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Discovery/Warner Media Possible Dark Horse For Sunday Ticket

“Discovery acquired WarnerMedia earlier this year to form the new company, and it has been aggressive in the sports space.”

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Bob Chapek said last week that Disney was negotiating with the NFL to bring Sunday Ticket to ESPN+. As his employee Lee Corso might say, not so fast my friend. The digital future of the TV package is far from settled.

HBOMax might be in the mix. Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that he has been told that Discovery/Warner has emerged as a “dark horse candidate” to land the out of market product.

Discovery acquired WarnerMedia earlier this year to form the new company, and it has been aggressive in the sports space. The company won the rights to the NHL’s B package of national broadcasts and made a bid for the Premier League rights that were eventually retained by NBC for the next six years at a price tag of around $2.76 billion.

Marchand writes that the company likely cannot afford to play it safe. It should get aggressive in its pursuit of Sunday Ticket.

“With the deals already completed for Thursday night (headed exclusively to Amazon next year) and with everything else staying the same, does Discovery/Warner Media want to be shut out of the NFL business for the next 12 years? We doubt it, which is why they are looked upon as legit players for Sunday Ticket. Not only is Sunday Ticket considered a great product, it will allow Discovery/Warner to build a relationship with the NFL over the next decade.”

Sunday Ticket has been an exclusive product of DirecTV since its inception. It is likely that those two companies will stay in business together, as satellite remains the best way for bars and restaurants to get access to out of market games. A deal with a digital platform would likely come in addition.

Sports TV News

NBC 2022 Winter Olympics Broadcast Teams Will Not Go To Beijing

NBC’s Olympic broadcasters will work remotely from the network’s Stamford, Connecticut facility.

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NBC Sports

On Wednesday, NBC announced that Olympic gold medalist and Alpine skiing legend Lindsey Vonn is joining the network’s coverage for the Beijing Winter Games. Unfortunately, any excitement over an Olympic star getting into broadcasting and providing analysis was soon undercut by a reminder that the world is still dealing with a global pandemic that is preventing life from returning to normal.

As reported by USA Today‘s Christine Brennan, NBC has decided not to send any of its Olympic broadcast teams to China and the announcers will cover their respective events remotely due to COVID-19 concerns.

Most of NBC’s Olympic announcing teams were already going to broadcast remotely from the network’s Stamford, Connecticut facility. But the original plans were for broadcasters to be on-site for figure skating, Alpine skiing, and snowboarding. That has obviously changed with the Omicron variant causing breakouts throughout the world.

Host Mike Tirico will still travel to Beijing for the opening ceremony on Feb. 4 and the initial few days of the Winter Olympics. But he’ll return to the U.S. to host NBC’s Super Bowl coverage on Feb. 13.

“We’ll still have a large presence on the ground in Beijing and our coverage of everything will be first rate as usual,” NBC Sports senior VP of communications Greg Hughes told Brennan. “But our plans are evolving by the day as they are for most media companies covering the Olympics.”

Viewers who have watched any sporting event with broadcasters working remotely have noticed the difference in how the action is called. Announcers can’t get a feel for how the reaction of the crowd influences the event. And in some cases, watching from a monitor rather than the usual on-site broadcast position can inhibit proper view of a play.

So NBC’s Olympics coverage will certainly suffer from broadcasters not being on-site, especially for the events mentioned above in which spectators can be a factor. That could make some showcase moments feel less compelling at times. But the excitement of an Olympics and standout athletic achievements should still be enjoyable to watch, regardless of where the announcers are situated.

The Beijing Winter Olympics begin Feb. 3 with broadcast coverage on NBC, USA Network, and CNBC, and streaming on Peacock, NBCOlympics.com, and the NBC Sports app.

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‘The Tuck Rule,’ ESPN’s Latest 30 for 30 Documentary, Debuts Feb. 6

The film chronicles the infamous play from the 2001 NFL playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots.

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Will we get more 30 for 30 documentaries from ESPN this year? In 2021, the network broadcast three new films in the series: Al Davis vs. the NFL, Breakaway, and Once Upon a Time in Queens.

