The Spring League kicked off live games on Fox Sports’ family of networks last week with a loaded broadcast crew. Analysts for the league include Joel Klatt, Brock Huard, Mark Helfrich, Petros Papadakis, and Jordan Palmer. Kevin Kugler, Brandon Gaudin, Alex Faust, and Noah Eagle round out the play-by-play voices.
The Spring League features eight teams competing in a six-week regular season from two hub markets. The league is meant for development and doesn’t bill itself as a direct competitor to the NFL.
Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis hosts the North Division, consisting of the Conquerors, Aviators, Alphas, and Linemen. The South Division in Houston houses the returning league champion Generals, Jousters, Blues, and Sea Lions. Each division plays all its games at these respective venues.
Outside of their season in the spring, the league also hosts summer showcases to help players get evaluated throughout the year. According to their website, The Spring League has had 104 of its players sign with NFL teams since 2017.
FOX is putting some of their heavy-hitting voices behind this venture. Kugler is a play-by-play announcer for the NFL on FOX in addition to college football and basketball duties with FOX Sports, Big Ten Network, and Westwood One radio. While Gaudin has roles across NFL, college football, and basketball properties for FOX Sports, Big Ten Network, and Westwood One. He also serves as the voice of EA Sports’ “Madden NFL” franchise.
Klatt and Huard are both former quarterbacks and prominent voices on FOX’s football coverage. While Palmer is returning for his second season analyzing The Spring League after the partnerships first season last fall.
The 2021 TSL season began with Faust and Palmer on the call for a doubleheader last Thursday, May 6, on FS1. The other 18 regular-season games air in prime time Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays on FS1 and FS2.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage
“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”
The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.
Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.
“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.
Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.
How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.
NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake
“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”
The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.
“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”
Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.
Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.
Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”
Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’
“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”
Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.