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Ariel Helwani Announces Post-ESPN Media Strategy

Helwani just wrapped up a three-year stint at ESPN.

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Courtesy: MMAFighting Youtube

Well, that didn’t take long.

One of the premier MMA journalists finished up his time at ESPN, and now he’s wearing a whole bunch of different hats. Ariel Helwani announced today that he is working with The Ringer, BT Sport, Substack, and Vox Media as he moves on from a three-year stint at ESPN.

Helwani is bringing his signature podcast, The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, back to Vox Media as a part of their podcast network.

“It feels like not a day has gone by without someone asking me to bring back The MMA Hour or telling me how much they miss it,” Helwani said in a press release. “Well, I missed it, too. Tremendously. So, I am extremely excited to let the fans know that — finally — The Mixed Martial Arts Hour is back in their life. Man, it feels good to write that.” 

Speaking of writing, Ariel Helwani will house his scribing on Substack for the foreseeable future. His TV duties will shift over to BT Sport, where he will conduct long-form interviews with MMA voices while also contributing to their WWE and Boxing coverage. While his podcast duties will be twofold: the MMA Hour and a live-focused show with Spotify and The Ringer.

The live-Spotify show is listenable for fans and records in real-time on their Green Room app, which they recently rebranded from Locker Room. Helwani goes live on the app before and after weekly fight cards to discuss all of the action. He also confirmed additional live Green Room shows if there is any big breaking news in the MMA world. 

Ariel Helwani’s main podcast will still be The MMA Hour, but the Spotify partnership allows him to flex his live audio chops.

“We’re excited to welcome Ariel and the whole MMA Hour community back to MMA Fighting and SB Nation,” SB Nation SVP Jermaine Spradley said. “Ariel is a much-needed voice in the world of mixed martial arts — and the community that he’s built around that podcast and video series is one we’re excited to help him continue to grow.”

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New York Mobile Sports Bets Likely to Pass New Jersey for No. 1 in U.S.

“The data tell us that New Yorkers are dumping illegal sportsbooks for the new legal options, and operators are also excelling at attracting first-time bettors.”

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New York looks well on its way to become the new No. 1 in mobile sports betting. Bets from the state blasted off in the first two weekends they were available.

This could put New York in position to overtake its neighbor, New Jersey, for the top spot.

According to the Associated Press, Vancouver, Canada-based tech company GeoComply Solutions recorded 17.9 million transactions last weekend in New York. That’s up from 17.2 million the weekend before, when betting went live in the state. 

The transaction numbers are related to sports betting activity from a specific location of a customer. Bettors are required to make bets within state lines where it is legal.

The company says 1.2 million new accounts were created in New York since mobile sports betting began on Jan. 8. Nearly 88% of those customers are new to legal sports betting, never having been verified before by GeoComply.

“The momentum of New York’s sports betting launch has continued and it is mostly home-grown,” GeoComply managing director of gaming Lindsay Slader told the AP. “The data tell us that New Yorkers are dumping illegal sportsbooks for the new legal options, and operators are also excelling at attracting first-time bettors.”

These numbers imply that the New Jersey market might be hurting as a result of New York surging. However, while the transactions show New York probably took more bets, they also indicate that New Jersey hasn’t lost any business to New York so far.

New Jersey averaged 12.6 million geolocation transactions in the two weekends before New York’s mobile launch, and 13.1 million in the two weekends since.

About 9.3% of bettors have accounts in both states, the company said.

“The growth in New York has been explosive,” said Rush Street Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz, whose company runs the BetRivers online sportsbook. “It is, by far, off to the fastest start of any of our sportsbook markets in terms of handle. Along with having the largest population of any state with legalized sports gambling, New York is one of the few U.S. states with multiple teams across all four major sports. It’s simply a recipe for long term success.”

Sports gambling company FanDuel is “very pleased” with how New York customers have embraced betting.

“While all markets are critical, it was especially important for FanDuel to do well within our home state,” said spokesman Kevin Hennessy.

While New Jersey is still thriving, it should be interesting to keep an eye on the market as more and more business pops up in New York. New Jersey casinos and sports books say at least 20% of their business has come from New Yorkers crossing over into New Jersey to make bets before New York opened up the market.

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Sports Online

NSMA Announces Award Winners, Hall Of Fame Inductees

“The NSMA’s annual awards weekend and national convention is scheduled for June 25-27 in Winston-Salem, N.C.”

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National Sports Media Association

The National Sports Media Association (NSMA) will induct four new members of its hall of fame and honor its three national award winners in June, and the NSMA announced the full list of honorees on Tuesday.

Basketball analyst Hubie Brown and the late Stuart Scott will be inducted as hall of fame sportscasters, while Jackie MacMullan and Curry Kirkpatrick will go in as hall of fame sportswriters.

Scott passed away after a bout with cancer in 2015, but he will always be fondly remembered as one of ESPN’s greatest SportsCenter anchors. His catchphrases “Booyah!” and “Cool as the other side of the pillow” were just some that captivated audiences during his time at ESPN.

Additionally, there was a tie for national sportscaster of the year, as Turner Sports’ Ernie Johnson and ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt will share the 2022 award. ESPN baseball insider Jeff Passan was named the national sportswriter of the year.

The NSMA’s annual awards weekend and national convention is scheduled for June 25-27 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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Dan O’Toole Returns To Broadcasting With New Podcast, ‘Boomsies!’

“Talking to some former co-workers — some former bosses — and one of them said, ‘Well, Dan, I think you’re done in the industry.'”

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BetRivers Network

Since being fired by TSN last year, Dan O’Toole has kept a rather low profile. But not by choice.

As the former SportsCentre and Fox Sports Live anchor explained to The Athletic‘s Sean Fitz-Gerald, no other media outlet was offering work. The lack of interest moved O’Toole to the point where he began to consider a different career. And he wasn’t getting encouragement from former colleagues.

“Talking to some former co-workers — some former bosses,” O’Toole told Fitz-Gerald, “and one of them said, ‘Well, Dan, I think you’re done in the industry.'”

It’s a realization that plenty, far too many, in media have faced in recent years as outlets make budget cuts or shut down altogether. Yet for someone as accomplished and popular as O’Toole was in his on-air partnership with Jay Onrait, such a situation must have been even more difficult.

So like many other broadcasters, O’Toole, 46, decided to give himself a platform. He started a podcast. Titled Boomsies!, the show is available where most audio content is found these days, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The podcast is also available on YouTube, in partnership with BetRivers Sportsbook. New shows will be posted every Wednesday.

The “Boomsies!” name came from a producer he previously worked with at FS1. Behind the scenes, the producer would yell “Boomsies!” in response to a big play or notable mistake.

Later in The Athletic‘s article, O’Toole went onto explain that he believes it’s been difficult to find work in Canadian sports television because of his rather public episode in July 2020 when he believed that his infant daughter had been abducted. The child was later found safe with her mother.

“Having a very public — essentially — mental breakdown, with a situation in my life,” O’Toole told Fitz-Gerald. “That probably entered my brain, where people don’t want this guy around.”

Losing his job at TSN provided O’Toole with the opportunity to help himself, which included a month-long stay in a treatment center last year. He’d like to get back on television, but is content with the podcast for the work-life balance it allows. The show also provides a platform to demonstrate to anyone who might be struggling with mental health that it’s possible to put a life back together.

New episodes of Boomsies! are available each Wednesday on most podcast apps including Apple Podcasts and Spotify, in addition to a video version on YouTube with the BetRivers Network.

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