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Hollywood Reporter: Which Channels Will Be Victims Of Streaming Sports?

“The website used NBCSN’s 80 million subscribers as the threshold for what networks could be faced with uncertain futures.”

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NBCSN will be no more by the end of the year. Live sports and studio shows are a major part of the strategy to differentiate Peacock from other OTT services in what has become a crowded marketplace. On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter asked what other sports cable networks may soon shudder their linear operations.

HBO Max and ESPN+ are both going to stream games as part of their parent companies’ deals with the NHL. CBS won the TV rights to CONCACAF tournaments, but seems more focused on putting those soccer matches on Paramount+ than on CBS Sports Network. It makes sense then that The Hollywood Reporter is thinking this way.

The website used NBCSN’s 80 million subscribers as the threshold for what networks could be faced with uncertain futures. ESPNEWS and Big Ten Network both fall short of the mark with 62 million subscribers and 57 million subscribers respectively. The chart also highlighted Discovery’s Destination America which doesn’t even have 50 million subscribers. It has carried professional wrestling in the past, but is not a true sports network.

'On the Bubble' chart showing major cable channels carriage deals

It isn’t hard to imagine that Big Ten Network would go away anytime soon. FOX has not put a focus on creating a streaming platform for sports the way it has for news content. Plus, conference networks are a status symbol of the bond between the most powerful college sports properties and the TV networks they are partnered with.

ESPNEWS would seem like a possible candidate for extinction. The network’s programming could easily be folded into ESPN+ especially as more and more replays tend to populate its dayparts.

The Hollywood Reporter also quotes Pete Bevacqua, NBC Sports Chairman, on what shutting down NBCSN and moving more live games to USA Network would do for that outlet, saying that sports could make it “an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace.”

That could be another key to some smaller sports networks leaving the cable landscape. Moving live games to company’s largest cable outlets could be a better play for generating revenue.

Right now, no other studios have announced plans to shut down their sports networks, but at some point it is likely. The focus on streaming rights and the abundance of games that can fit on a streaming service as opposed to linear television will make it cost-effective to move sports to those OTT services exclusively.

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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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