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ESPN Extends Skipper Thru 2018

Jason Barrett

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ESPN president John Skipper has overseen a tumultuous year for the network. He’s made several high-profile personnel changes, with Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd among the high-profile names leaving.

All of that work has been done underneath pressure from Disney to reduce costs in the face of losing millions of subscribers who have cut the cord from cable and satellite. The money Skipper has been asked to slice from the ESPN budget is significant, reportedly $100 million from next year’s expenses and $250 million from the overall budget by 2017.

But the corporate overlords at Disney are apparently happy with the job Skipper has done thus far. Either that, or they know he’ll need the proper time to make these changes with the security of his contract situation not being a question. ESPN oracle Jim Miller tweeted out the news Wednesday morning that Skipper has indeed been rewarded with those assurances.

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Skipper has held his current position as ESPN’s president since Jan. 1, 2012. He’s been with the network since 1997, first serving as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. In 2000, Skipper was given the same title with ESPN.com. Three years later, he was promoted to executive vice president.

To say Skipper has overseen a vast change in what the network offers in terms of content on television and online would be both an obvious and major understatement.

How viewers consume their media has changed significantly, and ESPN has had to adapt with the times. Fans don’t just get scores and highlights from SportsCenter, nor do they even always watch live events on their televisions anymore. ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app have essentially become new channels to provide consumers with the wide variety of programming available. Obviously, ESPN.com has had to change with the times as well, not just in terms of content, but also distribution with mobile devices becoming a significant part of the average person’s media diet.

ESPN takes a lot of criticism from fans and media — obviously, some of it from this very website — and much of it is valid. But the network and company has undergone a sea change during Skipper’s time with the network, even during his tenure as president, and he’s kept this enormous ship steered in the right direction. The bosses at Disney clearly feel the same way and believe Skipper is the man to oversee the numerous changes ESPN will have to undergo in the years to come.

Credit to Awful Announcing who originally published this article

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FOX Sports Draws Over 3 Million Viewers for USMNT Copa América Opener

This makes the game the most watched non-World Cup soccer telecast ever on FOX.

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Sunday night’s soccer matchup between the United States Men’s National Team and Bolivia, which the USMNT won 2-0 drew an average audience of 3,165,000 viewers on FOX Sports according to Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics. This makes the game the most watched non-World Cup soccer telecast ever on FOX and the most watched English language Copa América telecast ever in the United States.

The game peaked at 4,013,000 viewers from 6:30 p.m. ET to 6:45 p.m. ET. The top local markets were San Diego, Washington D.C., Austin and Kansas City.

FOX Sports said the game was up 191% from last year’s USMNT Concacaf Gold Cup telecast and up 108% from the 2016 average of USMNT Copa América Group Stage telecasts which were carried on FS1.

The next USMNT Copa América game is scheduled for Thursday, Jun 27 against Panama at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, followed by another Group Stage game on Monday, July 1 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1. The CONMEBOL Copa América is taking place in the U.S. through Sunday, July 14.

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Stephen A. Smith Reportedly Looking for a ‘Pat McAfee Agreement’ with ESPN

“…Smith covets the blockbuster deal that the network used to persuade McAfee to decamp last year from FanDuel.”

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Stephen A. Smith

Last week John Ourand of Puck reported the news that negotiations had begun between ESPN and top personality Stephen A. Smith, host and Executive Producer of First Take. The report said ESPN had made an initial offer of 5 years and $90 million which would make Smith the top paid talent at ESPN. Yesterday Ourand reported the deal Smith is looking for is similar to the deal ESPN has with Pat McAfee which brought his The Pat McAfee Show over from Fan Duel.

Ourand writes, “…Smith covets the blockbuster deal that the network used to persuade McAfee to decamp last year from FanDuel. Notably, ESPN pays McAfee’s production company, which operates his talk show, $25 million a year—a fee that covers all its operating costs: salaries, insurance, fixed costs, etcetera. ESPN has also offered him about $5 million a year to appear on College GameDay, sources told me(McAfee has yet to sign the deal.)”

