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ESPN To Air 3 More Docs When The Last Dance Ends

“LANCE and Be Water both aired at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, while Long Gone Summer was selected for the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival supposed to take place in April, but was postponed by the pandemic.”

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The Last Dance might only have two weeks left, but ESPN Films will continue to fill the sports void when it’s over, announcing early premieres for three new documentaries spanning four Sundays. 30 for 30‘s LANCEBe Water and Long Gone Summer are all set to debut in consecutive weeks once the Bulls’ docuseries is finished. 

ESPN appeased fans with an early release of The Last Dance, and it’s so far been very successful with record-breaking audience numbers. Now the network hopes to do the same with three more documentaries that will air prior to their originally planned releases.

LANCE will occupy two Sundays, May 24 and 31, featuring Lance Armstrong, who was both one of the most inspiring and disgraced athletes in the history of American sports. After LANCE, ESPN will debut Be Water on June 7, providing a personal look at the life of martial arts icon Bruce Lee. 

Lastly, Long Gone Summer will premiere June 14, chronicling the 1998 home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which helped popularize Major League Baseball again, following their strike in ’94. For Chicago sports fans, it’s the second documentary featuring a local superstar from the ’98 sports year. But while Michael Jordan and the ’98 Bulls remain invariably loved throughout Chicago, Sosa’s ’98 season lost some luster because of his PED usage. 

Although ESPN had to hurry the completion of The Last Dance, as fans clamored for its early release after sports were shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic, similar efforts won’t be necessary for these next three docs. LANCE and Be Water both aired at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, while Long Gone Summer was selected for the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival supposed to take place in April, but was postponed by the pandemic.

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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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