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Keith Olberman & Rich Eisen Talk ESPN History, MLB’s Problems

Eisen introduced Olberman by calling him “one of my favorite colleagues to ever work with.”

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SiriusXM listeners and NBC Sports Network viewers were treated to a conversation between two SportsCenter legends on Tuesday. Keith Olberman joined The Rich Eisen Show to talk about Major League Baseball’s current inability to start a season.

Before the two delved into that subject, they took a walk down memory lane. Eisen introduced Olberman by calling him “one of my favorite colleagues to ever work with.”

Although the two didn’t begin working together until 1996, Eisen reminded Olberman that the two first met in 1994. Eisen said he actually got to watch his beloved Michigan Wolverines lose to the Colorado Buffalos on Kordell Stewart’s last second Hail Mary in Bristol.

“I was in the building, Keith, because you were willing to offer me an informational chit chat,” Eisen said. Olberman remembered a mutual friend giving him Eisen’s demo reel and agreeing to meet with Eisen to offer some career advice.

When the subject turned to Major League Baseball, Olbermann did not hold back.

“I really think it is worse than we have been talking about because there is a chance, an excellent chance — a probability — that the whole ruination of their (Major League Baseball’s) business, the soiling of their own bed led by Rob Manfred, will be for no reason,” Olbermann said.

He also added that the resurgence of Covid-19 could derail every sport’s plan to return. If that happens, other leagues will be remembered as being derailed. This year will bring back very different memories about Major League Baseball though.

“What will be remembered of baseball will be the Astros scandal and how the owners tried to take financial advantage of a pandemic.”

The nearly 19 minute conversation was dominated by Olbermann as he shared historical context about both Major League Baseball’s flubbing of labor negotiations and Rob Manfred’s views and goals related to the sport.

As the conversation came to a close, Olbermann jokingly told Eisen “sorry I didn’t let you talk more.”

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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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