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Networks Trying to Fill NFL Broadcast Booth Openings

Brandon Contes

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It was a busy weekend for TV networks trying to recruit former NFL players and coaches. Over the past few days, reports have Jason Witten heading to the Monday Night Football booth, Bruce Arians to CBS and Jay Cutler returning to FOX.

On Friday, Chris Mortenson reported Jason Witten would retire from football and join ESPN to fill the MNF void left by Jon Gruden. This represented an about-face for Witten, who just recently spoke of plans to continue his playing career for multiple seasons.

“There’s been a lot of things said over the years, especially the last few months,” Witten told Clarence Hill of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram just two weeks ago. “I guess that’s what happens when you get old. Maybe one day that will happen, but hopefully I can play until I’m 40 like some of these other guys. I’ll take it one day at a time. My plan is to be here with the Cowboys. Absolutely.”

Jerry Jones responded to Mortenson’s report over the weekend stating, “He has not made any decisions that are definite at this time.”

“He has some things to think about and discuss with his family from a professional perspective. He also told me that those things are going to require a few more days of consideration, at least through the weekend,” said the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.

Additionally, Ian Rapaport reported Jay Cutler will retire from the NFL for the second year in a row. Last season, Cutler was set to partner with Kevin Burkhardt of FOX before the Dolphins desperately requested he return to the NFL after quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s season ending injury. While rejoining FOX is on the table, according to Rapaport, Cutler also “may be coming to a reality show near you, as will his wife [former Laguna Beachstar Kristin Cavallari].”

More definitive than the future of both Witten and Cutler, is the report sending Bruce Arians to CBS Sports. According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, Arians will join Greg Gumbel and Trent Green to form a three-person booth for the upcoming NFL season.

Arians, who retired from coaching in January, quickly expressed his desire to remain involved with the game. Arians cited the little broadcasting experience he has, covering Pennsylvania high school championship games in the late 80s.

“I loved it,” Arians told Josh Weinfuss, Arizona Cardinals writer for ESPN, regarding his brief tenure on television. “I went down and moms are crying, and I’m interviewing the moms on the field. I said, ‘You guys get paid to do this s—? This is fun.’ It’s always been in the back of my mind.”

Witten will most likely make a final decision on his NFL future this week, with an announcement from CBS regarding Arians joining their football coverage expected soon as well.

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

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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