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ESPN Finalizes Plans For NBA H-O-R-S-E Tournament

“There will be no play-by-play, but veteran ESPN broadcaster Mark Jones is set to serve as host.”

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The NBA HORSE Challenge starts this Sunday on ESPN. The network has finalized a roster of competitors that includes current NBA and WNBA players as well as some basketball legends.

The eight-player field includes:

  • Chauncey Billups (2004 NBA Finals MVP & 5-time All-Star)
  • Tamika Catchings (Naismith Hall of Fame class of 2020)
  • Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)
  • Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls)
  • Chris Paul (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Paul Pierce (2008 NBA Finals MVP & 10-time All-Star)
  • Alli Quigley (Chicago Skye)
  • Trey Young (Atlanta Hawks)

Players have been paired off for the quarterfinals. The first matchup starts at 7pm on April 12 and features Young and Billups. There will be a coin toss to determine who shoots first.

Other pairings for the quarterfinals include Catchings & Conley, LaVine & Pierce, and Paul & Quigley. The four winners will advance to the semifinals on Thursday, April 16 with the finals to follow immediately after the conclusion of those matchups. There will be no play-by-play, but veteran ESPN broadcaster Mark Jones is set to serve as host.

As is custom, the first player in each game to accumulate the letters “H-O-R-S-E” after failing to match five shots is eliminated. ESPN has added some rules to this competition though.

All competitors will be isolated at their own home court and connected by remote video link. Before shooting, players must describe what it is they are trying to do, including specifying if the shot is intended to switch or bank-off the backboard. Dunking is prohibited.

State Farm is the presenting sponsor of the event. The company will donate more than $200,000 on behalf of the participants to charities benefitting Covid-19 response efforts. To date, NBA-related charities have donated more than $74 million to the cause.

Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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