Jemele Hill will receive $6.25 million to walk away from ESPN this month. That isn’t what the network wanted according to Andrew Marchand. Despite public perception that Hill was persona non grata at ESPN, Marchand reports in The New York Post that ESPN offered her a number of different options hoping one would intrigue her enough to stay.
The first idea that was floated was that Jemele Hill become the permanent co-host of Highly Questionable. Dan Le Batard and Gonzalo “Papi” Le Batard have never permanently replaced Bomani Jones since he left the show in June of 2017. Hill has filled that role multiple times and has a good relationship with Dan. Hill passed.
ESPN also offered Jemele Hill a permanent role on SportsNation. Marchand did not indicate what the role was, but SportsNation was recently cancelled, so Hill probably did the smart thing in turning it down.
Another option floated to Hill was increasing her role with The Undefeated. According to Marchand, ESPN wanted to not only allow Hill to work on more prominent stories, but also use her as a part of Undefeated branded programming on ESPN+.
Hill’s final day was originally reported to be last Friday. ESPN has extended that a bit, although in all likelihood she will not be seen on the air very much. Her previously recorded interview with Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is expected to be her final appearance on ESPN. Her final day of employment will be September 15.
Meadowlark Media to Create Content For Spanish-Speaking Fans in U.S.
The plan is to oblige an underserved audience by providing a product for one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S.
Meadowlark Media, co-founded by former ESPN President John Skipper, and Ocellated Media are expected to announce a strategic partnership later today. Their plan is to create Spanish-language audio and unscripted video programming for Latino sports fans living in the U.S.
According to Skipper, “the content available does not mirror the proportion of the population,” which fuels the interest in non-English programming. Very little sports programming is delivered in a language other than English, although Latinos make up around 19% of the total population. Understandably, that community would like to hear the programming in its native language.
Meadowlark and Ocellated recently decided to work alongside Skydance Sports to produce Good Neighbors, a documentary about the rivalry between the U.S. men’s national soccer team and the Mexican national team.
The documentary will include current and former members of both teams with each player interviewed in his first language. It will not be told from a specific team’s point of view.
“We want it to play in both Columbus, Ohio and Mexico City,” Skipper said.
By keeping the documentary unbiased, playing it in multiple countries, and capitalizing on soccer’s standing as the world’s most popular sport, the companies have set themselves up for a high value project.
Besides the Good Neighbors documentary, viewers can expect most of the collaborations going forward to be in Spanish. The plan is to oblige the underserved audience by providing a product for one of the fastest growing demographics in the U.S. According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the Hispanic population grew 23% between 2010 and 2020.
Up to this point, Telemundo and Univision have been the go-to networks for Spanish-speaking programming and the bulk of sports-related content for the demo. But Meadowlark and Ocellated aren’t trying to compete with them. They actually see those networks as potential buyers.
Based in Mexico City, Ocellated brings a level of market expertise, authenticity, and in-house production capabilities to the partnership.
“Production services in Mexico are quite efficient and significantly less expensive,” said Skipper, “so on selective projects we’ll take advantage of that.”
Along with today’s announcement, Meadowlark and Ocellated will also introduce a new daily Spanish-language sports, entertainment, current events and sports betting podcast, to be hosted by Jorge “El Burro” Van Rankin. The plan is for the podcast to complement Meadowlark co-founder Dan Le Batard’s daily show.
“We will not have to build [the audience] from scratch,” Skipper said. “We can use Dan’s show to help launch [the “El Burro” show] and [to] get it an audience. And over time we think we can develop a fairly significant audience.”
If everything goes well, Skipper expects the two companies to replicate the model and “build [out] some other Spanish-language podcasts around the world.”
Jay Glazer: ‘We Changed It Into a Relationship-Based Business’
“I’m going to build relationships and over time, more scoops would come from those relationships.”
While Jay Glazer is famous for his work as an insider on FOX NFL Sunday, his journey to get to that point shows where hard work and a dedication to never giving up can take you once your foot is in the door.
Glazer was a guest on The Adam Schefter Podcast to talk about his new book, Unbreakable: How I Turned My Depression and Anxiety into Motivation and You Can Too and he got into the origin of how he got into the sports business.
