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ESPN Will “Absolutely” Pursue 2030 World Cup Rights

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ESPN WORLD CUP

There is no doubt the value of having the world’s most popular game’s most popular tournament, the World Cup, on your television network. ESPN realized that in 2014, the last time the network alongside ABC, hosted the tournament. Over one billion people tuned in. In fact, 1.013 billion people watched at least one minute of the Final match between Germany and Argentina.

That’s billion, with a big, fat ‘B’. So it’s no wonder that ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro would be beyond interested in bidding for the next FIFA World Cup rights that would be available, which is 2030.

“Absolutely,” Pitaro said in an interview with Richard Deitsch. “Hard stop. Without any reservations.”

Pitaro continued by saying he’d go for the 2026 World Cup if he could have. FOX retained those rights when FIFA shockingly announced in 2015 that they’d extend the partnership with the network beyond the already secured 2018 and 2022 tournament. It was an early declaration that essentially iced-out any competitive bidding process. FIFA would later admit they did so to avoid a possible lawsuit from FOX in the event the 2022 World Cup would have to be rescheduled. This year’s World Cup was rescheduled to November-December to avoid the brutal heat in Qatar.

“If the rights were coming up for the (2026) World Cup, I would say the same thing,” Pitaro continued. “It’s a fantastic game and (ESPN president of programming and original content) Burke Magnus’ group has done a fantastic job at acquiring really great international rights that have moved the needle for ESPN+ and really helped us get to where we are right now. I think soccer is part of the identity today of ESPN. If you’re a soccer fan now, you pretty much have to have ESPN+. Yeah, we’re all in on the sport. So the answer to your question is yes. Whenever they’re ready to talk, we’re ready to sit down with them.”

ESPN currently has rights to other soccer leagues such as La Liga, Bundesliga and the Eredivise. ESPN also holds select U.S. national team rights.

The network made the worldwide television audience take notice and earned effusive praise in 2010. That year’s studio coverage originated, from the first time, entirely from South Africa, the host country.

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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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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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