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Cari Champion To Exit, SportsCenter Shuffles Pairings

“Champion originally joined ESPN in 2012 as host of First Take with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith.”

Brandon Contes

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ESPN is set to debut new anchor pairings for their daytime SportsCenters beginning the second week of February. 

One of the biggest changes is the departure of Cari Champion, who was featured on ESPN’s noon edition of SportsCenter. After more than seven years with the network, Champion announced on Twitter she has decided to leave ESPN.

Champion originally joined ESPN in 2012 as host of First Take with Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith. In July 2015, Champion became a SportsCenter anchor and began her first stint hosting Coast to Coast the following February. The longtime ESPN personality also had a tenure hosting SportsNation, replacing Michelle Beadle on the show in 2018.

Champion’s Coast to Coast co-host David Lloyd will remain with ESPN, moving from their daily noon show to anchor the 7am edition of SportsCenter Monday-Wednesday. Lloyd will be joined by Hannah Storm each Monday, with Toni Collins co-anchoring the show Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Rounding out the 7am weekday SportsCenter will be Nicole Briscoe and Randy Scott who will anchor the morning edition Thursday-Saturday.

Without Champion and Lloyd partnered for Coast to Coast, the noon SportsCenter will no longer be bicoastal, instead originating only from Bristol, CT. The revamped show will feature 90-minute episodes, anchored by Elle Duncan and Matt Barrie Monday -Thursday. Hannah Storm and Jay Harris will co-anchor the Friday edition of the noon SportsCenter

In addition to their weekday responsibilities, Storm and Harris will also anchor weekend SportsCenter beginning at 9am or 10am, with Duncan and Barrie working the Sunday 7am edition.

“We’re thrilled with the momentum we’ve built before and during the NFL and college football seasons and these adjustments set us up well moving forward,” said Senior Vice President, Production/Content Strategy, Jill Frederickson. “Viewers have embraced the chemistry and camaraderie of the established pairings and we expect Toni and David to seamlessly transition into their new roles.”

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

Kay Adams: Pat McAfee Has Built ‘The Dream’

“it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

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Many in sports media have respect for former NFL punter Pat McAfee for what he has accomplished in his media endeavors, and you can add FanDuel TV host Kay Adams to that list.

“I’m just blown away by the success and by the leverage he has,” Adams said on the My Other Passion podcast. “It is uncanny, it is aspirational, and it is self-made, so it is a beautiful thing. I — of course — watch what he does. I don’t want to be just like him but I do think he is so disruptive.

“He has such a chip on his shoulder. It drives him but I almost wish I could see it relieved a little bit. He’s thriving, he’s happy, and I think the thing that sticks out to me about him is that he’s truly grateful. Truly is grateful for everything he has, his opportunities. He’s worked his ass off for it.”

Adams pointed to McAfee’s recent spat with the NFL over use of the league’s logos as an indicator of not only his success but his influence in the sports landscape.

“He is true to himself but he mostly leads with gratitude, which I think is the epitome of success. But he’s out there show you what can be done. He’s the first, but will he be the last to have that sort of platform? That sort of swing? What he does with the NFL the other week, I’m paying attention to that.

“Because I wanna see: is the NFL gonna bend the knee to Pat McAfee? Does the NFL care what he says? But it’s interesting because he’s built himself to such a place that he does not need anyone and that is the dream.”

The NFL did eventually “bend the knee” and reversed course on limiting McAfee’s use of league trademarks.

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Sports TV News

John Skipper: Bob Iger’s Return Won’t Effect ESPN

“If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

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There have been many questions about what Bob Iger’s return to Disney will mean for ESPN, but former ESPN President John Skipper believes it won’t change much.

Skipper pointed to Iger’s relationships with powerbrokers in the sports world as a positive, and also believes that the “streaming wars” will be won by those who hold the rights to live sports.

“As a moat, to get the pay-TV fees and to get people to pay more money to subscribe,” Skipper pointed to Sportico as the reason for ESPN to still have an agreement with the NBA for linear TV. He later added “If you’re going to win the streaming wars, you’re going to have to have sports.”

Skipper also said the network used to invest in constant studio programming but said that’s no longer a necessity.

“We did that type of programming because the economics were different at the time,” Skipper said.

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Sports TV News

Warner Bros. Discovery Sports President Departs

“His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

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Lenny Daniels is leaving Warner Bros. Discovery after 27 years with the company.

Daniels is the President of the company’s sports division in the United States, overseeing the contracts and strategic vision for the organization.

In a memo sent to staff obtained by Sports Business Journal, CEO Luis Silberwasser said “While this change will take place right away, Lenny has agreed to work with me to ensure a smooth transition.” He also added “I have enjoyed working with Lenny during these past few months and I respect his decision. Lenny has never been one to place a spotlight on himself; he’s always been quick to shine it on those around him. His enthusiasm and light-hearted demeanor are among his most endearing qualities, and they will be missed.”

The departure by Daniels coincides with a round of layoffs by the company and also the beginning of long-term agreements with the NHL and MLB. The network is also about to embark on negotiations with the NBA for its next media rights deal, with Warner Bros. Discovery CEO and President David Zaslav recently saying “we don’t have to have the NBA“.

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