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Pittsburgh Amongst Largest Audiences For Hard Knocks

“Outside of Pittsburgh, Hard Knocks viewership seems to be holding serve with parallel numbers to last year’s Browns edition.”

Jack Ferris

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Unless you’re a better person than most, we all like to watch our exes fail, or at least act as petty as possible toward them at every turn.  You may not be proud of it, you may not admit it, but it’s human nature, specially when you feel like you’ve been wronged.  BSM readers aren’t here for personal examples, and frankly I don’t have the column inches to get all High Fidelity on you, so I’ll use sports as an avenue to prove my point.  

In 1995, Browns fans openly vandalized Municipal Stadium during the final home game of the year, bitter their team was moving to Baltimore that off season.  The fact that the Browns actually beat the Bengals 26-10 was completely irrelevant.  It was two weeks before Christmas and season ticket holders were only there to air some grievances.  

This February, after being on the wrong side of a historically bad no call in the NFC Championship, New Orleans was so upset with the NFL they organized a “Blackout and Gold” boycott party on Super Bowl Sunday.  Unless you’re a Patriots fan, the pictures of the bitter party actually look significantly more fun than the game itself.  

With the power of a disgruntled fan base well documented, it should come as no surprise that this year’s Hard Knocks on HBO is drawing great numbers in Pittsburgh.  In a preseason that doesn’t have much more than Melvin Gordon holding out and Ezekiel Elliott feuding with Jerry Jones, Antonio Brown’s bizarre month has dominated headlines.  The helmet drama has left Pittsburgh fans confident they’re on the better end of their recent breakup with their former superstar and they’re thrilled to be able to watch it in real time.  

According to a tweet from Pro Football Talk, the Pittsburgh market tripled the average viewer total from across the country.  Brown did show a bit of maturity by reporting to camp the day after GM Matt Mayock’s “in or out” public address, but his frost bitten feet and helmet troubles continue to be real issues for an Oakland team looking to turn things around.  

Outside of Pittsburgh, Hard Knocks viewership seems to be holding serve with parallel numbers to last year’s Browns edition.  

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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