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Marty Smith Gets Emotional Over NASCAR Noose Incident

“I just told you, what bud? Like an hour ago? 90 minutes ago? That the sport had come so far and then we see this.”

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ESPN’s Marty Smith appeared on SportsCenter on Sunday night live from Talledega. The track was the site of a racist incident in the garage area on Sunday, when Bubba Wallace, the driver of the number 43 car, found a noose in his stall.

Wallace, the mixed race son of NASCAR veteran Darryl Wallace, is the only Black full-time driver on the sport’s top circuit. He has been outspoken in recent weeks about wanting NASCAR to stand behind social justice reform initiatives and was imperative in the effort to get the sport to ban Confederate flags from tracks and grandstands.

“I feel like a fool,” Smith said as he was introduced by SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt. “I just told you, what bud? Like an hour ago? 90 minutes ago? That the sport had come so far and then we see this.”

Smith reported that a senior NASCAR official told him that an official investigation has been opened. Once the culprit is found he will be banned for life from the sport.

“The sport is in a moment where this crap, this despicable crap, there’s just no place for it,” Smith said.

“I love Talladega, Alabama. It’s my favorite place on the NASCAR tour. It’s my favorite race. I love the staff here,” Smith said angrily. “And then some…I’m about to say words i’m not allowed to say. Something like this happens IN THE GARAGE AREA? IN THE GARAGE AREA OF RICHARD PETTY’S RACE CAR?”

Talladega was a particularly contentious scene leading up to the race. A caravan of pickup trucks flying the Confederate flag clogged a lane of traffic on the interstate leading to Talladega Super Speedway. A plane towing a Confederate flag and a banner with the words “Defund NASCAR” flew over the track.”

“You’re not just hurting one or two people, whoever you are,” Smith said of the person that left the noose in Wallace’s garage stall. “You’re hurting a whole lot of people who have made the decision that it is damn sure time to go be better.”

Sports TV News

Darren Rovell: ESPN Should be Worried About the Rise of Tech Giants in Sports Streaming Space

“I’ve always thought that Apple and Netflix and all these guys would be deeper into sports than they are now, even Amazon.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Darren Rovell

The wheel keeps turning for tech giants Apple, Amazon and Netflix, as the companies continue to either build up their portfolio of live sports offerings or finally break into the space. Darren Rovell of The Action Network believes while those big three companies flex their financial muscles and show interest in being partners with the NFL, NBA, MLB and others, ESPN and its parent company Disney should be a little worried.

It has been widely reported that Apple has a blank checkbook and would like to add more live sports to its Apple TV+ platform. Meanwhile Amazon is shelling out billions for the rights to Thursday Night Football and has been linked to media rights talks with power five college football conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12.

“Disney cash flow does not compete to them, that’s where I thought ESPN was open,” Rovell told Benzinga. “I’m surprised it took so long for them to get into it.”

Apple became partners with MLB ahead of the 2022 season, and Apple TV+ hosted exclusive weekly doubleheaders throughout the recent campaign. The NFL has been shopping around rights to its Sunday Ticket service, which will be leaving DirecTV after this season, and Apple has reportedly shown interest in acquiring those rights. In 2023 the company will be the exclusive home to Major League Soccer, with every game being available on Apple TV.

Netflix doesn’t have any live sports offerings, but the company has been flirting with the idea. Rovell said he wasn’t sure which tech giant would come out on top in terms of sports.

“I thought it would be Apple, but Amazon is showing that they will be,” he said. “I think Amazon is the number one in the driver’s seat of being a non-traditional outlet that will step it up in sports.”

Darren added that it’s been a slow burn in terms of sports live streaming.

“I’ve always thought that Apple and Netflix and all these guys would be deeper into sports than they are now, even Amazon,” he said.

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Sports TV News

Ben Watson Walks Off SEC Network Set After Joke About Wife

Jordan Bondurant

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There was a bit of an awkward exchange over on SEC Network over the weekend during a studio halftime report, and the exchange led to one of the analysts walking off set. Ben Watson apparently didn’t take kindly to a quick joke by fellow analyst Peter Burns during halftime of the Florida/Vanderbilt game over the weekend.

Watson was the butt of jokes by Burns, host Chris Doering, and analyst Takeo Spikes originally because Watson was wearing a lighter colored suit than the rest of the guys at the desk.

As long as I get a text from my wife that says I look good,” Watson responded. “Send me that text, baby. Send me that text.”

“That’s not the text she sent me,” Burns quipped as the show headed to commercial.

When the show resumed, Watson and Burns were noticeably absent at first before Watson walked back to his seat.

Doering continued trying to keep the situation light, but Watson didn’t appear to be having fun.

On Twitter later, Watson indicated he was putting the exchange behind him, but he noted that Burns owed his wife a public apology.

OutKick reached out to ESPN for comment, and the network claimed it was all a joke.

“Entire thing was a performance bit. Benjamin 100% deserves an Emmy nomination,” ESPN Director of College Football & SEC Network Amanda Brooks responded.

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Sports TV News

Bob Costas: MLB ‘Didn’t Do Themselves Any Harm’ in Attracting Younger Viewers

“He told me that some of their research showed that their viewership for the postseason especially was up among the younger demographic.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The 2022 MLB season wrapped up a few weeks ago with the Houston Astros winning their second World Series title in five years, and it put a bow on one of the more exciting campaigns in recent years.

Baseball has struggled to keep viewers engaged and attract younger audiences to the ballpark. Often one of the biggest gripes about the sport is that the regular season and games themselves are too long and not very captivating.

But legendary broadcaster Bob Costas has a reason to believe that MLB actually did well in terms of viewership and connecting with young folks. He told Ray Ratto on 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area that everything was on the up and up.

“My sense is that it was a good year for baseball overall,” Costas said. “And I had an interview last week with (MLB commissioner) Rob Manfred, and he told me that some of their research showed that their viewership for the postseason especially was up among the younger demographic. And you have to measure it in the various ways that they receive it – streaming or this way or that as opposed to classic over the air broadcasts.”

2022 saw games streamed exclusively for the first time. The league inked deals with both Apple and NBC Sports that saw weekly contests aired on Apple TV+ and Peacock. RSNs like Bally Sports have rolled out their own exclusive options for fans to stream games, while the league’s own streaming service MLB.TV continues to offer fans opportunities to watch every out of market game from the spring training through the end of the regular season.

Costas said the league came out heading in a positive direction with fans.

“Certainly they didn’t do themselves any harm,” he said. “And this postseason was very exciting, and there were a lot of really good storylines during the course of this season. So you’d have to think that it had to be a plus.”

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