vitale will be with the network at least into his 42nd season.

In the press release, ESPN notes Vitale signed an extension last May, keeping him at the network through the 2019-20 season. With two full college basketball seasons still remaining on his current deal, it’s interesting that the two sides chose to tack on one more year.

After looking back even further, I found that this is a trend with ESPN and Vitale. This will be the fourth consecutive spring that ESPN announced a one year contract extension with Vitale, even though his current deal was not set to expire for two more seasons. Maybe Vitale negotiates his broadcasting contracts similarly to his coaching deals, but it’s interesting that in recent years the two sides have never let Dickie V come within two seasons of being a free-agent.

“ESPN has been family to me and I am honored that they want me to continue being a contributor on our college basketball team,” Vitale said via the press release. “ESPN has provided me a forum that has turned my dreams to reality. I feel young at heart. I said once, and I will say it again – my goal is to be the first in broadcasting to open a hoops game at 100 years old saying “This is Awesome, Baby!’ with a capital A.”

During a time where ESPN has been going through a lot of changes, both financially and from a programming standpoint, it at least appears both the network and Vitale have a good working relationship that they’re able to negotiate so often and smoothly. You would think a contract extension taking Vitale until he’s 82 years old and his 42nd season with ESPN would be his last, but based on the trend, don’t be surprised if you’re reading this same article next year.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

PAC-12 Commissioner: Deion Sanders Adds Value In TV Rights Negotiations

“We knew some other information was coming, including the announcement of Coach Prime, and why would we do a media deal before that?”

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Even if you are not a fan of Coach Prime, his influence is hard to deny. Since accepting the head coaching job at Colorado, Deion Sanders has made the Buffaloes a hot topic in the sports media. That almost never happens.

Will that enthusiasm and curiosity translate into dollars and cents? George Kliavkoff thinks so.

The PAC-12’s Commissioner told The Athletic that he has seen Colorado already reap the benefits for itself. When the team opens the 2023 season with College Football Playoff participant TCU, he expects the conference and it media partners to see the value of Deion Sanders too.

“I can’t imagine what the ratings are going to be for that game,” he told Andy Staples.

Fans of the PAC-12 and media that cover the conference have been wary of the Big 12 raiding the West Coast for a number of the remaining top brands. The Big 12 has been seen has having a stronger position to emerge as the third mega-conference after solidifying deals with FOX and ESPN last month.

Kliavkoff also said that Sanders is a factor in the conference not having a new television deal lined up yet.

“We knew some other information was coming, including the announcement of Coach Prime, and why would we do a media deal before that?” the commissioner said adding that Deion Sanders “absolutely adds value” for the conference and its media partners.

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Sports TV News

Kevin Warren: Big Ten Not Closing Door On ESPN Forever

Jordan Bondurant

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This summer the Big Ten Conference inked new media rights deals with FOX, CBS and NBC that will be worth $7 billion per year over seven years. With the agreement, ESPN will no longer have rights to broadcast conference contests.

But to those saying that the conference will never again be partners with the Worldwide Leader, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren believes that isn’t the case.

“I’m constantly in a state of perpetual negotiation and relationship building,” Warren said in an interview at the Sports Business Journal Intercollegiate Athletics Forum on Wednesday. “I have incredible respect and admiration for (ESPN president) Jimmy Pitaro and (ESPN programming and original content president) Burke Magnus and (ESPN programming and acquisitions vice president) Nick Dawson. And now with the change from (former Disney CEO) Bob Chapek to Bob Iger, I have great respect for Disney as a company – and what its meant to our country – and for ESPN.”

Despite losing out on the Big Ten, which is shaping up to be one of the nation’s first college super conferences with the addition of USC and UCLA in 2024, ESPN will carry on with America’s other emerging super conference in the SEC, which will add Texas and Oklahoma as members in 2025. ESPN/ABC and the SEC have a 10-year media rights deal in place worth $300 million per season that will go into effect in 2024.

But Warren continued that with things being set in stone for at least the next decade in terms of media rights, there’s no reason to believe that the conference and the network can’t find ways to work together in the future.

“I’m a great believer that life is long, and I will continue to have communications with ESPN,” he said. “I have great respect for them. They’re incredibly important to this institution that we call college athletics. I stay in close contact, and opportunities do present themselves in unique ways.”

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Sports TV News

Netflix CEO: ‘We’re Not Anti-Sports, We’re Just Pro-Profit’

“He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.”

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Netflix will not join Apple and Amazon in the rush to gobble up live sports rights. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the streaming giant’s disinterest at the UBS Global Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.

He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.

“We’re not anti-sports,” Sarandos said according to Deadline. “We’re just pro-profit. We have yet to figure out how to do it. But I’m very confident we can get twice as big as we are without sports.” 

Questions about the interest the company has in carrying live sports have come up several times in the past. Sarandon made similar comments last year when asked about it.

Reed Hastings, Sarandos’s co-CEO at Netflix, has a slightly different view. In 2021, he indicated that Netflix could be interested in F1 rights someday thanks to the success of its documentary series Drive to Survive, but that would be a special case. Any league interested in doing business with Netflix, he said, would have to allow Netflix to control all of its content.

Ted Sarandos echoed that sentiment in his most recent comments. He said that the company does not see a way to profit by “renting big-league sports.”

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