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Will FOX’s WWE Deal Affect UFC Partnership?

Brandon Contes

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As 21st Century Fox works to sell off a large percentage of its empire to Disney in a $52.4 billion deal, although a $60 billion offer looms from Comcast, the expectation is for Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch to further invest in live content with a focus on sports. That plan came to fruition on Monday as Fox nears an agreement with WWE to air SmackDown Live beginning in October 2019.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new deal is expected to be a five-year agreement totaling over $1 billion, almost three-times the amount NBCUniversal previously paid for the package. As the WWE agreement is being finalized, Fox’s UFC television package is set to expire at the end of this calendar year. The current contract had Fox paying the UFC $115 million annually.

The Endeavor owned MMA league was reportedly hoping for a new media rights deal in the realm of $400 million per year and they’re close to halfway there after inking $150 million annually from ESPN+. Late last year ESPN’s Darren Rovell reported Fox offered $200 million for a UFC television package, whether or not that included a digital agreement similar to what ESPN+ just received is unknown.

With Fox spending over $200 million a year on SmackDown almost immediately after ESPN+ agreed to a digital deal with the UFC, some view it as Fox replacing their previous UFC television package with WWE coverage. However, last month it was reported ESPN and Fox worked together to enter a joint bid for the UFC rights TV deal and ESPN+ acquiring a digital package could be viewed as part of a larger plan.

The WWE agreement also comes on the heels of Fox’s $3 billion deal for the rights to Thursday Night Football. With Fox clearly putting a premium on live content and sports broadcast deals, there remains a strong possibility the $1 billion spent to acquire WWE’s SmackDown will not deter them from negotiating a new deal with the UFC.

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

Roxy Bernstein: ‘Bill Walton’s Persona Is An Entertaining Act’

“But Bill, I think this is good simulation for him.”

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One of the enduring broadcast themes of college basketball season is Bill Walton’s calling Pac-12 games and doing so with a but of an untethered flare. Roxy Bernstein, one of Walton’s broadcast partners, says it’s a deliberate attempt to be interesting.

“I think people see this caricature on television,” Bernstein said. “Let me clue you in on a secret and pull back the curtain here: it’s an act.”

Bernstein made these comments as a guest on Announcer Schedules the Podcast. He talked about Walton’s style being one that suits him to satisfy his own happiness.

“If he wanted to be a cookie-cutter analyst, he’s done that. He could do it,” commented Bernstein. “But Bill, I think this is good simulation for him. His ability to inform the audience and make it a well-rounded broadcast, to culture the audience so there’s just laser-focused in on this game.”

Bernstein also noted that when you see Walton and his play-by-play partner for the first time on television, it’s often the first time they are speaking to each other.

“He never opens the door to what is going to happen that night,” said Bernstein. “Essentially the first conversation of that day that we are having is, ‘Hi, welcome to Pauley Pavilion. Along with the Hall of Famer Bill Walton, I’m Roxy Bernstein’. That’s the first time we are really talking all day.”

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Sports TV News

Michael Grady Named Play-By-Play Announcer of the Minnesota Timberwolves

“Today is a thrilling day for myself and my family as this has been my lifelong dream to be an NBA play-by-play announcer,” said Grady.

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Michael Grady

The Minnesota Timberwolves, in partnership with Bally Sports North, named Michael Grady as their new television play-by-play announcer.

Grady, 39, will partner with color analyst Jim Petersen.

“Michael’s extensive knowledge of the game and his genuine on-air style make him the perfect fit for this role,” said Timberwolves & Lynx Chief Executive Officer Ethan Casson. “As Michael returns to his Midwest roots, we couldn’t be more excited to have his voice on the call for Timberwolves games for seasons to come.”

Grady spent the last six years with the YES Network as the Brooklyn Nets courtside reporter. He does have previous NBA television play-by-play experience including work with the New York Liberty, Turner Sports, NBATV and the 2022 WNBA Commissioners Cup. He also sas called play-by-play for college basketball and college football games for CBS.

“Today is a thrilling day for myself and my family as this has been my lifelong dream to be an NBA play-by-play announcer,” said Grady. “I can’t wait to join Jim Petersen and the rest of the Bally Sports North crew calling games for this exciting franchise. I also look forward to interacting with our phenomenal Timberwolves fans and partners in the community to continue to tell the stories of this great basketball state.”

“Michael’s unique background and basketball acumen will serve him well in his new role,” said Executive Producer for Bally Sports North Tony Tortorici. “Fans will enjoy his smooth delivery for this exciting new era of Timberwolves basketball and he will be a great compliment to longtime Timberwolves analyst Jim Petersen.”

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Sports TV News

‘ACC PM’ Pairing Tre Boston, Taylor Tannebaum With Mark Packer

Former NFL safety Tre Boston and WTHR-TV Sports Reporter Taylor Tannebaum have been paired with Mark Packer for ACC PM, the new daily studio show for the ACC Network.

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Former NFL safety Tre Boston and WTHR-TV Sports Reporter Taylor Tannebaum have been paired with Mark Packer for ACC PM, the new daily studio show for the ACC Network.

ACC PM will air daily from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM, and will be centered around delivering news and commentary on the 15 ACC institutions.

“We are excited to have Taylor and Tre join our ACCN team and team up with Pack in the basement” said Aaron Katzman, ACCN coordinating producer. “All three have special ties to the ACC with Taylor growing up in South Florida and graduating from FSU, Tre being a star on the football field at UNC, and no one is as well-versed about the conference as Mark. This trio will be sure to entertain, engage and educate viewers every weekday afternoon.” 

Boston, a North Carolina grad, was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers. He played five seasons in Carolina, while also spending time with the Chargers and Cardinals.

“This is truly a blessing and I’m thankful for ESPN and ACCN for the opportunity to be a part of the network and help launch the new afternoon show,” said Boston. “I love to talk, and this is a professional step I’ve always wanted to take. Mark Packer is the one of the best in the business and Taylor brings a unique and fresh perspective that I’m eager to learn from and grow with. I’m an ACC guy, so to be able to talk ACC football and sports every afternoon is a match made in heaven.”

Tannebaum, a Florida State alumna, has worked as a local sports reporter, spending the past four years in Indianapolis. She began her career in Huntsville, Alabama before moving to Dothan, Alabama.

“Ever since ACCN launched in 2019, it’s been a dream of mine to be a part of it,” said Tannebaum. “As a Florida State alum, I take great pride in the ACC and I’m humbled to be given the opportunity to highlight the conference every day. Even more exciting is the chance to join forces with Mark Packer and Tre Boston to bring viewers and fans a mix of in-depth insight and personality on ACC PM each afternoon. It’s a team I’m honored to be a part of and a product we are thrilled to share.”

The debut show will be Monday, August 22nd. The show will hit the road to begin the college football season, as they’ll be in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for week 0 as UNC plays host to Florida A&M.

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