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Schools Question ESPN’s Control Of College Football

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he believes college football should “press pause” on expanding the playoff.

MIchael Quirk

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To say many in the college football world are worried about the dismantling of the sport’s status quo following Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC would be like saying a field mouse is worried about a hungry falcon. What was already viewed as the sport’s most-powerful conference only got stronger, crippling a rival conference in the process. It appeared as though a 12-team expanded playoff was all but a done deal, but Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith says given recent developments, he would like for everyone involved to put a pin in that change.

“I think the pause button should be hit,” Smith told Yahoo Sports. “We need to evaluate the landscape and what it’s going to look like. We still need to evaluate the 12-team playoff. We don’t need to rush into that when there’s legitimate concerns that need to be addressed.”

Concerns are rampant for those outside of the SEC regarding television contracts in particular. One unnamed Power Five athletic director was cited in the report as being concerned about ESPN continuing to gobble up premier rights in the game such as the CFP, given its strong relationships with the SEC and ACC, without going to market for other bids. Both conferences hold contracts that include networks for each, and the SEC-ESPN relationship only got stronger after the Worldwide Leader acquired the rights to the top SEC game each week that was previously held by CBS.

That concern of ESPN’s power and influence moved into the spotlight after a cease-and-desist notice was sent from the Big 12 to the network regarding its alleged contact to a member school regarding its future. ESPN finds itself in an interesting place as the leader in broadcast sports journalism while also having strong interests in the success of the SEC.

While Ohio State has found itself to be a regular in the College Football Playoff over the years, ESPN’s ownership over the event may find diminished value for conferences like the Big Ten and PAC-12 moving forward with their upcoming TV deals.

Sports TV News

Netflix CEO: ‘We’re Not Anti-Sports, We’re Just Pro-Profit’

“He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.”

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Netflix will not join Apple and Amazon in the rush to gobble up live sports rights. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the streaming giant’s disinterest at the UBS Global Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.

He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.

“We’re not anti-sports,” Sarandos said according to Deadline. “We’re just pro-profit. We have yet to figure out how to do it. But I’m very confident we can get twice as big as we are without sports.” 

Questions about the interest the company has in carrying live sports have come up several times in the past. Sarandon made similar comments last year when asked about it.

Reed Hastings, Sarandos’s co-CEO at Netflix, has a slightly different view. In 2021, he indicated that Netflix could be interested in F1 rights someday thanks to the success of its documentary series Drive to Survive, but that would be a special case. Any league interested in doing business with Netflix, he said, would have to allow Netflix to control all of its content.

Ted Sarandos echoed that sentiment in his most recent comments. He said that the company does not see a way to profit by “renting big-league sports.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

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.”

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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.

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