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Comcast Will Challenge Disney for Fox Assets

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Now that AT&T has won its anti-trust trial and has been cleared to acquire Time Warner, Comcast leaders see no hurdles in the way of launching their own bid to acquire the 21st Century Fox assets that Disney is already working to buy. Disney and 21st Century Fox announced they had agreed to a $52.4 billion deal in December. Both sides are awaiting the approval of shareholders. Comcast will reportedly offer $60 billion for the same assets.

The concern had been anti-trust laws that Comcast was concerned might prohibit a cable operator from owning so many cable and broadcast networks, but the judge in the AT&T/Time Warner case just issued a 172 page ruling saying that because streaming services have reshaped the TV marketplace, owning channels and a cable service no longer represents a monopoly.

From a sports media standpoint, this would put the 22 Fox Sports regional networks in play. They were a key part of what Disney was hoping to acquire to create a new revenue stream for ESPN. A report from Variety explains how those networks could draw the eye of regulators if Comcast were to get involved in the bidding.

Having Comcast absorb Fox’s 22 regional sports networks could be a bigger red flag for regulators. Comcast is prepared to divest some of them or let them go entirely. Comcast also owns nine RSNs. Comcast will note that two-thirds of Fox’s channels are outside Comcast’s cable footprint — which means the company will have to negotiate carriage deals with rival MVPDs just like any other content owner.

It is not sports that are driving the deal for either Disney or Comcast. Both want Fox’s extensive film and TV library and majority control of Hulu, which the three companies currently operate together. Disney already has plans to launch their own streaming service complete with at least one exclusive and original Star Wars series early next year.

 

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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