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FOX Lands The Thursday Night Football Rights

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After a report late Tuesday night by Bloomberg stating 21st Century Fox Inc. was closing in on a contract for the rights to broadcast “Thursday Night Football,” it became official Wednesday morning. The five-year deal lasting through 2022 is reportedly worth over $3 billion.

The terms have not been released by Fox or the NFL, but according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, Fox will pay $660 million annually for to broadcast 11 “Thursday Night Football” games from week four through 15, not including Thanksgiving. The contract equates to over $60 million per game, a more than 30% increase from the $45 million CBS and NBC paid the last two seasons.

The NFL, which had previously worked on shorter term deals to maximize market value, showed more of a commitment to Fox with the agreed five-year contract.

“We feel very confident in their ability to continue to grow this franchise,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on a Wednesday morning conference call.

For Fox, the decision to invest in “Thursday Night Football” is an interesting reversal based on comments made by CEO James Murdoch in November.

Regarding the NFL oversaturating its product, Murdoch stated, “I do think the proliferation of Thursday availability, and the proliferation of football generally, does mean that you’re asking a lot from customers to watch Thursday. And then they watch a lot more college football games on Saturdays, and then on Sundays, and then on Monday Night Football, etc. It’s a lot. So I do think that preserving the scarcity value of those events and that audience is something that is worth thinking about.”

With the planned sale of $52.4 billion in Fox assets to the Walt Disney Company, Fox is expected to continue pursuing large sports broadcast partnerships. After agreeing to pay 30% more than rival networks CBS and NBC did the last two seasons, Fox’s stock dipped 4% today, showing some investors question the long-term health of the NFL. Despite the league’s continued ratings decline and “Thursday Night Football” being the least appealing NFL game package, it remains a proven commodity, providing a boost to the network’s prime-time schedule.

A new digital partner for “Thursday Night Football” has not been announced yet, but according to Goodell a deal will be completed within the next couple of weeks. Last season, Amazon paid the league $50 million for the rights to stream 11 games, which is five times the amount Twitter paid the previous year.

Questions of which broadcast team will do the games and will they air on the Fox Broadcast Network or their national sports networks FS1 and FS2 remain to be seen. John Ourand reported Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are unlikely to do the “Thursday Night Football” broadcast. Buck would be unavailable for a number of games because of his Major League Baseball playoff responsibilities.

Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis, being the network’s NFL “B Team,” would be the likely choice to broadcast “TNF.” However, that can also get in the way of Fox’s MLB playoff studio coverage, which Burkhardt hosts.

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

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John Buccigross: Return Of NHL ‘Reenergized’ Me In ESPN Role

“I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long.”

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John Buccigross is probably the most thankful out of anyone that the NHL returned to the ESPN airwaves this season.

Bucci has been at the network for 25 years and was a part of the coverage team the last time ESPN had NHL broadcast rights. He told Awful Announcing that the change after the 2003-04 season really helped change his focus at the network.

“It’s probably a good thing that it went away back in 2004, because I was able to focus on SportsCenter and kind of move up the ladder there, and maybe I never would have if hockey had stayed all these years,” he said. “Maybe that was good. And then I got involved with college hockey, I asked to do play-by-play a couple of years after we lost the NHL, so I’ve been doing college hockey for over 15 years with play-by-play, hoping we would get the NHL back and then I could do NHL play-by-play.”

Now the NHL is back, the Stanley Cup Final will air on ESPN and ABC, and John Buccigross will be a part of it in some fashion. He said having the chance to pick back up where he left off all those years ago gave him a second wind in his career.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me in my career, being at ESPN over 25 years,” he said. “To kind of get reenergized, reinvigorated with your job after being in the same place for 25 years, that’s probably pretty rare. I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long. At this stage of my career, it was just perfect timing.”

ESPN and Turner Sports replaced NBC Sports as the U.S. broadcast rightsholders for the NHL this season.

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Mark Sanchez Emerges As Potential #2 NFL Analyst At FOX

“It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth.”

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Football season is 104 days away and FOX is still sorting out its broadcast crews for the upcoming season.

Enter former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez as one of the top candidates being considered for the number two booth at FOX this season.

Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that if Drew Brees doesn’t end up in the role, Sanchez is next in line. Greg Olsen and Kevin Burkhardt will comprise the top broadcast team for FOX this season.

It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth. Marchand reported that Sanchez made a great impression on producers in auditions and tests.

Mark Sanchez began his broadcasting career three years ago. After two seasons of covering college football for ESPN, he made the move to FOX last year.

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Tracy McGrady’s Basketball League Enters Media Partnership With Showtime

“The Showtime Basketball brand will create a behind-the-scenes documentary following the OBL’s 2022 tour.”

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Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady launched his own basketball league this year. Ones Basketball League is a touring competition to find the best one-on-one basketball players in the country. Now fans can follow the action on Showtime.

The Showtime Basketball brand will create a behind-the-scenes documentary following the OBL’s 2022 tour. The all-access series will put new episodes on the Showtime YouTube channel.

“The production and creative team at Showtime Sports knows how to build and tell stories like no one else, and the detailed background and exciting drama we have already started to capture with OBL makes this content partnership a perfect fit for us,” McGrady said in a press release. “The team at Showtime shares our excitement for putting a spotlight on one-on-one basketball and all of the great action, rich stories, and hyper-competition that flows from the game.”

OBL competitions from now until the end of the season will be documented. Each tour stop features a 2-day, 32-player competition. Three of the league’s six competitions are complete.

Showtime will be there for stops in New York, Springfield, Virginia, and Los Angeles as well as the championship tournament in Las Vegas.

“We believe in Tracy’s vision and are thrilled to be working with the OBL on their inaugural season,” Brian Dailey, SVP of Sports Programming & Content for Showtime Networks Inc, added. “This collaboration embodies the Showtime Basketball brand — premium, bold and boundary-pushing. We are delighted to welcome Tracy and the OBL team to our unmatched lineup of content and talent.”

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