Connect with us
Jim Cutler Demos

Sports TV News

Will HBO Land Bill Simmons?

Jason Barrett

Published

on

While there are lots of potential landing spots for Bill Simmons, there hasn’t been much talk yet about which companies have actually made solid pitches to him. It looks like HBO has entered that camp, though, and it sounds like acquiring Simmons might be a big part of the network’s strategy going forward. Lacey Rose of The Hollywood Reporter wrote a big cover story on HBO that went live online Wednesday, and Simmons was important enough to be mentioned on the cover and make the online title, “HBO’s Real-Life Game of Thrones: The Fight to Stay Rich, on Top and Score Bill Simmons.” Most of the piece is more aimed at those curious about HBO’s changing business model (particularly with their new over-the-top HBO Now service that doesn’t require a cable subscription) and their various programming strategies, but the part on Simmons will definitely interest sports fans:

On June 21, HBO will add a pair of testosterone-fueled new editions — Dwayne Johnson’s sports dramedy Ballers and the Jack Black-Tim Robbins political half-hour The Brink — along with a second installment of the drama juggernaut True Detective. And the network will ramp up from there, with plans for more of the addictive Robert Durst docuseries, a not-yet-announced 1970s porn drama from The Wire’s David Simon and, if all goes as planned, a platform for ESPN cast-off Bill Simmons. While HBO executives are staying mum, multiple sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the network is in talks for a major multipart deal with the biggest media personality in sports (more on that later). …

[HBO programming chief Michael] Lombardo won’t rule out other talk shows, too, particularly if the right personality comes along. Though he’s tight-lipped about names on his wish list, he acknowledges the soon-to-be available Jon Stewart would hold appeal. “Trust me,” he says, “I’ve already had a very polite conversation.” Considerably more likely is Simmons, whom the network is said to have made a big play for after his unceremonious booting from the more corporate ESPN. Such a move would be straight out of the HBO playbook, which famously provided a creative reprieve for former ABC flameout Bill Maher many years earlier. Though Simmons is said to have several suitors, insiders say con­versations at HBO have focused on a TV show — something Simmons is believed to want — along with heavy digital extensions that make the prolific personality tailor-made for the HBO Now era.

A talk show for Simmons would certainly be an interesting step. At first glance, that seems a little outside the box, but it’s not really that different from the televised podcasts he did at Grantland or the more recent Grantland Basketball Hour on ESPN. That also might fit with Simmons’ apparent desire to have a big TV presence, and it might be free-form enough to work well for him. It might turn into important content for HBO, too; as we’ve discussed before, Simmons has an incredibly loyal fanbase, and that’s largely a young fanbase who might well follow him to HBO, especially in an era where HBO Now is available without a cable subscription. It’s notable as well that HBO is much better than many of its competitors at allowing you to watch programming whenever, through services like HBO Go and HBO Now. That might be a good fit for someone who’s coming in from a column/podcast world where his audience engages with his content when it works for them.

Given Simmons’ involvement with ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries, work on HBO’s sports documentaries also might be a natural fit for him. HBO Sports president Ken Hershman wouldn’t comment on Simmons when AA’s Ben Koo asked about him earlier this month, and HBO’s 2011 decision to close its in-house unit might make it more difficult to find a role on that side for Simmons, but HBO regularly features content from filmmakers like Peter Berg who have worked with Simmons before, and involving Simmons in analyzing outside pitches, deciding which ones to pursue and potentially even working with the filmmakers would only seem logical. It’s notable that Simmons has made several comments in the past about how HBO’s dominance of the documentary space inspired his work with 30 for 30 and convinced him to challenge them. Simmons is strongly opinionated, and his past criticisms of HBO’s recent documentary direction might not go over well with everyone, but he might also be able to bring a fresh perspective and some of what he learned from 30 for 30 to help HBO recapture a larger slice of the sports documentary market.

The biggest question about a potential Simmons to HBO move may be what happens to his written and podcast content. If he has a regular talk show and is involved in documentary production, perhaps that’s enough work for him, and perhaps it means he doesn’t feel the need to crank out columns or podcasts. If he did want to keep doing those, though, there doesn’t seem to be a natural fit for them at HBO, and that might work against them compared to a company like Turner that could use written and podcast content as well as TV content. Something to keep in mind here is that HBO doesn’t always need to have talent work with them and only them, though; it’s possible to imagine a deal where Simmons does work for HBO and someone else, or where he runs his own website on the side with perhaps some venture capital funding. There are lots of questions still to be answered about any potential Simmons-to-HBO deal, but this is certainly an interesting possibility, and it sounds like one that not only might work out for both him and the network, but one that’s also being actively explored by both. We’ll see if anything comes of this, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.

Credit to Awful Announcing who originally published this article

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sports TV News

NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Averages 3.1 Million Viewers on ESPN Networks

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup.

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

ESPN on ABC
Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company

The Stanley Cup Final has extended to another game after the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Florida Panthers on Saturday night to attain its first win of the series. While Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Stuart Skinner seek to keep the Oilers’ season alive on Tuesday night, the Panthers aim to close out the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. The Panthers, however, will need to overcome giving up eight unanswered goals to the Oilers in Game 4 in order to achieve that task.

