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Fantasy Football Delivering Big Wins For TV

Jason Barrett

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The fantasy sports craze has looked very attractive to media companies: it’s a source of ad dollars and, for those who invest in the leading outfits, an avenue for digital growth.

But in the past 24 hours it’s been more of a headache. Controversy over the premature release of information by an employee at DraftKings, one of the two big firms, continued Tuesday as there were calls from Capitol Hill for greater oversight of the industry.

On Tuesday, DraftKings pulled all of its advertising from Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN but kept ads in place on other networks including Fox Sports, which has a stake in the fantasy sports company. Fox Sports parent 21st Century Fox and Wall Street Journal-owner News Corp were part of the same company until 2013.

An ESPN spokesperson declined to comment on DraftKings or whether the incident involving that firm would cause the company to rethink its willingness to be in business with the fantasy sports company. A Fox Sports spokesman said the company was keeping a close eye on the situation but declined to elaborate further.

NBCUniversal, which is an investor in FanDuel, a rival fantasy sports firm, declined to comment. NBCUniversal is a unit of Comcast Corp.

In just a few short years, advertising from fantasy sports firms has become omnipresent on television and radio. DraftKings and its rival FanDuel have spent more than $200 million on television commercials this year, according to iSpot.tv.

The sites also buy significant time on sports radio stations and have sponsorship deals with many prominent sports talk personalities. For example, Dan Patrick’s national show counts FanDuel as one of its sponsors and the company is often plugged during broadcasts.

Fantasy sports have been around for years, of course, and have become so ingrained in football that even announcers talk about it casually during game coverage. On Monday night, Kurt Warner noted during his radio coverage of the Seattle Seahawks — Detroit Lions game that fantasy players are upset with how the Seahawks are using tight end Jimmy Graham.

The appeal of the NFL’s RedZone channel, which shows live action from every game on Sunday afternoons, is also primarily to fantasy players wanting to keep up on how their rosters are doing.

DraftKings and FanDuel have upped the stakes for players, allowing them to draft virtual teams of professional athletes and compete against each other based on the teams’ real-world performances that day or week. The companies put customers’ contest entry fees toward cash prize pools and keep around 10% in commissions for themselves.

Part of the theory for the media companies that have invested in DraftKings and FanDuel is that people who stand to win money on games are more likely to tune in. Fantasy can drive buzz and viewership.

The NFL has embraced fantasy football and has its own operation. However, there are no monetary prizes for participants. The league has no sponsorship relationship or investment in any fantasy sports companies and a spokesman said it is keeping close tabs on the DraftKings matter.

NFL teams are not allowed to accept sponsorship for fantasy sports but can accept advertising “within their controlled media properties,” the spokesman said. That means teams can accept stadium signage as well as ads on any media or online properties they operate. While teams cannot invest in fantasy companies, individual team owners can.

Credit to the Wall Street Journal who originally published this article

Sports TV News

Nick Wright: The Best Version of First Things First is What We’re Doing Now

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day.”

Ricky Keeler

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Nick Wright has been a co-host on First Things First on FS1 for the last five-and-a-half years. The show has evolved over the years and according to Wright, he has evolved as a broadcaster from the time he got cut from doing play-by-play at WAER in Syracuse to now.

Wright was a guest on The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week and he said that when he first appeared on television, he wanted the audience to think he had all the answers, but the mindset has changed for him and he said the new version of the show that he does with Kevin Wildes and Chris Broussard every weekday is the most successful version of the show.

“When I got on TV, I think the first year maybe, I thought the job was to always have all the answers. To have the facts exactly right, to never be wrong. I’ve now done the show for five-and-a-half years. By a country mile, the most successful version of the show is the one I’m doing right now — this moment — with Wildes and Broussard. It’s the funniest and that’s why.

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day. Now I approach it as our entire goal is to put on a show that people smile while they are watching and have a good time and that has enough meat to it where it is not all empty calories. There’s got to be the information, there’s got to be the analysis, but there’s also got to be a lot of bells and whistles and funny stuff and guys messing with each other and that’s what works. That took me a while to figure out.”

The only time when Wright didn’t think he had to prove how smart he was when he first appeared on TV was when he would appear on The Herd as Cowherd’s guest and he had a goal in mind whenever he would appear on the show.

“Early in our relationship, I was really, really trying to impress you and I wanted to make you laugh. Every time I came on, I was like ‘It’s successful if I made Colin laugh’. I was too stupid to realize I should just be trying to make the audience laugh, too… That was the best version of me at the time. I felt like you knew I was smart, so I wasn’t trying to prove it to you. I could be the best version of myself.”

While Wright knows he is not a traditional broadcaster, he mentioned to Cowherd that there is one skill set he definitely knows he has.

“The point is I’m not a great broadcaster, like a traditional broadcaster. I can’t read off a teleprompter, but there is a specific thing I can do, which is confidently argue, whether it’s 1-on-1 with my wife or in front of a million people.”

Even though Wright got cut from doing play-by-play at Syracuse, he told Cowherd he was doing talk shows at the station still and it led him to where he is today.

“I was fortunate that I was already working on the talk-show staff. Growing up, I thought I wanted to do play-by-play, but what I wanted to do was color commentary. I would watch the NBA on NBC with Bob Costas, Bill Walton, and Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones and what I wanted to do was the color, but I didn’t realize you can’t do that unless you are a former player or a former coach. They aren’t hiring me to do commentary

“I was crushed, but it made me fully pivot to talk shows. Now at WAER, the talk show studio is named after me and my picture is on the wall. I am a Hall of Famer there. Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Nick Wright, those are the three studios there.”

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Sports TV News

Outside the Lines Won’t Return to ESPN Weekend Schedule

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017.

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ESPN has decided to not return Outside the Lines to its weekend lineup, ending the show’s linear television run.

A report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal claims ESPN told OTL staffers that the show wouldn’t return to the network after the Super Bowl.

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017. Outside the Lines was often regarded as the “moral compass” of ESPN, and was often the source of some of the more investigative reporting employed by the network.

Outside the Lines — which was airing at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings — averaged 303,000 viewers in the timeslot. Meanwhile, SportsCenter: AM has seen an average audience of 572,000 in the same window.

The Outside the Lines brand will continue being utilized during the Noon ET SportsCenter, as well as ESPN digital platforms, including the network’s YouTube page.

Jeremy Schaap will continue to host the Outside the Lines segments during SportsCenter, but will also be the host of a new iteration of The Sports Reporters that will air on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Schaap’s father, Dick, was the host of the ESPN Sunday morning program from 1988 until his death in 2001. The show aired on ESPN from 1988 to 2017.

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Sports TV News

CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’

“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”

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An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.

The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.

CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.

“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand

Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.

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