While the American Athletic Conference’s new 12-year, $1 billion extension with ESPN is regarded as a good thing for the conference as a whole, the UConn Huskies program begs to differ.
The deal complicates a tradition of UConn basketball games broadcast on the SNY Network and so far it is unclear how much the ESPN contract will impact that partnership.
“We at UConn have been a dedicated and enthusiastic charter member of the AAC,” UConn president Susan Herbst said. “The level of play in the conference has been outstanding, and our university colleagues in the conference are a pleasure to work with. That said, I am deeply concerned about potential exposure for UConn men’s and women’s basketball.”
ESPN will broadcast a host of games including UConn men’s and women’s basketball not only on traditional, linear networks such as ESPN2 and ESPNU, but also digital streaming service ESPN+. The worry from UConn is this will force fans who traditionally watch the Huskies play on SNY, which has been the program’s TV partner for the past six seasons, to purchase an over-the-top service such as Roku or Chromecast to watch the team play.
“It’s not about technology,” Herbst said. “Our fan base is of course sophisticated in the ways of digital media. But exposure on ‘linear’ television is vitally important to us because many Husky fans gather to watch UConn basketball as a social event — when traveling, in restaurants or bars, or in the living room with family and friends. Right now, wherever I am, I can tune in easily and see our student-athletes in action.”
ESPN and SNY are expected to come to some sort of agreement on the matter, though ESPN and the AAC have been mute on the subject so far.
“It’s such a great relationship,” said Gary Morgenstern, SNY’s senior vice president of programming before the deal was finalized Wednesday. “I think it’s been really good for the university and we know it’s been really good for SNY. And it would be a shame if it weren’t able to continue.
SNY reaches about 12 million homes in the Northeast, while ESPN+ has around 2 million subscribers.
Not only is this a risk for Husky fans, but the new deal isn’t expected to make enough of an impact financially for UConn to warrant such a shift in viewership. According to the Hartford Courant, UConn’s athletic department reported a $41 million deficit for the 2018 fiscal year, among the worst in Division I athletics. UConn, and the rest of the AAC, will receive $6.94 million a year, which significantly tops the $2.16 million number from the previous deal, but isn’t enough of a revenue boost to fix all of the program’s problems.
UConn and SNY are in a “wait and see” mode and will have to hope for the best as ESPN, the AAC and SNY come to an agreement. In the end, SNY doesn’t have much leverage in the matter and may be at the mercy of ESPN and the AAC.
“We’re just sitting on the sidelines waiting on the call to really understand what the next step would be,” Morgenstern said. “Clearly, if we’re left out of that, that’s not good for the fans. That’s what we strive to do, is put a service out there that satisfies what the fans want. But we just don’t know how it’s going to play out.”
Habst added this isn’t a change UConn or Husky fans want to take without SNY still in the mix. “We do not want our amazing Husky fan lifestyle disrupted. Period.”
Media Reacts To Nick Saban’s Comments On Texas A&M, Jackson State
“Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.”
Nick Saban had some choice words about recruiting in the NIL era on Wednesday night. The Alabama head coach didn’t just voice frustrations with the process. He called out three schools specifically for using Name, Image and Likeness payments to create an advantage for themselves in recruiting.
He said that Texas A&M, which signed the top-ranked recruiting class in 2022 according to a number of outlets “bought every player on their team.”
He said that Jackson State gave a player $1 million to come to the school. “It was in the paper,” he said. “They bragged about it! Nobody did anything about it.”
It is likely that he was talking about defensive back Travis Hunter, widely regarded as one of the five best players in the class of 2022. It should be noted that Jackson State Coach Deion Sanders has been adamant that Hunter did not receive a dime from the school or anyone else.
The comments created plenty of content on sports radio on Thursday.
Jimbo Fischer, the head coach of Texas A&M took the story to a new level with a press conference of his own in which he cryptically encouraged people to “dig into” Saban’s career history.
The commentary in the sports media came in all kinds of forms. Plenty took to Twitter to express an opinion.
Others used the feud to create comedy.
Finally, others did actual reporting. they made phone calls to get context and further the story.
The coaches may be relatively quiet in public for a while. That doesn’t mean the stories and reactions are going away. Saban’s comments and the ensuing rebuttals will be used to fuel content on sports television and radio through the offseason and likely beyond.
Bleav Announces Partnership With SiriusXM
“The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.”
A new partnership will see content from the Bleav Podcast Network come under the SiriusXM umbrella. All 32 of the network’s NFL team-specific podcasts will now be available on the SXM app. The satellite radio company will also have the ability to air Bleav content on its sports channels.
“SiriusXM is a leader in content. We’re very happy to be a part of their programming and continue to amplify the voice of our talent,” Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm said in a press release. “SiriusXM listeners will be able to regularly hear from athletes that played for their team, bringing fans insight and access that only a player can.”
The Bleav podcasts come with some serious star power. Each show features a former player paired with a host to discuss the latest news about their team. In adding Bleav, SiriusXM adds the likes of Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, Adam “Pac Man” Jones and others to its roster.
The deal will also lead to more content in the future. The companies expect to add to the Bleav content available on the SXM App, including shows focused on other professional and college sports.
“Bleav’s team-focused programming, hosted by many former stars from the league, give fans a unique and experienced perspective into their favorite players and franchises,” said Steve Cohen, SiriusXM’s SVP of Sports Programming and Podcasts. “Bleav’s network of shows deliver valuable insight for fans of every NFL team. They are a great addition to the selection of sports podcasts available on the SXM App and we look forward to adding other shows, focused on other sports, from the Bleav network to SiriusXM in the future.”
Dave Portnoy Offers Pat Beverley ‘Blank Check’ To Join Barstool
“Just say how many zeros and guarantee us once a week, you are hired.”
Minnesota Timberwolves player Pat Beverley turned heads with his comments about Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul after the Suns were eliminated from the NBA Playoffs.
Beverley told Mike Greenberg and Stephen A. Smith on Monday that he thinks Paul is a “traffic cone,” due to his poor defense and that on nights he knows he’s playing Paul he’ll have a nice steak dinner and wine the night before. He said he’s in bed by 8 p.m. and doesn’t want to hear from his mom or girlfriend if he’s playing Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Pat’s comments got the attention of Barstool Sports president Dave Portnoy. Portnoy said Monday he liked Beverley so much that he would hire him to do a podcast for Barstool.
“If Pat Beverley is a Barstool fan and he’s watching this, he has a blank check. You name your price for a podcast, and we will hire you — no questions asked,” Portnoy said. “Just say how many zeros and guarantee us once a week, you are hired.”
Portnoy made the push to sign Beverley to a podcast deal as the company seeks to scale back the number of podcasts it produces. Barstool CEO Erika Nardini announced the decision to cut shows last week.
No word if Beverley has responded to Portnoy’s offer.