ESPN+ is now the home of a new and unique combat sports league to pair with UFC and boxing. The Professional Fighters League (PFL) will be featured on ESPN+ and ESPN2 for the upcoming season beginning in May.
PFL is a unique MMA organization that operates with a regular season, playoff and championship format similar to traditional sports like the NFL and NBA.
“ESPN is the home of combat sports, and we look forward to delivering thrilling live PFL events and powerful storytelling to fans, across all platforms,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Scheduling.
The PFL season begins in May and runs through August. From there the playoffs start with a culmination in a New Years Eve event in which PFL World Champions will be crowned in six weight classes, including a 155-pound women’s class. ESPN+ and ESPN2 will air all 10 events live.
“We are thrilled to bring the PFL to ESPN, the undisputed leader in sports. ESPN is a ground-breaking pioneer that has fundamentally changed the way we consume sports, and we at the PFL are reimagining MMA for fans and fighters,” said Peter Murray, CEO of the PFL. “We are also the first in MMA to introduce a 155-pound women’s division and we are the first to provide equal payout to our crowned champions across all divisions.”
“Fans can now follow the stories, and business partners can engage in the journeys, of the PFL fighters throughout the season,” said Donn Davis, Co-Founder and Chairman of the PFL. “This agreement to bring PFL to ESPN and ESPN+ further validates our unique and innovative product and will accelerate the PFL’s growth.”
YouTube TV Having ‘Incredible Growth’ From NFL Sunday Ticket
“We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future.”
NFL Sunday Ticket is in the midst of its first season being accessed through YouTube and YouTube TV as part of a 7-year deal worth a reported $14 billion. In being available on an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, fans have had to adjust to new ways to sign up and find the content to watch on each Sunday. While feedback for the platform has been stellar across the board as it pertains to the user interface, latency levels and viewing options, one area that endured levels of sustained criticism was multiview functionality.
In the past, NFL Sunday Ticket users had the capability to fully customize their screen, placing the games they want to watch in different windows and customizing the order thereof. With the new iteration of the service though, users are subject to preset layouts of games compiled for viewing, essentially losing a sense of jurisdiction over the totality of their experience. In a recent interview with Deadline, YouTube Chief Business Officer Mary Ellen Coe commented on how the service plans to adapt going forward.
“That is a very hard thing to do technically,” Coe said. “Put it this way – the feedback is [that] we hear you loud and clear. We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future, and one thing that we’re doing to address that is [in having] a lot of insights on the game combinations and what matchups fans are interested in. So, we can use those insights.”
Coe believes that an interminable number of combinations is superfluous for fans and that the company is instead basing their decisions from bonafide, quantifiable data. Through these metrics, NFL Sunday Ticket is able to appeal to the largest faction of viewers interested in engaging with a multiview combination.
“We actually will have insight into what are the games that are must-watches, and then we can preload those combinations,” Coe explained. “I think as you see the season goes on, the demand [for customization] will become less because people will see the combinations they want will be up.”
Within the Deadline interview, author Dade Hayes made a shrewd observation in that when The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications were embroiled in a carriage dispute, both companies offered YouTube TV as potential viewing solutions. While a resolution was reached on the morning of the Week 1 broadcast of Monday Night Football and season debut of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, YouTube as an entity has not yet extrapolated and bifurcated the data to see if there was any substantial effect therein.
“We’re having incredible growth because of the Sunday Ticket relationship with YouTube TV,” Coe said. “It is interesting that both Charter and Disney referred to YouTube TV as a place to go when they couldn’t get content. I think that’s an endorsement for the user experience on YouTube TV, which we appreciate.”
Jomboy: We Won’t Get in a Bidding War With WFAN, ESPN New York for Aaron Boone
“Talkin’ Yanks had the best couple months ever while they sucked and I think that’s because we had access to Boone and we started being silly again.
In past years, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone would have guest appearances either on WFAN or on ESPN Radio in New York during the season. This year, the Boone guest spot went from traditional radio to Jomboy Media as Jomboy and Jake had Boone on Talkin’ Yanks every week.
Of course, it was a different year for the Yankees as they will fail to make the postseason. With that being said, the Boone effect did help the show in a big way.
On the latest edition of The Morning Meeting (Building Jomboy Media) podcast, Jomboy said that while sometimes the weekly guest spots got tough toward the end of the season, it was still a worthwhile endeavor.
“Talkin’ Yanks had the best couple months ever while they sucked and I think that’s because we had access to Boone and we started being silly again. Boone definitely had a big part of that and just people used the quotes kind of changed it.”
August was the most viewed month of episodes in terms of average views in the history of the show, which is when the Yankees were starting to fade away from playoff contention.
In fact, Jomboy felt the most recent Boone interview was the best episode they had this year because of the familiarity and looseness they all felt.
“We’ve been having fun. I thought that one felt like the best because there was also some good convos of learning as well as just goofiness.”
As for next year, nothing has been decided as to whether or not Talkin’ Yanks will have Boone on again. While Jomboy is interested in running that back, he knows that if the other radio stations want back in, it will be tough to compete with them.
“If ESPN Radio or WFAN all of sudden realize they want back in and we get into a bidding war, we are not going to really do that.”
Ryen Russillo Calls Out Dan Le Batard’s Attack on Adrian Wojnarowski
“Man, if you’re gonna pick a fight, pick a fight with somebody who gets shit wrong, not Woj.”
The will they/won’t they mystery surrounding Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers is over. Lillard is headed to Milwaukee as part of a three-team trade. Ryen Russillo talked about the deal and some of the narratives about potential moves on the most recent edition of his podcast.
Russillo took people to task for assuming doing a deal with Miami was Portland’s only option because it is where Lillard wanted to be. He specifically called out Dan Le Batard for what Le Batard had to say about Adrian Wojnarowski’s reporting that Portland was not impressed by what Miami could offer.
At the time, Le Batard said that Wojnarowski’s report was “embarrassing” for suggesting that a deal between the two sides was not imminent. He said the ESPN reporter was “agenda-based schilling” and “bought and paid for by Portland”.
“That was on July 17,” Russillo said reading Le Batard’s comments back and reiterating that all Wojnarowski said on his podcast was that Portland did not like Miami’s offer. “’Bought and paid for’? I’m like, ‘Man, if you’re gonna pick a fight, pick a fight with somebody who gets shit wrong, not Woj.’ And here we are, weeks, months later, and it wasn’t Miami.”
Dan Le Batard has never run from the fact that he is a Miami fan above all else. That was on display again this week as he and his colleagues reacted in real time to Stephen A. Smith putting the Dolphins atop his A-List of the best teams in the NFL.
He has also not been above lashing out at other members of the media when he perceives a lack of integrity.
Le Batard’s producer, Mike Ryan Ruiz, acknowledged on social media that Russillo called the show out by name. He also spent much of Wednesday swearing that the NBA and ESPN were conspiring against the city of Miami.