Sports TV News
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.”
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.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
Sports TV News
Mike Breen: ‘Bang’ Will Never Top Marv Albert’s ‘Yes!’
“I love the game so much and if it adds to an excitement of a moment, then I did my job.”
Mike Breen doesn’t like to be thought of as the “voice of the NBA.” Unfortunately for him, a moniker like that comes along with calling nearly two decades’ worth of NBA Finals.
His signature call, “BANG!” is well-known by fans and players across the league. For someone that doesn’t like being called the voice of the league, you can imagine how he reacted when Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy asked if “BANG!” had supplanted Marv Albert’s legendary “YES!”.
“No, I can’t say that,” Breen answered. “As somebody who looked up to Marv and worshiped the way he called the game, and the influence he had. He’ll always, for me, be the voice of the NBA.”
Mike Breen says all he needs is to know that the players and fans enjoy the catchphrase. He is going to make sure that doesn’t change.
“I love the game so much and if it adds to an excitement of a moment, then I did my job. Because that’s the whole idea – to enhance the moment. I try not to use it too much. I never want to overdo it because then it gets tired.”
Players have responded to Breen’s catchphrase in a variety of ways. He says Jamal Murray has made a habit of hollering it back to him when the Nuggets guard sinks a three-pointer. Steph Curry even named his new signature shoe after the iconic phrase.
Sports TV News
Albert Pujols To Join MLB Network
“I’ve been a huge fan since the very beginning and can’t wait to get started.”
After making his broadcast debut Sunday afternoon on Peacock, Albert Pujols will be continuing his broadcast career with MLB Network, the league announced Monday. Pujols was named as a special assistant to Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr., a role in which he will consult the league on topics including player and international relations, and will also help grow the game. Part of Pujols’ new job will be appearing on MLB Network, where he will make his debut Tuesday morning on MLB Central and Wednesday on MLB Tonight.
“Beyond his long list of accomplishments on the field, Albert is a highly respected figure who represents the game extraordinarily well,” Manfred said in a statement. “He cares greatly about making a difference in our communities. We are excited for Albert to join other former players who are doing important work for our sport, and we will welcome his perspective across our efforts.”
Pujols retired from the game of baseball at the conclusion of last season after a storied 22-year career, culminating in hitting his 700th career home run and doing so as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He is ninth on the all-time hits list (3,384) and finished fourth on the all-time home run list (703). Additionally, Pujols was selected as a Major League Baseball All-Star 11 times throughout his career, which included two stints with the Cardinals, 10 years with the Los Angeles Angels and a season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pujols was the 2008 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award for demonstrating excellence on and off the field, and also won the 2022 Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award from ESPN for his charitable endeavors. He also played on the Dominican Republic’s national team during the first World Baseball Classic in 2006, and previously stated that he believed he would one day move into a coaching role.
As part of his new role on MLB Network, Pujols will be traveling to contribute to coverage for the Major League Baseball London Series – a matchup between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals – on Friday, June 23. Pujols is the latest player to join Major League Baseball, as the league employs Cal Ripken Jr., Ken Griffey Jr., Joe Torre and CC Sabathia among other former stars.
“I couldn’t be more excited for this next chapter of my career,” Pujols said in a statement. “Commissioner Manfred and I share the same passion for growing the game in the Dominican Republic and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to join the MLB Network family. I’ve been a huge fan since the very beginning and can’t wait to get started.”
Sports TV News
NBC Adds Matt Cassel to Big Ten Studio Show Crew
“He will be part of the network’s new studio show that will be hosted by Maria Taylor.”
In 2024, USC and UCLA are joining the Big Ten. Those moves helped spur two huge rights contracts for the league from NBC and CBS respectively. One of those networks is getting a jump on the new properties.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that former USC quarterback Matt Cassel is joining NBC’s Big Ten crew. He will be part of the network’s new studio show that will be hosted by Maria Taylor.
Cassel is an interesting choice for college football coverage. While many know that he turned a successful season replacing the injured Tom Brady into an opportunity to become the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, his college career was less storied.
He played at USC from 2001 until 2004 and sat behind both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart on the depth chart. Matt Cassel threw a total of 33 passes at USC. Those resulted in no touchdowns, one interception and less than 200 yards.
Matt Cassel is not the first former player added to the show. He and Taylor will be joined in studio by former Michigan linebacker Joshua Perry. NBC reportedly also wants to add future Pro Football Hall of Fame and former Wisconsin Badger JJ Watt to the team.