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WWE Network Introducing Subscription Tiers

“The tier system pricing and features are left up to speculation for now. Where monthly “pay-per-view” events and NXT fall in those tiers will largely determine fan receptiveness.”

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The WWE announced major changes would be coming to the WWE Network at it’s annual business summit in April which was made available to the public last week. Many of these changes will happen before the end of the year.

The WWE Network hasn’t seen many changes in it’s five-year existence, though a relaunch later this year with Endeavor Streaming and Massive Interactive will introduce a tier system, more customization options and an offline viewing option.

Many of the details are still rather vague. The tier system pricing and features are left up to speculation for now. Where monthly “pay-per-view” events and NXT fall in those tiers will largely determine fan receptiveness.

WWE also said it will be announcing an official podcast partner “in the coming weeks.” Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bruce Prichard and Chris Jericho’s podcasts have all been featured on the network, though none of them stuck as long term solutions and weren’t own by the WWE. An officially branded WWE podcast will allow the company stability and control in that department.

WWE also announced directly to subscribers via email, separately from the summit, the WWE Network is leaving a handful of last-gen tech ahead of these changes starting May 21. That includes XBox 360 and Playstation 3, Amazon Fire tablets and Windows 10 desktop.

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All The Smoke Productions, Meadowlark Media Agree to Content Partnership

“We feel pretty strongly that it was not a totally maximized property when it was under the Showtime banner.”

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All The Smoke
Courtesy: All The Smoke Productions

The basketball program All The Smoke and its portfolio of shows is joining Meadowlark Media and DraftKings Network in January 2024. Program hosts and former NBA champions Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson will join the company’s lineup of shows and talent, which includes The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, Pablo Torre Finds Out and Oddball with Amin Elhassan & Charlotte Wilder among others. As part of the partnership, DraftKings will distribute and sell available advertising inventory. Moreover, fans will be able to watch highlights and full episodes on a new YouTube page, titled “Certified Smoke,” to ensure viewers do not miss a moment of the program.

All The Smoke formerly aired on Showtime Sports, which will be shuttering its operations by the year’s end due to the network’s transition towards offering “Paramount+ with Showtime” as part of a bundle. Other programs associated with “All The Smoke Productions,” which includes programs hosted by Rachel Nichols, DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, are also set to join the platform. A new lineup of shows is set to be announced sometime in the next few weeks, according to a report by Bloomberg.

“We know the asset,” Bimal Kapadia, Meadowlark Media chief operating officer, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We feel pretty strongly that it was not a totally maximized property when it was under the Showtime banner.”

Although the complete breadth of future plans for Showtime sports-related properties still remains unknown, Paramount Global made the decision to have the network focus on original programming for series such as Billions and Yellowjackets. The company has CBS Sports within its portfolio, which is set to broadcast Super Bowl LVIII, part of March Madness and The Masters ahead of the retirement of Chairman Sean McManus. Additionally, the sports property has several podcast offerings of its own within a crowded media landscape pertaining to football, golf and sports betting along with other topics.

“It’s hard to get the economics to work in a single-medium basis like audio,” Kapadia told Bloomberg. “You have to have multimedia and an established audience that you can build off of.”

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Yahoo Sports Undergoes Round of Layoffs Including Hannah Keyser, Sam Cooper, Kevin Iole

Zach Crizer and Arun Srinivasan were among the employees who revealed the news that they had been let go by the company.

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Yahoo Sports
Courtesy: Yahoo Sports

Yahoo Sports has engaged in a round of layoffs as part of an effort to eliminate more than 20% of its staff by the end of the year, a figure that was reported earlier in the year by Sara Fischer of Axios. The company is currently owned by Apollo Global, which purchased the entity from Verizon in 2017 along with AOL and other media businesses.

On Friday, mixed martial arts and boxing journalist Kevin Iole announced that he was laid off by the company in a post on X and took the time to thank his co-workers and express his appreciation for his time with the outlet. Within that post, he conveyed how this is not the end for him; rather, he hopes it is the start of a new chapter.

On Monday, several other Yahoo Sports staffers announced their departures from the company as a result of the layoffs. Senior MLB reporter Hannah Keyser lost her job on Friday and shared the privilege it was for her to report on the game through the platform. Keyser also appears on SNY as a contributor on Baseball Night in New York and other programming, and it remains unknown if and how her exit from Yahoo Sports will impact the role.

“Five years ago, I was terrified to accept the job and I’ve been terrified (truly) every day since that I’m bad at it,” Keyser said in a post on X. “But I never worked harder or took more joy in learning.”

MLB writer Zach Crizer was also part of the layoffs on Friday, and divulged that he continues to write about baseball. Although he acknowledged that the ending is not great, he feels that a lot of people with the outlet changed his career for the better and had more belief in his work than he did.

