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Overtime Elite Adds Ex-Turner Digital Exec As Launch Nears

The league is launching September.

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Courtesy: Overtime

Overtime Elite has added a heavy hitter from the TV executive side as they get set to launch their alternative to college basketball in less than three months. Former Turner Sports exec Mark Johnson is serving as OTE’s executive vice president of business operations. Johnson was Turner’s senior vice president of digital. He oversaw NBA and NCAA Digital platforms, like March Madness Live and NBA League Pass.

Johnson is now a key part in getting the elite high school prospect league off of the ground. He will play a role in budgeting, facility management, and strategy decisions for the league.

“We’re going to focus on: How do we grow quickly?” Johnson said in an interview. “We’ve got to get it up and launched, but then quickly move toward a growth plan. This will definitely evolve pretty quickly from year one to year two—maybe even from the first four-to-six months to the second four-to-six months. I think we’re going to learn a lot.”

The league has a groundbreaking plan to not only have high school graduates get paid like professionals, but kids still in high school are welcome to join as well. According to an Overtime press release, OTE consists of 30 players who earn a floor of $100,000 per year, plus bonuses and shares of equity in Overtime. 

Players profit off their name, image, and likeness through custom jersey sales, trading cards, video games, and sneaker deals. Overtime Elite provides health care for players, and those who don’t pursue professional opportunities after playing in the league get up to $100,000 of college tuition covered. The third-ranked prospect in the Class of 2023, Matt Bewley, is one of many “elite” prospects to sign with the league.

One of Johnson’s roles is to make sure these athletes transition into the new environment as seamlessly as possible

“I don’t think any of us are going to figure it all out for years to come,” Johnson said of the NIL opportunities players now have. “We want to make sure we do it right.”

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Reporter Kim Jones Leaving NFL Network, Fellow Media Tweet Support

“I’m healthy, happy, grateful, and – as always, optimistic.”

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NBC

Reporter Kim Jones announced on Friday that she is leaving NFL Network after a 10-year stint. Further details haven’t yet been announced or revealed, but this news coming in the final Friday of January would appear to indicate that this is a contractual matter.

Jones joined NFL Network in 2012 after seven years as a reporter for YES Network (and reserve commentator for New York Yankees radio broadcasts on WCBS). Prior to that, she covered the New York Giants and was a national NFL columnist for the Star-Ledger. She’s also a fill-in host at WFAN.

The reporter made her own headlines in November 2018 when she suffered a significant heart injury while covering a Washington Football Team practice. Shortly before she was to go on the air, Jones tripped and felt a burning sensation in her neck.

“I walked outside and I tripped,” Jones told NBC’s TODAY show in Feb. 2019. “Immediately, I knew something was wrong, but then I knew it was something serious because this is something I’d never experienced before. So I went back into the room, I sat down, and from that point on I was in and out of consciousness.”

Washington employees called an ambulance and Jones was rushed to a hospital where she underwent emergency surgery to repair an aortic dissection. (More specifically, Jones suffered a tear in an artery that carries blood from the heart.)

“The layers of the aorta in my body had split,” Jones explained. “That leaves the aorta in danger of rupturing. If that happens, I’m not here.”

No word yet on what’s next for the longtime reporter. In response to her tweet announcing her departure from NFL Network, many of Jones’s colleagues at NFL Media and elsewhere expressed their support and encouragement.

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Mark Schwarz Retiring After 32 Years at ESPN

“He was versatile, and in many ways, set a very high standard for reporters at ESPN.”

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ESPN Press Room

Monday (Jan. 31) will be Mark Schwarz’s last day with ESPN. The network’s longest-tenured reporter is retiring after 32 years on the job.

Schwarz’s career with ESPN began in 1990 and he has covered just about everything in the wide world of sports.

Most recently, he has been seen doing the “SC Report” segment on the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter. Topics have included Novak Djokovic’s bid to play in the Australian Open and the activism of Boston Celtics player Enes Freedom.

Schwarz seems to still be at the top of his game, so why call it a career now?

“I very much knew when I signed my last deal back in December of 2018 it would be my final deal,” Schwarz told ESPN’s Andy Hall. “And I have thoroughly enjoyed all 32 years that I’ve had.

“Using a sports cliché – I’ve put it all out on the field. I have plenty more to give, and I’m a young guy in good health, but there’s a lot more in my life that I’m looking to do right now, and I just want to enjoy the freedom that retirement offers.”

Throughout his entire career, Schwarz has been one of the best reporters in sports media.

“Schwarz brought a sense of storytelling and hard news reporting,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production & Executive Editor. “He was versatile, and in many ways, set a very high standard for reporters at ESPN.”

In a profession that can include tough questions and awkward situations, Schwarz never backed down to get the story.

“One of the things that I think has characterized my run is that I have been a bit of an outlier in terms of my willingness to get the story even if it creates friction with players, organizations, media relations people,” he said. “I’m not as worried about their feelings as getting the viewer the actual truth of what’s going on.”

In an era that seems to be run by social media, Schwarz has somehow avoided using Twitter and other digital outlets.

“I realize that most people are on Twitter because they’re trying to extend their brand, and I feel that my brand kind of stood for itself,” he said. “I didn’t need to explain it. If you saw my work, you got it. Me being on Twitter doesn’t really serve me at all.”

After all these years, Schwarz rides into the sunset with nothing but good feelings towards his longtime company.

“It’s just so great in a business like this where there’s so much turmoil and so much turnover, to have been given the opportunity to put together this type of run with this company is extraordinary,” he said. “And I’m grateful and honored to have done it.”

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Sports TV News

NBC Takes Premier League Show To Super Bowl Week

“During Super Bowl week, February 8-13, it will be presented from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles with Arlo White hosting along with Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe, and Tim Howard.”

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NBC Sports will be broadcasting their new Premier League studio show between February 8-20. 

During Super Bowl week, February 8-13, it will be presented from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles with Arlo White hosting along with Robbie Earle, Robbie Mustoe, and Tim Howard.  This is the second time the Premier League studio show will visit the Super Bowl, the first being in 2015 for Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona.

The next weekend, February 19-20, Arlo White will go across the pond to the Sky Sports studios in the U.K. and host again but this time with Lee Dixon and Graeme Le Saux.

From February 2-20, Rebecca Lowe will daytime host throughout the 2022 Winter Games.  Also during this time, NBC Sports International Broadcast Center in Stamford, Connecticut. will be utilizing all studios for Winter Games coverage.

This will be NBC Sports’ second trip to Los Angeles for the Premier League this season.  During October, the Premier League Mornings Live fan festival was run in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum – home to two Olympic Games (1932 and 1984) and two Super Bowls (I and VII).

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