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AT&T Reportedly Looking to Grab Cubs Rights

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John Ourand from Sports Business Daily wrote a piece today about the new AT&T, now that the company has successfully acquired Time Warner’s media assets. With the addition of the Turner Networks, AT&T now how rights to Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NCAA Tournament. Ourand writes that AT&T’s sports footprint is expected to keep growing.

But some believe that AT&T’s deep pockets will make the new company even more of a player in rights negotiations. The size of the new AT&T would give it an advantage over traditional media companies. Imagine a company that could pick up rights covering linear TV, digital, over-the-top, mobile and pay-per-view all in one bid.

“I’d expect them to be more competitive than Time Warner was in pursuing the NFL in prime time and, maybe, a college football package,” said Michael Nathanson, a senior research analyst for MoffettNathanson.

Where might that start? Well, it is no secret that Turner wanted in on the NFL in the last round of rights negotiations, so that is almost certainly something that AT&T still has its eyes on, especially considering that with DirecTV in the fold, the company already owns NFL Sunday Ticket.

But forget the gridiron for a moment. The Chicago Cubs don’t have a media deal in place after 2019. Ourand says he expects AT&T may become involved in those negotiations sooner rather than later.

Another area of sporting interest is in Chicago where NBC Sports’ RSN has been trying to sign the Cubs to a rights deal. The Cubs’ current deal with NBC Sports Chicago ends after the 2019 season, and the two sides have been talking for months about an extension.

Now that AT&T’s Time Warner purchase is official, I would expect the Cubs to reach out to the new company, if it hasn’t already. After all, AT&T already is in the RSN business with three channels: AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain and AT&T SportsNet Southwest.

It’s way too early to handicap where the Cubs’ rights will go. But it seems obvious that the team — at a minimum — will look to use AT&T as leverage in its NBC Sports negotiations.

One assumes that if AT&T does get the Cubs’ broadcast rights, an AT&T SportsNet Chicago would be on the horizon.

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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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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