“I learned more about baseball from Zach in five years than I even knew there was to know,” Keyser said on X. “He is more organized than I am, less erratic, and since he actually opens HR emails about our health insurance changing, I can actually say that I wouldn’t have survived without him.”

“No one pushed me harder, or advocated me more forcefully, than Hannah,” Crizer said of Keyser in a post on X. “She is a complete original that the baseball world can’t afford to lose. Whenever you think you have a good answer, I promise she’s going to have a better question.”

Sam Cooper revealed that he was part of the Yahoo Sports layoffs after working with the company over the last 10 years. Cooper had been promoted to a full-time senior editor, a role he served in for the last five years, after starting out as a freelancer. In a series of posts on X, Cooper acknowledged how he does not understand the rationale behind the current direction of Yahoo, but also articulated that it was a great place to work and will miss his colleagues.

“So now I’m a free agent,” Cooper continued. “I’ve written extensively about CFB (+ other sports), helped transform [Yahoo Sports College Football] from an RSS feed into an account with 50k+ followers and had a consistently profitable betting column. I also know the ins and outs of editing in the digital media space.”

Arun Srinivasan worked at Yahoo Sports Canada and was part of the recent round of layoffs as well, posting a statement on Saturday night while covering his final Toronto Maple Leafs game at Scotiabank Arena for the outlet. Within his remarks, he thanked Dan Toman and Mackenzie Liddell for their leadership and for taking a chance on him, along with William Lou for endorsing him after he was looking for work following layoffs from theScore in February 2019.

“…I’m itching to get back to the arena more regularly,” Srinivasan said on X. “How many of us get to do everything we dreamed of as children? Thank you for everything Yahoo, this message is for everyone I’ve ever been lucky enough to work with here.”

Earlier in the year, Yahoo laid off 1,000 positions within its companies and revealed that the remaining layoffs would occur in the second half of 2023. The company is in the midst of a restructuring of its advertising technology unit in an effort for the company to be able to invest more heavily in areas of the company that garner significant profits. Additionally, the company hired Ross Dellenger and Jason Fitz, along with welcoming new president Ryan Spoon in June 2023.

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Tiki Barber: WFAN is My Passion Job, Calling NFL on CBS is a Grind

“It’s a fine balance of finding time to grind on tape, but watch the local sports, develop these opinions, and still have a good family life.”

Ricky Keeler

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Tiki Barber
Courtesy: Derek Futterman

When Tiki Barber is talking about either the New York Jets or New York Giants every weekday afternoon with Evan Roberts on WFAN, the goal he wants to accomplish is to inform and teach the audience without having any emotion get in the way. Even though he had a great career with the Giants, the former running back is able to take any emotion out of whatever analysis and takes he gives.

Barber was a guest on the Amazin’ Conversations with Jay Horwitz podcast and he mentioned that over the last decade, he has been able to watch a game and not have emotion cloud what he is actually seeing on the field.

“I’m trying to inform. I’m trying to teach in a way because I think it’s one thing to be passionate about sports and have an emotional reaction, but I watch a lot of the games whether it’s the Jets or the Giants dispassionately. It’s called true media. I can watch any game over the last 10 or so years without the emotion of the broadcast. I see exactly what’s happening as opposed to that emotionally moved me and it clouds what’s going on.”

One of the reasons why Barber is able to do that is because of what happened before he entered the NFL. Barber grew up in Virginia as a then Washington Redskins fan, but once the Giants made the call to draft him, that was the beginning of him becoming dispassionate as a fan.

“I look at sports really analytically and I think it’s because I grew up a Washington fan. As soon as I got drafted to New York, that fandom had to change. When the paychecks are coming from the Meadowlands, that fandom had to change. I became dispassionate as a fan, which allows me to not be biased, but also understand it.”

“I also try to see things from inside the organization. What would a player think about this criticism? Is it fair? If it isn’t, then I’ll expose that. If it is, I’ll say that as well. I’m not afraid to be critical of people.”

When Tiki Barber isn’t talking to fans on Evan & Tiki, he is in the booth as an analyst for NFL games on CBS. With that job, he considers the CBS role more of a grind than WFAN because of the time he puts in watching tape and preparing for the game.

“I love being busy. I love trying to achieve things. I consider WFAN my passion job because I’m talking about sports. All I have to do is pay attention to sports. The grind is a little bit on the NFL games.”

“It’s a fine balance of finding time to grind on tape, but watch the local sports, develop these opinions, and still have a good family life.”

Tiki Barber told Horwitz that his goal is to learn something new every day and while he may not know everything about baseball and basketball, he never wants to come across as if he knows everything.

“I try to learn everyday. I know I don’t know everything about baseball and basketball. I know a lot of football. I feel like I learn as I go and it helps me because I don’t come off as knowing everything. I am having a conversation with someone at a bar. That’s what it feels like to me.”

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