Since launching Meadowlark Media with Dan Le Batard, former ESPN president John Skipper has said that he wants the start-up sports media company to make a big push with video content, citing an opportunity in the sports documentary space.
On Thursday, Meadowlark announced a new partnership with Skydance Sports, a division of Skydance Media, to produce unscripted sports content. The production companies will collaborate on two upcoming projects.
Up first will be a documentary series titled Good Neighbors, which chronicles the soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexican men’s national teams. The series is currently in production and plans to debut before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The second project from Meadowlark and Skydance will be a documentary on women’s basketball star Diana Taurisi, billed as “the definitive and authorized chronicle of [her] remarkable life and career.”
Last November, Meadowlark hired Deirdre Fenton as the company’s executive director of unscripted content. Fenton previously produced documentaries at ESPN and DAZN, with O.J.: Made in America and The Last Dance among her credits.
Skipper and Fenton will work alongside Skydance Sports executives Jon Weinbach and Jesse Sisgold in producing the upcoming documentary projects.
“Deirdre and I are excited for the tremendous opportunity to work with Jesse and Jon, who share our vision of using sports storytelling to explore and explicate larger cultural and societal issues,” Skipper said in the official announcement. “Our two first documentaries are a wonderful way to launch this partnership.”
It isn’t yet known with which streaming outlets or networks these projects will land. Meadowlark has a first-look deal with Apple TV+, but that is likely an exclusive agreement unrelated to the new partnership with Skydance Sports.
Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy
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.
NBA Sees Over $800 Million in Advertising Revenue for 2022 Playoffs
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together.
The NBA and its media partners saw quite a boost in ad revenue over the course of the 2022 playoffs.
Yahoo! cited data from iSpot.tv in a recent report indicating the league saw $842.4 million in revenue for the postseason. That number was up 19% compared to last year and up 54% from 2019.
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together. The figure makes for a 45% bump from 2020-21 and 39% from 2018-19.
State Farm, AT&T, Google Pixel and Kia Motors were the biggest ad spenders for this season. State Farm spent just over $40 million while AT&T and Google both spent over $30 million.
Despite the television viewership still not climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, the NBA has certainly kept it broadcast partners happy.
Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year
The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.
Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.
One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.
Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.
A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.