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Traina Worried About Where Tiger vs Phil Leads

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Jimmy Traina lead his daily column at SI.com yesterday with some thoughts on the news that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will meet in a one-on-one round of golf over the Tanksgiving weekend. He wasn’t concerned about whether it would be good TV or who would win. Traina was more intrigued by the fact that the match will be available on pay-per-view.

Golf fans can pay to watch the event through their cable or satellite provider or they can stream it on the B/R Live app. The price hasn’t been announced but Traina doesn’t expect it to be insignificant, writing “I highly doubt it’s going to be 99 cents.” And he expects a full on publicity push as we get closer to the event, noting that the hypehas already started with Phil Mickelson joining Twitter to coincide with this week’s announcement.

They’re going to sell this one-on-one battle as a big deal, when in reality, it’s just a useless exhibition. It’s not a major. It’s not a real tournament. However, it stars the most iconic golfer of all time, so you’re being tricked into thinking you’re getting something good. The reality is, it’s just a TV special.

Traina is convinced that it won’t just be the folks at Bleacher Report or cable and satellite providers rooting for the event to succeed. He says that the whole sports media world wants to see the event generate big profits. “If you pay for it, sports media companies are going to be overjoyed because then they know they have an audience who will actually hand over their money to watch stuff like this,” and Traina is worried about where that might lead.

The danger here (and I use that word loosely, because this really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of life) is that this will open the floodgates for sports media outlets to eventually experiment with putting good things on pay-per-view. It’s not going to stop with Tiger-Phil if that’s a success. And I’m not saying you’re going to see an NFL playoff game or the NBA Draft or a college football playoff game on pay-per-view next year or the year after, but if you don’t think the leagues and networks, especially ESPN which just launched a streaming network, have that idea in the back of their heads for down the road, you’re not paying attention.

ESPN+ already has exclusive rights to a number of lower tier college football and basketball games. That service, and others like it, typically offer a lot of content for a lower monthly price ($4.99 in ESPN+’s case). Major boxing and MMA cards can get expensive. The Mayweather/McGregor fight, for instance, cost $99.95 to watch in HD. Would the Tiger and Phil extravaganza be priced similarly? If so, what would that mean football fans would have to pay to watch an NFL playoff game should that league switch to a pay-per-view model in the future?

Count Traina amongst the few sports media professionals encouraging fans to save their money.

At some point the sports fan, as a consumer, has to say no. We get dumped on constantly. Games ending past midnight on the East Coast. A billion commercials during every sporting event. Offensive ticket prices. More offensive concession prices. Even more offensive prices for parking.

Now we’re going to be tested to see which sporting events we’re willing to pay for. If you shell out the money for Tiger-Phil, you’ll be giving sports media companies incentive to take advantage of you again. And again. And again. Just say no.

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Pac-12 Networks Content Could Be Headed To ACC Network

“Dellenger and Forde report that talks to make the deal a reality are in the very early stages.”

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ESPN has been at the center of a lot of conversations about the future of college sports following the Big Ten plucking UCLA and USC out of the Pac-12. The network could be part of a broadcasting partnership that is meant to secure the futures of the Pac-12 and the ACC.

In a joint report for Sports Illustrated, Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde write that the two conferences would not merge, but that the ACC Network could get renamed and include content centered on both conferences.

A deal like this would pay dividends for all involved. The ACC would get more TV revenue and the Pac-12 would get broader distribution that it had with its proprietary Pac-12 Networks, which was reportedly struggling to even stay afloat. It could also secure the conference’s future as some members consider leaving for the Big 12. As for ESPN, this deal would put them back in business with the Pac-12.

A programming alliance between the two conferences could create some marquee non-conference matchups for football and basketball. That would give ESPN event programming to promote and sell.

Dellenger and Forde report that talks to make the deal a reality are in the very early stages. They write that “those briefed on the ACC–Pac-12 proposal believe it has plenty of hurdles to clear and details to be ironed out before becoming a reality.”

The obvious question all parties involved will want to be answered is would merging ACC Network and Pac-12 Networks content generate enough new revenue to make the move viable. Sources told Sports Illustrated that it is what they will be focused on if talks progress.

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Brian Windhorst Explains What Was Behind His Viral Rant

“To be honest with you, part of what I was doing was trying to do was avoid aggregation,” he said. “Because if I come out and go I think the Jazz are going to trade Rudy Gobert today, then everything on the internet is ‘Windhorst Report: Jazz trade Gobert.’ And then maybe they don’t trade him.”

Jordan Bondurant

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There wasn’t a ton of NBA free agency news leading into the long holiday weekend last week, but what news there was became wildly more interesting thanks to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Windhorst, appearing on First Take on Friday, went on an entertaining rant about the Utah Jazz trading Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn, throwing tidbits out there that insinuated more was to come.

The monologue went viral and became the subject of plenty of memes.

Talking on his podcast Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective, Windhorst explained that the ‘A’ block of First Take is 30 minutes long, much different than the other ESPN shows he appears on. He said he approached it from a podcasting perspective and added that First Take was really the only place he could’ve pulled something like that off given a multitude of factors.

“It had to have occurred on a show like that,” Windhorst said. “So I was able to kind of draw out and kind of have a conversation about the Utah Jazz.”

Windhorst said he knew the Jazz were going to trade Rudy Gobert, which happened not long after his rant started circulating the internet. But he said he needed to avoid tipping others in the media off or potentially even wrecking the trade before it became official.

“To be honest with you, part of what I was doing was trying to do was avoid aggregation,” he said. “Because if I come out and go I think the Jazz are going to trade Rudy Gobert today, then everything on the internet is ‘Windhorst Report: Jazz trade Gobert.’ And then maybe they don’t trade him.”

Windhorst said he knew he was becoming the subject of many a meme, but after being on the road so long and away from home covering the NBA playoffs, he didn’t really have a chance to relish in the moment.

“I came back home and had nonstop family stuff to do, and they didn’t care about any of that,” he said. “I was getting like 250 text messages and seeing all these memes, but I had to prepare for the people we had coming over for the 4th of July. I couldn’t really focus on it.”

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UFC Draws Record Ratings for UFC 276 Prelims on ESPN and ABC

The ratings make it the second-most watched UFC telecast since the promotion began airing on ESPN in 2019. It was also the top telecast ever for a preliminary card.

Jordan Bondurant

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UFC, ESPN and ABC have plenty to celebrate following this weekend’s UFC 276 pay-per-view.

Ratings for the preliminary card show a combined audience of 1.8 million tuned in across ABC and ESPN. ABC drew 929,000 viewers for their portion of the card, which marked the first time UFC aired in primetime on the network.

ESPN drew 871,000 in the lead-up to the main card from Las Vegas.

The ratings make it the second-most watched UFC telecast since the promotion began airing on ESPN in 2019. It was also the top telecast ever for a preliminary card.

UFC will return to ABC on July 16 but won’t air in primetime. Coverage of UFC Fight Night from UBS Arena on Long Island will air in the afternoon.

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