With most live sports suspended indefinitely due to Covid-19, fans are clamoring for ESPN to release their 10-episode documentary featuring Michael Jordan and the 1998 Chicago Bulls, titled The Last Dance.
Scheduled to premiere in June around the NBA Finals, sports fans are hoping ESPN will debut it sooner, but network EVP Burke Magnus explained there are challenges to making that happen. The first being, the documentary hasn’t been completed yet.
“I know some have asked about ‘The Last Dance,’ and the reality is that the production of that film has not yet been completed, so we are limited there at the moment,” Magnus told Brian Steinberg of Variety. “Obviously, you can’t air it until it’s done.” Still, Magnus said they will consider moving up the premiere of any completed project.
Another way to fill their lineup without live sports and without many studio shows because of the spreading coronavirus pandemic, is replaying old games. But even with ESPN’s vault of classic contests to choose from, it’s still not as easy as selecting a game and hitting play the way consumers do with at-home on-demand content.
“Re-airing full-game presentations is not a right that we or other media companies typically have at our disposal at all times,” Magnus said in his interview with Variety. “Each one of these circumstances requires individual conversations with the specific league or property to determine what’s possible.” ESPN is “working with the leagues themselves to free up the possibility to show encore presentations and discussing how we can present them.”
All networks are working on ways to create content, prioritizing the health and safety of their employees, while not having live sports to rely on. The unknown of when sports will return presents an issue. League’s could have a return date set in one month, but it could very possibly be three, six or more. Networks have to prepare to create content for all of it.
“There are so many creative things we can do, similar to some of the initiatives we’ve done in the past for special event anniversaries, ‘The Ocho’ day and more,” said Magnus. “The challenge is that now we need to replicate that dynamic 24 hours a day, seven days a week across multiple networks. That’s what is in front of us in terms of long-range planning.”
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
David Kaplan Leaving NBC Sports Chicago
“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement.”
David Kaplan has announced he is departing NBC Sports Chicago. In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Kaplan said a new path opened that he couldn’t turn down.
“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement. You’ll still be able to catch me weekday mornings with Jonathan Hood on the Kap and JHood morning show on ESPN 1000. It will also allow me to provide you with more engaging and outstanding content right here on YouTube.”
Kaplan, who will turn 62 this weekend, accepted a buyout offered by NBCUniversal. He has hosted several different shows for the network during his tenure.
“He’s made enormous contributions to our network, and his passion, opinions and love of Chicago’s teams have made him a beloved and respected figure, not just with fans but also his colleagues,” NBC Sports Chicago Vice President of Content John Schippman told The Chicago Sun-Times. “We wish him the best and look forward to seeing what’s next.”
December 30th will be his final day at NBC Sports Chicago. He called his time with the network “an amazing run”.
NASCAR Chasing Nearly $1 Billion Annual Rights Fee In Next TV Deal
“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport.”
The current media rights deal for NASCAR with FOX Sports and NBC Sports doesn’t end until after the 2024 season, but the organization is currently plotting what it wants its next deal to look like, according to a report from Front Office Sports.
Currently, NASCAR makes $820 million per year from the two networks. In its new rights deal, it is expected to seek a deal in the neighborhood of $900-950 million range.
NASCAR plans to begin negotiating with its current media partners in the early months of 2023, but is currently happy with FOX and NBC.
“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport. Whether that’s pushing more brands and advertisers to spend on Fox and NBC,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Media and Productions Brian Herbst told FOS. “Fox had their third consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. NBC had their second consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. So it’s working for them — both from a viewership and an ad revenue perspective.”
In February of this year, NASCAR President Steve Phelps told the Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast that broadcast television “has to be a part” of the organization’s next television rights deal.
As its current media partners, FOX and NBC have exclusive negotiating windows with NASCAR.
NFL Sunday Ticket Negotiations With Apple ‘Have Gotten Silly’
“Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”
A report from The Athletic details why the NFL has not announced a new partner for the NFL Sunday Ticket package. David Kaplan claims there have been continued hiccups in the negotiations, mentioning the bargaining has gotten sideways between the league and Apple.
“This negotiation has gotten silly. … Clearly, there’s a problem. I think it’s really clear Apple is learning things they didn’t know,” the anonymous NFL source told Kaplan. “What the conversation is, is Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”
The report also details Amazon Prime and YouTube remain in the mix as potential suitors for the service, should talks with Apple and the league fall apart.
The NFL is looking for as much as $3.5 billion annually for rights to the service.