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DirecTV May Not Renew Sunday Ticket Deal With NFL

“According to the Wall Street Journal, DirecTV loses more than $500 million annually on their NFL Sunday Ticket package.”

Brandon Contes

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sports update

The National Football League’s Sunday Ticket package has long been considered a profitable asset for AT&T’s DirecTV, but the growing number of cord cutters might change that notion.

The current agreement between DirecTV and the NFL is set to expire following the 2021-22 season and if met with an increased price tag, AT&T may not be interested in a deal renewal.  Earlier this year, the NFL had the option of exercising a one-way opt-out clause, but chose not to use it, instead continuing their current deal with DirecTV.  In 2014, AT&T’s DirecTV agreed to an eight-year contract extension that pays the NFL $1.5 billion annually for the rights to give their subscribers the option of watching almost any game.

In 2018, DirecTV lost nearly 1 million subscribers, largely due to cord cutting, a continuing trend that could make it difficult for the satellite pay-TV service to continue its partnership with the NFL.

“I don’t think we look at that and say it’s a growth product,” AT&T COO John Stankey told the Wall Street Journal regarding the Sunday Ticket. “I don’t think we’re going to wake up a year from now and suddenly there’s going to be more people in the United States that want to watch an out-of-market team.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, DirecTV loses more than $500 million annually on their NFL Sunday Ticket package.  The current $1.5 billion per year deal was approximately 50% more than their previous agreement that expired in 2014.  Based on Stankey’s recent comments, if the NFL is in search of a similar increase in 2022, they’ll need to get it from a new broadcast partner.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

Sports TV News

Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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Sports TV News

Leafs Nation Network, the Toronto Maple Leafs Channel, Is Going Off the Air

“Thank you for your viewership. As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs launched Leafs TV, a team-specific specialty channel in 2001 and rebranded it as Leafs Nation Network in 2017. However, after nearly twenty-one years on the air, it will fade to black at the end of August.

“Thank you for your viewership,” the channel told viewers who have tuned in recently. “As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

The news was confirmed to the Sun. Staff said they had been informed of the news a few weeks ago however few jobs are expected to be lost, of any, as many of the LNN duties will be moved to the digital format.

Leafs TV was part of the sale of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise sale in 2011 to Bell-Rogers communications (worth $1.32 billion). With that sale, Leafs TV began to become a “redundant” channel focusing mainly on classic games and interviews once Rogers made a 2014 deal to become the dominant NHL network, grabbing the majority of live programming.

“Leafs TV was a big bargaining chip at the time of the (Rogers-Bell sale), but they’ve come to see that (lack of game broadcast presence) doesn’t work,” a source told the Sun.

A statement from MLSE on Tuesday read in part: “With new and increasing opportunities to share content on its digital platforms, subscribers to the Leafs Nation Network were informed earlier this month that the channel would cease being broadcast on Sept. 1. Maple Leafs game day and practice coverage will continue to be shared across the team’s digital platforms, combined with exciting new content on the team’s social and digital channels. The team will continue to produce live Marlies home games with details being shared in the weeks ahead about where those broadcasts will be made available.”

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith Says He Wants Mike Francesa on First Take

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Mike Francesa

Stephen A. Smith seems to be looking to debate every major media personality with big opinions and he has set his eyes on Mike Francesa.

Smith was on First Take on Wednesday with weekly guest Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and chastising Russo for being upset with Aaron Rodgers calling out his wide receivers. That’s when Smith brought up the former WFAN tandem of Mike and the Mad Dog.

“The thing that disappoints me about you,” Smith said to Russo, “you’re upset with honesty. You are not only hosting your own radio show, you have your own channel.”

Smith continued, “You are one of the pioneers if not THE pioneer with Mike Francesa, who, by the way, I got to get him on this show one day too, with you. You understand what I’m saying? I mean it would be my honor to have Mike Francesa too.”

Russo smiled and chirped back, ““You can’t beat me, you’re never gonna beat him.”

Smith returned once more with “I ain’t scared. I’m never gonna beat him, but I’ll try, damn it.”

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