Sports TV News
Charles Barkley ‘Was so Mad’ at ESPN Coverage of LeBron James
“We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, ESPN showed the team’s celebration for all of four seconds. It then quickly switched to a shot of LeBron James, stoic but obviously disappointed, walking through the tunnel back to the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.
Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take, JJ Redick criticized the network’s NBA coverage for highlighting larger markets and a small faction of players considered to be “superstars.” There’s no way to tell if Charles Barkley was watching, but Redick’s point is one he agreed with.
That night on Inside the NBA, Barkley said he was annoyed with the amount of attention put on LeBron James after the game. He wanted to see the reactions of Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and head coach Michael Malone to making the NBA Finals. Instead, he and other viewers were inundated with more content centered around the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said last night on Inside the NBA, “because the Denver Nuggets sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
James, for the record, did not even say that he was seriously considering retiring. In a post-game press conference following the Lakers’ elimination, he said he “had a lot to think about” in the offseason.
The Walt Disney Company has reported its most-watched NBA playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The games have averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers, a 9% increase from the year prior. Moreover, Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers peaked at around 11.5 million viewers from the 11 to 11:15 p.m. EST quarter hour window, and averaged 8.2 million over the duration of the contest.
Sports TV News
Stephen A. Smith: I Want To Be Considered ‘Greatest TV Talent in History’
“That’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
Stephen A. Smith continues to be one of sports media’s most entertaining and busy personalities in the media. In addition to his work on ESPN and his podcast, he wrote a best-selling book and occasionally appears on General Hospital as an actor. Smith, however, is not satisfied with his accomplishments thus far, and has lofty goals in mind.
“I want to end my career being recognized as arguably the greatest television talent in history,” Smith said on the Tamron Hall Show. “That’s what I want to do. That’s what I want to accomplish.”
Smith recently started his own production company – Mr. SAS Productions – and it has a hand in producing the ESPN alternate telecast titled NBA in Stephen A’s World. His visions, however, penetrate beyond sports, looking for ways to further augment his versatility and fulfill his goals. Smith had previously mentioned running for the U.S. presidency and floated a political future, all while being the featured commentator on his top-rated morning show.
“I’m going to pursue acting,” Smith revealed. “I finally made a decision to do that. That’s something that I want to do because I like portraying other characters and finding myself marrying that character. The challenge of it – because I think it makes me better on television.”
He outlined his journey to working at ESPN and becoming one of the most popular sports media personalities in his book, and has spoken about it on many occasions. During his interview with Tamron Hall, she quotes something he told Vanity Fair about his formative years and how he cultivated the knowledge to work in sports media.
“I couldn’t rap. I wasn’t a good enough basketball player. I wasn’t a good enough athlete, or an artist where thousands of people are packing in an arena to watch me,” Smith said in the previous interview. “But I learned to read and write and comprehend, and I scratched, not clawed, and I worked my ass off.”
Sports TV News
Amazon Sports: We Like Smaller Leagues, But Major Leagues Will Be Focus
“When fans are already on our service, we can use that to create culture and content in a way we couldn’t otherwise. It’s a great microphone to have as a service.”
Amazon continues to make its claim in live sports rights, but it’s also gotten into original sports storytelling as well.
The streaming giant has found success with documentary-style shows like Good Rivals, which chronicles the rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico in soccer, as well as Coach Prime, which has been following hall of famer Deion Sanders on his collegiate coaching journey. Both of which have garnered Sports Emmy nominations.
Matt Newman, Amazon’s Head of Original Sports Content, said at the sports and entertainment event 4se in New York City that it’s amazing to be able to make compelling content outside of the big five leagues.
“Naturally the majority of our volume will be in the bigger, major sports, but we’d love the opportunity to kind of tell these stories you may not have heard of,” he said. Newman was promoting an upcoming series on the Professional Bull Riders called The Ride. “And these new stories, these characters will give us access and give us a chance to tell a story in a way that hasn’t been done before.”
Amazon is trying to compete with the likes of Netflix, which have created similarly successful programs like Formula 1 Drive to Survive and Full Swing with the PGA Tour.
But Newman reiterated that live sports will always be the main focus in terms of content.
“We are investing in our live rights. We have a great deal with Thursday Night Football, we just announced a renewal of WNBA live rights,” he said. “When fans are already on our service, we can use that to create culture and content in a way we couldn’t otherwise. It’s a great microphone to have as a service.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Sports TV News
ESPN Layoffs Resume, NFL & NBA Talent Likely To See Biggest Cuts
“The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning.”
ESPN will look to slash $30 million in salary as The Walt Disney Company’s layoffs continue, with a majority of it coming from talent covering the NFL and NBA. The network’s goal is to have the layoffs completed by the end of June according to a report by Front Office Sports.
Through it all, Max Kellerman’s afternoon television show This Just In could be canceled in order to make room for Pat McAfee’s show in the daily programming lineup. Kellerman’s show airs from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, meaning more moves could be on the way to hold McAfee’s statement that his show will air immediately following First Take, which concludes at noon.
Employee morale at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol is reportedly low, with people questioning why the company chose to pay McAfee and lay off a litany of its dedicated and longtime staffers. Though it’s understandable that some on the inside of the operation may feel that way, ESPN also has to explore ways to grow its business, and few would suggest that adding McAfee doesn’t help them do that.
The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning. More names are sure to follow as The Worldwide Leader looks to do its part to contribute to Disney cutting $5.5 billion in costs. The final round is expected to impact 2,500 employees in different areas of the company.
The company expects to report its own earnings for the first time this November, and sources have stated that the numbers will be impressive. Conducting the layoffs in separate rounds and saving on-air talent for last, however, has certainly played a role in public perception of the moves, and this week’s round will largely impact executives and other personnel behind the scenes.