Though to be fair, Once Upon a Time in Queens was a four-part documentary, providing the longer-form film that ESPN seems to prefer at least once a year since O.J.: Made in America and The Last Dance.

Just as Al Davis vs. the NFL debuted last February, the next 30 for 30 will be a NFL-related film that premieres during the off-week between the conference championship games and Super Bowl. The Tuck Rule debuts Feb. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET and will be available to stream on ESPN+ after its TV airing.

As the title indicates, the film chronicles the infamous play from the 2001 NFL playoff game between the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots. Late in the game, Oakland’s Charles Woodson appeared to have forced a fumble by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. But since Brady’s arm was moving forward and he was apparently attempting to tuck the ball into his body, the referees called the play an incomplete pass.

Check out the trailer for The Tuck Rule:

The “tuck rule” play was one of the most controversial in NFL playoff history. Rather than the Raiders forcing a turnover and protecting a three-point lead, the Patriots maintained possession and continued a drive that eventually led to a game-tying field goal by Adam Vinatieri. New England won the game in overtime, 16-13, the first step in a playoff run that ended with a Super Bowl championship, the first of six during the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.

Directed by Ken Rodgers (The Two Bills, Al Davis vs. the NFL), The Tuck Rule gets Woodson and Brady together to watch the play and recount their memories of that moment. What appeared to be a fumble to nearly everyone involved in the game was negated by an obscure rule of which only the officials seemed to be aware.

Perhaps the most important figure interviewed for the documentary is referee Walt Coleman, who made the rule. Belichick, team owner Robert Kraft, and players Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, and Willie McGinest give the Patriots side. Current Raiders owner Mark Davis, Tim Brown, Eric Allen, and Lincoln Kennedy provide the Oakland perspective.

The Tuck Rule debuts Sunday, Feb. 6 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The documentary will be available on ESPN+ following the television premiere.

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Sports TV News

Jim Nantz Will Call PGA Event From Site Of AFC Championship Game

“Nantz will anchor PGA Tour coverage from wherever the NFL game will be on Friday and Saturday, either Nashville, Kansas City or Buffalo, in a production truck under the stadium.”

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We reported last week about the hectic schedule NBC is planning to have Mike Tirico on between the start of the upcoming Winter Olympics in China and the Super Bowl, but now we’re learning starting next week CBS Sports legend Jim Nantz will be on an equally-hectic schedule.

With the NFL schedule extending by a few weeks given the extra regular season game and expanded playoffs, next weekend’s AFC championship game has cut into the start of the CBS PGA Tour broadcast season.

But the network has devised a plan for Nantz to still be a part of the golf broadcast team and call the AFC title game on Sunday. CBS and the PGA Tour will hold its Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego starting Wednesday and ending Saturday, instead of the traditional Thursday to Sunday schedule.

This is an acknowledgement of how big a ratings draw the AFC championship will be for CBS. So Nantz will anchor PGA Tour coverage from wherever the NFL game will be on Friday and Saturday, either Nashville, Kansas City or Buffalo, in a production truck under the stadium.

“I can say this: I didn’t want to miss it,” Nantz was reported by USA Today as saying in a conference call on Wednesday. “It definitely will not compromise anything that I’m doing on the football side.”

Nantz reportedly has a home in Nashville where he spends a portion of his down time. In a perfect world, the Tennessee Titans beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the divisional round this weekend and host next week’s conference championship game. That would allow Nantz to at least sleep in his own bed all week.

He told reporters after he and Tony Romo call the other divisional game on Sunday night in Kansas City, he’ll be in Los Angeles on Monday shooting a March Madness commercial. He plans to go home to Nashville on Tuesday, but he wants to follow all of the action of the golf tournament starting Wednesday.

“I’m going to be in place on Wednesday, wherever the AFC Championship game is, because the tournament is going to start that day,” he said. “So I want to watch the coverage, every minute of it, on Wednesday and Thursday.”

Still not as crazy as Tirico having to fly thousands of miles from Beijing to LA and do Olympic primetime and Super Bowl coverage on no rest, but Nantz will certainly be busy all next week.

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