PAC-12 Paid LA Times, Players’ Tribune For Positive Coverage
“Andrew Walker, the conference’s Vice President of Communications, told the paper that reporter Blake Richardson would have access to the SIDs at all 12 PAC-12 schools and they would pitch her stories.”
The PAC-12 hired a PR firm in 2018 to help spread some good news about the conference. That isn’t a strange thing for any organization to do, but this PR firm may have gone a step too far, offering payment to multiple publications to write glowing things about the league.
John Canzano of The Oregonian reports that the PR firm suggested the conference approach both The Los Angeles Times and The Players’ Tribune about a deal to pay for content. Canzano writes that a PAC-12 staff member told him “Literally, in a meeting, our communications people were like, ‘Is there anyone we can pay to write positive stories?'”.
He cites evidence that a deal was made with the Los Angeles Times. The conference would pay the paper $100,000 for advertising in exchange for expanded coverage. Andrew Walker, the conference’s Vice President of Communications, told the paper that reporter Blake Richardson would have access to the SIDs at all 12 PAC-12 schools and they would pitch her stories.
The agreement was intended to run for six months. It was cut short by two months when Los Angeles Times staffers found out about the deal and voiced their objections. The paper’s executive editor Norman Pearlstine objects to the idea that the paper violated journalistic ethics, saying that “the contract we drafted and that was subsequently signed by the Pac-12 has no mention of coverage or content production.”
Canzano reports that the conference also came to terms with The Players’ Tribune. That deal resulted in columns for the site that were supposedly written by PAC-12 athletes actually being written by the PR firm. “Part of the conversation with the student-athletes that we worked with was — at their request — that we not publicize the assistance,” Walker told Canzano.
The PAC-12 is a conference that cannot get out of its own way. This is more bad news for a conference that has been fighting perceptions of ineptitude ever since the roll out of the PAC-12 Networks was exceedingly rocky.
Blue Wire Adding Podcasts Cut During SB Nation Downsizing
Blue Wire has announced it is adding three NBA podcasts that were cut during a downsizing by Vox Media that hit SB Nation earlier this year.
Lakers Lounge, hosted by Anthony Irwin, Green With Envy, hosted by Will Weird, Greg Maneikis, and Adam Taylor, and Pod Maverick with Kirk Henderson are all being revived with Blue Wire.
“We’ve built Blue Wire around being able to identify exceptional talent hitting the podcast free agency market,” said Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones. “We were thrilled to act quickly and provide a new home for three standout local NBA podcasts.”
“I’ve known Kevin for years and we’ve often spoken about working together,” Irwin said. “I couldn’t possibly be more excited to add to all the great work Blue Wire has become known for as we finally see years of conversations become a fruitful partnership.”
The former SB Nation programs that follow the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Dallas Mavericks, respectively, were able to negotiate the ownership of their podcasts with Vox, allowing them to bring their former feeds with them to Blue Wire.
The addition of the three podcasts adds to the company’s growing list of NBA shows. Currently, Blue Wire hosts Road Trippin’ with Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, and No Chill with Gilbert Arenas, among others.
Rob Parker Bringing MLBBro.com Podcast To iHeartRadio
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball.”
Rob Parker loves Major League Baseball and he is expanding his reach in the sport. His site MLBBro.com is taking another step forward just weeks after announcing a partnership with the league to provide coverage of minority players from the past and present.
He will add a podcast to the brand’s portfolio. The MLBBro Show Podcast – The Mixtape will join the iHeartRadio podcast lineup. While Parker oversees the brand, the show will be led by MLBbro.com’s Vice President of Operations JR Gamble.
Gamble brings more than two decades of experience covering the league to the show. The first episode drops right after Opening Day on March 31.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball,” said Parker, who has been a Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) member since 1990.
“It’s baseball coverage with hot sauce, loud and proud and in living color. Get on board from day one!”
What Implications Would TikTok Ban Have on Sports Media & Business?
“Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support.”
If TikTok is banned in the United States, a very realistic possibility, the ad market around sports and sports media stands to take a significant hit. Front Office Sports took a look at the companies that used the social video platform to advertise to sports audiences in 2022 and 2023.
Among the advertisers making major investments in TikTok was Degree, whose March Madness advertising campaign includes an ad that is exclusive to TikTok and stars Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the Super Bowl, T-Mobile supplemented its FOX ad buy with a TikTok campaign, while State Farm chose to skip the network broadcast of the game and spend all of its advertising with the digital platform.
It’s not only advertisers. Leagues and networks factor TikTok prominently into reaching younger audiences. The WWE, FIFA and the NBA all saw significant growth in their audiences on the app last year. On top of that, FOX and ESPN both have taken advertising money from TikTok in the past for postseason baseball and college football broadcasts respectively.
Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support. The Biden administration and other lawmakers have voiced concern about the security threat the Chinese government’s involvement with the app poses to Americans and their personal data.
The appeal of TikTok for networks and advertisers is easy to see. Between 2021 and 2022, no social media platform showed more growth for engagement from sports fans. TikTok’s sports audience jumped 65% in that timeframe. Facebook saw 22% growth and for Twitter, it was just 8%.