Sports TV News
Scripps Sports Sees ‘Opportunity to Reset the Economics’ of Sports Rights
“With cord-cutting, sports are reaching less than 50% or 40% of households in a market. That’s a broken business model.”
The collapse and decline of regional sports networks has been at the forefront of many sports media discussions, and the president of Scripps Sports believes the situation could ultimately turn into a positive one.
While speaking on “The Future of Sports on TV” panel at TVNewsCheck’s conference during the NAB Show in Las Vegas Sunday, Scripps Sports President Brian Lawlor shared that, in his view, it’s obvious the regional sports network model is no longer sustainable.
“We’re at a moment in time where the model doesn’t work for teams and leagues anymore,” said Scripps Sports President Brian Lawlor. “That was built on cable and satellite reaching 80% or more of households and markets. Now with cord-cutting, sports are reaching less than 50% or 40% of households in a market. That’s a broken business model.”
Diamond Sports Group — which operates the Bally Sports-branded regional sports networks — purposely missed a $140 million debt payment earlier this year that began bankruptcy proceedings for the company. It has failed to pay its scheduled rights fees to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians, and Minnesota Twins.
Warner Bros. Discovery told the professional sports teams it holds the local television rights for that it would exit the regional sports network business and close down its AT&T SportsNet operations in Pittsburgh, Denver, and Houston later this year.
Additionally, NBCUniversal sold its 67% stake in NBC Sports Washington to Monumental Sports & Entertainment — the owner of the Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, and Washington Mystics.
Lawlor continued by noting that the restrictive nature of regional sports networks was ultimately part of its downfall, and more broad distribution will be the key to a successor’s success.
“We have an opportunity to reset what reach looks like and within that an opportunity to reset the economics,” Lawlor said. “Those RSN deals were so restrictive, they were exclusive — only distributed on cable and satellite. There’s a top-of-the-funnel issue that broadcasters can solve. There’s an opportunity to build a direct-to-consumer business together that allows teams to own the data and own their fans. I don’t think it has to be ‘either/or’, it can be ‘Yes, and’.”
Sports TV News
Mike Breen: My Dream Was to Be a DJ at WPLJ
“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’”
These days, WPLJ in New York City is a Christian station owned by the Educational Media Foundation. When Mike Breen was a kid in Yonkers though, it was one of the most influential rock stations in America and the man who is now known as the voice of the NBA wanted to be on the air there.
On the latest edition of Dan Le Batard’s South Beach Sessions podcast, Breen revealed that he always loved sports. His first introduction to broadcasting though came from a neighbor named Tony Minecola. He was a few years older than Breen and studying to be a radio broadcaster in college.
“He built a radio station in his basement and played disc jockey,” Breen told Le Batard. “’He had commercials, records, you know, everything. Like it was a real radio station, only it only went from one room to the next. That was what he was into, and that’s what he was going to college for. And we used to hang out in the basement all the time. And one day he says, ‘Hey, why don’t you come in? You want to you want to be the DJ for a little bit?’ And I’m like, okay, let me try it.’ And I fell in love with it.”
Mike Breen didn’t just fall in love with the idea of radio. He saw it as a viable career and knew exactly where he wanted it to take him.
“I enjoyed being on the air and talking. So my initial thought was, ‘I’m going to be a disc jockey.’ WPLJ was like the big rock station in New York back at that time, and I thought, ‘I’m going to be a DJ on WPLJ.’ That was my first goal.
Through the 70s and early 80s, WPLJ was an album rock station. Some of its most iconic on air personalities included Carol Miller, Pat St. John, Fr. Bill Ayers, and Mark Goodman, who was eventually one of MTV’s original VJs.
Breen said he loved the rock music of the time, especially Jethro Tull and Bruce Springsteen, but he realized that a broadcasting career could keep him close to sports too.
Obviously, he chose well. That is not to say that he couldn’t have been a great DJ if given the chance, but he went on to be the voice of the New York Knicks and has called more NBA Finals games than anyone else in history.
WPLJ was out of the rock business by 1983 when it became a pop station.
Sports TV News
New Episodes of Beyond Limits Coming to CBS Sports
The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi.
CBS Sports is set to premiere new episodes of its franchise Beyond Limits, which celebrates athletes who go beyond the implicit boundaries of sports and society. Three half-hour episodes will be hosted by CBS Sports reporter AJ Ross, and will also air on CBS’ linear channel and stream live on Paramount+.
The first episode of the season is titled “Who I Am,” and it will feature Byron Perkins, who is the first openly gay football player at a historically black college or university (HBCU). Perkins is a redshirt senior at Hampton University. The show will also discuss the relationship he has with his mother and how she has impacted him both as a person and an athlete.
Two more episodes will premiere throughout the season – one on making sports adaptable and accessible; and the other featuring athletes who have moved into executive roles. The latter show includes interviews with NBA Executive Vice President and Head of Basketball Operations, Joe Dumars; New Orleans Pelicans Vice President of Basketball Operations and Team Development, Swin Cash; and NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Troy Vincent.
The series, which first premiered in September 2021, is produced by the CBS Sports Race and Culture Unit, with senior producer Sarah M. Kazadi. Its first episode premieres on Sunday, June 11 at 1:30 p.m. EST/10:30 a.m. PST, and should provide fans with unique storytelling and spotlight into the journeys of various key figures in sports and media alike.
Sports TV News
ESPN Colleagues Pay Tribute to Neil Everett
“It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett.”
Neil Everett has become one of the faces of SportsCenter. After 23 years at ESPN, he announced that he is leaving the network.
Colleagues at the World Wide Leader took to Twitter to share their thoughts. It was universal praise from the people that knew and worked with Everett. Chief among them was his SportsCenter partner of fourteen years, Stan Verrett.
If Root Sports Northwest requires references, there are plenty ESPN colleagues past and present that were immediately ready to vouch for Neil Everett.
Everett was not laid off. He turned down a new contract that would have forced him to take a pay cut.
The Walt Disney Company is in the middle of layoffs effecting every division. CEO Bob Iger has tasked his leaders with reducing costs by $5.5 billion and cutting 7000 jobs.