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ESPN Sets College Football Plans

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ESPN’s PR department announced today that the network has been busy solidifying their lineup for the college football season. Multiple new broadcast teams and contract extensions have been announced for the network.

Dusty Dvoracek, Tom Luginbill, and Don Orlovsky have all agreed to contract extensions. Each will be part of a different play-by-play crew on Saturdays.

The new Thursday night play-by-play team includes Adam Amin and Matt Hasselbeck. Amin had previously worked Friday night games. Hasselbeck comes over from ESPN’s NFL coverage. They will be joined by Molly McGrath, who will serve as the broadcast’s sideline reporter.

Dave Flemming will take the reigns on Fridays. He had previously done Thursday night games. He will be paired with Paul Carcaterra. The duo will be joined by a rotating third voice in the booth. NFL Front Office Insider Louis Riddick, former Auburn coach Gene Chizik, and former UCLA coach Jim Mora will all make appearances on Friday night games during the season.

Yesterday ESPN announced the addition of Ryan Leaf to their Saturday play-by-play lineup.

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Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

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NBA Finals Game 3 Up 2% on ABC and ESPN

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Graphic for the NBA Finals

Game 3 of the NBA Finals series which saw Boston take a three games to none lead in the series was up 2% from last year’s Game 3. The game averaged 11,426,000 viewers and peaked at 13,926,000 at 10:45 p.m. ET.

The game was the top draw in all of television for the night and took the top spot in all of the key demographics. So far through three games, the series is even with the television numbers from 2023.

NBA Countdown, the show which airs right before the game begins, was also up two percent compared to the same show a year ago. NBA Countdown averaged 4,330,000 viewers. Through three games, the show is up five percent from last season’s pregame shows.

The Celtics will look to secure their 18th NBA Championship when the two teams meet again for Game 4 tonight at 8:30 ET. If a Game 5 is necessary, it would be played on Monday, June 17.

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Report: Netflix Looking for Production Partner for NFL Christmas Day Game Broadcasts

The report also indicates that there could be “more resistance among current NFL partners to help out Netflix” because the company may be looking to become a long-term media rights partner for the league in the future.

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Netflix will stream two National Football League games on Christmas Day this year as part of a new deal with the league that was inked ahead of the official release of the regular-season schedule. The company is starting to prepare for these matchups by reportedly reaching out to broadcasters in an effort to find a partner to produce these matchups, the first of which is an AFC tilt between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m. EST. Some of the broadcasters with whom Netflix has reportedly spoken with are ESPN, NBCUniversal and CBS Sports, according to a new report from Lillian Rizzo and Alex Sherman of CNBC.

The Walt Disney Company, which has a majority ownership stake of ESPN, will reportedly not produce these games since it has college football matchups on the same day, according to people familiar with the situation. CBS Sports and FOX Sports produce several games in different regions every week, which could make producing games with Netflix somewhat of a burden. The report also indicates that there could be “more resistance among current NFL partners to help out Netflix” because the company may be looking to become a long-term media rights partner for the league in the future. The NFL is able to opt out of its current media contracts following the 2029-30 season.

Over the years, Netflix has produced a variety of sports-related content in the form of documentaries and live specials. The company signed a media rights agreement with World Wrestling Entertainment to become the new broadcast home of the WWE Raw series beginning in 2025 reportedly worth $5 billion over 10 years.

Netflix also released the trailer for Receiver, the NFL docuseries following players on and off the field throughout the 2023-24 season, which is produced by NFL Films, Omaha Productions and 2PM Productions. The eight-episode series, which is a sequel to Quarterback, will feature Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

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