Just a few months ago, ESPN’s Paul Finebaum was reported to have outside suitors, most notably the OTT streaming service DAZN.
During a recent interview with Front Office Sports, Finebaum was asked specifically about the possibility of leaving ESPN for DAZN and the college football analyst said, “I love working at ESPN and have no interest in doing anything else.”
Finebaum was again asked if he wants to remain with ESPN during the interview, and he offered a more detailed response.
“Let me think about this question for a second because I’ve asked this question to many, many people I always hate when they give me some political answer. But I will give you something that isn’t political. It’s the honest truth,” Finebaum told Front Office Sports. “I’ve never enjoyed working for this company more. I’ve never been more honored and felt more of a responsibility than over the last (couple of months). What may have appeared in the media in November or December or January and February is fine. I can’t undo whatever reporting went into those things or whatever people were thinking about, But right now, I don’t want to go anywhere.”
It was current DAZN Group chairman John Skipper who brought Finebaum to ESPN. Finebaum’s agent Nick Kahn of CAA previously negotiated huge deals in the $6 million per year range for Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd to leave ESPN for FS1. FS1’s president at the time, Jamie Horowitz, is now DAZN’s current EVP of content. There were absolutely factors which led to connecting Finebaum and DAZN just a few months ago, but a global pandemic has significantly altered the sports media landscape.
DAZN, like many sports media companies, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Last month, DAZN was reportedly attempting to secure financial investments or possibly even an outright sale. Whether or not they still have funds to invest in high-profile talent remains to be seen.
Finebaum still has time left on his contract with ESPN which runs through 2021. A lot can change in the next 18 months, but for now, staying with ESPN seems to be the priority.
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.”
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.
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?”
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.
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.”
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.