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Coaches Weary Of Media Access In XFL

“We knew that would be a factor, but not until I watched the broadcast late [Sunday] night where I said, ‘Oh, man. We got to do something different.”

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Everyone watching the XFL last weekend was impressed with the access provided to viewers throughout the telecasts. Players and head coaches were mic’d up, with sideline reporters able to grab unique instant reactions such as a kicker after missing a field goal. 

Attempting to build excitement during their reboot season, the XFL is giving fans access they can’t get during an NFL game. Last season, Sam Darnold was caught on mic saying he’s “seeing ghosts” during a game against the Patriots, which caused embarrassment for the Jets quarterback and teams to rethink letting their players be mic’d up during a national broadcast.

While XFL head coaches knew they were going to be mic’d up during the game, they didn’t realize how much of it would be aired during the broadcast. Coaches could be heard on the telecast calling plays, which can obviously be grabbed by the opposing team. 

“We knew that would be a factor, but not until I watched the broadcast late [Sunday] night where I said, ‘Oh, man. We got to do something different,'” DC Defenders head coach Pep Hamilton said during an interview with 106.7 The Fan’s Sports Junkies.

According to Ethan Cadeaux of NBC Sports Washington, Hamilton didn’t take issue with the access, but it does force him to spend extra time changing up the play calls. 

In Seattle, the head coach of the Dragons, Jim Zorn said he was “absolutely shocked” he could be heard calling plays on the TV broadcast.

“I think it gave a fan a chance to hear and see something they’ve never heard before, but I felt very exposed,” Zorn said according to Scott Hanson of the Seattle Times. “Information on a football team has to be guarded a little bit, so we just got it right out there. I know it had to be fun for everybody, but not super fun for me to reveal all that stuff. But I was glad I didn’t stutter or fumble the play calls.”

While the audience enjoys the access and it serves as a great way for the XFL to separate themselves from other professional leagues, concern about sign-stealing and play-call stealing does make you wonder whether or not the gimmick has staying power.

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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