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New USFL’s Inaugural Game To Be Broadcast On Both NBC And Fox

“The first game played in any new league is itself historical and having the USFL’s inaugural game simulcast by NBC and FOX makes it even more so.”

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The inaugural game for the new USFL will air on not one, but two networks when the spring football league kicks off on Saturday, April 16.

NBC Sports announced on Tuesday that the USFL’s season opener between the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions will broadcast in primetime at 7:30 p.m. ET. The telecast will air on NBC and Fox, marking the first time one event has aired on two competing broadcast networks since Super Bowl I was shown on NBC and CBS in 1967.

“Having two broadcast networks combine and start something like the USFL is not only unique but represents our commitment to making spring football succeed,” said NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua in the network’s official announcement. “We’re excited about the opportunity, and we appreciate the partnership and cooperation that we’ve had with Eric and his team at FOX Sports.”

NBC’s involvement in the USFL was already unusual with Fox investing in the upstart league (taking a minority share) and becoming its flagship TV network. Fox will air 12 games for the 2022 season, 10 of them on FS1. But the more TV partners, the better, especially from a risk standpoint. NBC will split the season slate with Fox, televising on the broadcast network, USA Network, and streaming service Peacock.

The new USFL isn’t a “revival,” per se, with no connection to the 1980s version of the spring football league. But all of the original team names will be part of the new venture. Though each of the eight clubs is connected to a particular market, all of the USFL’s games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama.

“The first game played in any new league is itself historical and having the USFL’s inaugural game simulcast by NBC and FOX makes it even more so,” said Eric Shanks, Fox Sports CEO and executive producer. “It’s rare when two competitors can come together and see how cooperation can lead to long-term benefit, and it wouldn’t be possible without having terrific relationships with Pete, Jon Miller, and so many others at NBC Sports.”

In total, 42 regular-season and postseason USFL games will air between Fox and NBC networks. NBC Sports will air 22 contests, dividing among the main broadcast network (nine), USA Network (nine), and Peacock (four). Fox will broadcast another 22, with 14 games on its main network and eight being televised on FS1.

The USFL’s inaugural season will launch with eight teams split into North and South divisions. The Generals will be joined in the North by the Michigan Panthers, Pittsburgh Maulers, and Philadelphia Stars. The South will be made up of the Stallions, the Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers, and Tampa Bay Bandits.

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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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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.

Jordan Bondurant

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NBA Finals

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.

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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

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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.

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