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Ariel & The Bad Guy Debuts on ESPN+

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ESPN’s new MMA reporter Ariel Helwani and former UFC and Belator fighter Chael Sonnen have a new show on ESPN+. Ariel & the Bad Guy launched today on the network’s new premium streaming service.

The weekly version of the show will be a thirty minute discussion of the sports most recent news and events. A new episode will be available every Wednesday. ESPN has announced that special episodes of Ariel & The Bad Guy will air before and after major MMA events.

The ESPN+ show is not the only broadcasting Helwani will be doing for ESPN. His new podcast Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show makes its debut on Monday, June 25. Episodes will stream live on Twitter every Monday. They will also be available in all of the usual places you find ESPN podcasts. Helwani will also contribute to MMA coverage on ESPN.com and both he and Sonnen will make appearances on SportsCenter to discuss the sport.

 

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Lee Fitting Worried ESPN Is Too Focused On College Football Playoff

National conversation around college football has been dominated by the Playoff.

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Courtesy: Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The College Football Playoff has been dominating the news this week and seemingly every week, for that matter, during college football season. 

The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach noticed the dominant space talking about the Playoff takes over in the national conversation and wanted to find out how to fix it. She spoke with experts from around the industry to see if there is room for the little guy to get some more love from the college football media.

One person who knows this topic like the back of their hand is ESPN senior vice president of production Lee Fitting.

“It’s time to take a little reset as far as we’re concerned,” Fitting said to Auerbach in the piece. “Obviously, the Playoff needs to remain a priority A) for the sport and B) for business. But at the same time, I’m worried that we’ve gone a little too far away from what makes college football great — and that is that there is something in every game for the fans out there. It’s not just the top four, five, six, or seven teams who are playing for something.”

It’s a tough task to juggle for Fitting and College Gameday host Rece Davis, who knows above all things the Playoff is what drives revenue and interest from a national audience.

“GameDay has as big an umbrella over the sport as humanly possible,” Davis said. “But if you try to do all that and ignore the monster that is the Playoff, you are not servicing the largest number of your viewers because, for better or worse at this moment in time in the sport, everything is viewed to a degree through the lens of how it impacts the Playoff picture. I don’t think we have to be exclusively in that vein, but we have to accept it.”

The perpetual cycle of just a few teams getting a shot at glory will end if the College Football Playoff committee welcomes a 12-team field. Until then, fans of the MAC and AAC can only hope for a New Year’s Six berth. Check out all the conversations Auerbach had on the topic right here.

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Cari Champion To Host Nightly Olympics Show For Peacock

While Champion continues to be coy about who her co-host is, sources told FOS senior writer Michael McCarthy that Kenny Mayne will be alongside Champion.

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With the Tokyo Olympics just over a month away, NBC Sports is gearing up for their coverage, which, according to Front Office Sports, will include a new, nightly series hosted by Cari Champion.

The former ESPN anchor will host the show alongside another ESPN alum whose name is still being kept under wraps, Champion told FOS.

“The person I’m going to be working with has a really great personality, he’s funny, and we have a good time together,” Champion said. “While we both worked at ESPN for as long as we worked, I never once had the opportunity to host a show with him.” 

While Champion continues to be coy about who her co-host is, sources told FOS senior writer Michael McCarthy that Kenny Mayne will be alongside Champion.

Mayne, who left the network in May after being a household name on SportsCenter, wouldn’t confirm or deny when reached by FOS.

“I would prefer to be coy and petulant,” Mayne said on Monday. “Aaron Rodgers has rubbed off on me.” 

Cari Champion told FOS, “We will be doing interviews, we will be doing highlights, and we’re going to make it our own.” 

The two – assuming Mayne is indeed her co-host – will film the show at NBC Sports’ Stamford, Conn.-based studios, sources familiar with the production told FOS.

Some of Champion’s work since leaving the World Wide Leader in Sports includes her recent work on NBC’s “The Titan Games,” TNT’s “The Arena,” and “Won’t Stick to Sports” with Jemele Hill on Vice. 

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12 Team College Football Playoff Could Triple Payout To Schools

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the College Football Playoff expansionfrom four to 12 teams could triple conference take-homes.

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According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, colleges in major football conferences could see their take-home from the College Football Playoff triple, should the format change from four to 12 as is expected.

“Pac-12 schools, which currently receive approximately $9 million annually from the playoff, could see that amount soar to $27 million per school per year,” the Mercury News reported.

The estimates center around the CFP’s existing contract with ESPN, increase in revenue for sports media rights, and assumptions about viewership increases. The proposal will reportedly include six automatic qualifiers and six at-large bids, with the top four teams receiving byes and the remaining eight playing in the first round at the higher-seed’s home site.

Currently, the four spots in the College Football Playoff are all at-large selections. Given the fact the sport is largely shaped by the Power Five conferences, four teams has long been a point of contention. Add in the fact that no non-Power Five team has made the playoff since its inception in 2014, and the problem is only exacerbated. The money that now exists in “amateur athletics” makes the approval from university officials all but a formality.

The first six College Football Playoff National Championship Games averaged 27.6 million viewers per contest. Last year’s blowout by Alabama of Ohio State saw a 27 percent drop to 18.65 million.

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