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Cardinals, FSM Sign Lucrative Deal

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Capitalizing on their history of success and baseball’s skyrocketing value as real-time TV, the Cardinals have reached a deal with Fox Sports Midwest that will guarantee the team more than $1 billion and assert for years to come their televised presence in a broad, devoted region.

The team and its exclusive local broadcast partner are expected to announce a new, 15-year agreement Thursday morning, officials on both sides confirmed. The new deal will begin with the 2018 season, continue to feature as many as 150 televised regular-season games, and also provides the Cardinals with a minority stake in the network.

“This does give us a great deal of stability over the next 15 years and does so in a market that has been shifting,” Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said. “It has a nice increase in rights fees as well as the equity component and as a whole it will allow us to remain as competitive as we have been with our payroll, with our spending in the international markets, with our activity in amateur markets and other ways we have invested in development. We have certainty going forward.”

The agreement is new and not an extension of the current deal, which expires after the 2017 season. The value of the 2018-2032 rights package allows the Cardinals to catch up with a trend that has radically shaped baseball in recent years.

The total for the rights fee alone could surpass $1 billion, and that does not include the signing bonus or additional revenue the Cardinals will get from the equity stake.

Jack Donovan, general manager and senior vice president of Fox Sports Midwest, declined to discuss the specifics of the equity arrangement. He said the sides saw benefits to working on a deal now — two years before the Cardinals had to decide on their 2018 option. Discussions intensified over the past year, and the agreement was recently approved by Major League Baseball.

“It was in the best interests to get out in front of it before the current deal expired,” Donovan said. “This provides stability too for the network for years to come.”

The rights-fee gusher in baseball, both with local and national broadcast rights, has allowed teams in midsized markets to become as aggressive as larger-market teams when it comes to spending on players, whether it’s keeping talent or pursuing free agents.

The Cardinals telecasts on Fox Sports Midwest annually gather some of the highest ratings in baseball, and the games are the highest-rated prime time program in St. Louis during the season. They had the highest ratings of any team in 2014, and that was the 15th consecutive year that the Cardinals ranked in Major League Baseball’s top three for local TV ratings. They are No. 2 this year. Those ratings are robust in the St. Louis area, but Fox Sports Midwest also provides Cardinals games to a region that includes part or all of 10 states. Ratings, and the advertising dollars they can command, are only part of the equation when it comes to rising rights fees. Market size is a huge indicator. Teams such as Houston, the Rangers, the Dodgers, and, of course, the Yankees can attract profoundly higher rights fees simply because they play in areas with bigger populations.

A cable network generates income from subscriber fees, and the larger the population the more subscribers. Whether a household watches ESPN or not, if it has a cable bill, it’s paying for ESPN. The Cardinals are the 21st largest market according to Nielsen, behind the Diamondbacks (11th) and Indians (19th) but ahead of the Pirates (22nd) and Padres (28th).

What has made sports programming so valuable to networks is that it’s still appointment viewing. Unlike “Game of Thrones” or “Mad Men,” which can be viewed on demand, or streaming entertainment such as Netflix’s “House of Cards,” sports have remained DVR-proof.

“Sports on television is very powerful (because) people watch it live. They don’t time-shift sports,” Donovan said. “You watch movies and TV shows when you want now. Sports are the only thing where you don’t watch reruns, you don’t watch them two days later. Sports also has shorter commercial breaks. We have to be back live when the ump puts the ball in play. That makes commercials more valuable when they’re in that small pod. Sports is also wholesome content.

“Sports are emerging as the pre-eminent content on TV these days.”

At the end of the new deal, in late 2032, the Cardinals and Fox Sports Midwest will have had a relationship spanning 39 years.

Baseball’s big TV contracts

Team/mkt size Date of deal Network Length Value
Texas Rangers, #5 Aug 2010 Fox Sports SW 20 years $3 billion
LA Angels, #2 Dec 2011 Fox Sports West 20 years $3 billion
SD Padres, #28 April 2012 Fox Sports SD 20 years $1.2 billion
LA Dodgers, #2 Jan 2013 Time Warner Cable 25 years $8.35 billion
CLE Indians, #19 Dec 2012 Fox Sports 10 years $400 million
Ariz. Dbacks, #11 Feb 2015 Fox Sports Arizona 20 years $1.5 billion
PHI Phillies, #4 Jan 2014 Comcast SportsNet 25 years $2.5 billion
STL Cardinals, #21 July 2015 Fox Sports MW 15 years $1+ billion

To read the full article visit STLToday.com where it was originally published

Sports TV News

Meadowlark Media Partnering With Skydance Sports On Documentaries

Up first will be a documentary series titled Good Neighbors, which chronicles the soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexican men’s national teams.

