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Layoffs Hit NBC Sports Digital Properties

“The layoffs from NBC also spread to some of their regional sports networks.”

Brandon Contes

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The return of Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL has people hoping better days are on the horizon, but it’s yet to stop the bleeding for the sports media industry. On Monday, NBC Sports was in cost cutting mode with their digital department bearing the brunt of the layoffs.

The layoffs hit a few of their sport-specific “Talk” websites, which followed the format of Mike Florio’s Pro Football Talk platform. Impacted by Monday’s cost-cutting moves were NBC’s Hardball Talk, College Basketball Talk and College Football Talk.

Longtime writer and editor of Hardball Talk Craig Calcaterra announced the site was being erased by NBC Sports, and his time with the company was coming to an end after more than 11 years. Also impacted by the end of Hardball Talk were writers Bill Baer and Nick Stellini. Baer joined the site in 2013, becoming a full-time contributor three years later. Stellini began writing for the platform earlier this year. 

https://twitter.com/Baer_Bill/status/1290366518912573442

College Football Talk also appears to have been eliminated by NBC Sports, with a Monday post coming from John Taylor announcing his exit. 

“CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports,” Taylor wrote, adding he was informed his position as writer and editor was being eliminated after almost 12 years with the site. 

College Basketball Talk saw its last post from Rob Dauster Monday morning. Dauster, who was the managing editor and lead writer for College Basketball Talk, tweeted that he was laid off after a decade with the site. 

The layoffs from NBC also spread to some of their regional sports networks. Michael Jenkins was an anchor with NBC Sports Washington for 16 years, but unfortunately his tenure with the network came to an end Monday. 

Jenkins NBC Sports Washington colleague Sara Perlman also announced she was laid off. Perlman and Jenkins previously worked together on NBC Sports Radio’s The Daily Line, which was cancelled earlier this year when Westwood One decided to stop distributing the brand. 

UPDATE: Kelli Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area has confirmed on Twitter that she was laid off on Monday as well.

The Chicago Tribune reports that layoffs have hit NBC Sports Chicago as well and will also impact the amount of original programming on the network.

Sports Online

Sports Media Reacts To Tom Brady Retiring

“Plenty of the biggest names in the business rushed to Twitter to pay tribute to Brady’s career on the football field.”

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Things seem a little more final this time. Tom Brady says he will not return to the field. The GOAT announced his retirement Wednesday morning in a video posted to social media.

While it is still unclear what happens next, plenty of people in the sports media had opinions to share. Plenty of the biggest names in the business rushed to Twitter to pay tribute to Brady’s career on the football field.

There were other reactions as well. It is well-known that Tom Brady has a ten-year contract worth $375 million waiting for him at FOX. That means plenty of people in the sports media have questions about what today’s announcement means for Greg Olsen.

Olsen has won plenty of acclaim as the analyst in the network’s top NFL booth. Brady’s deal includes him taking over that spot, so several personalities and writers used the day to publicly question the logic in that decision.

There was a third reaction too. Twitter was made for two things: reacting to breaking news and making jokes. Tom Brady announcing his retirement gave some members of the sports media the chance to do both.

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Mike Francesa Has ‘No Idea’ What He’ll Talk About on First Take

“They’ll tell me today or tomorrow, I guess. Maybe we’ll wing it, I don’t know. You know I have no problem winging it.”

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Mike Francesa

The much anticipated reunion between Mike Francesa and his former co-host Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is set to take place Wednesday on First Take, and the former WFAN host admitted he doesn’t know what topics will be bandied about.

“I am going to do an ESPN visit with Dog and Stephen A. tomorrow. Been planned for awhile. Really, we’ve been talking about this last year,” Francesa said on The Mike Francesa Podcast. “I don’t know what we’re gonna chat about yet. I have no idea. They’ll tell me today or tomorrow, I guess. Maybe we’ll wing it, I don’t know. You know I have no problem winging it.”

The topic came up after an email into the podcast asked Francesa if he stayed in contact with many of his former WFAN colleagues. He admitted he doesn’t chat with as many as he would like to as often as he would like, but there are still several he’ll converse with when topics arise.

“(John) Minko, obviously. I hear from certain guys at certain times, but everybody’s busy. You don’t keep in touch as much as you should, let’s put it that way…I hear from certain guys from time to time. (Marc) Malusis, (Sal) Licata, guys like that from time to time. Sid’s (Rosenberg) always texting me something or other. I do hear from some of them, and you try to keep in touch.”

Francesa’s reunion with Mad Dog will air on First Take on ESPN from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM Wednesday. Russo is a weekly contributor to the show on Wednesdays, with Stephen A. Smith putting a plan in motion to set February 1st as the reunion date during his recent book tour.

At the time of the revelation, Russo marveled at the idea of Francesa appearing on the show with him, pointing out “No other people. The three of us for two hours. Think about that. You talk about me being a fraud, Mike hated ESPN for 100 years!”

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Super Bowl LVII Expected To Set US Betting Records

“PlayUSA projects that legal sportsbooks will take in a record $1.1 billion in bets on Super Bowl LVII.”

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Even before sports betting was legal across the country, the Super Bowl would inspire even the most casual bettors to lay a little money down. This year, the game could help sportsbooks take in more money than ever before.

PlayUSA projects that legal sportsbooks will take in a record $1.1 billion in bets on Super Bowl LVII. That would make it the most bet on Super Bowl. It would also be the biggest handle any US sporting event has ever taken in.

The current record is held by last year’s Super Bowl. Bettors put just over $937 million down on the Rams and Bengals at legal books. The American Gaming Association projects that the total bet on the game is somewhere around $7.6 billion.

Nevada is still the king when it comes to legal sports gambling. That state is expected to take in the largest bets on the Eagles and Chiefs. Gamblers are expected to lay down $176.2 million in that state alone.

It is possible that projection is challenged. Both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the epicenter of Eagles fandom, have legalized sports gambling. Could that affect where the most money is laid down?

Last year, more than 9 million bettors participated in the Super Bowl at legal books. In total, it is estimated that 31 million people made a bet online.

Super Bowl LVII will take place in Arizona on February 12. The Philadelphia Eagles are currently a two-point favorite.

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