Mike Aresco spoke with Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinal earlier this week and defended what he thought were misconceptions about the American Athletic Conference’s new deal with ESPN. The commissioner addressed criticisms that the new deal makes it easy for marquee brands like UCF and Houston to leave the conference and that too many football and basketball games are going to be put behind the ESPN+ paywall.
“We basically have our own branded network on ESPN+ for certain kinds of events,” Aresco told Murschel. “Where the misconception is, we are getting more games on the ESPN primary linear channels than we had in the previous deal.”
The ESPN family of networks aired 26 American Athletic Conference football games in 2018. Under the terms of the new deal, it will carry 40 regular season games plus the conference championship game. There is also a promise that 21 of those games will air on either ESPN, ESPN2, or ABC.
Basketball was also discussed in the interview. ESPN and ESPN2 will carry at least 25 regular season men’s games as well as the conference tournament championship game. Adding ESPNU and ESPNews to the deal will see 65 AAC men’s games on cable overall.
Women’s basketball will be well-represented too according to Aresco. ESPN and ESPN2 have committed to carrying 13 women’s regular season games. Many will likely include UConn, one of the strongest college basketball brands in the country regardless of gender.
“UConn [women’s basketball] will have more games on the ESPN platforms, including ESPNU, than some of the premier men’s programs in the country,” Aresco said.
Aresco pushed back at the idea that the majority of AAC sporting events were going to be exclusively on ESPN+. He also said that for fans of Olympic sports, ESPN+ might actually offer a price drop to follow your school’s team in your favorite sport.
“Did you know to watch some Olympic sports on some schools’ websites, it costs more than $4.99 a month just to watch the Olympic sports, let alone watch football and basketball?”
FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts
“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.
“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”
ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.
“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”
Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC
“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”
Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.
“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”
Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.
Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”
FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.
USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.
The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.
“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.
Garrett Searight is the Editor of Barrett Sports Media and Barrett News Media. He previously was the Program Director and Afternoon Co-Host on 93.1 The Fan in Lima, OH. He is also a play-by-play announcer for TV and Radio broadcasts in Western Ohio.