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Shaq Inks New Deal With Turner Sports

“The company will expand the scope of Shaq’s responsibilities throughout the WarnerMedia portfolio.”

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Turner Sports issued a press release today announcing an agreement had been reached with basketball hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal to remain with the network. The larger than life personality, who’s been a key figure alongside Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Ernie Johnson on The NBA on TNT, has come to terms on a multi-year deal.

The company says the extension will expand the scope of Shaq’s responsibilities throughout the WarnerMedia portfolio. Among the duties he’s expected to have moving forward include continuing his role on Inside The NBA, appearing on NBA TV and contributing to NBA.com. His NBA TV airtime will include a new show in development called “The Business of Basketball”.

“Turner Sports is family to me – even you, Chuck – and I’m looking forward to working alongside my talented colleagues as we create many more Shaq-tastic moments in the years to come,” said O’Neal.

O’Neal will also increase his Shaqtin-a-Fool franchise to include new genres and platforms to reach a broader set of fans. He’ll also make appearances on other networks under the Turner umbrella, including CNN, where’s he’ll be part of the network’s New Year’s Eve Live special. He’ll also be involved in projects with Bleacher Report, and his popular podcast will move to WarnerMedia’s Podcast Network in early 2021. The company also hinted that a return to the wrestling ring could happen as well. Turner is partners with the wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling.

“Shaq is so critical to our success, and such a huge part of the heart and soul of our coverage,” said Jeff Zucker, Chairman, WarnerMedia News and Sports.  “We are lucky to be able to have him as part of our family every single day, and I am personally so thrilled to see that continue for a long time to come.”

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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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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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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