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Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir Stay Silent During Kamila Valieva’s Skate

“For all the other Olympic athletes competing here, I feel I need to say again that she had a positive test. We should not have seen this skate.”

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Sometimes, broadcasters are just as effective with what they don’t say, rather than what they actually do say. Many announcers have been praised for being quiet and letting the scene speak for itself. For example, crowd noise after a big moment or an important victory.

Tuesday night, NBC’s Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir let their silence convey their disapproval, their dismay over Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva being allowed to compete in the women’s short program at the Beijing Olympics despite testing positive for a banned substance.

When Lipinski, Weir, and Terry Gannon were introducing the figure skating slate for the evening, both analysts said they felt strongly that Valieva should be barred from participating.

“We have to remind ourselves that she is just 15 years old, a minor, and I know more than anyone what it’s like to compete at an Olympic Games at 15 years old,” said Lipinski (via The Washington Post). “But a positive test is a positive test. She cannot skate.”

Weir agreed. “If you can’t play fair, then you can’t play, and it is a shame because she is a tremendous athlete,” he added, echoing the sentiments of the figure skating community.

Amid the controversy surrounding her, Valieva had an excellent performance on Tuesday, compiling an 82.16 score that gave her the lead over fellow Russian Anna Shcherbakova and Japan’s Sakamoto Kaori going into Thursday’s women’s free skate program.

Yet throughout most of Valieva’s skate and after she completed her performance, Lipinski and Weir had little to say. They wouldn’t praise someone who shouldn’t have been allowed to compete, but also wouldn’t pile criticism on a 15-year-old girl whose use of a banned substance may have been decided by others.

For an audience accustomed to effusive praise and strong criticism from NBC’s star figure skating analysts, their silence was notable. And it was certainly effective in telling viewers how they felt about the entire situation.

When the two eventually did speak, their disapproval was clear.

“All I feel I can say is that was the short program of Kamila Valieva at the Olympics,” Weir said.

“For all the other Olympic athletes competing here, I feel I need to say again that she had a positive test,” added Lipinski. “We should not have seen this skate.”

“We are so sorry it’s overshadowing your Olympics,” said Weir.

As Valieva left the ice and waited for her scores, Lipinski said that she viewed Valieva as the best figure skater she’s ever seen. But that only made her feel confused and angry, knowing that the Russian skater utilized an unfair advantage.

Weir added that the entire circumstance make him feel uncomfortable both as a skater and commentator.

For two star personalities known for their bold commentary, flashy fashion, and social media presence, their terse restraint said everything that needed to be said in one of the most scrutinized events in recent Olympic history. It was a remarkable broadcasting moment.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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