ESPN+ Adds The Professional Fighters League
“PFL is a unique MMA organization that operates with a regular season, playoff and championship format similar to traditional sports like the NFL and NBA.”
ESPN+ is now the home of a new and unique combat sports league to pair with UFC and boxing. The Professional Fighters League (PFL) will be featured on ESPN+ and ESPN2 for the upcoming season beginning in May.
PFL is a unique MMA organization that operates with a regular season, playoff and championship format similar to traditional sports like the NFL and NBA.
“ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling.
The PFL season begins in May and runs through August. From there the playoffs start with a culmination in a New Years Eve event in which PFL World Champions will be crowned in six weight classes, including a 155-pound women’s class. ESPN+ and ESPN2 will air all 10 events live.
“We are thrilled to bring the PFL to ESPN, the undisputed leader in sports. ESPN is a ground-breaking pioneer that has fundamentally changed the way we consume sports, and we at the PFL are reimagining MMA for fans and fighters,” said Peter Murray, CEO of the PFL. “We are also the first in MMA to introduce a 155-pound women’s division and we are the first to provide equal payout to our crowned champions across all divisions.”
“Fans can now follow the stories, and business partners can engage in the journeys, of the PFL fighters throughout the season,” said Donn Davis, Co-Founder and Chairman of the PFL. “This agreement to bring PFL to ESPN and ESPN+ further validates our unique and innovative product and will accelerate the PFL’s growth.”
Rob Parker Bringing MLBBro.com Podcast To iHeartRadio
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball.”
Rob Parker loves Major League Baseball and he is expanding his reach in the sport. His site MLBBro.com is taking another step forward just weeks after announcing a partnership with the league to provide coverage of minority players from the past and present.
He will add a podcast to the brand’s portfolio. The MLBBro Show Podcast – The Mixtape will join the iHeartRadio podcast lineup. While Parker oversees the brand, the show will be led by MLBbro.com’s Vice President of Operations JR Gamble.
Gamble brings more than two decades of experience covering the league to the show. The first episode drops right after Opening Day on March 31.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball,” said Parker, who has been a Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) member since 1990.
“It’s baseball coverage with hot sauce, loud and proud and in living color. Get on board from day one!”
What Implications Would TikTok Ban Have on Sports Media & Business?
“Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support.”
If TikTok is banned in the United States, a very realistic possibility, the ad market around sports and sports media stands to take a significant hit. Front Office Sports took a look at the companies that used the social video platform to advertise to sports audiences in 2022 and 2023.
Among the advertisers making major investments in TikTok was Degree, whose March Madness advertising campaign includes an ad that is exclusive to TikTok and stars Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the Super Bowl, T-Mobile supplemented its FOX ad buy with a TikTok campaign, while State Farm chose to skip the network broadcast of the game and spend all of its advertising with the digital platform.
It’s not only advertisers. Leagues and networks factor TikTok prominently into reaching younger audiences. The WWE, FIFA and the NBA all saw significant growth in their audiences on the app last year. On top of that, FOX and ESPN both have taken advertising money from TikTok in the past for postseason baseball and college football broadcasts respectively.
Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support. The Biden administration and other lawmakers have voiced concern about the security threat the Chinese government’s involvement with the app poses to Americans and their personal data.
The appeal of TikTok for networks and advertisers is easy to see. Between 2021 and 2022, no social media platform showed more growth for engagement from sports fans. TikTok’s sports audience jumped 65% in that timeframe. Facebook saw 22% growth and for Twitter, it was just 8%.
Dan Le Batard Addresses Response To Stephen A. Smith Criticism
“Oo-wee I seem to have gotten people mad.”
Last week Dan Le Batard went back and forth with his former ESPN cohort Stephen A. Smith, with Le Batard not pulling any punches with the First Take host.
“I hate what you two have done to sports television,” Le Batard said to Stephen A., mentioning Skip Bayless, Smith’s former co-host. Dan said on his South Beach Sessions podcast that specifically his issue is with the constant need to make the arguing over a point the primary entertainment focus.
Stephen A. responded by questioning how he and Bayless are responsible for the rise of people in the space without a journalism background when both he and Skip are trained journalists and spent years working newspaper beats before they got their breaks on television.
“You can say that all you want to; I would say, who the hell are you?!” Smith said. “To sit up there and say me and him. What about you? Where the hell were you? Living under a rock? Teaching at Miami U? You were part of it too! You ain’t innocent!”
Le Batard faced some blowback for his stance on Twitter, and on Friday Dan posted a quick video response on his Instagram.
“Oo-wee I seem to have gotten people mad,” Le Batard said. “And the reaction was hostile and swift on Elon Musk’s kind, gentle community app.”
“People say that I am a fat, ugly, hypocritical, jealous, jerk, asshole, moron, idiot,” he added. “And I’d just like to defend myself against that…I’m not jealous.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.