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Since launching Meadowlark Media with Dan Le Batard, former ESPN president John Skipper has said that he wants the start-up sports media company to make a big push with video content, citing an opportunity in the sports documentary space.

On Thursday, Meadowlark announced a new partnership with Skydance Sports, a division of Skydance Media, to produce unscripted sports content. The production companies will collaborate on two upcoming projects.

Up first will be a documentary series titled Good Neighbors, which chronicles the soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexican men’s national teams. The series is currently in production and plans to debut before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The second project from Meadowlark and Skydance will be a documentary on women’s basketball star Diana Taurisi, billed as “the definitive and authorized chronicle of [her] remarkable life and career.”

Last November, Meadowlark hired Deirdre Fenton as the company’s executive director of unscripted content. Fenton previously produced documentaries at ESPN and DAZN, with O.J.: Made in America and The Last Dance among her credits.

Skipper and Fenton will work alongside Skydance Sports executives Jon Weinbach and Jesse Sisgold in producing the upcoming documentary projects.

“Deirdre and I are excited for the tremendous opportunity to work with Jesse and Jon, who share our vision of using sports storytelling to explore and explicate larger cultural and societal issues,” Skipper said in the official announcement. “Our two first documentaries are a wonderful way to launch this partnership.”

It isn’t yet known with which streaming outlets or networks these projects will land. Meadowlark has a first-look deal with Apple TV+, but that is likely an exclusive agreement unrelated to the new partnership with Skydance Sports.

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HBO Releases ‘Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep’ Trailer: “It’s Been An Amazing Life”

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HBO Sports

HBO has released a trailer and poster image for its Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep documentary, just over one week after the project was announced.

In collaboration with NFL Films, Going Deep is a combination of footage from a stage show that Bradshaw performed in Branson, Missouri (with singing, music, stories, and monologues), archival clips from the quarterback’s football career, and a new interview with the Fox NFL studio analyst.

Check out the trailer below:

Bradshaw taking the stage to tell personal stories and singing country-style music, with a band playing behind him, should help this HBO Sports special stand apart from a more conventional documentary with football-related interviews and clips. For example, Bradshaw’s A Football Life episode for NFL Network in 2019 or the 2003 installment of ESPN’s SportsCentury series.

Directed by longtime NFL Films documentarian Keith Cossrow, Going Deep appears to be Bradshaw telling his own life story and sharing personal anecedotes, rather than a filmmaker cutting together footage to tell his or her own version of the story. Though longtime NFL Films documentarian Keith Cossrow directed this film, not Bradshaw himself.

“As you can imagine, God knows I’ve had a lot of therapy,” Bradshaw jokes with the Branson audience, as shown in the trailer.

Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep premieres Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and will be available for streaming on HBO Max.

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Lindsey Vonn To Be NBC Primetime Correspondent For Winter Olympics

“My first memories of Olympics were from NBC broadcasts, so I am very excited to be working with a team that has been there for so many amazing Olympic moments.”

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Lindsey Vonn will be the newest former Olympian to join NBC to cover the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

Vonn is one of the most well-known names in winter sports and one of the most accomplished. She has won 82 World Cup races, four overall World Cup championships, is one of six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines, and she took part in four Olympics, winning three medals. 

Vonn has worked for NBC before, once during the 2014 Sochi Olympics as a correspondent while she recovered from injury. This role, however, provides Vonn the opportunity as a “primetime correspondent” in Beijing. It seems that by title alone, this position carries a little more weight.

Executive Producer and President, Molly Solomon, had this to say about the addition of Vonn:

“As one of the greatest Olympic skiers of all time and a superstar who has transcended her sport, we’re thrilled to have Lindsey join our team,” said Molly Solomon, Executive Producer & President, NBC Olympics Production. “Lindsey will provide a perspective unique to an athlete known for excellence, intensity and determination on the world’s biggest and most competitive stage.”

Vonn seems grateful and enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“I am excited to share my perspective along with my insight on what athletes might be feeling during high pressure moments,” Vonn said. “My first memories of Olympics were from NBC broadcasts, so I am very excited to be working with a team that has been there for so many amazing Olympic moments.”

Since she retired, Vonn has made the move into sports media a priority. Other than her correspondent work, she is also a co-director and executive producer of the upcoming Peacock documentary Picabo, on revolutionary American downhill racer Picabo Street which will premiere Friday.

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