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Two More Executives Out at NFL Network

Brandon Contes

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Turnover continues at NFL Network which has lost a number of executives and on-air personalities due to alleged and admitted sexual harassment cases during the last few months. On Monday, executive producer of original content Michael Mandt and coordinating producer of features Dan Dieffenbach, were both let go from the network.

The release of both executives was reported by NFL Network spokesperson Alex Riethmiller, who declined additional comment, but according to Deadspin the firings were due to an internal investigation of sexual harassment at the network. The pair was reportedly put on extended administrative leave last month, with their last day being Friday.

While the #MeToo movement has swept the entire entertainment industry, the NFL Network has been particularly affected. Last month, the VP of NFL Media resigned amid sexual harassment allegations circling the network along with his Twitter interactions with escorts and porn stars.

Former and current NFL Network employees such as Marshall Faulk, Ike Taylor, Heath Evans, Donovan McNabb, Eric Davis have either been suspended, or fired from their roles at both NFL Network and ESPN due to allegations of sexual harassment while at the network.

With #MeToo uncovering serious issues within the male-dominated sports industry, networks, leagues, teams and corporations are trying to prove they support a zero tolerance policy.

From John Ourand’s article in the Sports Business Journal:

One top agency executive said he spent nearly 75 percent of his time so far this year on HR-related issues and internal complaints. Another said he made it a priority to assure women on his staff that these issues are being taken seriously.

“Many of the smart, bright, young women are looking at management and questioning if we really stand for something, in light of all that’s come out,” the executive said. “We need to demonstrate to them that we do.”

Mandt joined the NFL Network in April 2016, Dieffenbach was hired October of 2015. The two are the latest to leave the network which will most likely undergo big changes as new executives are hired in the near future.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media have respect for former NFL punter Pat McAfee for what he has accomplished in his media endeavors, and you can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I wanna see: is the NFL gonna bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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Sports TV News

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs

“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

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Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.

Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.

In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.

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