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John Skipper: There’s No Evidence Broadcasters Are Worth $18 Million Per Year

“I never saw a scintilla of evidence that the people in the booth change the ratings even by a smidgen. The race to hire people is mostly about internal pride.”

Ricky Keeler

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With NFL broadcasting free agency in full swing, there are some who wonder if Troy Aikman getting reportedly around $90 million for five years from ESPN to leave FOX is too much money. Plus, some wonder if it makes a big difference who is calling the big games of the week from a TV ratings standpoint.

On the latest episode of the South Beach Sessions podcast, Dan Le Batard had John Skipper (former president at ESPN and now CEO of Meadowlark Media) and David Samson (former president of the Miami Marlins) on to talk about the big salaries given to broadcasters among other topics.

At the beginning of the podcast, Le Batard asked Skipper if he believed that a color commentator is worth $17-18 million per year regardless of how talented they are. Skipper said there isn’t really much evidence that proves that a commentator is worth that much money necessarily.

“I never saw a scintilla of evidence that the people in the booth change the ratings even by a smidgen,” said Skipper. “The race to hire people is mostly about internal pride. We want to present a good game.

“We want the media to suggest we have a great booth and the people who can do this very well are very rare. May make a little difference around the advertising margins if people are saying your show is great. Can you justify it by looking at a P&L? If I hire Troy Aikman for $18 million rather than Jill Smith for $3 million, will I see $15 million? I think the answer is no.”

“Everybody in the sports industry shows up at the Sports Emmys and they are very proud when it is announced that their version of NASCAR or their version of MLB is the best,” Skipper continued. “It is probably good for your brand. I wasn’t suggesting that it’s a foolish decision, just that it’s not about math.”  

While Skipper was at ESPN and forming the Monday Night Football booth, he wanted to do something different from the conventional way broadcasts are done and he mentioned he regretted that he didn’t push harder for Tony Kornheiser to stay in the broadcast booth longer than he was (from 2006 through 2008).

“It was my feeling and still is that the networks still are doing the radio play-by-play on television,” Skipper said. “If you watch the ‘ManningCast,’ which I have and I find highly entertaining, it feels to me that it makes it clear that you don’t need somebody to tell you everything that you can see. It is interesting to have some commentary on it, have some expertise.

“I thought with Tony, it would be interesting to add some humor on it and that we didn’t need play-by-play. Of course I was in charge so nobody would say no, you can’t do that, but there is such a thing as a pocket veto… It was not particularly embraced. I’ve always regretted that I didn’t insist in a more firm manner that Tony Kornheiser be made an integral part of the booth and that we get away from radio play-by-play.”  

Skipper does find the “ManningCast” very entertaining and he said if we were still in charge at ESPN, he would be trying to make them the main booth, but he understands why nobody does that:

“The ManningCast is entertaining,” he said. “It’s fun and I did not miss at all some human being saying gee, the quarterback turns, hands the ball off, it goes for 3. It will be 2nd and 7. I can see that. Tell me something I can’t see.”

“I would be trying very hard to convince the Manning brothers that they should be doing the main broadcast and that we don’t have to do what everybody’s always done. You can make the other the alternate broadcast if anyone wants conventional play-by-play, they could turn into a different channel.

“Note that nobody does this. Everyone loves the Mannings, it’s a great success. What percentage watch the ‘ManningCast’ instead of the main broadcast? It’s de minimis because of habit. People know the game is on one place, they turn it on… 95% of people still watch it in the conventional way, so I may be completely wrong.” 

Samson did suggest that when Skipper had Kornheiser in the booth, he might have been ahead of his time in changing how a broadcast can be done.

What you were doing was the ‘ManningCast’ before it was the ‘ManningCast,’ except you made it the primary cast,” said Samson. “I’m not sure that ESPN or any network would have the Manning brothers sitting there just riffing during the course of a game without having an alternate booth that was giving you sort of the straight play-by-play.” 

With the way alternate broadcasts of sporting events have continued to grow in recent years, who knows if someone who thinks along the same lines as Skipper might try this one day. 

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Draymond Green, JJ Redick Sell Out Live Podcast Show

The show will collaborate for the first time and it will mark an interesting time in the thrusting of new media onto the public consciousness.

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Old Man Draymond

The two new and most visible faces of the new media influx have teamed up for a live show that will take place in New York City. Draymond Green and JJ Redick are bringing their respective podcasts to the stage for a live experience.