The Game 4 win-or-go-home matchup averaged 3.1 million viewers on ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research, which is up 20% from the comparable game last year. ESPN’s broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC peaked at 3.52 million viewers and attained a 1.4 rating, the latter of which is up 15% from last year’s Stanley Cup Final Game 4 between the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights televised on TNT, TBS and truTV.

Although the game elicited year-over-year gains, viewership is down 33% from the last Stanley Cup Final Game 4 on ABC, which was a matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022. Moreover, the rating declined by a full share from the 2.4 share the matchup garnered last year. The fourth game of this year’s series is down from Game 2, which averaged 3.56 million viewers with a 1.9 rating, along with the 3.35 million viewers and 1.8 rating for the third game, according to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup in this regard. An average of 1.2 million viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic are watching the Stanley Cup Final, a 25% year-over-year increase as well. Viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic equated to an average of 1.1 million for Game 4, representative of a 20% year-over-year increase.

The Stanley Cup Finals on ESPN platforms have averaged 1.6 million total viewers and 633,000 viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic, a year-over-year increase of 38% and 28% in those categories, respectively. The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) is nearing the conclusion of its third season of NHL broadcasts since reacquiring broadcast rights to the league and will have four more seasons to go on its current seven-year media rights deal.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports TV News

Tom Brady Makes FOX Sports Broadcast Booth Debut

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?”

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

Screengrab from the UFL Championship game on FOX with Curt Menefee, Tom Brady and Joel Klatt
Screengrab: UFL Championship Game on FOX

If Spring Football gave us anything, it gave us this. Let the record show that the first time Tom Brady analyzed a pro football game from a broadcasting booth as an employee of FOX Sports, it was with teams from Birmingham and San Antonio, with the game being played in St. Louis.

That may someday be a trivia question hardly anyone will be able to answer. For now, it just marks the debut of Brady’s time as a football analyst as part of his 10-year $375 million deal he signed with FOX. Brady was not officially on the call of the UFL Championship game, but he did join play-by-play man Curt Menefee and analyst Joel Klatt in the second quarter on Sunday when the Birmingham Stallions beat the San Antonio Brahmas 25-0 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis

“We bring in a little instant offense,” Menefee said. “You know him, you love him. Tom Brady, legendary quarterback, just had his number retired.”

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?” Brady quipped.

“He is joining us here at FOX sports as I am sure you have heard as an analyst this fall, can’t wait to see him,” Menefee said before asking Brady for his take on what he had seen in the UFL game. “So far, what are your impressions in this early going Championship game, sometimes teams can be a little bit tight, it looks like it may be right here.”

“They’re all a little different when you get into these games,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of defense out there right now. You see the defense out there playing with a lot of energy but someone’s gotta get the ball down the field and try and open this field up a little bit. It’s a lot of horizontal passes and the defense is swarming and trying to punch the ball out. ‘Make them defend every blade of grass,’ that’s what we used to say.’

At the conclusion of the game, Brady was on the field to present the championship game MVP award which went to Birmingham quarterback Adrian Martinez who played for both Nebraska and Kansas State and was the league’s regular season MVP.

Brady is set to work with Kevin Burkhardt this fall on the FOX No. 1 broadcast team. The pair will call the top game for FOX each week starting with the September 8 game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports TV News

Monumental Sports Network No Longer Available on Fubo

“We urge our fans to consider accessing other pay TV providers or subscribing to Monumental Sports Network directly.”

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

Photo of a studio at Monumental Sports Network
Courtesy: Monumental Sports Network

Fubo subscribers in the Washington, D.C. area will no longer be able to watch Monumental Sports Network, the regional service that airs Wahington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics games in addition to other sports coverage.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment explained in a press release that after lengthy negotiations, Fubo has refused several offers to keep the independent local network available to its users. “This means that D.C. sports fans who are Fubo subscribers do not have access to live games for the Mystics, Capitals, Wizards, and other local teams such as the Washington Spirit and area HBCUs, colleges, and high schools,” the company said in its release.

“Throughout the process, we negotiated in good faith to keep our local independent network available to Fubo’s subscribers, including offering Fubo market-rate terms that other larger distributors have accepted,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately, Fubo did not appear motivated to come to a deal and refused several generous offers.

“Moving forward, our highly-rated WNBA content, including Wednesday’s Mystics-Fever game, will no longer be available on Fubo, which is unfortunate given the unprecedented interest that women’s sports are experiencing. This outcome seems at odds with Fubo’s claim to be the leading sports-focused live TV platform and clearly signals a total lack of interest in local women’s sports at a time when the rest of the world has declared their importance.  Would Fubo ever consider taking away Monumental from its fans if our NHL and NBA teams were in season?

“Unlike Fubo, we remain committed to women’s sports and serving D.C. sports fans. We urge our fans to consider accessing other pay TV providers or subscribing to Monumental Sports Network directly at monumentalsportsnetwork.com.”

WUSA9, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. said they reached out to Fubo and received the following from a spokesperson:

“Fubo has been engaged in good faith negotiations with Monumental Sports Network but we were unable to reach a deal. As a result, the network left Fubo on June 15, 2024.”

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.