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Maria Taylor Talks About Realities Of ESPN Right Now

“Taylor did mention that there are protocols whenever she goes into the studio at ESPN where only 2 people can be in a conference room and there are 3 computers in between each person as people wear face shields, masks, and gloves.”

Ricky Keeler

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Over the last couple of years, one person that has risen up in popularity in the sports media landscape is ESPN host and sideline reporter, Maria Taylor. This week, she was on the Bill Rhoden On Sports Podcast on the BLEAV Network with Bill Rhoden and Jamal Murphy to talk about her career and covering sports in what has been the new normal. 

During this interview, Taylor talked about what was happening as sports were shutting down and one of the unique programming ideas ESPN had to mesh the NBA and the Women’s Final Four before sports came to a halt back in March.

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster. It came to a screeching haul,” Taylor said. “We had just gotten through the NBA All-Star Game. I was heading home for a couple of days, then I was going to head to Bristol to host the NCAA Women’s Tournament up through the Final Four. We had plans to bring NBA Countdown to New Orleans. We all found out together there weren’t going to be any more games for a while.”

Taylor did mention that there are protocols whenever she goes into the studio at ESPN where only 2 people can be in a conference room and there are 3 computers in between each person as people wear face shields, masks, and gloves. As far as the new normal, there is one thing Taylor likes about it she hopes that will stick around.

“I think it kind of levels the playing field for storytelling. Everyone has access to everyone. I do like seeing athletes or the subjects of our stories in a home setting. It takes some of the glitz and glamour away from the formality and kind of breaks down that wall a little bit. I hope that continues moving forward.”

As a former collegiate athlete at the University of Georgia, Taylor knows first-hand what it means to be a student-athlete and one of the things she appreciates now is that student-athletes are finding their voice and speaking up on issues.

“The student athletes are realizing that their voices are so much bigger than the sport because they are the sport. Being on the sidelines for almost 10 years, its great to finally see that,” She said. “I’ve had so many conversations with players where they felt like their voices have been silenced. To be honest, it was the same way when I was in school. For once, it seems as though the power has been given to the people. It’s not just about whether or not they catch 5 passes for 100 yards, which is in itself pressure packed. They are trying to figure out how do I use my influence when I know this isn’t right on my campus?”

As Taylor continues to work at ESPN, she realizes how important her voice is when it comes to speaking on social injustice and how her speaking up helps people who can’t.

“I recognize the responsibility of if I don’t speak up in meetings or on TV, the production assistant in Bristol is not going to have the opportunities that they deserve. As black women, stop being humble. I’m good at my job. It’s almost like what are you going to do? If you fire me, people would be upset about it at this point. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m going to continue to excel, work hard, be a good teammate, make sure everyone feels good. You can’t feel any type of way about my opinion on how black people are treated because I am speaking the facts. I do believe you kind of ascend to that level of confidence.”

Throughout this interview, you will hear Taylor’s story of becoming a broadcaster and also the work she is doing with LeBron James’ More Than A Vote initiative.

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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