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Klatt Sells Big-12 During Fox Broadcasts

Jason Barrett

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Maybe it’s just good for business.

Or maybe it’s just because Joel Klatt walked on to the Colorado football team without the sniff of a scholarship that he sympathizes with his game’s latest underdog.

That would be the Big 12, the lone “Power Five” conference that again finds itself on the outside looking in at the playoffs as the season heads to the finish line.

Klatt, Fox’s rookie lead college football game analyst, has emerged as the squeakiest of all the network talking wheels when it comes to plugging the Big 12. He’s also not afraid to take shots at the SEC and Big Ten, which he’s said should be re-labeled the “Super Power Two.”

“I don’t view it as standing up for one particular conference,” Klatt said in a telephone interview this week. “Rather, it’s standing up for what I believe in. … I try not to get sucked into what I believe is the perception of the strength of the SEC.”

Coincidentally, Klatt has made the loudest of his comments on the subject on Fox networks while working Big 12 games. But that’s not to say it’s wrong. Nor is Klatt alone. ESPN college kingpin Kirk Herbstreit also has taken up for the Big 12 in the discussion of College Football Playoff rankings. The latest has undefeated Baylor ranked sixth and undefeated Oklahoma State eighth behind Alabama and Notre Dame, each with one loss. Then there is undefeated Iowa, the second Big Ten school ranked ahead of the best the Big 12 has to offer.

Note: ESPN, just as Fox does, pours millions of dollars annually into the Big 12 coffers for football rights. The difference is that ESPN does business with the entire Power Five as well as Notre Dame. Meanwhile Fox is confined to the 12s – Big and Pac.

But there’s more to bringing up Herbstreit’s name here. In Klatt, who this season replaced Charles Davis alongside lead play-by-play voice Gus Johnson, Fox appears to have a worthy rival for Herbstreit.

Klatt is as engaged as Herbstreit. He appears as savvy. And he is not afraid to throw around opinions.

Klatt, like Ohio State’s Herbstreit, played quarterback in what is now a power conference. But while Herbstreit, an Ohio “player of the year” as a high school senior, strolled onto the Big Ten campus in Columbus, Klatt was offered only small-college scholarships.

Instead, signed with the San Diego Padres, who selected him in the 11th round of the 2000 MLB draft. When that didn’t work out, he returned home to his home state and walked on at Colorado, then a Big 12 school. As a freshman in 2002, he attempted three passes. All fell incomplete in a 34-0 victory over Baylor.

He returned as a 22-year old sophomore the next season, became the starter and left two seasons later with 20 school quarterback records.

Undrafted by the NFL, Klatt unsuccessfully tried out for the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions before using his economics degree to get into real estate.

He tiptoed into broadcasting in 2006 when the regional Fox Sports Rocky Mountain invited him to work high school games. Two years later, he was summoned to the Fox Sports Southwest studios in Las Colinas to provide analysis in the Big 12 studio. Eventually, Fox moved him to Los Angeles to work national Big 12 and Pac 12 games on FX.

When Fox Sports 1 launched in 2013, Klatt was installed as one of the network’s studio analysts. This season, he moved from the studio to the booth.

Here’s Klatt on TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, whose terrible game at Oklahoma State last week on Fox may have cost him a Heisman Trophy: “If he had a different logo on the side of his helmet there would be a different perception. People have written him off. Meanwhile (LSU running back Leonard) Fournette is still in the race.” Fournette gained 31 yards on 19 carries against Alabama.

Here is how Klatt sized up schools like Baylor and Oklahoma State against the likes of Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame: “It’s been taboo to talk about the power of brands in college football, but brands matter. Why not say so?”

Klatt said he hopes to share similar thoughts for a long time.

“I hope I can do this for the next 30 years,” he said. “I really love it.”

Read more at the Dallas News where this article was originally published

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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