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LeBron James to Produce NCAA Documentary for HBO

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Before LeBron James decides where he’ll be playing basketball this fall, he has some work to do for HBO. The network has purchased Student Athlete, a documentary he will serve as the Executive Producer for and release through his SpringHill Entertainment Group.

LeBron James has never been under the NCAA’s jurisdiction for a single day in his life, but that hasn’t stopped him from speaking out about the way college athletes are treated by the organization. This time, he is bringing in some very noteworthy help. Maverick Carter and Jamal Henderson of SpringHill will serve as producers alongside Steve Stout. Student Athlete will be directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who won an Oscar this year for her short documentary Saving Face, and Trish Dalton.

Obaid-Chinoy said in a press release that she and Dalton put a lot of work into this movie to show the realities of life for NCAA athletes.

We embedded in the world of men’s college basketball and football, capturing athletes’ hopes and dreams being shattered by the harsh reality of what it means to be a “student athlete” in a billion-dollar industry.

Carter had strong words about the importance of the project in a press release.

This is an incredibly important story about the institutional denial of basic human rights for these student athletes. When Steve Stoute brought us this idea, it was a perfect fit for the kind of stories we want to tell at SpringHill. We’re excited to work with one of the best human rights storytellers in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy to help people see and feel how this issue impacts the lives of those living it.

It seems pretty clear what angle this movie will take, especially considering how critical LeBron James has been of the NCAA in the past. Student Athlete will premier on HBO on October 2nd.

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Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast

“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’

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First the Mannings now McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.

No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.

Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.

Pat McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast, however, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.

“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.” 

In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.

There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.

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ESPN Announces Opening Weekend Slate On Conference Networks

The season is approaching and ESPN took the occasion to announce the opening weeks schedules for their the ACC Network, ACC Network and Longhorn Network.

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College football begins in less than 100 days so to celebrate, ESPN announced programming for the beginning of the season for their conference-affiliated networks and the Longhorn Network.

The SEC Network is set to begin it’s ninth season on the air. Just as the network did one year ago, the network will start in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ball State is Tennessee’s opponent on September 1st and the game features a 7 p.m. ET kickoff in Neyland Stadium. The SEC Network also announced a trio of tripleheaders to kickoff 2022. Alabama (v. Utah State), LSU (v. Southern) and Florida (v. South Florida) are the respective host teams in those week’s primetime games.

ESPN College Football

The ACC Network’s season begins even sooner. Starting on Saturday August 27th, the network will feature Week 0 games for the first time. Florida State will welcome Duquesne at 5 p.m. ET in the first game of an ACC Network doubleheader, followed by Florida A&M travelling to North Carolina which is scheduled to kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET. The ACC Network will air 14 live football games over the first four weeks of the season. In Week 1, the ACC Network will begin it’s schedule of tripleheaders of 2022 culminating with Louisville and Syracuse battling in the season’s first installment of ACC Network Primetime Football at 8 p.m. on September 3rd.

ESPN’s Longhorn Network announced that Texas will open it’s season on Saturday, September 3rd against Louisiana-Monroe exclusively on LHN at 7 p.m. CT. In addition to the season-opener, the Longhorn Network will be the home of the September 17th game at home against Texas-San Antonio. LHN also mentioned Texas GameDay presented by St. David’s HealthCare will have pre and postgame coverage throughout the season beginning with the season-opener.

This could be the final season for the Longhorn Network as it is currently constructed. Texas’ move to the SEC could mean a large change to their media rights allocation. Texas has reportedly been open to the idea of scrapping the network if necessary.

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Lee Fitting: We’re Lucky Bosses Threw Rules Out For ManningCast

“This was the next step in the evolution, and one that gained a lot of recognition because of the crew and Peyton and Eli.”

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ESPN’s Lee Fitting made time to talk to Sports Video Group after the ManningCast took home the award for Best Live Series at the Sports Emmys on Tuesday night. He was holding the trophy, but said it took every person that worked on the show to make it worthy of that honor.

“This was the ultimate team effort, you know, for the Monday nights that we did it and, you know, like I said out there, we were just so spoiled to have Peyton and Eli at the center of it,” the network’s SVP of Production said.

He credited the quarterback mindset Peyton and Eli Manning brought to the project, saying that players have to be allowed to make plays. It wasn’t just important that the Manning brothers could do it. The network had to be willing to stay out of the way and let the ManningCast figure out what success looked like.

“We were just super lucky that our bosses just sort of threw the rules out the window with this one,” Fitting said.

While the alternate Monday Night Football broadcast received plenty of rave reviews, Fitting pointed out that he wasn’t really breaking new ground. He was taking a formula that had been proven to work and changing it up a bit.

“The Megacast has been around for a while now, and it continues to evolve. This was the next step in the evolution, and one that gained a lot of recognition because of the crew and Peyton and Eli.”

Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions recently produced a similar alternate broadcast for the PGA Championship. It is contracted to build alternate, conversational broadcasts for UFC events and college football games next.

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