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Pac-12 Commissioner Defends Late Night TV Starts

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It may not be fair to characterize Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s job status as “embattled.” None of the conference’s member schools have publicly called for him to be replaced. He sure does seem to be having to constantly defend his conference’s media rights deals though, which includes dealing with outside scrutiny and unhappy fans.

On Saturday, Scott spoke to reporters ahead of Oregon State’s game against Arizona at Reeser Stadium. He answered questions about the late night kickoff times on the East Coast that Fox and particularly ESPN reserve for Pac-12 competition. Some conference members, most notably the University of Washington, have complained that late night start times for most of the country’s fans don’t give their team enough exposure and results in being excluded from the College Football Playoff and worthy players being left off of Heisman voters’ ballots.

Scott says he is sympathetic to those concerns, but calls the late night kick times a business decision. “The reason we play almost a third of our games at night is that was a way to unlock significant value from television in our last negations. ESPN and Fox placed a high value on us giving them a little more flexibility and being willing to play more night games.” It isn’t a satisfying answer for football fans, but given the well-documented struggles of the Pac-12 Network to gain clearance on cable and satellite systems across the country, it is understandable that the conference would make a decision that netted them more money.

The 10 PM Eastern kickoffs allow networks like ESPN and FS1 to sell ad inventory for 14 hour football days. The Pac-12 is the only Power 5 conference with teams in the Pacific time zone. Scott says that is where the value is. “Playing more night games than we did in the past unlocked the kind of value our schools were looking for.”

Pac-12 football is not completely excluded from daytime kickoffs, but so many networks have exclusive deals with other conferences. The afternoon slot on NBC is reserved for Notre Dame. It’s CBS for the SEC. Fox rotates between the Big 12 and the Big Ten. The only real slot for the Pac-12 would be as part of ABC’s national game, which would have to share space with a number of conferences, most notably the ACC. Assuming no Pac-12 team wants to kickoff at 9 AM (or 10 AM for Utah and Colorado), it means that the audience and television time isn’t really available for Pac-12 football until night time hours.

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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