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Stephen A. Smith Wants To Work With Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon

“The network also has an interest in Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green”

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Courtesy: Mikey Reeves / ESPN Images

Stephen A. Smith could potentially form his own superteam for pregame NBA coverage like so many of the league’s champions have done in recent years. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Smith wants to link up with Magic Johnson and Pardon the Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon potentially on NBA Countdown.

ESPN didn’t provide comment to Marchand for the piece, but other candidates to take over the pregame void left by Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols include, Richard Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins, and Chiney Ogwumike. The network also has an interest in Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, but he obviously would be tough to insert as a regular panelist.

Marchand’s sources described a potential Smith pregame show as a tough sell for the league office. In the past, they have felt he is too opinionated to lead into their premier NBA games, especially the Finals.

All of these shakeups come following Dave Roberts’ ascension to the head of NBA programming at ESPN. Roberts took over for Stephanie Druley following the Nichols-Taylor fallout. Smith has acknowledged in past interviews that he and Roberts are close. Time will tell if that relationship is strong enough for Smith to get what he wants.

Johnson has worked with ESPN in the past as a member of their Finals studio programs, but he has not worked in TV since and has been out of basketball since stepping down from his role as Lakers’ president of basketball operations in 2019.

Wilbon, on the other hand, is a TV veteran that often appears with Smith for his ESPN TV duties when he is not on Pardon The Interruption. A lot of things hang in the balance for the network on both First Take and their NBA coverage, with a little less than two months left until the 2021 season gets rolling across the league.

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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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