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Tony Kornheiser: Obama PTI Tribute Is ‘Greatest Honor’

“I get tears in my eyes. I’m not kidding. I am stunned by this. I had no idea this was happening.”

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The 20th anniversary of Pardon The Interruption took place on Friday and many people have given their thoughts on what the show means to them. During Friday’s show, one person sent in a video message to Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon that they were completely surprised by. That was the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. 

On Monday’s edition of The Tony Kornheiser Show, Kornheiser spent time at the beginning of the show to talk about what the segment from Obama meant to him and how surprised he was to receive it. He was told by Matthew Kelliher, the coordinating producer of PTI, to not have any happy’s planned for the end of Friday’s show and that it would be a taped piece instead.

I’ll write an introduction for it thinking all along that it would be a dopey montage of junk Wilbon and I had done over 20 years. I wouldn’t watch it because it would depress me how old I am,” said Kornheiser. 

As Kornheiser starts to read the introduction, the crew at PTI did something that never happens on the show before Obama appeared on the screen and it eventually left Kornheiser stunned.

“I read the introduction and then on the screen. They enable me to see the screen and that doesn’t usually happen. I’m usually staring into prompter or staring into Wilbon, but not what’s on television. Barack Obama starts to talk and I am stunned.

“He doesn’t just say congratulations. He goes on for about 3 minutes. He says some funny stories about us with the added benefit of being true and then he says the nicest things about the show and what the show means and how the show fits into the fabric of the United States of America and why he likes it and why he thinks it’s important. I get tears in my eyes. I’m not kidding. I am stunned by this. I had no idea this was happening.”

In fact, Kornheiser said he had nothing planned to say after what he thought was just going to be a taped montage of the show.

“At the end, what I had said to Mike [Wilbon] before we got to the segment. Look, it is some sort of taped deal, why don’t you come out of it, you say what you want to say and I’ll just take us to Big Finish. Mike’s speechless. Now I have to say something. I just said, he looks better than we do.”

Kornheiser has been honored for a lot of different things, but he says that this is the greatest honor he has ever received.

“It’s the greatest honor to me. I can tell you that getting a doctorate from my school or being in the Hall of Fame at my high school.  Those are great honors, but to have the former President of the United States of America tell you and tell everyone watching how much he likes the show and what the show means. That was thrilling and so generous. You can tell I was affected by this.” 

Sports TV News

ACC Network Set To Debut On Comcast Xfinity

“No official date has been set for the network’s debut on Xfinity.”

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There is always a mad scramble to work out carriage deals before a company launches a new cable network. Before the ACC Network debuted in 2019, Disney and ESPN secured deals with AT&T, Charter, DirecTV, DISH, Google Fiber and Verizon Fios. It was missing Comcast. That company’s Xfinity cable system is the largest in the country.

Xfinity subscribers will get to see the ACC Network for the first time in the coming weeks thanks to a deal between Disney and Comcast. As part of an agreement to renew the carriage of ESPN networks, the Disney branded channels, Freeform, the FX networks, and the National Geographic channels, Comcast has agreed to pick up the conference network and pair it with the SEC Network, which was already a part of Xfinity packages.

“We are very pleased to have reached this comprehensive agreement with Disney to continue providing Xfinity customers access to their content across our industry-leading platforms,” Rebecca Heap, Senior Vice President of Consumer Products & Propositions for Comcast Cable, said in a press release.

ACC Network will now be available in nearly 20 million more homes as a result of the deal. No official date has been set for the network’s debut on Xfinity.

“We’re very happy to extend our longstanding relationship with Comcast and continue to provide their Xfinity customers with Disney’s best-in-class programming,” Sean Breen, Executive Vice President of Platform Distribution at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, added. “In addition to our news, sports and general entertainment offerings, the launch of the ACC Network in the coming weeks, paired with the renewal of the SEC Network, will give Xfinity’s college sports fans long-awaited access to their favorite games.”

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SEC Network Devotes 72 Hours To Georgia vs Bama

“On Monday, ESPN announced its full slate of shows that will lead up to the game on Saturday afternoon.”

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Just like that, the college football regular season has come to a close, and the focus for FBS fans now shifts to the penultimate point of the overall season: conference championship weekend.

While all of the Power 5 conferences will be crowning champions, the eyes of the college football world will be on Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as Georgia meets Alabama in the SEC title game. SEC Network recognizes that and has dedicated the 72 hours prior to kickoff, and immediately after the game also, to programming focused on the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide colliding for a berth in the 2021 College Football Playoff.

On Monday, ESPN announced its full slate of shows that will lead up to the game on Saturday afternoon. As expected, all the SEC Network staples will be live and on-location in Atlanta.

It all begins on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 1:30 p.m. with the SEC championship press conference hosted by Dari Nowkhah. Viewers will hear from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. Paul Finebaum will go on the air with The Paul Finebaum Show starting at 3 p.m.

Check out the full weekend schedule below:

Thursday, Dec. 2

  • SEC Now: SEC Championship Coaches Press Conferences, 1:30 p.m.
  • The Paul Finebaum Show, 3 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 3

  • SEC This Morning, 8 a.m., on location at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC)
  • The Paul Finebaum Show, 3 p.m., on location at the GWCC
  • SEC Now: The Championship Coaches, 7 p.m., on location at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS)
  • SEC Now, 7:30 p.m., on location at MBS

Saturday, Dec. 4

  • Thinking Out of Pocket, noon, on location at the GWCC
  • Marty & McGee, 1 p.m., on location at the GWCC
  • SEC Nation, 2 p.m., on location at the GWCC and MBS
  • SEC Football Final, 7:30 p.m., on location at MBS

In addition to the usual lineup of hosts for these shows, fans tuning in can expect special guest appearances as well from country music star Chris Young, to comedian Jeff Foxworthy and Tony Barnhart.

The 2021 SEC championship game will kick off at 4 p.m. on Saturday. You can watch the game on CBS.

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ESPN In 8 Million Fewer Homes Than In 2020

“Rumors of Disney looking to divest from ESPN have persisted.”

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ESPN

Some people in the media watch ESPN’s subscriber numbers like a hawk and report them without real context. In 2021, the people that cheer whenever there is news about ESPN having fewer subscribers than it used to will tell you that the network is in 8 million fewer homes at the end of the last fiscal year than it was in at the end of fiscal 2020. There is some context that is missing though.

Linear cable isn’t an a la cart service. So, if ESPN is in 8 million fewer homes at the end of 2021, then that means FOX News, Bravo, Nickelodeon and every other cable network is in 8 million fewer homes too. Also missing is the fact that while linear ESPN is losing subscribers, plenty of people are signing up for ESPN+ subscriptions.

At the end of fiscal 2021, ESPN Plus had more than 17 million subscribers. That is significant growth over fiscal 2020. ESPN Plus had 10.3 million subscribers at the end of the prior year.

ESPN’s traditional cable network and its sister channels net around $10 per subscriber for Disney each month through packages on cable, satellite and digital TV. At $6.99 per month, ESPN Plus is not a perfect replacement, but that is a direct payment to the company.

Rumors of Disney looking to divest from ESPN have persisted. A drop in linear cable distribution will do nothing to end that speculation. We may be in for an extended session of number watching though. If cable subscriptions keep dropping off at such a high rate, it could motivate Disney to make a move.

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