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Vince McMahon Confirms The Return of the XFL

Jason Barrett

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Vince McMahon is rolling the dice a second time on the XFL. The WWE CEO and Chairman confirmed speculation earlier today during a press session with members of the media.

According to McMahon, the league will begin play in 2020 and consist of eight teams, with forty players on each roster. The plan is to introduce a ten game regular season, starting in late January or early February, and feature two semifinal playoff games, and one championship contest. The cities where each franchise will be play and the broadcast outlets where the games will air have not yet been decided.

Given his involvement with the WWE, many assumed McMahon would use the wrestling company’s talent and mainstream appeal to create buzz for his new football league. However, he said the league will look and operate different from the one that launched in 2001. Part of that includes not involving WWE stars in the XFL’s programming and promotional plans. Broadcast talent from the wrestling company will also not be utilized. McMahon says he’s looking to create separation between the two brands, and made the point on numerous occasions that the new XFL will be more family friendly than reliant on aggressive language, stunts, sex,and violence.

One of the decisions which is likely to garner heavy media attention was McMahon’s announcement that players with arrest records would not be hired by the league, and all who participate will stand for the national anthem.

“We want to entertain — that’s what we do,” McMahon told The Daily. “There are not going to be any politics involved with this thing. We’re not going to have any social issues involved. People want to be entertained. It’s the entertainment value that sometimes is lost.”

To make the XFL a reality, McMahon is funding the league through Alpha Entertainment, a private equity company he recently created to fund sports and entertainment opportunities. The company will start with $100 million in funding, but McMahon believes it will require going beyond that number to deliver a successful product.

“This is an opportunity to re-imagine football — not reinvent it,” added McMahon. “Sitting in front of a television for three-and-a-half hours for a game is a lot of time to devote. We want a faster game. We want a more exciting game. We want rules that are simplified. In the end, we want it to be more fan friendly with more engagement.”

Among the ideas being discussed for the new league are eliminating halftime, simplifying the rule book, and producing a game from start to finish in two-hours and with less commercials breaks. To get a stronger understanding of what fans want, McMahon says he will be involved in upcoming listening tours asking fans, football experts and media figures to come up with the best way to stage football games. The WWE promoter plans this time to remain in the background rather than appear as the face of the league, even if he is the sole owner and founder of it.

To see the new logo for the league, click here.

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The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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