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Report: CEO Bob Chapek On Thin Ice At Disney

“From a sports media standpoint, what will be worth watching is what this means for ESPN.”

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Laughing Place

Since Bob Chapek took over as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, he has found himself making headlines for a lot of the wrong reasons. Speaking to sources inside the company, The Hollywood Reporter reports that those missteps could mean his days are numbered.

Many people will point to the position he wanted Disney to take on Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the public backlash it drew from fans and employees. Inside the company though, that move is seen as the latest in a line of decisions that indicate Chapek may be out of touch with the people that work for and consume products from the company.

“It’s funny how many people have said to me, ‘It’s such a giant mess, but I’m not surprised,’” one longtime Disney insider told THR’s Kim Masters of the way Bob Chapek responded to the Florida legislation. “That’s part of what makes it difficult to recover from.”

From a sports media standpoint, what will be worth watching is what this means for ESPN. Chapek comes from a consumer products background and has been more aggressive than any Disney CEO before him about embracing sports betting and taking advantage of the revenue that it could generate for ESPN. Advertising is one thing, but Chapek has made it clear that he is willing to license the ESPN name to a sportsbook if the price is right.

Would another CEO embrace something outside of Disney’s family friendly image so aggressively? That is a question that is especially worth asking if Chapek is removed for having lost the confidence of the Disney Board of Directors.

Disney had a management retreat scheduled for this weekend. It would have put Chapek in front of some of the most powerful executives in the business world. The company cancelled the retreat at the last minute. It is a decision one source told Masters was “not necessarily fatal but very serious and destabilizing.”

“This was Chapek’s big moment, post Iger, to assert his leadership and vision in front of the top 300 execs worldwide,” the source said. “These events at Disney are like political rallies, coronations, sports camps and proms all in one.”

Bob Chapek still has eleven months left on his current contract at Disney and sources tell Masters that as far as they know, nothing is for certain. However, the story indicates that the writing may literally be on the wall in terms of what direction the decision makers are leaning.

“A cartoon hanging in the production offices of The Simpsons seems to suggest an opinion,” Masters writes. “It has Chapek in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the Oscars show.”

Sports TV News

Ian Rapoport: I Have Never Thought It is Me vs Adam Schefter

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows.”

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In terms of NFL insiders, Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are the two biggest names out there. And sometimes it can be a race between the two to get the biggest scoops first. Especially now with the NFL coaching carousel in full swing.

This week two teams hired new head coaches – the Broncos traded two first round picks to the Saints to acquire the rights to Sean Payton and the Texans signed DeMeco Ryans.

Rapoport tweeted that Denver had pursued Ryans up until the day they announced the trade for Payton.

Not even 15 minutes later, Schefter appeared to clarify the information out there with the two teams.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Pat McAfee referred to the conflicting information as a “source off.”

Ian said he stood behind what he put out there.

“I know it’s fun to call it a source off or whatever, but for me I reported what I had based on the best information I can get – based on talking to many, many people throughout the course of the last month,” Rapoport said from the Senior Bowl. “And then whatever happens as a result of this I don’t really mind.”

In terms of any sort of rivalry between him and Schefter, Rapoport doesn’t view it as a head-to-head matchup.

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows,” he said. “And everyone can sort of judge for themselves whichever way to go.”

McAfee gave kudos to Rapoport for his reporting on the Ryans situation. He also said it’s a good thing Rapoport doesn’t worry himself too much about what other insiders are doing.

“I think you should feel good about it, but I do like a good source off,” McAfee said. “And I appreciate the fact that you don’t view it as you versus Schefter. But you two are at the top of the game. So that’s a compliment more so than anything.”

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Sports TV News

AEW Considers Launching Streaming Service

“It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.”

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All Elite Wrestling is looking into launching its own streaming service.

According to reporting from Bloomberg, a source “familiar with management’s thinking” said AEW is looking to strike a deal with broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery.

Since launching in 2019, AEW now puts on two weekly shows on Warner channels TBS and TNT and airs two shows on YouTube.

Last year AEW acquired Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group. As part of that deal, AEW took ownership of RoH’s extensive content library Honor Club. So much like WWE did with WWE Network when it launched in 2014, AEW could launch its streaming service and have all of Ring of Honor’s content in a one-stop shop.

It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.

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NBC Officially Unveils Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge as New Big Ten Booth

“With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

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It’s officially official: Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge, and Kathryn Tappen will join the Big Ten on NBC booth when the network begins airing the conference’s football package in 2023.

NBC made the announcement Thursday, after weeks of speculation about the moves.

“We are excited to showcase Big Ten Saturday Night on the NBC Sports’ primetime marquee,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood. “When you hear Todd’s voice, you know it’s a big college football game. It has been that way for decades.

“Noah is one of the industry’s rising young play-by-play commentators, who has excelled calling numerous sports across multiple platforms for a wide range of audiences. We are thrilled to pair him in the booth with Todd.

“Kathryn has told the stories of so many memorable Notre Dame Football moments over the last decade in her on-field reporting and interviews,” Flood continued. “With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

Blackledge joins NBC after working as a college football analyst for the network for the past 17 seasons. Previously, he was the an analyst for CBS and ABC, making 2023 his 30th consecutive season covering college football as an analyst.

Eagle is the son of broadcasting legend Ian Eagle, and currently serves as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers. He comes to NBC after calling college football games for FOX Sports in 2022.

Tappen has spent the past nine seasons working NBC’s college football coverage with Notre Dame. Eight of those nine seasons were spent as the network’s sideline reporter before anchoring the studio coverage from South Bend in 2022.

2023 will mark the beginning of a seven-year contract for NBC to air Big Ten football games in primetime. The move is one of the biggest notable expansions in the college football arena for the network since its partnership with Notre Dame began in 1991.

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