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Whitlock Makes Fox Sports Debuts, Explains ESPN Issues

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Jason Whitlock has joined Fox Sports, and made his debut this afternoon on Colin Cowherd’s radio program. You can click here to watch the video.

Whitlock also wrote a piece detailing his departure from ESPN, why his project “The Undefeated” didn’t work out, and what he still hopes to accomplish. The full column can be read by clicking here. The key highlights are listed below.

I left FOX Sports in 2013 and rejoined ESPN to follow my dream. I wanted to build a website, The Undefeated, dedicated to examining the intersection of sports, race and culture because I believe locker rooms, stadiums, arenas, and teams epitomize and best utilize America’s diversity. ESPN required me not to respond to the avalanche of criticism. I agreed that the website and the work that appeared on the website would be the most effective response. I was removed from the project in June. The website has yet to launch. The project will not be my defense.

Why did I fail at The Undefeated? There are numerous reasons, including my foolish belief I could manage like a football coach. I learned there’s an art to corporate politics that I’m not good at. Another part of the answer is quite simple and rather obvious: 1) ESPN is cost-cutting, undergoing a significant cultural shift that has led to the departures of Bill Simmons, Colin Cowherd, Keith Olbermann and yours truly; 2) If you believe the 2014 reporting of Robert Lipsyte, ESPN’s in-house ombudsman at the time, key ESPN executives disagreed with my vision to build a site as ambitious and well-funded as Grantland and FiveThirtyEight. The analysis of race and culture is far more difficult than the analysis of movies, burritos and numbers.

So why have I been portrayed in countless stories as the black plague of journalism? That’s the deeper explanation, and it begins with understanding the conversation I wanted The Undefeated to provoke among black people. Who are we? And do the black journalists and leaders alleged to represent our views really represent what we believe?

Or are they unwitting pawns handed 30 pieces of silver, 100,000 Twitter followers and a standing invitation on FOX News, CNN and MSNBC to provoke a battle that will ultimately lead to further rollbacks of the victories won by Dr. King, Rosa Parks and our greatest generation?

The self-appointed leaders of groupthink are comfortable basking in the admiration of their neo-liberal, white supporters, uninterested in legitimate discourse and worked nonstop to characterize my vision as irresponsible, anti-black and too revolutionary for Disney. My vision is not out of step with traditional black values. Fair journalism – the kind of work done by Simon and Alexander – would properly analyze black culture.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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