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ACC Network Launch To Stream Across 4 Networks

“When the switch is flipped this evening, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPNEWS will carry a simulcast of the first 10 minutes of the ACC Network.”

Jack Ferris

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Thursday marks the long awaited launch of the ACC Network, making the ACC the fourth of the power 5 conferences to have a network all their own. It’s also the 2nd conference network, with apologies to the Longhorn Network, owned by ESPN.  If that piece of information is news to you, it will become crystal clear if you’re watching an ESPN family network this evening at 7 pm ET.  

When the switch is flipped this evening, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPNEWS will carry a simulcast of the first 10 minutes of the ACC Network.  The network will launch with a two hour special of their flagship program – All ACC.  As you can imagine, the show will be packed with some star power.  In a press release this week, ESPN announced Dabo Swinney, Mike Krzyzweski, Muffet McGraw, Deshaun Watson and ACC Commissioner John Swofford are just a handful of names that will appear in the program.  The release did not detail whether or not those names will be crammed into the first 10 minutes of the show.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a number of new networks launch – but this kind of exposure is unprecedented.  To the average sports fan, it may just be brushed off as ESPN’s way to remind us all that there’s a new platform – and you should try your best to find it.  However, those that have been keeping tabs on the distribution struggles the ACC Network has had this summer could see it as a battle tactic aimed at Comcast and Dish.

As of Thursday morning, those two giants have yet to strike a deal with the new network, leaving the ACCN out of 31 million homes tonight.  While we can’t claim to fully understand the reasoning behind flooding the ACCN’s launch across four other networks, it makes sense if executives are trying to target ACC fans who might have Comcast or Dish.  They would see the network, get the network taken from them, and immediately flood their provider with phone calls and social media jabs inquiring why they can’t watch their shiny new channel.  

It’s a bold move, and maybe one only ESPN/Disney could make given their vast family of networks.  

The ACC Network’s first football game is next Thursday when Clemson hosts Georgia Tech – 5 business days worth of negotiating after tonight’s launch blitz.  

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Diamond Sports Group In Danger of Losing Padres TV Rights

“The company has a grace period to deliver the payment that runs through May 30.”

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Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March after failing to make a scheduled debt payment to its creditors. At the time, the company had more than $8 billion in debt and was commencing a process of restructuring. Yet the company stated its Ballys-branded regional sports networks would continue to operate as usual. Major League Baseball decided to take action though and establish a plan to broadcast games locally if the company missed a rights payment.

Now, it is looking that is exactly what will happen. Diamond missed a payment to the San Diego Padres last week, meaning the team’s media rights could soon be the property of Major League Baseball. The company has a grace period to deliver the payment that runs through May 30. If it were to miss the payment, it would mark the first time it will relinquish a contract in this way.

“Despite Diamond’s economic situation, there is every expectation that they will continue televising all games they are committed to during the bankruptcy process,” Major League Baseball said in a statement. “Major League Baseball is ready to produce and distribute games to fans in their local markets in the event that Diamond or any other regional sports network is unable to do so as required by their agreement with our club.”

The company’s current contract with the San Diego Padres has nine years and approximately $540 million remaining with an escalator clause built into the deal. This means that the final year of the deal would cost Diamond Sports Group more than $70 million in rights fees, and while the team is in the top five for television deliveries, the entity perhaps may not view it as sustainable. The momentum headed in this direction was first reported by John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.

The company has also pushed Major League Baseball teams to agree to deals to stream the games in order to recoup lost cable revenue. By being granted the rights to stream games directly to consumers, Diamond Sports Group has vowed to pay the rights fees it owes to nine MLB teams. The company currently has the streaming rights for just five of the 14 major league clubs on its regional sports networks.

Some industry experts believe Diamond Sports Group is utilizing this stalemate to be able to exit media rights deals that are losing the company money. For example, the Diamondbacks’ media rights contract garners an annual payment of about $68 million while amassing the second-lowest local television ratings of any Major League Baseball team.

On May 31, a bankruptcy judge will establish how much money Diamond Sports Group owes its clubs for media rights fees while in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and whether it can continue broadcasting games at this time. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Guardians and Minnesota Twins filed emergency motions urging the judge to coerce Diamond Sports Group to make their payments. If the company is unable to distribute payments, the emergency motion calls for teams to issue default notices to the regional sports networks, which could permit the termination of media rights contracts.

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Devin McCourty Joining Football Night in America on NBC

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity from NBC Sports to learn from great individuals, chase new goals and provide viewers with my thoughts on the biggest games every week.”

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NBC Sports has enhanced its roster of football analysts with the signing of Devin McCourty. He will join the cast of Football Night in America leading up to each week’s broadcast of Sunday Night Football.

McCourty is a three-time Super Bowl champion and played his entire 13-year career as a defensive back with the New England Patriots, and has the record for most career playoff games started by a defensive player.

“It’s rare when you have the opportunity to add a three-time Super Bowl-winner to your team, and we’re excited to welcome Devin McCourty to Football Night following an incredible NFL career,” said Sam Flood, executive producer and president of production at NBC Sports. “Devin is a leader in every sense of the word, both on and off the field, and his dynamic personality and passion for the game will be a great addition to the show.”

McCourty’s twin brother, Jason, currently works on the cast of NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, and the two co-hosted a podcast together while playing called Double Coverage. Devin was a guest host on Good Morning Football earlier in the season and also contributed to pregame coverage on The NFL Today and NFL Draft content for CBS Sports.

“I’m excited to be a rookie on the best team in America again,” McCourty said in a statement. “I’m very grateful for this opportunity from NBC Sports to learn from great individuals, chase new goals and provide viewers with my thoughts on the biggest games every week.”

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Glen Kuiper: ‘Traits Like Integrity and Character are No Longer Considered’

“I love the game of baseball and I love being a broadcaster, and I love the Bay Area community. I hope I will be remembered for that.”

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Glen Kuiper is out as the television voice of the Oakland A’s. The team and NBC Sports California made the announcement yesterday following an internal review of an incident on air earlier this month in which the broadcaster appeared the say the n-word on accident.

“Following an internal review, the decision has been made for NBC Sports California to end its relationship with Glen Kuiper, effective immediately,” a spokesperson from the regional sports network said in a statement. “We thank Glen for his dedication to Bay Area baseball over the years.”

Kuiper issued a statement of his own, affirming that what people are calling a racial slur was actually “a very unfortunate mispronunciation.” He said that he was talking to fast in describing a day at the Negro League Museum in Kansas City.

“Please know that racism is in no way a part of me; it never has been and it never will be,” he wrote in a statement shared with reporters. “I appreciate the Negro League Museum president Bob Kendrick and Oakland A’s great Dave Stewart’s public support of me in light of this. I am an honest, caring, kind, honorable, respectful husband and father who would never utter a disparaging word about anybody. Those who know me best know this about me.”

He has been the A’s primary play-by-play voice since 2006. He added that he is astonished NBC did nto consider that before making their final decision.

“I wish that the Oakland A’s and NBC Sports would have taken into consideration my 20-year career, my solid reputation, integrity and character, but in this current environment, traits like integrity and character are no longer considered. I will always have trouble understanding how one mistake in a 20-year broadcasting career is cause for termination, but I know something better is in my future.”

Glen Kuiper closed his remarks by thanking fans and his supporters.

“I love the game of baseball and I love being a broadcaster, and I love the Bay Area community. I hope I will be remembered for that.”

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