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ESPN+ Leans Hard Into Combat Sports This Weekend

“It may be early in the relationship, but UFC and ESPN seem to have found each other at just the right time to get a few wins under each company’s respective belts.”

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UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ was a huge success for the streaming platform when it debuted January 19. ESPN will hope to continue that wave with a heavy serving of combat sports this Saturday.

UFC Fight Night starts the night with prelims at 5 p.m. EST on ESPN from Fortaleza, Brazil, and a main card that features two main events as UFC legend Jose Aldo returns to take on Ronaldo Moicano while the closing fight pits Raphael Assuncao against Marlon Moraes in a matchup where the winner is expected to be in line for a shot at TJ Dillashaw’s UFC Bantamweight Championship.

Not only will ESPN feature the UFC Saturday night, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” will also feature boxing on it’s streaming and network services beginning at 7 p.m. EST and continuing into the twilight hours of Sunday morning.

Featured boxing matches include Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19 KOs) vs. Carmine Tommasone (19-0, 5 KOs), for Valdez’s WBO featherweight world title and Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12 KOs) vs. Sergey Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KOs), for Alvarez’s WBO light heavyweight world title.

It may be early in the relationship, but UFC and ESPN seem to have found each other at just the right time to get a few wins under each company’s respective belts. If Saturdays (or weekends in general) begin to stack up like this one, boxing could see some of the benefits as well.

ESPN is dubbing the boxing portion of the night Super Saturday across the three separate events, but in truth, the whole evening is “super” for combat sports fans. ESPN is giving those fans a chance to watch quality fights without breaking the bank with the possibility of an underwhelming finish.

Another win for ESPN+, another win for digital streaming.

Sports Online

Mike Francesa: George Steinbrenner’s Idea to Put Mike and The Mad Dog On YES Network

“It was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were.”

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Mike and The Mad Dog is often cited as one of, if not the, best sports radio shows of all time. The show saw an expanded reach with its partnership with the YES Network beginning in 2002. During his podcast Tuesday, Mike Francesa gave all the credit to the simulcast hitting the air on YES Network to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

“It was George Steinbrenner that came up with the idea of Mike and The Mad Dog being on the YES Network. No one else,” Francesa said.

“They came to us when they were negotiating a new radio deal with him and they said ‘Hey, we need a quick answer on this. Would you guys want to be on the YES Network every day, simulcasting? You know what Imus is doing with MSNBC? We wanna do it with you guys, but we need a very quick answer’.”

Francesa said the show airing on YES Network was a sticking point for the Yankees in negotiations with CBS Radio to continue airing the franchise’s broadcasts.

“Our first deal with them were not for a lot of money. Our later deals with them were for a very significant amount of money. But it was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were. Our joining the YES Network was part of the CBS Radio contract.”

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Sports Online

Dave Portnoy Reveals Back-And-Forth With New York Times Reporter Who Claimed He ‘Did Not Provide Answers’

“You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.

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A story from The New York Times centered around “aging casino company” — Penn National Gaming — and its relationship with “degenerate gambler” — Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — caught the eye of the face of the online outlet after the claim that he “didn’t provide answers”.

In the story, Steel claims “Penn and Barstool executives did not respond to repeated messages. Mr. Portnoy did not provide answers.” Portnoy brought the receipts to Twitter with a video of all of the correspondence he had with Times writer Emily Steel.

The alleged conversation takes place sporadically from May through November, with Portnoy offering to meet face-to-face with Steel for an interview that is mutually audio and video recorded, which Steel declines. She offered to meet Portnoy in New York for an audio recorded interview, which he declined, saying the interview needed to take place in Miami, because “I’m not running around to accommodate you at the 11th hour.”

He added “You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.

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Sports Online

Kareem Daniel Leaving Disney After Bob Iger Reassumes Role as Company CEO

“This is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Bob Iger is back as the CEO of Disney, and one of the first moves he made was to announce a company restructure. Part of that restructure includes the departure of Kareem Daniel, the chair of Disney Media and Entertainment Distribution (DMED).

DMED was formed under now-previous CEO Bob Chapek. The division manages Disney’s streaming services which includes ESPN+.

Daniel was considered one of those closest to Chapek. Iger announced Daniel’s departure in a memo to employees at DMED.

“It is my intention to restructure things in a way that honors and respects creativity as the heart and soul of who we are,” Iger said in the memo. “As you know, this is a time of enormous change and challenges in our industry, and our work will also focus on creating a more efficient and cost-effective structure.”

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro will join other company leaders in coming up with a new company structure that Iger hopes “puts more decision-making back in the hands of our creative teams and rationalizes costs.”

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