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Could North American Fans Embrace a One Man Booth?

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Eric Koreen has an interesting piece on The Athletic Toronto inspired by the World Cup coverage on TSN. With Canada not sending its own national broadcasters to Russia, the network was forced to run the international feed that featured one-man broadcast booths. Koreen asks if it is possible they may someday become more common in North American sports coverage.

Koreen and a series of interview subjects note that soccer is ideal for a one-man booth. The culture surrounding the sport conditioned most fans over 30 to expect the action on television to be allowed to speak for itself.

“In North America, we’re a little bit more analytical in how we want sports broken down, and that’s why we have separation between a play-by-play person and a colour analyst,” said Rob Corte, vice-president, Sportsnet and NHL productions. He added that in his role he has never discussed using just one voice to call a game. “I think the analyst’s role is to really dig deep. Play-by-play: who and what. Colour analyst: how and why. …

“In soccer, it’s more commentary generally. They don’t really get into the X’s and O’s within a broadcast if you watch it. There’s not much of a technical breakdown as to strategy. Even on the replays, it’s more just commenting on the reactions of what you see as opposed to exactly why something happened. They save that for the pre-game shows, the post-game shows and halftime.”

That is not the case in the US and Canada, where Koreen says “When broadcasters on this side of the Atlantic Ocean experiment with the size of a booth, they tend to try to squeeze more voices in.”

The pace that North America’s most popular sports are played is a problem for one-man booths as well.

It is hard to imagine single voices carrying a broadcast for certain sports. Hockey’s pace of play is fast, with players hopping on and off the ice on the fly. At some point, the play-by-play caller needs to take a sip of water, and stoppages are the obvious time to do that. Basketball has more whistles than hockey thanks to more fouls and substitutions, but there is still a lot going on.

Football’s slower pace would theoretically allow for a play-caller to keep up, but there is arguably no sports that is more steeped in strategy.

Baseball, Koreen writes, is the one major pro sport where one-man booths could work. Vin Scully was a one-man-show for years on Dodger broadcasts and he is often pointed to as the most influential man to ever do the job. To be fair, Koreen points out that while Scully was on air alone, he often had someone else in the booth with him.

Many minor league broadcasters are on their own in the radio booth, but could the practice become common at the Major League level?

If there is a North American sport where we could eventually see a one-person broadcast booth become more common, it is baseball. Corte noted that 162 games — almost every day for six months — is a lot of time to hear the same voice, over and over and over. Storytelling is an accepted part of broadcasting in baseball, though, and one voice, so long as it is attached to a great memory, can accomplish a lot in the sport.

Koreen’s article is a long read, but an interesting one. You can find it here.

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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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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