On Monday (June 27), Draymond Green’s The Draymond Green Show and JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three will seek to entertain an already sold out audience at The City Winery in New York City.

The show will collaborate for the first time and it will mark an interesting time in the thrusting of new media onto the public consciousness. JJ Redick has earned universal praise for how he has handled his career post-retirement from the NBA, including appear often opposite Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take as well as the network’s myriad of other programming.

Draymond Green has been very public with his podcast that has very publicly recorded episodes minutes after Warriors games. He has recently invoked his mantra that he isn’t a part of the media (despite signing a contract with Turner Sports and Colin Cowherd’s The Volume). Instead he insists he is a part of the aforementioned new media.

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Scott Van Pelt Not Hurt By Draymond Green’s “New Media” Comment

“He’s the one that said it. Isn’t he the one who said he’s new media? I was just trying to give him credit in saying, ‘Look, you now have control of your narrative and you can go do your podcast now.’”

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Scott Van Pelt

We have heard an awful lot in the fast month about “new media” with a large section of that discussion coming in regards to athletes in or formerly in the NBA. One such interaction was between a member of that new media and Scott Van Pelt.

After Game 5 of the NBA Finals, a victorious Draymond Green was interviewed on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt. In the interview, Van Pelt asked Green about dealing with the outside “noise” around the Finals. After Green gave a to-be-expected type answer, Van Pelt followed-up with the initial comment that start a wave.

Van Pelt: You’re part of the media now and you get to control the conversation from your perspective and I know you’ll-

Green: New media.

He then corrected Van Pelt’s assertion that Green had stated Stephen A. Smith was new media by saying:

Green: And by the way go watch The Draymond Green Show. I said Stephen A. sometimes acts like the new media. Sometimes he doesn’t. That’s on you, but nonetheless, don’t just lump me in with media, baby. It’s the new media.

Scott Van Pelt appeared on the SI Media Podcast and was asked about this exchange.

“I didn’t get that,” Van Pelt said of Green’s resistance in being associated with the word “media.”

“He’s the one that said it. Isn’t he the one who said he’s new media? I was just trying to give him credit in saying, ‘Look, you now have control of your narrative and you can go do your podcast now.’”

Van Pelt went on about Green’s categorizing of Smith and other media as a separate column of media.

“I guess what Draymond actually said was sometimes he’s new media. I don’t give a shit who’s what…I think now as it relates to media, there’s no new and old because people that are in the old media are doing the new media and people that are in new media are cutting through in ways that people in old media didn’t think they ever would many years ago. I guess all I’m saying is whatever Stephen A. is, he exists in both lanes and Draymond, clearly his content cuts through on his podcast or with me.

I wasn’t hurt by it. I didn’t take it like he was mad at me. I was just correcting the semantics. It didn’t trouble me. Whatever. However Draymond frames what Stephen A. Smith is or what any of us are, it doesn’t feel important. I think it’s important he has that place where he wants to do his thing. And I think people are interested in hearing from the guy that was just out there not long after saying what he has to say.”

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Big Cat Asks For Listeners’ Help Booking Kevin Durant on Pardon My Take

“On a recent edition of the podcast, Big Cat talked about how the Brooklyn Nets star has continued to snub requests to come on the show.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Barstool’s Big Cat has been trying to book NBA star Kevin Durant on Pardon My Take for five years, but the former MVP just won’t say yes.

On a recent edition of the podcast, Big Cat talked about how the Brooklyn Nets star has continued to snub requests to come on the show.

“We want Kevin Durant on this show, and he has just alpha-ed me so hard at this point,” Big Cat said. “I need people to start replying to his tweets saying just go on Pardon My Take.”

It’s not like KD has given Big Cat the cold shoulder. Big Cat said Durant has responded to his DMs on Twitter before, even wishing him Happy Thanksgiving one year. But so far all attempts to get Durant on PMT have been futile.

“Maybe if we start getting some rings, then he’ll be like, ‘Yeah they’re an elite team, and I want to join up with them. And maybe I can help them win something,'” PFT Commenter said, referencing the fact that PMT is yet to be recognized with any podcasting awards.

Durant did more or less tell the podcast on Twitter he wasn’t interested on Wednesday.

Durant’s response probably still won’t deter Big Cat from trying to get Durant on the show, but at least they know where KD stands.

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