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Finebaum Threatens to Sit Out SEC Media Days

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Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage is reporting that the relationship between Paul Finebaum and ESPN has soured to the point that the biggest star on ESPN’s SEC Network is threatening to sit out SEC Media Days entirely. The SEC isn’t happy about it and Finebaum certainly isn’t happy about it. Travis reports that Finebaum is seriously looking at his other options.

According to sources Finebaum, who declined comment to Outkick, was told in October of last year by then-president of ESPN John Skipper not to worry about his soon to expire contract. Nine months later, with limited contact from ESPN executives, Finebaum has now reached the limits of his patience with the network and is preparing to depart. That’s despite substantial efforts by an increasingly frustrated SEC office over ESPN’s inability to get the deal done.

Not signing a contract extension with Finebaum is only the latest in the SEC’s list of frustrations with ESPN. Travis reports that the league feels it was mislead by ESPN and its relationship with the ACC.

This exacerbates recent tension in the SEC-ESPN relationship that has threatened to explode into public view over ESPN’s decision to launch the ACC Network, a move undertaken despite what sources say was a promise made by former ESPN president John Skipper to former SEC commissioner Mike Slive that ESPN would never partner with another conference to create a network.

In an effort to repair the relationship new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro traveled to the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida and told everyone there that the SEC was one of his top priorities. So, many wonder, how is it that Finebaum’s contract is close to expiring?

As for Finebaum’s grievances with the World Wide Leader in Sports, Travis says there are many. The report at Outkick the Coverage details Finebaum’s desire for ESPN to lay out their vision for his future and for the network to find ways to expand his profile in a way that makes him relevant to a larger audience than just Southern college football fans.

Finebaum already skipped ESPN’s upfront presentation to advertisers. Skipping SEC Media Days would be another matter entirely considering the wall-to-wall coverage the SEC Network provides and the daytime coverage on ESPNU in the past.

What would be Finebaum’s plan should he exit ESPN? According to Travis’s report, there is no shortage of options.

Finebaum, who hosts a daily radio show simulcast on TV on the SEC Network as well as appearing on the SEC Nation pregame show and as a commentator on ESPN’s SportsCenter, has explored a syndicated radio opportunity and a move back home to Alabama which would provide more creative freedom for his show. In addition to that opportunity, another conference is also willing to hire away Finebaum to do his show on their channel, broadening the show’s appeal from just the SEC to all of college football. Finebaum, whose radio show on JOX in Birmingham prior to his departure for the SEC Network, was a rollicking carnival of excess which received a glowing six thousand word profile in “The New Yorker,” has sometimes bristled over the heavy-handed management exerted by ESPN on his show’s content.

 

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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Sports TV News

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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Sports TV News

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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