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Mike Florio Tried to Scare NBC Away From Partnering With Pro Football Talk

“You just got to talk about whatever comes out, and you have to sound like you know what you are talking about.”

Ricky Keeler

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NBC Sports Group

Over the last 20 years, Mike Florio has gone from a lawyer in West Virginia to being the founder of Pro Football Talk and being one of the top NFL insiders in the business. Now, he is also an author, as his book Playmakers: How the NFL Really Works (And Doesn’t) was released recently.

Florio was a guest on The Adam Schein Podcast this week to talk about the book, his career, and some of the trades that happened in the NFL involving Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz. He mentioned that when he was doing radio spots in the early years of Pro Football Talk, it helped him become better as a lawyer as well:

“I started doing radio spots very early on,” said Florio. “I love doing radio spots because I looked at it this way. It was a way to market the business without it being an obvious advertisement. I didn’t have to pay for it. All I had to do was talk about football for 15 minutes and whoever happened to listen to it, here is the name of the website 4-5 times and maybe they go check it out.

“I was practicing law at the time and you have to talk on your feet on a regular basis when you do that. One thing I learned is that all the radio I was doing was actually making me better in court because you learn how to get comfortable operating with no net whatsoever, no notes, you just got to talk about whatever comes out, and you have to sound like you know what you are talking about.”

Once Dan Patrick left ESPN, Florio was a guest on his show. However in July 2010, he got an unexpected offer from the show. He thought he would just be a guest as the fill-in host when Patrick took a week off, but it ended up being a new opportunity for him.

“It was 2010. I was already with NBC, but I wasn’t a regular weekly member and didn’t know where this all was going to go,” Florio recalled. “Dan’s people called me in July 2010 and said Dan’s off next week, can you come on the show? I was like sure, whoever the replacement host is, just have him call me.

“They were like no, no, you’re the host. Time out. It’s one thing to talk for 10 minutes; for 3 hours, there’s no way, no how I can do that, but I did it. I was over-prepared for it. I had way too many notes and I was scared to death. I had no idea what a hard break was.”

Florio went on to explain that he ended up taking a hard break a minute earlier than he was supposed to. He ended up learning from it and is now one of the hosts of Pro Football Talk Live with Chris Simms and he’s part of the NBC Football Night In America crew every Sunday night during the season. 

Before Florio was on TV, NBC Sports tried to make a pitch for ProFootballTalk to be a part of NBCSports.com in 2009 and while Florio tried to scare them away in a parallel to a Seinfeld episode. However, it ended up becoming a key part of the website:

“When NBC, which was woefully behind its competitors on the dot com side, they didn’t have much of a presence on NBCSports.com. It was run by people who had Olympics background and didn’t care about football, baseball, basketball, etc. Rick Cordella, who is now the Chief Revenue Officer of Peacock, he was in charge of NBCSports.com and he called me in January 2009 and he made the pitch about how he wants to partner with PFT. I tried to scare him away. I didn’t want to do it.”

While Florio was afraid to do it, he said it was the best professional move that he ever made to join the NBC Sports family. 

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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Sports TV News

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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