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Broadcasters Express Reservations About Travel

“Joining 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore on Wednesday, NFL Network host Rich Eisen expressed concerns over attending the NFL Draft next month, saying he would prefer to work the event from a TV studio.”

Brandon Contes

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Coronavirus concerns are causing games to be canceled or played in front of empty arenas, but what about the ability of broadcasters to continue attending events?

Joining 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore on Wednesday, NFL Network host Rich Eisen expressed concerns over attending the NFL Draft next month, saying he would prefer to work the event from a TV studio. Last year’s three-day NFL Draft event drew 600,000 people, with Las Vegas expecting to welcome even more fans. Many cities have already banned gatherings of move than 1,000 people. 

Even being more than a month away, it’s hard to imagine the NFL Draft taking place surrounded by hundreds of thousands of fans as league’s attempt to limit the coronavirus from spreading. The NBA, MLB, MLS and NHL began the week by banning reporters from locker rooms and those cautionary steps progressed to the NBA suspending its league for the foreseeable future Wednesday night.

Prior to the NBA’s decision, longtime Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich he preferred the idea of broadcasting games from a remote location, rather than travel to populated arenas amid the coronavirus epidemic. 

Remote broadcasting is an idea that is not without precedence. Last month, NBC Sports Bay Area announced a “SplitKast” for the San Francisco Giants, which will allow color analyst Mike Krukow to call a select schedule of road games from a remote studio for reasons unrelated to coronavirus. 

If the Major League Baseball season starts on time, Red Sox TV play-by-play voice Jerry Remy told The Boston Globe he’ll miss his first scheduled road trip of the season, although he won’t work the games remotely. Remy has beaten six cancer relapses since 2008 and doctors don’t want to risk him contracting coronavirus and being quarantined somewhere other than Mass General. 

Keeping people safe needs to be prioritized, which means if games are not safe for fans, then they shouldn’t be deemed safe for broadcasters of players. But if some sports do decide to play in front of empty arenas, what happens if announcers call the games remotely and those broadcasts are considered a success? 

There are likely baseball announcers who wouldn’t mind skipping a cross-country road trip in the middle of July or an NBA broadcaster that prefers not to travel for a meaningless game in February. Could it pave the way for more remote broadcasts even when the coronavirus is no longer a concern? 

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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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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