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Retiring ‘Pardon the Interruption’ Director Tom Howard Given Sendoff

“We are indebted for everything he’s done to make this show what it’s been, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn’t all go to hell without him.”

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ESPN Front Row

A key behind-the-scenes figure for ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption is retiring. Tom Howard is stepping down as the show’s director, a job he’s had since the show’s launch in 2001.

“Tom has been the man who’s called the shots in the control room since Day 1, and now he’s retiring,” said Tony Kornheiser in a tribute to Howard during the “Happy Trails” segment at the end of Monday’s show.

“He’s younger than I am, so what the hell am I still doing here? For more than 20 years, Tom has taken all the pieces to our daily puzzle and made them look and sound great on the air. We are indebted for everything he’s done to make this show what it’s been, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it doesn’t all go to hell without him.”

“Thanks for making Tony and me look good on TV for 20 years,” added Michael Wilbon, who needled Kornheiser for not attending the going-away party for Howard. (Very on-brand for Mr. Tony.)

As Kornheiser and ESPN senior communications director Bill Hofheimer mentioned, Howard’s work with the former Washington Post sports columnist goes beyond their time together on PTI. Howard was behind the camera when Kornheiser first appeared on television. The guess is that neither of them would have predicted that Mr. Tony’s TV career might go as long and become as successful as it has.

When PTI celebrated its 20-year anniversary on the air, Howard told Hofheimer in an ESPN Front Row interview what’s made the show so successful.

“Unlike so many talking head shows, the energy and banter between the two, especially when on set together, is like a sporting event,” said Howard. “You don’t know what’s going to happen because it’s unscripted for the most part. Learning the guys’ personalities, knowing what’s going to trigger a reaction, and catching it as it happens make cutting the show fun and fast-paced.”

As much as Kornheiser and Wilbon are associated with PTI, the show and ESPN have give due praise to those behind the scenes, including producers Erik Rydholm and Matt Kelleher. Acknowledging Howard’s role in the show’s success fits right in with the team sentiment that the production has promoted from the beginning.

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.”

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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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