Some in the media have responded to the story about Smith’s contract and point to how much work he is already doing for ESPN and how often he appears on the network. According to Ourand, Smith isn’t looking for less work, he may in fact be looking for more.

Ourand wrote in his subscription newsletter, The Varsity, that he has been told Smith and his agents with WME have said Smith would like to be more involved in production, appear on more of its NFL programs and be available for anything needed by the advertising and affiliate relations departments.

Smith has not commented on the current negotiations, but when asked by Clay Travis recently if being the highest paid person at ESPN is important to him, Smith said:

“Yes. I’m not stuttering. Hell yes. I’ve mastered my own business. In the world of sports television, Clay Travis, I’ve been number one for twelve years…not only have I been number one every year I’ve been number one every week and every month of every year for the last twelve years. You don’t get to say that about too many people…I am so honored to have the colleagues I have…I’m the one that’s been No. 1 and at the end of the day, it would be nice one day for this man to stand before everyone and be like, ‘I’m No. 1 and this says I’m No. 1.”

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Paul ‘Triple H’ Levesque: WWE-Netflix Deal is a ‘Game-Changing Moment’

“When we’re not thinking about business at hand now, we’re thinking about those moments, so in the fall as the shows shift around and once we get to Netflix – Netflix is a completely different animal.”

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Paul "Triple H" Levesque
Courtesy: World Wrestling Entertainment

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (WWE) is bringing Raw to Netflix beginning in January 2025 in a deal that is reportedly worth $5 billion over 10 years. Netflix reportedly has the option to opt out of the agreement after the first five years and extend the deal for an additional 10 years. As a result, Raw will be moving away from NBCUniversal platforms and cable television as a whole for the first time in 31 years, presenting an opportunity for WWE to continue innovating its presentation in a new way. NBCUniversal-owned USA Network, however, will begin broadcasting SmackDown beginning this October. Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the chief content officer of WWE, was asked by Ty Schmit of The Pat McAfee Show if the company is thinking about what will change with the new presentation of Raw on Netflix.

Levesque appeared on the program following the announcement that WWE had agreed to a deal with Indiana Sports Corp. that will bring WrestleMania, SummerSlam and Royal Rumble to Indianapolis. Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, will host all three premium live events that will begin with Royal Rumble on Feb. 1, 2025. Other WWE properties, including Raw, SmackDown, NXT and WWE Live Events will take place from arenas across the state of Indiana, including Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Evansville, during the partnership. As Raw prepares to move to Netflix next year, Levesque revealed that the company is projecting the capabilities that the new partnership will allow.

“When we’re not thinking about business at hand now, we’re thinking about those moments, so in the fall as the shows shift around and once we get to Netflix – Netflix is a completely different animal,” Levesque said. “It’s a streaming service. How are commercials going to work? How are breaks going to work? What’s the length of time? What are the restrictions [and] what are not restrictions?”

Levesque mentioned how there are times when FOX has had to cut the audio and/or video when instances occur that could violate FCC broadcasting rules and regulations. McAfee believed that he was referencing when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had the crowd engage in a call-and-response chant calling Austin Theory an “a**hole.”

“The Rock comes in and you sort of kind of can’t tell The Rock what to do – what are we going to tell him – so he does what he does, but we won’t have those issues [on] Netflix,” Levesque said. “The ability to be live globally; the ability to have everything seen all at once everywhere, it’s a game-changing moment, and I think in many ways – not to disparage other partners because we want to be everywhere, but that’s sort of where the world is heading, right, is streaming services.”

Prognosticating towards the future of the Raw presentation, Levesque believes sports entities are going to be watching how the WWE and Netflix agreement materializes. As it pertains to the business logistics of the deal, he expects to have leagues watching what they will be doing, acknowledging that the NFL also reached an agreement with Netflix to broadcast Christmas Day games.

“Everybody from live content is very thankful you guys did a deal with Netflix for a weekly live show,” McAfee said. “Just want to let you know that.”

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