Bids for the American television rights to England’s Premier League were due on Monday. ESPN is amongst the bidders and Burke Magnus says there is no reason anyone should be surprised. Soccer is something that has been important to the growth of ESPN+.
“Soccer has been, really, a tentpole for ESPN+ from the very first day,” he told John Ourand in a conversation at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators Conference. “That and UFC have really been the two categories we sunk our teeth into from the very beginning.”
ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said last month that the network would indeed be bidding for the US rights. He and his staff likely face some stiff competition as all four major networks and Amazon at one point expressed intention to bid on the Premier League.
The process is not like bidding for American sports rights. “No wining and dining over in London,” as Ourand put it. Magnus countered that it has been a long time since he has even been to England. The best that ESPN and other bidders can do is hope they present the best combination of compensation and coverage that then is selected.
ESPN+ is a major player in international soccer rights. Magnus pointed out that it is a product that has helped the platform grow tremendously during its short life.
“That’s been our experience, obviously. We invested in Serie A, which is now at Paramount Plus. But we now have an exclusive deal with Bundesliga, an exclusive deal with La Liga, which just rolled out in August, a tremendous FA Cup English football championship. Thousands upon thousands of games. We think that the Premier League can be an incredible component at the high end of the quality scale obviously, if we can add it to that offering.”
‘Saturday Night Live’ Spoofs Yao Ming Replacing Shaq on ‘Inside The NBA’
The entire Kings team was out due to COVID, so a replacement squad of fans and arena support took its place.
Most of the headlines surrounding the 2021-22 NBA season thus far have concerned COVID outbreaks and several teams unable to field competitive rosters because of positive tests and close contacts.
This past weekend, Saturday Night Live joked about the NBA’s COVID difficulties with a sketch spoofing TNT’s Inside the NBA covering a horribly one-sided game between the Brooklyn Nets and Sacramento Kings. The entire Kings team was out due to COVID, so a replacement squad of fans and arena support staff took its place.
At halftime, Sacramento trailed 268-1. Nets guard James Harden took advantage of the matchup versus Kings equipment manager Dougie McCormick, outscoring his opponent, 83 points to zero.
“In my opinion, the biggest thing to me is that the Kings don’t have any NBA players, whereas the Nets do,” said analyst Charles Barkley (Kenan Thompson).
Check out the sketch below:
The SNL sketch also made fun of broadcasters who have missed on-air assignments due to COVID. James Brown and Tony Romo are among the names who have been sidelined in recent weeks.
In this sketch, it’s Shaquille O’Neal who can’t join the broadcast. Taking his place is former Houston Rockets star Yao Ming (played by Bowen Yang). At 7-foot-6, he’s a mismatch at the Inside the NBA studio desk with Barkley, Ernie Johnson (Alex Moffat), and Kenny Smith (Chris Redd). Ming also isn’t as polished as most professional broadcasters when explaining why the Kings were losing so badly.
“They’re tiny people,” he said, sounding like Lurch from The Addams Family. “Too small.”
Succinct and right to the point! Maybe we need more of that from studio analysts on sports broadcasts.
What this sketch really needed was Ming racing Smith to the giant TV screen in the TNT studio. Unfortunately, Saturday Night Live‘s Studio 8H really isn’t set up for that sort of visual gag. Plus, the sketch would’ve been ruined by Yang having to stand up. Next time, maybe this can be a digital short instead.
Netflix Adds ‘Drive to Survive’ Producer for Tennis Series
“It looks like the tennis series will start off with a bang due to the events that have ensued dealing with top-ranked player Novak Djokovic. “
Netflix has shown a great interest in sports as of recent. The success of shows such as The Last Dance have proven to drive traffic to the streaming service. Box to Box Films, makers of Netflix’s hit Formula 1 series Drive to Survive, is working on a tennis docuseries that looks to be forming into drama-filled excitement. Multiple tours and tournaments, men’s and women’s, will be included in the docuseries starting with this month’s Australian Open.
The racing docuseries is credited with a huge increase in F1’s popularity, especially in the U.S. The 2021 season averaged 931,000 viewers through its first 14 races – up 53% from 2020 and 40% from a comparable period in 2019.
It looks like the tennis series will start off with a bang due to the events that have ensued dealing with top-ranked player Novak Djokovic. Djokovic was deported from Australia after he refused to get vaccinated against COVID, contracted the virus, and acknowledged making false statements on documents regarding his whereabouts prior to traveling to the country.
He will miss out on a shot at a record 21st Grand Slam championship and up to $2.1 million in prize money.
Netflix is also working on a golf series with the PGA Tour, similarly modeled after the F1 show.
CEO Reed Hastings reportedly said he would consider bidding on F1 rights to enter into the live sports arena, which Netflix has not yet pursued.
Dan Orlovsky: ‘I’m Competitive About Film Study’
“Nothing makes me happier or brings me more joy when I find something on tape that no one else can.”
Every week, people tune in to either Get Up on Mondays or NFL Live during the week to listen to Dan Orlovsky and see him breaking down film on the touchscreen. The film breakdown is something Orlovsky has become synonymous with since he joined ESPN in 2018.
Orlovsky was a guest on Ryan Clark’s Face First podcast on Friday and mentioned that grinding tape brings back the competitive edge that he had when he was a quarterback in the NFL.
“Nothing makes me happier or brings me more joy when I find something on tape that no one else can. It’s the closest thing I’ve had to being in the game. It’s live. You don’t get the opportunity to do it 14 times.”
In addition to that, the 12-year NFL veteran knows that he only has so much time to get the viewer’s attention when breaking down a play and that he only has one chance to get it right.
Over the past year, Dan Orlovsky and Ryan Clark have done touchscreens together on Get Up or NFL Live. While Orlovsky mentioned that at first he thought that it was his thing, he has learned from Clark that “we” is more important than “me”.
“That was a struggle for me. The ego is part of it. The “this is mine!” is part of it. I want me, me, me. Ryan Clark has taught me this year that we is better than me. I’ve realized that the better our show does, the more that it allows each person to be filled with the pride of the moment. If I’m not interested in what you are saying, how the heck is the person watching going to be interested?”
Even though Dan Orlovsky has his own goals for the future in the industry, he feels he has accomplished something what he set out to when he joined first ESPN.
“When I got into this, my goal was I wanted to be a trusted and respected voice when it came to talking about football and I hope I’ve accomplished that. The goal is a moving target. We are in an everchanging media world. I love calling games. I want to be on a very important game weekly.”
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