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Disney Could Sell off Fox RSNs Piecemeal

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John Ourand of Sports Business Journal was on the company’s The Morning Buzz Podcast earlier this week talking about the sports implications of Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets. As previously reported, the DOJ has agreed to approve the deal providing Disney sells off Fox’s regional sports networks.

Speculation has mostly focused on who would buy all 22 networks, but Ourand says that Disney may have more options and make more money of they sold them off one-by-one or in multiple smaller packages.

“Comcast wants the ones in its markets, AT&T wants the ones in its markets. Some distributors, like Charter, already have said that they’re interested in doing it. Venture capital could be out there looking at it, and then you have these deep-pocketed companies like Endeavor and CAA that have been looking to get into the media, that have been consistently building out their media groups. So I think there’s going to be a long line of people that are kicking the tires on these RSNs.”

Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing suggests that it may not be limited to network and cable operators that have interest in the FOX RSNs.

Tech companies could perhaps get involved as well. YouTube has already done that with their efforts in the LA market, including grabbing LAFC local rights, and they and other tech firms could be players here.

As previously reported, it’s likely Disney will be looking for buyers for only 21 of the 22 networks. The New York Yankees intend to buy back controlling interest in the YES Network from Fox before the sale to Disney is complete.

Ourand went on to say that he worries the interest Disney is hoping exists for these RSNs isn’t actually there. Ourand says RSNs are no longer the reliable profit generators they used to be for cable companies. He cites cord cutting and rising rights fees.

You’re seeing this happen in Chicago right now. Comcast is losing subscribers in Chicago, but they’re having to renew rights fees in negotiations with all four teams, and all four teams want a lot more money, because they’re seeing teams across the country get a lot more money, and Comcast doesn’t even really have that money, because they’re losing subscribers. The whole business is changing.

It’s important to note a couple of things here. First, the sale of these assets to Disney is not even completed yet. Comcast still has time to up its own bid and come out on top. It is likely that the DOJ would still demand that Comcast sell off the RSNs. Disney may be interested in selling off all the RSNs but the ones in the LA market.

Sports TV News

Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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Sports TV News

Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

Jordan Bondurant

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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Sports TV News

Lisa Salters Makes Monday Night Football History Completing 11th Season on Sideline

“Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.”

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Monday night’s Cowboys/Bucs wild card playoff game set a new milestone for ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

The network tweeted that Salters completed her 11th season in that role. That makes her the longest tenured reporter in Monday Night Football history.

Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.

“When I first got the call to do Monday Night Football, I would have never thought that 10 years later I would still be doing it,” Salters said last year in a video reminiscing on ten years on Monday Night Football. “I was at home and I got a phone call from my boss Vince Doria and he said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you would be interested in being a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football‘, and I couldn’t believe what he just asked me.”

Salters is also featured on network coverage of the NBA, something she’s been doing since 2005.

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