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Kate Fagan Exits ESPN At Year’s End

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Kate Fagan was offered a contract extension to remain at ESPN, but she tells The Washington Post that she declined to sign it. She will leave the network at the end of 2018. Fagan wrote for ESPN: The Magazine and espnW. She also appeared on a number of ESPN shows including Outside the LinesAround the Horn, and First Take.

“To continue at ESPN I would have to be immersed in the day-to-day in sports,” Fagan stold interviewer Ben Strauss. “And I found myself more and more interested in other aspects of sports — like how it connects to our culture. That was not going to be the big business of ESPN.”

Fagan’s most well-known stories for ESPN: The Magazine have been on the topics of sexual identity and mental health. While she didn’t explicitly say that she didn’t feel like she would be able to write those kinds of articles any longer, she did say that changes to sports media in general are at the heart of her departure from Bristol.

With regular host Bob Ley on sabbatical, Fagan has been serving as a guest host of Outside the Lines. In the interview she hinted at the possibility that the show may not have much longer. “At various points, the show has fought for its life in the programming schedule, so that was not a factor [in the departure],” she said. “But because it’s a show and a brand and a group of people who are doing important work, I have one eye on it, hoping it continues at ESPN, because it’s invaluable.”

Fagan has not announced any future plans. Alison Overholt, vice president and editor-in-chief of espnW and ESPN: The Magazine, called Fagan “a true talent” and wished her well.

 

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Sports Podcasting Company Blue Wire Raises Additional Funding

Blue Wire’s library of content features personalities such as Lolo Jones, Chris Long and Gilbert Arenas among others.

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Blue Wire

Blue Wire founder Kevin Jones has told Axios the sports podcasting company has raised new funding from Decathlon Capital. Jones did not offer more details on the total amount raised or the valuation it was based on.

Blue Wire had raised over $200,000 in a community fundraising round last year. Blue Wire was founded in 2018 and has raised $12 million since 2020. The company has primarily received its funding from former athletes, including former NBA guard Baron Davis, along with venture capitalists and Wynn Resorts. 

Jones said the investment from Decathlon would primarily be used for building proprietary technology to help podcasters run their businesses, hiring more salespeople and recruiting additional content creators.

Blue Wire’s library of content features personalities such as Lolo Jones, Chris Long and Gilbert Arenas among others.

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Richard Deitsch Forewarns Media Companies of ‘Athlete Generated Content’

“Athletes now have become their own media distributors, and now that content is competing against everybody else…It makes the space more challenging.”

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Richard Deitsch of The Athletic
Courtesy: Pat Mayo Experience

One sports media reporter has a message for established media entities — get ready for the age of “athlete-generated content.” During an appearance on The Pat Mayo Experience, Richard Deitsch of The Athletic discussed a variety of topics, including athlete-led production companies and how athletes can eschew traditional media companies and tell their own stories using their own production outfits. Deitsch cites players like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Jason and Travis Kelce as athletes with their own platforms to distribute their messaging.

“Athletes now have become their own media distributors,” Deitsch said. “Whether it’s production companies owned by LeBron, the Kelce brothers have their own massive podcast entity now, Kevin Durant’s got his own production company, Steph Curry does…and that’s one thing that’s very, very new, is athlete-generated content, and now that content is competing against everybody else. It makes the space more challenging because there’s only so many advertising dollars to go around.”

LeBron James and Maverick Carter started SpringHill Company in 2020 and have since produced multiple fiction and non-fiction films, including What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Hustle, and Black Ice, among others. It also serves as the production company behind The Shop, LeBron and Carter’s pseudo-podcast where they interview guests and discuss current events in a barbershop environment.

Meanwhile, Durant co-owns Boardroom along with his business partner Rich Kleiman, a sports media and entertainment brand that features “premium video/audio, editorial, daily and weekly newsletters, showcasing how athletes, executives, musicians, and creators are moving the business world forward.” It is home to the Netflix property Two Distant Strangers, SWAGGER on Apple TV+, and the Emmy-nominated Showtime documentary NYC Point Gods.

Jason and Travis Kelce broke into the podcasting game during the 2022-23 season with their show New Heights, the name an homage to the pair’s hometown Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Last season, the show quickly rose to the top of the charts thanks to the pair’s obvious chemistry and the success of both teams. However, this season saw the podcast reach new heights (pun sort of intended) thanks to a budding romance between Travis and pop star Taylor Swift.

Travis used New Heights as a way to discuss the ongoing season while giving his growing audience a peek behind the curtain regarding his relationship. When asked about the show, Travis said, “The only way I’d do the show was with my brother,” while Jason has echoed similar sentiments in the past, crediting the show for improving the brothers’ relationship.

Possibly the largest athlete-owned production company that Deitsch failed to mention is Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, the company behind Peyton’s Place, Eli’s Places, and of course, the wildly popular “ManningCast” alternate Monday Night Football broadcast. Omaha has been adding new content for years thanks to the partnership with ESPN.

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Amazon Prime Video Announces Roger Federer Documentary

“I didn’t see the harm in shooting this as it was never intended for the public. However, we captured so many powerful moments, and it transformed into a deeply personal journey.”

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Roger Federer with the Prime Video logo
Courtesy: Sky Sports

Tennis sensation Roger Federer asked a friend to document his final tournament, the 2022 Laver Cup, and now that footage is being turned in to a documentary by Amazon Prime Video. Federer intended for the video to be a home movie for he and his family to enjoy, but when it was finished, those around him said the footage was special and needed to be shared with the public.

“It’s a snapshot of my life over those 12 days, which is pretty hardcore and interesting,” Federer told Bloomberg who was first to report the news of the documentary.

“It’s looking deep into another layer of the tennis tour–how the camaraderie is a good one on the tour,” Federer added. “Yes, here are rivalries, but off the court there are friendships and respect.”

Federer gave access to his hotel room, his home and his wife even spoke on camera, something she had not done in a long time. “I never let anyone come into my house,” Federer said. 

The documentary not only captures the final moments of his illustrious tennis career that saw him win 20 Grand Slam championships, it also looks at his memorable rivalries with other tennis greats such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

The film is directed by Asif Kapadia, the Oscar winner for the Amy Winehouse documentary, Amy in 2015, amongst other films.

“During my career, I tended to shy away from having cameras around me and my family, especially during important moments,” Roger Federer said. “But I didn’t see the harm in shooting this as it was never intended for the public. However, we captured so many powerful moments, and it transformed into a deeply personal journey. I am happy to be partnering with Prime Video because of their vast global reach and significant presence in the film industry. This ensures that the story of my final days in tennis will resonate with both tennis enthusiasts and broader audiences worldwide.”

The documentary is likely to be released in July, around the 2024 Wimbledon tournament.

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