Earlier this week, Disney revealed some of the financial damage the pandemic has done to the company during its quarterly earnings call. Q3 saw Disney lose more than $4.7 billion. The bulk of that loss came from its theme park and cruise ship operations, most of which spent the bulk of the quarter out of operation.
On the media side, ESPN and ABC faired considerably better. Disney’s media operations saw profits fall by just 2%. It’s a good sign considering the increase in operating income.
The best news for ESPN comes in the digital space. ESPN+ has continued to see its subscription base grow. The digital platform now reaches over 8.5 million subscribers. Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that ESPN+ has experienced 1000% year-over-year growth.
While Americans are searching for all sorts of new forms of entertainment while being stuck at home, Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing points out that growth since the pandemic has not exactly been overwhelming. ESPN+ had over 7.6 million subscribers in December.
Disney+ remains the jewel in the company’s streaming crown. Chapek noted on the call that service has “far exceed[ed] our initial projections”. Disney+ now boasts more than 57 million subscribers. It was up just over 28 million in December.
It is notable that through much of the Covid-19 Pandemic, ESPN+ was able to gain subscribers even without an abundance of live sports. The service has certainly been buoyed by Dana White’s determination to stage as many UFC cards as possible. The company’s pay-per-view events are available exclusively through ESPN+.
John Skipper: ‘Tom Brady is a Very Expensive Trophy for FOX’
“I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time.”
The NFL broadcasting world went through a series of massive changes this offseason. Outside of the No. 1 crew at CBS (Jim Nantz and Tony Romo), every other network will have new faces appear on our television screens during game days.
Out of the large amounts of money being thrown around at various networks in the industry, it was Tom Brady’s massive 10-year, $375-million broadcasting deal with FOX that turned a lot of heads. Not only does the deal indicate that the seven-time Super Bowl champ will be retiring in the very near future, but some, including Dan Le Batard, wondered why such a fortune was being given to someone who has “never said anything interesting'” during his career in the NFL.
During the “local hour” of his popular show on Thursday, Le Batard welcomed former ESPN president and his Meadowlark Media partner, John Skipper. He expressed a similar.
“There’s very little economic value. He’s a very, very expensive trophy,” Skipper said on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz. “I think he’ll probably be okay on the game. It doesn’t really matter that much other than for pride and I guess he’ll shake advertisers’ hands.”
To put into context how massive Brady’s deal is, the future Hall of Famer will not only be making more in 10-years than he has throughout his entire 20+ year NFL career ($302.96 million in total earnings) but he will also be leapfrogging broadcast vet Troy Aikman–getting paid twice the amount of the former Cowboys QBs’ new deal with ESPN.
“I think for Tom Brady’s pride, he had to be paid the most money because he is the greatest of all-time,” Skipper said.
Skipper continues to add that the money FOX gave Brady could’ve been put to better use, making a more significant impact in other areas of the business, including securing live event rights.
He then brought up Mike Tirico, who called Monday Night Football at ESPN during Skipper’s tenure at the network. No matter how much faith he had in the play-by-play man, Skipper said he didn’t feel the need to overspend on a partner to help him shine.
“I put Mike Tirico in the booth and thought he did an outstanding job, but I would not have paid any ex-player $15, $20, or $25 million to sit next to him.”
North Carolina Lawmakers Expect Mobile Sports Betting By Football Season
“North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.”
It is already legal to place bets in North Carolina on sporting events. It is just incredibly difficult. Bets can only be made inside of 2 Cherokee casinos in the western part of the state. That could change before football season.
The State Senate, which is politically divided, passed SB 688 last year. If it makes it through the State House, it would become law and North Carolinians could then theoretically place bets online legally.
SB 88 was sponsored by Paul Lowe, a Democrat from Forsyth County. He told WRAL-TV in Raleigh that he is optimistic about what will happen in the House.
“We just want to make sure we have drummed up the votes, and I think we have,” he said. “I feel confident about it.”
North Carolina’s neighbors, including Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, have already legalized mobile sports betting.
Politically, North Carolina is considered a purple state. That is showing up in the effort to legalize mobile wagering. One of the bill’s biggest advocates in the House is Jason Saine, a Republican from Lincoln County.
“We’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. I’ve not heard any new opposition,” he told WRAL. “I think we have a pretty smooth glide path once we do kind of start rolling into session.”
The state’s Lottery Commission would oversee sports gambling. If the SB 688 is passed, operators would pay $500,000 for a five-year license, which can be renewed for $100,000. They would also pay an 8% tax on adjusted gross revenue. Both of those numbers are low compared to other states.
“Once we pass this bill, there’s some tweaks we’re going to do,” Lowe said. “But right now we’re just trying to get it out of the chute.”
Lachlan Murdoch: ‘FOX Bet Has Been Disappointing’
“In a recent interview, he told Axios that the app has around 6.5 million users since its launch.”
FOX is the only network to have a stake in the sports betting industry. The network partnered with FanDuel to launch FOX Bet in 2019. So far, FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch has not been pleased with the results.
In a recent interview, he told Axios that the app has around 6.5 million users since its launch. He called the performance thus far “disappointing.”
Sports betting is a crowded marketplace. It is possible that players are watching games on FOX and seeing advertisements for the betting app, but are choosing to trust their experience to companies like FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and other companies that are more commonly associated with gambling.
Murdoch believes that a dispute with FanDuel owner Flutter has set FOX Bet back. The two companies have been involved in a standoff over who owns which aspects of FOX Bet and what price FOX is obligated to pay in order to acquire an 18.6% stake in FanDuel. Murdoch says everything “should be resolved by the summer.”
In March, Bloomberg reported that the app is struggling to find new players. FOX Bet is one of the betting partners of the NFL and can advertise its services during games in the fall, but its potential is hindered by only being available to bettors in four states.