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ESPN Finalizes Plans For NBA H-O-R-S-E Tournament

“There will be no play-by-play, but veteran ESPN broadcaster Mark Jones is set to serve as host.”

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The NBA HORSE Challenge starts this Sunday on ESPN. The network has finalized a roster of competitors that includes current NBA and WNBA players as well as some basketball legends.

The eight-player field includes:

  • Chauncey Billups (2004 NBA Finals MVP & 5-time All-Star)
  • Tamika Catchings (Naismith Hall of Fame class of 2020)
  • Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)
  • Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)
  • Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Paul Pierce (2008 NBA Finals MVP & 10-time All-Star)
  • Alli Quigley (Chicago Skye)
  • Trey Young (Atlanta Hawks)

Players have been paired off for the quarterfinals. The first matchup starts at 7pm on April 12 and features Young and Billups. There will be a coin toss to determine who shoots first.

Other pairings for the quarterfinals include Catchings & Conley, LaVine & Pierce, and Paul & Quigley. The four winners will advance to the semifinals on Thursday, April 16 with the finals to follow immediately after the conclusion of those matchups. There will be no play-by-play, but veteran ESPN broadcaster Mark Jones is set to serve as host.

As is custom, the first player in each game to accumulate the letters “H-O-R-S-E” after failing to match five shots is eliminated. ESPN has added some rules to this competition though.

All competitors will be isolated at their own home court and connected by remote video link. Before shooting, players must describe what it is they are trying to do, including specifying if the shot is intended to switch or bank-off the backboard. Dunking is prohibited.

State Farm is the presenting sponsor of the event. The company will donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities benefitting Covid-19 response efforts. To date, NBA-related charities have donated more than $74 million to the cause.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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