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Report: CEO Bob Chapek On Thin Ice At Disney

“From a sports media standpoint, what will be worth watching is what this means for ESPN.”

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Laughing Place

Since Bob Chapek took over as CEO of The Walt Disney Company, he has found himself making headlines for a lot of the wrong reasons. Speaking to sources inside the company, The Hollywood Reporter reports that those missteps could mean his days are numbered.

Many people will point to the position he wanted Disney to take on Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill and the public backlash it drew from fans and employees. Inside the company though, that move is seen as the latest in a line of decisions that indicate Chapek may be out of touch with the people that work for and consume products from the company.

“It’s funny how many people have said to me, ‘It’s such a giant mess, but I’m not surprised,’” one longtime Disney insider told THR’s Kim Masters of the way Bob Chapek responded to the Florida legislation. “That’s part of what makes it difficult to recover from.”

From a sports media standpoint, what will be worth watching is what this means for ESPN. Chapek comes from a consumer products background and has been more aggressive than any Disney CEO before him about embracing sports betting and taking advantage of the revenue that it could generate for ESPN. Advertising is one thing, but Chapek has made it clear that he is willing to license the ESPN name to a sportsbook if the price is right.

Would another CEO embrace something outside of Disney’s family friendly image so aggressively? That is a question that is especially worth asking if Chapek is removed for having lost the confidence of the Disney Board of Directors.

Disney had a management retreat scheduled for this weekend. It would have put Chapek in front of some of the most powerful executives in the business world. The company cancelled the retreat at the last minute. It is a decision one source told Masters was “not necessarily fatal but very serious and destabilizing.”

“This was Chapek’s big moment, post Iger, to assert his leadership and vision in front of the top 300 execs worldwide,” the source said. “These events at Disney are like political rallies, coronations, sports camps and proms all in one.”

Bob Chapek still has eleven months left on his current contract at Disney and sources tell Masters that as far as they know, nothing is for certain. However, the story indicates that the writing may literally be on the wall in terms of what direction the decision makers are leaning.

“A cartoon hanging in the production offices of The Simpsons seems to suggest an opinion,” Masters writes. “It has Chapek in the ‘In Memoriam’ section of the Oscars show.”

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Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII

“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”

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The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.

Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.

Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.

Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.

Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.

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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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