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First Take Preparing For Epic Road Trip Next Week

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ESPN is taking First Take on the road all next week. The show is headed West and features stops in Texas, California, and Arizona.

On Monday, November 5 Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, Molly Qerim Rose, and their crew will be in Arlington, Texas ahead of that night’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Cowboys and Titans. The show will be open to a live studio audience and have a decidedly pro-Cowboys slant. Team legends Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, and Darren Woodson are all scheduled to appear. Regular guest Will Cain, a Texas native, will also participate in debate segments that day.

After Texas, First Take will head to LA for an extended residence at ESPN’s West Coast production base in the heart of LA Live. The show will be in town from the 6th through the 8th. The stop is built around ESPN’s coverage of the Lakers and Timberwolves meeting on the 7th. Guests for those three shows include TNT’s Kenny Anderson and media mogul Steve Harvey live in studio, and Mark Wahlberg joining the show from New York.

The road trip ends in Maricopa County, Arizona. First Take will visit Luke Air Force Base in Glendale to celebrate Veteran’s Day. Military personnel are welcome to join the show as a live audience. Professional wrestling legend Ric Flair is scheduled to be in attendance as well.

First Take’s road trip comes after a strong performance for the show. It carried ESPN to the top of the ratings for all cable networks amongst both men and adults ages 18-34 and 18-49 during the month of October.

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After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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Field Yates Re-Ups With ESPN

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

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Field Yates

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

Yates, 35, would have been a valuable target for FanDuel or DraftKings, surmises Andrew Marchand of The New York Post — who first reported the news — due to his large following on Twitter.

Yates, who also works as a host of Fantasy Football Now and NFL Insider for the network, across multiple platforms including ESPN Radio, will continue in those roles in addition to an assumed expansion of fantasy football duties after Berry’s exit.

He has worked for ESPN since 2012.

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