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Former ESPN President John Skipper Lands New Job

Jason Barrett

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John Skipper resigned from his position as president of ESPN last December, citing a years-long “substance addiction” as his reasoning. Two months after ESPN hired James Pitaro as their new president, Skipper has resurfaced to join Perform Group, as Executive Chairman of the global sports media company.

Perform Group is based in the UK, founder Simon Denyer will continue as the company’s CEO in London, with Skipper’s role allowing him to remain in New York.

“Simon and his team have built an enormously impressive company, providing an excellent base to establish a global leadership position in the over-the-top sports subscription business, the clear future of sports delivery,” said John Skipper, Executive Chairman Perform Group. “Perform Group’s platform and expertise, coupled with its success in launching subscription services in Germany, Japan and Canada provides a model we intend to replicate around the world.”

Skipper left ESPN during a crucial time, when the company was dealing with a ratings decline, sexual harassment allegations (not about Skipper, who had just prior signed an extension to remain with the network) and awaiting the launch of their new OTT platform.

Since Skipper’s departure ESPN has undergone programming changes including the cancellation of SC6. Under James Pitaro, ESPN also followed through on projects that began with Skipper at the helm, including Mike Greenberg’s new morning show, Get Up, and the launch of their direct-to-consumer subscription service ESPN+. Perform Group has an OTT sports streaming service of their own called DAZN.

In his new position with Perform Group, Skipper will oversee all operations and strategy of the company and report to the Board, but it would make sense for the former ESPN president to have a focus on growing DAZN.

“Perform is rapidly expanding its role in sports media with significant investments in the best content and our own platform. We are now preparing to push forward with the expansion of DAZN, our live and on-demand streaming service, in more major markets around the world,” said Simon Denyer, CEO Perform Group. “DAZN is revolutionizing how fans watch their favorite sports. John is one of the most significant leaders in the history of our industry, and I am delighted that he has agreed to join me and the team to help take Perform to the next level of our ambitions.”

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

FanDuel TV Strikes Deal With ONE Championship Martial Arts

“We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

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FanDuel TV and ONE Championship Martial Arts have struck a deal that will see the MMA, Muay Thai, kickboxing, and submission grappling series air weekly events on the newly launched channel.

“We’re eager to continue expanding the variety of content we’re offering at FanDuel TV to introduce our audience to emerging sports,” said FanDuel Chief Commercial Officer Mike Raffensperger. “We’ve long respected the content the ONE Championship team is producing and are looking forward to bringing their action to our audience through FanDuel TV and FanDuel+.”

ONE Championship is a top-five global sports property for digital viewership and engagement according to Nielsen measurements.

“We are thrilled to join the FanDuel TV lineup and give our passionate U.S. audience yet another way to engage with ONE Championship,” said ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong. “Having a quality partner in FanDuel will help raise the profile of our company in the region and provide their viewers with action-packed martial arts events like they have never seen before.”

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Sports TV News

Bob Costas Re-Lives First Announcing Assignment For NBC

“My biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979.”

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Legendary sports broadcaster Bob Costas appeared on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes Thursday to discuss the death of Baseball Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry. But before the conversation turned to the recently departed pitcher, the show asked Costas about what he has announced that would surprise someone. He reminisced about his first time on the air for NBC.

“My very first assignment for NBC, my biography usually says I began with them in 1980, but technically the first time I was on the air with them was in December 1979,” Costas recounted. “There was a program on NBC then called Sports World. It was an anthology series that was their answer to the gold standard, ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

“So they traveled the globe, like Wide World of Sports did. So they sent me, wearing a red NBC jacket, to Tokyo to cover a sumo wrestling tournament with seven-time world power-lifting champion Larry Pacifico as my color man. Now, this is all the Japanese I learned as we came on the air: ‘Minasan kon’nichwa watashinoamaeha Bob Costas’, which means ‘Hello everyone, my name is Bob Costas’. If ever there was typecasting, when they sat and looked at their roster of announcers and went ‘Who should we send to the sumo wrestling? It’s gotta be Costas, who’s entire body weight would constitute one meal for the sumo wrestling champion.”

Costas departed NBC Sports in 2019 after 40 years with the network, announcing MLB, NBA, and the Olympics, in addition to his work with the network’s sumo wrestling coverage.

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Sports TV News

Matt Leinart, Alex Smith Make Wager Over Pac-12 Championship Game

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous. I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.”

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FOX Sports analyst Matt Leinart and ESPN analyst Alex Smith have made a friendly wager over the upcoming Pac-12 Championship Game.

USC, Leinart’s alma mater, is slated to play Utah, where Smith attended, in the game Friday evening on FOX from Las Vegas.

The two agreed to don the other player’s jersey. “At least it will be 11,” Smith said, noting he and Leinart both wore the number during their playing days.

“I gotta be honest with you: I’m not that nervous,” Leinart said when presented with the offer. “I know that sounds kind of arrogant and confident.” Smith jokingly responded by calling USC “Free Agent University”. He added he would overnight Leinart a jersey to ensure he had one if the Utes were victorious.

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