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FS1 Determined To Land Skip Bayless

Jason Barrett

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Jamie Horowitz wants to jumpstart Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, and isn’t afraid to shake things up to do so. The president of Fox Sports National Networks told Sporting News he’s looking to make a stronger push towards opinion and personalities on the network’s programs — and move further away from news and highlights.

His top target – the most polarizing sports personality on television, ESPN’s Skip Bayless.

Shows like ESPN’s “SportsCenter” are dinosaurs, Horowitz said. Instead he sees the future of sports programming being built around what he calls “opinionists” – personalities such as Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, Colin Cowherd, Bill Simmons, Jason Whitlock and Katie Nolan.

Top free agents don’t become available often in the sports media world, but when they do, Horowitz wants them to know he’s open for business, and ready to be bullish to make things happen. Stephen A. isn’t a consideration because he recently signed a long-term agreement with ESPN, but with Bayless’ deal set to expire this year, Horowitz is leaving no stone unturned to lure the controversial on-air talent over to his network.

“I look at these ‘opinionists’ like superstars in the NBA. You can probably name the dozen superstars who are out there. It’s like asking the (Boston) Celtics, ‘Are you interested in Kevin Durant?’ Yes, we’re interested in all the superstars. Of course, I’m interested in Skip,” said Horowitz. “I’m interested in Stephen A. and Michael (Smith) and Jemele and (Tony) Kornheiser and (Michael) Wilbon. Just like ESPN and Fox were both interested in Colin.”

Despite criticism from TV types and media critics, “First Take” is the top rated studio show on ESPN2. The program averaged a record 413,000 viewers in February, up 18 percent from the same period last year. FS1 meanwhile is being doubled by ESPN for viewership between 6a-6p, making it imperative that Horowitz take some risks to bring in high profile personalities like Bayless.

Although ESPN sits atop the mountain, Horowitz believes FS1 can overtake ESPN in the same way that Fox News trampled CNN – by being edgier and providing high profile talent who craft their content around stronger opinion and entertainment rather than scores, highlights, and feature stories.

“You can be unafraid and unfiltered — and be a blowhard. But you’re not actually home until you’re incisive,” he said. “That’s what I think the Colin’s, Katie’s and the Whitlock’s all bring. They’re thought-provoking and insightful. That really is the bullseye. They’re not going to hit it every day, with every comment, with every show. But that’s where you’re aiming. That’s where you want to be.”

Credit to Sporting News who originally reported this information

Sports TV News

After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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Sports TV News

Field Yates Re-Ups With ESPN

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

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Field Yates

After the departure of Matthew Berry to NBC, ESPN has locked down fantasy expert Field Yates with a new contract to remain in Bristol.

Yates, 35, would have been a valuable target for FanDuel or DraftKings, surmises Andrew Marchand of The New York Post — who first reported the news — due to his large following on Twitter.

Yates, who also works as a host of Fantasy Football Now and NFL Insider for the network, across multiple platforms including ESPN Radio, will continue in those roles in addition to an assumed expansion of fantasy football duties after Berry’s exit.

He has worked for ESPN since 2012.

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