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Bob Iger Returns to Disney One Month After Retirement

“Iger is focused on making Disney a viable company for the world after Covid-19.”

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Bob Iger retired as the CEO of the Walt Disney Company in February. Around that time, Disney was keeping an eye on the coronavirus. The company had already closed its theme park in Shanghai, but there was no indication that Disney was bracing for a global pandemic.

The announcement seemed sudden and out of the blue for those of us on the outside, but Disney announced that Iger would step away and Bob Chapek, head of the company’s theme park and cruise line business would fill his shoes.

Now though, according to The New York Times, it seems both Iger and Disney have backtracked and Iger is in charge again, leading conference calls and video conferences. He still retains the title of Executive Chairman with the company.

“A crisis of this magnitude, and its impact on Disney, would necessarily result in my actively helping Bob [Chapek] and the company contend with it, particularly since I ran the company for 15 years!” Iger said in an email to Times writer Ben Smith.

Iger is focused on making Disney a viable company for the world after Covid-19. Different sectors of the company, the Disney Parks, ESPN Events, even the movie studios owned by Disney, all rely on people gathering in large groups.

Lenders clearly have confidence in Iger and Disney’s ability to rebound. Despite the fact that the Walt Disney Company is currently losing around $30 million per day, it just secured a $6 billion loan at the end of last month.

Disney employed over 223,000 people as of last summer. Now though, employees across all divisions are being furloughed. All are keeping their benefits, but won’t receive a paycheck after April 19.

Iger has told some associates to brace for an end of some long-held practices, particularly in the television world. Even when the world gets back to business as usual, The New York Times reports that Iger has discussed doing away with expensive practices like producing pilots for every concept executives find interesting and advertising upfront presentations.

Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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