When Glazer was covering the Giants for the New York Post, he knew he did not have the same experience as other reporters, so he had to find a different way to stand out. He did it in a way that now seems normal to any reporter, but was not common in the late 90’s:
“When I walked in the Giants locker room early on, I said, man, I don’t have the same education as everyone else, I don’t have the same experience,” Glazer recalled. “How can I be different? If these guys work 9-5, I’m not going to outwork them by a little, I’m going to outwork them by a lot. I’ll be here at 7 a.m. till Strahan drops me off at 9 p.m. because I couldn’t afford bus or subway fare both ways. Michael would drive me in every single day. He understands my plight. That’s a great friend right there.
“I also said I’m going to build relationships with people. I think back then, it was taboo to have relationships with players and coaches. In New York, it was taboo to do that. I said, well, that’s where I am going to be different. I’m going to build relationships and over time, more scoops would come from those relationships.”
After Glazer was at the New York Post, he got a full-time job as the NFL insider for CBS SportsLine beginning in 1999. While he wasn’t on TV, he was able to do something different that changed the media landscape:
“What that allowed me to do is become the first minute-by-minute breaking news guy in America, Me vs. Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton of ESPN… That was the birth of what we do,” said Glazer. “There was no crawl before us. You newspaper guys used to get pissed at us because you guys would file something at 6 p.m. and then we break something at 10 p.m. at night so your back page would be moot. We started an industry with this. We raised access for everybody. We changed it into a relationship-based business.”
Despite Glazer competing with ESPN and other media outlets to be first with stories, he still calls Adam Schefter before the beginning of the season to wish him good luck. In fact, Schefter says Glazer was the one who is the most responsible for the credit system on ESPN’s bottomline:
“I tried to make it into a fight, me vs. all of ESPN, David vs. Goliath,” Glazer said. “People don’t know Adam and I talk before every season. I call you up and say to you and Mort, good luck. We need each other because we need opponents. We need to fight someone. Let’s do it clean. We can all get rich and do it the right way. Let’s make sure we get all of our stuff right.”
Ted Leonsis: Betting Makes ‘Sports Programming Even More Valuable’
“It used to be, there would be a blowout and everyone would tune out. Now you’re watching until the end of the game to see what your bet will be.”
Sports betting has exploded in the United States since the Supreme Court ruled against a law that banned commercial sports gambling throughout the country. Legalized sports betting has been adopted in one form or another by more than 30 states, creating a market that has produced over $52 billion in revenue.
On the latest Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, reporter Jim Frankel looked at the sports betting phenomenon, reminding viewers that professional sports once distanced itself from gambling. Two of baseball’s biggest scandals, notably the 1919 Chicago White Sox deliberately losing the World Series and Pete Rose being banned from the sport, involved betting.
Yet betting has now become so incorporated with sports that ads for sportsbooks and betting platforms flood advertising during sporting events and at venues. Studio shows discuss betting, often in sponsored segments, during pregame, halftime, and postgame coverage.
Frankel spoke with one professional sports team owner who’s embraced betting fully. Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Wizards, Capitals, and Mystics, has opened a Caesars Sportsbook in Capital One Arena. Fans attending games can place bets right there in the building.
Here’s a clip from Frankel’s feature, titled “Legalized Sports Gambling”:
“There was a lot of angst about sports betting. What was the audience going to be doing?” Leonsis told Frankel. “This is the fastest-growing new business in Washington, D.C. and it’s unfolded the way we’re expecting.”
Frankel also includes interviews with fans placing multiple bets and spending hundreds of dollars (if not more), who enjoy the thrill of having an investment in several events. But he also follows a fan whose life was ruined by his betting addiction.
However, Leonsis is among those looking at the bigger picture, who see gambling making sports even more lucrative and more important to fans.
“It’ll make sports programming even more valuable because you’re much more engaged,” said Leonsis. “It used to be, there would be a blowout and everyone would tune out. Now you’re watching until the end of the game to see what your bet will be.”
The latest episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel debuted Jan. 25 and is available across HBO networks. The show can also be seen on-demand and streamed HBO Max.
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