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Fantasy Football Delivering Big Wins For TV

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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

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Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live

“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

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Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.

“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.

Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.

“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.

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