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Olbermann Not Sold On The Future of Sports Programming

Jason Barrett

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Keith Olbermann joined Jonah Keri’s Nerdist podcast for a two-part marathon late last week. Around the 1:19:00-mark of Part I, they began talking about contemporary sports media, and Olbermann, who as we’re all aware made his bones as a SportsCenter anchor alongside Dan Patrick in the 1990’s, spelled out doom and gloom for the future of the franchise:

If you’re doing a sports broadcast that has to do with more than one sport at a time? Good-bye. There is no reason anymore for a consumer to watch SportsCenter, or the Fox version of SportsCenter, or the Canadian version of SportsCenter, or the Rogers Canadian version of SportsCenter, or SportsCenter in Spanish, or your local — I grew up watching Marv Albert do the local sports news on Channel 4 — and there’s no reason to watch that, because if they’re talking about football, and you hate football, ESPN supplies you with something at your fingertips about baseball, soccer, hockey, badminton, jai alai.

By the way, there’s a jai alai channel. There’s a horse racing channel. There’s a dog racing channel. Eventually, there will be no market for these other multi-purpose shows, and you think about this, and say, ‘Oh it’s a new phenomenon, we’ve got some time to go.’ No, it’s the dark hours now. Just name to me, what’s the most recent, multi-sport, not connected to the NFL, not connected to game broadcast, what’s the last breakthrough TV sports show?

Olbermann reckoned this to be Pardon the Interruption, which went on the air in 2001, and said that because of this prolonged stretch that there have not been many young talents who have differentiated themselves as big stars. He also said that when they point to First Take as a beacon of success (and qualified that he likes both Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith), that their record viewership had metrics akin to typical hourly numbers for the Hallmark Movies and Mystery channel, whatever that is. He acknowledged that his own most recent show never gained solid footing, and that live sports are still experiencing profound growth. He said that one-sport specialists will over take the generalists.

To read more visit The Big Lead where this was originally published

Sports TV News

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Sports TV News

Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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