The UFC agreed to a deal with Amazon, allowing the e-commerce giant to sell pay-per-view packages on Amazon Prime beginning with this Saturday’s fights.
Amazon will not be the exclusive rights holder to UFC PPV events which cost $64.99, but it will offer viewers the option of accessing the fights without having a traditional cable or satellite TV package. Currently, the UFC is in the final year of their television deal with Fox and searching for a potential new partner.
Fox will pay the UFC $160 million in 2018 and reportedly offered as much as $250 million to retain the broadcast rights. According to a previous Sports Business Journal report, the UFC is expecting to receive upwards of $450 million annually from in their next rights deal.
While Amazon will only be a pay-per-view partner as of now, UFC president Dana White expressed an interest in having an OTT platform involved with their next broadcast agreement. “Now with technology, we’re getting to the point that I always dreamed about,” White said last October on the Wall Street Journal’s Unnamed Podvideocast. “I always used to say, we’ll take this thing all around the world, build a fan base, build some talent in every country around the world, and then we’ll get to a point in time where everybody can watch it at the same time on the same platform.”
Terms of the deal were not released, but it shows a continued interest of Amazon’s to broadcast live sports content. Last year, Amazon controlled streaming rights for Thursday Night Football, while they did not make a large bid for the TNF package in 2018, they could play a role in the NFL’s future.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in San Francisco, CBS CEO Les Moonves stated he believes internet giants such as Amazon will be involved NFL’s future broadcast rights. “Obviously the tech players are going to be part of it,” Moonves said, according to Deadline.
Stephen A. Smith: I Deserve to Be Highest-Paid ESPN Employee
“I’m doing all of these things. I’m not doing all of that to be in second place. I’m not doing all of that to look up at somebody else to see that they’re making more than me…”
Stephen A. Smith has been ESPN’s top dog for over a decade, and during his next contract negotiations, he plans to be paid like it — whether it’s ESPN or someone else signing the checks.
OutKick’s Clay Travis recently sat down with Stephen A. Smith and discussed a variety of media topics, including the latter’s next paycheck. Travis said that he hopes the price of top media personalities continues to rise, and asked Smith if it was important to him that he was the highest-paid talent at ESPN. Stephen A. did not mince words in his response.
“Yes. I’m not stuttering,” Stephen A. said. “Hell, yes, that’s absolutely true. I’ve mastered my own business in the world of sports television. Clay Travis, I’ve been number one for 12 years. April 1st will mark 12 consecutive years I’ve been number one. Not only have I been number one every year, I’ve been number one every week in every month of every year for the last 12 years. You don’t get to say that about too many people.
“I look at whether it’s Pat McAfee as Mike Greenberg, Scott Van Pelt, it’s Troy Aikman, it’s Joe Buck, it’s Kirk Herbstreit. The list goes on and on. I’m so honored to have the colleagues that I have that I work with at ESPN every day. And at the end of the day, it would be nice for one day for this man to stand before everyone and be like, this is not I’m number one and this says I’m number one.”
Notably, Stephen A. mentions Joe Buck and Troy Aikman by name there because the Monday Night Football hosts are currently the only two ESPN talents that make more than Smith.
According to figures provided by TheSpun, Stephen A. makes $12 million per year, while Buck and Aikman make $15 million and $18 million per year, respectively.
However, Stephen A.’s value is much better for ESPN, as while the MNF duo only does one show with sporadic appearances across the network, Smith is everywhere. He does First Take, he has his own show, he covers the NBA on NBA Countdown, he hosts an alternate NBA telecast, he does appearances for other ESPN programs, and even finds time to guest star on ABC’s General Hospital. Smith knows he’s valuable to ESPN and Disney, but knows he’s set himself up for a life outside of them both should it come to that point.
“I’ve got my own YouTube channel,” Smith said. “I’ve got my own show. It’s not even just a podcast. It’s a show with a fully loaded television studio. That’s what I built for myself, that could go linear or digital. The list goes on and on. I’m doing all of these things. I’m not doing all of that to be in second place. I’m not doing all of that to look up at somebody else to see that they’re making more than me when I’m producing superior ratings and revenue. No, I’m not doing that. And I’m not apologizing to anybody for it.”
Stephen A. Smith finished his answer with poignant words for Disney and ESPN.
