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Michael Smith, ESPN Reach Deal On Buyout

“He will be the executive VP and chief content officer (Co)laboratory, a startup based in Hollywood.”

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Former SC6 and His & Hers host Michael Smith is finally out of what Andrew Marchand once described as “gold plated purgatory.” Smith and Bristol have reached an agreement on a buyout of his 4 year, $10 million contract. Although he declined to provide details, Smith told Marchand that the buyout was “fair.”

Smith has already found a new role too. He will be the executive VP and chief content officer (Co)laboratory, a startup based in Hollywood. He described the company as “a studio and startup incubator that is going to bring together the best of Hollywood and the sports world.”

Michael had nothing negative to say about ESPN or his experience with the company on his way out the door. He did mention that he didn’t see much room for professional growth in the opportunities he was being presented at ESPN. Smith told Marchand that it was his excitement over the challenge and opportunity (Co)laboratory that motivated him to work on a buyout.

“I think what we are going to do for athletes and content creators throughout the industry when it comes to storytelling and when it comes to content development and distribution, it is going to be significant, impactful and disruptive. For me, personally, this has really been the career growth opportunity that I have been waiting for to really jump back in the game.”

Jemele Hill, Smith’s creative partner at ESPN, agreed to her own buyout 13 months ago. She is now writing for The Atlantic.

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Final SEC on CBS Broadcast Scores Highest-Rated Conference Championship Game

The broadcast of Alabama/Georgia marked the final game in a partnership that began in 1996.

Jordan Bondurant

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SEC on CBS logo

The final SEC broadcast on CBS turned out to be the most-watched game of the weekend.

The SEC Championship broadcast on CBS averaged 17.519 million viewers, making it the most-watched conference championship game on any network in five years.

Viewership of the telecast peaked at 22.35 million. The game was the second-most-watched college football game of the season so far behind Ohio State/Michigan.

The game also was the most-streamed college football game ever on Paramount+ across households, minutes, and average minute audience.

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NBCUniversal CEO Mark Lazarus: People Have Said Sports TV Rights Bubble Would Burst for 30 Years

“For 30 years everyone said, the sports [rights] bubble is gonna burst, it’s gonna burst. You’re starting to see rights fees growth moderate.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Mark Lazarus
Courtesy: NBCUniversal, Inc.

Value is power when it comes to sports rights, and NBCUniversal CEO Mark Lazarus understands that. It’s why newly completed media rights deals across sports, and college sports in particular, command billions of dollars from networks each year now.

Next TV reported that Lazarus, in a conversational interview with TODAY host Hoda Kotb on Tuesday, said while the price for rights to properties like the NFL, NASCAR, Notre Dame, and the Big Ten are astronomical, the cost is starting to level off in some ways.

“For 30 years everyone said, the sports [rights] bubble is gonna burst, it’s gonna burst,” Lazarus told Kotb. “You’re starting to see rights fees growth moderate.”

Lazarus mentioned that there are no individual content budgets for sports, news, and entertainment at NBCUniversal. Those three divisions have a single budget executives work from. Executives are responsible for finding content audiences will consume and a platform to house it on.

“What’s the best content and where can it be successful in our portfolio?” Mark Lazarus said. “It’s a combination of art and commerce.”

“We reach massive amounts of people, we have reach and scale,” he later added, pointing out the company reaches 65-70 million homes on pay TV and another 30 million on Peacock.

“That’s great for our distribution partners and that’s great for our advertising partners and it’s really important for our audience.”

Mark touted Sunday Night Football, which is a ratings juggernaut and averages 22 million viewers. The NFL streaming on Peacock has also seen strong numbers this season, with this past week’s Chiefs/Packers game having an average minute audience of 1.86 million viewers. That’s between Peacock, NBC Sports Digital, and NFL Digital platforms. It marked the second-largest streaming audience ever for a regular-season Sunday NFL game for NBC Sports.

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CBS Sports Shares Details of Spongebob-Themed NFL Broadcasts

Noah Eagle and Nate Burleson return to the booth for both games alongside Dylan Schefter and Young Dylan.

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Super Bowl LVIII CBS Nickelodeon

Get ready for some Turtles on Christmas and some SpongeBob on Super Bowl Sunday. CBS Sports and Nickelodeon are teaming up to deliver two alternate NFL broadcasts this year — one for the Monday night “Nickmas” game between the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, and then a second, SpongeBob Squarepants-themed broadcast for Super Bowl LVIII.

Noah Eagle and Nate Burleson return to the booth for both games alongside Dylan Schefter and Young Dylan. The live-action hosts will be joined by two groups of Nicktoons depending on the game.

SpongeBob and Patrick (voiced by Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke, respectively) will join Eagle and Burleson in the booth for Super Bowl LVIII, while Sandy and Larry the Lobster will provide some additional flair from the sidelines. The Bikini Bottom crew will be joined by Dora the Explorer and Boots the Monkey, who will explain penalties to the younger viewers. During the “Nickmas” Game on Dec. 25, the crew will be joined by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s Raphael in the booth, while Donatello will join Schefter on the sidelines.

The Christmas Day game will be Nickelodeon’s first regular-season game, as previous Nick alternate broadcasts were all during Wild Card Weekend. Last year, Nick aired an alternate broadcast of Cowboys/49ers, which drew an audience of 41 million viewers. The games have also become a social media phenomenon from adult viewers watching tongue-in-cheek.

The Nickelodeon Super Bowl telecast and Nickelodeon NFL Nickmas Game are produced by CBS Sports in association with Nickelodeon Productions.

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