A few more ice crystals have formed on the already frosty relationship between beIN Sports and Comcast. The network was already dropped from Comcast’s XFinity systems last week. Verizon’s Fios systems also dropped beIN Sports.
beIN then filed a discrimination claim with the FCC. It claimed that Comcast was deliberately burying beIN and its soccer-heavy programming because Comcast owned NBCSN and its soccer-heavy programming.
The claim was dismissed by the FCC for multiple reasons, which were summarized nicely by Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing.
The FCC’s decision relies on two key factors, with each described as an independent basis for the ruling; beIN didn’t provide enough evidence for a prima facie (first impression, or enough to require a rebuttal) case that their main beIN Sports channel and their beIN en Español channel are “similarly situated” to NBCSN and Universo, based at least partly on uncertainty about their future programming, and they also didn’t prove that Comcast had discriminated against their channels in the past.
Whether or not beIN and BeIN en Español were placed in a higher tier to give NBCSN and Universo an advantage with viewers is irrelevant since the beIN networks are regularly placed in a higher tier by most cable and satellite providers. It was a point Comcast highlighted in a press release regarding the decision.
We applaud the FCC’s Media Bureau for dismissing beIN’s complaint and allowing us to make program carriage decisions based on sound business reasons and in the best interest of our customers. Our carriage of the beIN channels was consistent with how they are carried by most other cable and satellite providers as niche services on specialty and less-penetrated tiers. We in no way discriminated against beIN.
Comcast is in a carriage dispute with a number of higher tier sports networks right now. The Pac 12 Network is still struggling to gain clearance. The Big Ten Network’s ten year agreement with Comcast ends this month. beIN is the only one that tried to get the FCC involved, and that might make it the one with the least hope of finding an amicable resolution.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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?”
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.