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John Skipper: People Will Long For Cable When They Can’t Find Their Games

“You are going to go through a very difficult period of time in the next 5-10 years in which people are not going to be able to find the game they want to watch nearly as easily as they did in the 2000s and 2010s.”

Ricky Keeler

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With the lucrative contracts that have been given out to college football coaches in recent weeks, it has led some to wonder whether those coaches actually deserve the large sums of money that they are receiving. 

To discuss that topic and the future of streaming rights and television, Dan Le Batard was joined by the CEO of Meadowlark Media, John Skipper, and the former president of the Miami Marlins, David Samson on a special episode of the South Beach Sessions podcast.

Both Skipper and Samson believe that coaches do deserve to make that much money. Both men arrived at the conclusion for a different reason.

“I think they are worth the money they are being paid. It may seem outlandish to some people who are making $53,000 a year and don’t understand why you have to pay a football coach 5 or 6 times more than you pay a university president. But, relative success on the football field leads to excitement from your donors, leads to increased admissions, leads to a lot of people showing up in your town for football games. A 12-0 Miami is worth $8 million more than a 7-5 Miami,” said John Skipper. 

“The reason why football coaches to me are making this amount of money is universities are realizing that they are getting fewer and fewer students to pay full freight tuition. They are running at a deficit operationally in a way they never have before. What they are finding is people like you running broadcast empires who are willing to pay rights fees in numbers that are probably irrational, but based on the need for live content. Sports live content in the college area drives so much revenue that if you can get a program that is attractive into a conference that is attractive, it’s going to do way more for your bottom line than anything you can do in any other department. University presidents think coaches are the key master to that money and that’s why they do it,” said Samson. 

Skipper even mentioned that the first broadcast rights deal he negotiated when he was president of ESPN was with the Big Ten. While he was able to accomplish a lucrative rights deal, there is one thing he wished ESPN did not allow to happen in that deal: 

“The first conference deal I worked on was the Big Ten, which came up in 2005. We were competing with FOX. We did a 10-year, $1 billion deal. That was the first billion-dollar deal in college sports for the rights to most of the Big Ten’s games. They kept some games for the Big Ten Network. We should have never let the Big Ten Network happen at ESPN. Wasn’t good for our business that those games leaked out of the system, but Jim Delany had the smart idea to launch a network with FOX and that also was good business, even though it had a rough start.”

Samson mentioned that when he was in charge of the Marlins, he never made a decision with the fans’ thoughts in mind. Well, he now believes that fans are going to have to be heard because they are going to control what actually happens over the next few years.

“What’s happening is there’s a greater demand for people 18-34 to not put up with that. They want no wall in the way of what they want to watch when they want to watch it and where they are when they watch it and on what they watch it on. One of the things team owners have done is they have tried to get back the streaming rights that they gave away to broadcast networks. The reason why networks are willing to pay teams so much for their local rights fees is that’s all you got and you are going to pay your cable company or you are going to pay to have that network available to you to get the game. If you don’t have to pay that network, that network is not going to pay that team and that team isn’t going to pay the players.”

So, what could the future of sports television look like? John Skipper mentioned that people should prepare to be frustrated that it won’t be easy to find their team’s favorite game: 

“You are going to go through a very difficult period of time in the next 5-10 years in which people are not going to be able to find the game they want to watch nearly as easily as they did in the 2000s and 2010s. I will hazard a guess that people will be nostalgic about paid television before too long because it was a great system and very great value because everything you wanted to watch, you paid Spectrum or Comcast and every college football or baseball game was on.

“You can find them all with a single remote and single service. You are going to enter into a bewildering time where people do not know where their game is because 5 of them will be on NBC broadcast and 3 of them will be on ESPN+ and 2 of them will be on Paramount+ and one of them will be on the ACC Network. Every week, you are going to have to figure out where the hell are they playing this week…It’s going to be more expensive, more difficult to find.”

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Stephen Watson Announced as New Host On Bally Sports Wisconsin

Bally Sports Wisconsin, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks, has announced a new host for their respective pre and postgame shows. Brewers Live and Bucks Live now have Stephen Watson as a host.

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Stephen Watson

Bally Sports Wisconsin, the television home of the Milwaukee Brewers and Milwaukee Bucks, has announced a new host of it’s pre and postgame offerings. Stephen Watson was announced as a new host for Brewers Live and Bucks Live.

Watson comes to Bally Sports Wisconsin from WISN-TV (Channel 12). There he had spent the last seven years as a sports anchor/reporter/host and covered all of Wisconsin’s major teams. In those seven years, Watson won three Emmy Awards.

“This is a dream opportunity to continue to cover two of the most successful franchises in sports right now while working alongside some of the most talented people in this industry,” Watson said. “Wisconsin sports fans are among the most passionate and dedicated in the country, and I look forward to matching their enthusiasm in my Brewers and Bucks coverage as a host and storyteller.”

Watson will share duties of hosting Brewers Live with Craig Coshun airing before and after each Brewers telecast. He will have similar responsibilities when hosting Bucks Live.

“We’re thrilled to add Stephen to our Bally Sports Wisconsin team. He is a proven content creator; his local knowledge and relationships will greatly benefit our telecasts,” said Tony Tortorici, executive producer, Bally Sports Wisconsin.

Watson is also a collegiate graduate of the area, graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 2011.

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NBA Draft Ratings Rise 32% For ESPN and ABC

“The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers tuned in.”

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The 2022 NBA Draft may have lacked the high profile prospect that prior drafts have had, but the intrigue surrounding the top three picks led to strong audience interest.

With all eyes on the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets viewership for the draft rose 32% year over year for ESPN. The first round on ABC and ESPN averaged close to four million viewers (3,988,000).

Paolo Banchero wound up going #1 to the Magic, Chet Holmgren to #2 to the Thunder, and Jabari Smith Jr. #3 to the Rockets. The full two rounds of the draft averaged just over three million viewers (3,047,000). Round 2 aired exclusively on ESPN.

The first round on ESPN and ABC was the most-watched program for June 23rd across all of television in all key demos. The event peaked at 8:15pm ET when four and a half million viewers (4,500,000) tuned in.

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Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy

Jordan Bondurant

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Shannon Sharpe

FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.

Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.

“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”

Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.

“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.

Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.

But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.

“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”

Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.

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