“Again, I’ve got great relationships and what have you, but this is a business and Disney has a right to run its business the way it sees fit. ESPN does as well. But if they do, so do I. I hope that we’re able to work it out. I’m confident that we will, because I’m incredibly happy there. We’ll see.”
Jeff Kotuby is a nationally-published journalist with bylines on many popular broadcasting and pop culture sites, including The Streamable, eBaum’s World, Twin Galaxies, and more. Jeff grew up in the shadows of New York City and cultivated his love for sports media with the classic broadcasting voices of the area, like Mike & The Mad Dog, Mike “Doc” Emerick, and Michael Kay. You can reach Jeff on Twitter @JeffKotu3y.
Kevin Hart Partnering with ESPN, Omaha Productions for New Alternate NBA Broadcast
More dates for “NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart” will be announced as the NBA season continues, all of which will be available to watch on the ESPN app.
ESPN has unveiled a new alternate presentation for its coverage of the NBA in tandem with Hartbeat and Omaha Productions. Award-winning actor and comedian Kevin Hart will host the broadcast, titled NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart, which will also feature the Plastic Cup Boyz, Joey Wells, Will Horton and Na’im Lynn. These programs will be focused on how Hart and his friends watch the NBA and feature discussion and debate. Moreover, there will be special guest appearances from top athletes and celebrities.
The program will make its debut in tandem with the NBA In-Season Tournament Championship Game at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN2 and the ESPN app. Concurrently, the traditional broadcast of the contest begins at the same time and features the network’s new lead broadcast team of Mike Breen, Doris Burke and Doc Rivers, and is set to air on ABC.
Throughout the NBA season, seven episodes of NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart will air in accordance with marquee games on ESPN platforms. At the moment, the other broadcasts of this alternate presentation that have been announced will take place on Friday, Jan. 5 and Wednesday, April 10, both on ESPN2 at 7:30 PM ET.
Hart founded Hartbeat, the global multi-platform media company that seeks to create entertaining content intersecting between comedy and culture. The entity is involved in creating the award-winning digital talk show Cold As Balls, along with the Olympic Highlights show featuring Hart and award-winning rap artist Snoop Dogg.
Omaha Productions, which was founded by Peyton Manning, has contributed to various ESPN alternate broadcasts in the past, including the NBA in Stephen A’s World and Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, colloquially known as the “ManningCast.”
More dates for NBA Unplugged with Kevin Hart will be announced as the NBA season continues. Additionally, all of these broadcasts will be available to watch on the ESPN app.
Kirk Herbstreit: I Don’t Have an Agenda About College Football
Herbstreit told Pat McAfee the notion he has influence over the CFP Committee is laughable.
Florida State being left out of the College Football Playoff semifinals brought out plenty of conspiracies and beliefs that ESPN and personalities like Kirk Herbstreit somehow manipulated the rankings.
Herbstreit appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday, where Pat joked that Kirk gets to decide who gets in the playoff as well as other awards like the Heisman.
Kirk tried to quell anything floating around that might insinuate he makes any big decisions like that.
“I know you’re kidding, but there’s some people that think you’re serious when it comes to ESPN or me or anybody having any agenda or having anything to do with these teams,” he said. “It’s the committee that ultimately decides what’s going to happen.”
“I don’t have an agenda on anything other than I just want to see the subjective analysis of who the best four teams are,” Herbstreit added.
Kirk Herbstreit continued by saying that some of the loudest voices are misunderstanding what factors into what schools make the final four.
He explained that it was clear that Michigan was one and Washington two. The next group of teams to consider was called a cluster and consisted of programs like Alabama, Texas, Florida State and Georgia. Herbstreit was reading from what the playoff committee has to go off of when it comes to generating a final ranking.
“Conference championship, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition is another thing,” he said. “Comparative outcomes with a common opponent. None of these are weighted more than the other. And the last thing is other relevant factors such as unavailability of key players or coaches that may have affected a team’s performance or likely will affect its postseason performance.”
“That’s where this, to me, that’s what separated these teams,” he said. “You couldn’t put Alabama ahead of Texas, Texas beat Alabama. Based on all of those things I just mentioned, they must’ve said, Texas is gonna go to number three probably because of the head-to-head. And then you got Alabama and Florida State and Georgia.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.