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Fanatics Exploring Purchase Of Regional Sports Networks

“The sports merchandise and trading card company just added the latter title to its major business focus in recent months.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Fanatics

Fanatics is already a major player in sports merchandise and trading cards. Now, they could be angling to enter the sports media rights space. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports that Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin has been in preliminary meetings to potentially add regional sports networks to Fanatics portfolio.

The sports merchandise and trading card company just added the latter title to its major business focus in recent months. Fanatics signed long-term trading card deals with the NBA, NBPA, MLB, MLBPA, and NFLPA this summer. The company is also exploring entering the gambling space by launching a sportsbook.

“Rubin’s meetings with league, team, distribution, and network executives have been dormant for several weeks, and nothing is imminent, as sources say Fanatics is concentrating on expanding other parts of its business before tackling media,” Ourand wrote in the article. “Several sources said that these talks with Rubin could pick back up again next year. Plus, leagues, teams and media companies are considering several options beyond Fanatics.”

The company could disrupt the RSN business just like the trading card business, which they came out of nowhere to upend over the summer.

Fanatics Trading Cards hasn’t released any products yet but is already valued at $10.4 billion after its latest funding round. Fanatics owns around 80% of the trading card company, with other investors like private equity giant Silver Lake, talent agency Endeavor, and VC firm Insight Partners all working into the fold.

The Michael Rubin-owned company is pushing into merchandise, trading cards, ticket selling, and sports betting. Media rights are the next logical step in that endeavor, but RSNs aren’t the same as those other industries.

Fanatics would likely have to take a loss on the properties in terms of subscriber-generated revenue, but the access to all of those team broadcasts could do wonders for its other business arms.

Leagues need a buyer for their distressed RSN assets, and Rubin could be their man.

Sports TV News

Rece Davis Remembers Where He Was When the News of Him Hosting College GameDay Got Out

“I look over, and my phone and iPad are at the broadcaster’s position, and they are exploding. Bzz, zz, zzz. I’m like ‘what in the world?’

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Rece Davis

Rece Davis has been the host of ESPN’s College GameDay since 2015 when he took over for Chris Fowler. Fowler moved into the broadcast booth alongside Kirk Herbstreit for the ABC/ESPN Primetime Game of the Week. The timing leading up to the switch was an interesting one for Davis.

Davis joined The Press Box podcast with Bryan Curtis and talked about how he had entered some talks with CBS before getting the GameDay spot, but was never really close because ESPN called him and told him they would take care of him. Over the next year, he and his agent negotiated for one of the most prominent spots in college football broadcasting.

While Davis doesn’t remember the moment he signed, he does remember the moment the news finally got out.

“I was calling a basketball game in Ann Arbor (February 5, 2015). I had my iPad out and I was doing a SportsCenter hit about the game,” Davis recalled. “I look over, and my phone and iPad are at the broadcaster’s position, and they are exploding. Bzz, zz, zzz. I’m like ‘what in the world?’ I go ahead and do my hit. I don’t have any inkling that it’s gotten out yet. Obviously it had. I thought ‘okay, who’s going to be ticked off at me that I didn’t let them know it was coming.

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Sports TV News

Linda Cohn: Other Networks Never Gave Me A Good Enough Reason to Leave ESPN

“There were always more pros than cons about where I was.”

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Linda Cohn just celebrated 30 years on SportsCenter. On top of that, she just signed a new deal at ESPN. 

She has been one of the network’s staples for a long time. Stephen Strom asked her how that happened on the latest episode of the Sports Talkers Podcast. Cohn’s answer was pretty simple.

“I didn’t see enough from other networks to make this dramatic change,” she said.

ESPN always viewed Linda Cohn as a standout at the SportsCenter desk. As time went by, she became a reliable presence that the network did not want to lose. She told Strom that meant unfortunately she did not get every opportunity she wanted in Bristol. 

Other networks have shown interest at various points. In the end though, Cohn said her kids were a major factor and no network ever presented an opportunity that was worth uprooting her kids.

“You can’t ignore the fact that you don’t want to move people around. You know, the old pro/con list? That’s what I did. There were always more pros than cons about where I was.”

New episodes of The Sports Talkers Podcast drop every Thursday.

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Sports TV News

NBC Sports Announces Matthew Berry Hire, Will Debut Tonight on Football Night in America

This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004.

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Matthew Berry

NBC Sports has announced the official hiring of fantasy specialist Matthew Berry. He has agreed to a multi-year deal and will be featured on Peacock, NBC and NBC Sports digital platforms.

The network also announced that Berry will join Football Night in America each week during the NFL season on NBC and Peacock including with his debut tonight leading into the 2022 Hall of Fame Game.

Berry will host a weekly game-day fantasy football and sports betting show on Sundays from 11a-1p ET on Peacock and NBC Sports digital platforms. He will also create a one-hour daily podcast for Peacock, live-listening on NBC Sports Audio and SiriusXM and be available as a downloadable podcast.

We welcome Matthew to the team and are excited to incorporate into our coverage the compelling and industry-shaping commentary that has made him the face of fantasy football for millions of fans,” said Sam Flood, NBC Sports Production Executive Producer & President.

“This is truly a full circle moment for me,” said Berry, who served as a fantasy football expert at NBC Sports’ Rotoworld from 1999-2004. “I started my career at Rotoworld, spent many years there, and not many people are lucky enough to get the chance to come home. I’ve spent my entire life talking fantasy football to anyone that would listen. So when I was offered the chance to join the highest-rated studio show in all of sports, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.”

Berry also added, “Please remind me of this quote the next time I realize millions of people just saw me get a prediction wrong. In the meantime, know that I am incredibly honored and humbled by the opportunity not just to join the FNIA family but also to help build something special on Peacock.”

Berry will provide analysis and content around major NBC Sports events outside of football, including the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, and more.

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