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Bill Simmons Explains Spotify’s Sports Vision

“The COVID-19 pandemic may have derailed the big picture a bit, but Simmons says The Ringer is in good position to succeed in the short term.”

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Vulture interviewed Bill Simmons on Wednesday, just one day after Spotify reached a $100 million deal to obtain the exclusive rights to The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Earlier this year, the company acquired Simmons’s The Ringer for a reported $250 million.

“It’s a nut they’ve been trying to crack for two years, but it’s hard to find the right team,” Simmons said of Spotify’s plan for sports content and why the company saw value in The Ringer. “I think they felt they had most of the right pieces in place, and the thing they were missing was that one person who had succeeded in this space and had gut instinct on what works.”

Simmons said that the opportunity to help crack said nut was part of what made joining Spotify so appealing to him.

“There were two big reasons I went to Spotify. One was that they were going to blow out The Ringer — make it bigger, all that stuff. But the second was, they wanted me to figure out their global sports strategy with [Spotify head of studios and video] Courtney Holt, who’s my boss and who reports to [Spotify chief content officer] Dawn Ostroff. That was one of the tasks that we had this first year, and that’s impossible to figure out when we don’t know when sports are coming back.”

The COVID-19 pandemic may have derailed the big picture a bit, but Simmons says The Ringer is in good position to succeed in the short term. He points to shows like The Rewatchables, Binge Mode, The Book of Basketball podcast, and The Watch as perfect shows for the moment – the type of content that doesn’t require an active sports calendar to thrive.

“That goes back to the Grantland days: We try to think outside of the box and get creative during dead spots on the calendar.”

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said that he felt like he was buying “the next ESPN” when the company closed on the deal with The Ringer. Simmons says that those expectations were what pushed Spotify over the top while he was also talking with AT&T and Bleacher Report.

He acknowledges that the path to the top is going to be an interesting one, because while pieces of many companies make up Spotify’s competition, Apple is the only one-to-one competitor in the podcasting space and Simmons is confident that Spotify is more focused on podcasting than Apple is.

When asked if he still has eyes for TV, Simmons notes that his first look deal is still in place at HBO. He is still open to new opportunities, but podcasting and the growth of The Ringer under the Spotify umbrella remain his priorities.

“I love doing my podcast. I love the creativity of it, the format. I don’t just mean that podcast. I love The Rewatchables. I love doing the Book of Basketball stuff. I love popping on other people’s pods.”

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Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit Featured As Commentary Team for ‘NCAA Football 25’

“I’m so excited to FINALLY announce that I’m part of @EASPORTSCollege
. I’m proud to be a partner and one of the voices of the game once again.”

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An image of Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler
Courtesy: Sports Illustrated

NCAA Football fans rejoice — NCAA Football 25 will feature ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. Fowler will be making his first appearance in the game while Herbstreit will be doing it for the 14th time. The pair confirmed the news today via their X accounts:

The pair were finally able to reveal their involvement as more news came out about the game starting today. Multiple news items about the game were reported, including the participation of all 134 Division I football programs, and that college football players could opt into the game for NIL purposes. According to The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, players will receive $600 and a free copy of the game for opting in. Those who fail to opt in will be replaced by a generic avatar.

Following the initial news, Front Office Sports revealed more names attached to NCAA Football 25 — Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, Kevin Connors, and David Pollack. All but Pollack, who was laid off from the company in June, are ESPN employees.

The last NCAA Football game was released in 2013 and started the conversation of whether players should be paid for their participation. EA Sports then stopped putting out versions of the game, despite critical and commercial success. Fan projects like College Football Revamped strived to bring the game into modern times — but now it’s no longer needed. College Football 25 will be revealed in earnest this May, with a release date slated for the summer.

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Joy Taylor and Taylor Rooks to Launch New Podcast

“This show is a space for us to be honest about our experiences, our emotions, and the way we view the world.”

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Joy Taylor and Taylor Rooks podcast logo
Courtesy: Two Personal Podcast

Fox Sports 1’s Joy Taylor and Thursday Night Football’s Taylor Rooks are teaming up for a new podcast, Two Personal, which will debut on March 6. The description of the new content says it will take on subjects beyond the world of sports such as mental health, discrmination and other social issues. The two friends plan to share things they would normally talk about only in private.

“Joy [Taylor] and I have navigated our careers together as sisters in sport, but Two Personal allows us to expand and share our private thoughts and conversations with our listeners,” said Rooks. “This show is a space for us to be honest about our experiences, our emotions, and the way we view the world. There is infinitely more to us than what we have allowed the public to see, and I’m thrilled to be in a place where I feel ready to bare my full self and give an honest look into who I am completely.”

“I am so excited to launch Two Personal with Taylor [Rooks]” Joy Taylor said. “We have spent our careers in sports and now have created an opportunity to show a different side of ourselves. The authentic, raw and exposing side of our experiences and personalities outside of sports. We can’t wait to bring our girl talk to the world!”

The podcast is scheduled to drop a new episode each Wednesday on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Report: Amazon Prime Video Paying $120M to Stream NFL Playoff Game

NBCU wanted to keep the game, however, the report says Amazon has a clause in its agreement for ‘Thursday Night Football’ which allows it to have first choice.

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Amazon Prime Video Logo

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Amazon and the NFL have reached agreement on a $120 million deal for Prime Video to have exclusive rights to stream an NFL playoff game at the end of the 2024 season.

Amazon had passed on the opportunity to air the game this past season. It subsequently aired on Peacock in a deal which was valued at $110 million. The AFC Wild Card round matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs made sports media history, garnering an average minute audience (AMA) of 23.0 million viewers, making the contest the most-streamed live event in the history of the United States.

NBCUniversal also revealed that the contest reached 27.6 million total viewers and peaked at an average of 24.6 million viewers during the second quarter. Engagement with the playoff game accounted for the largest internet event in history with 30% of internet traffic prioritizing the game at this time.

NBCU wanted to keep the game, however, the report says Amazon has a clause in its agreement for ‘Thursday Night Football’ which allows it to have first choice.

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