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FOX Bet Adds Howie Long To Its Roster

“FOX Bet has added Howie Long to its roster as a brand ambassador.”

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FOX Bet didn’t have to search far to find a Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl Champion to add to its roster. The mobile sportsbook has added Howie Long to its roster as a brand ambassador.

Already an established presence on America’s #1 NFL pregame show, FOX NFL Sunday, Long will lend expert insight and sports wagering content to the FOX Bet brand and digital platforms.

“Whether its on FOX NFL Sunday or elsewhere, I always look for ways to entertain, educate and enhance the sports experience for fans,” said Long. “The guys over at FOX Bet share in my commitment to that approach. They’re amping up the sports fan experience, and having a little fun along the way.”

Long’s role will include joining forces with longtime friend and fellow analyst Terry Bradshaw on the FOX Bet Super 6 app. The two NFL legends will make FOX Bet Super 6 picks together leading into football weekends this fall, showcasing their personalities and chemistry in the process. The FOX Bet app will also feature contributions from Pro Football Hall of Famer and co-host of FS1’s Skip and Shannon Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe, host of FS1 and FOX Sports Radio’s ‘The Herd’, Colin Cowherd, and host of FOX NFL Kickoff, Charissa Thompson.

“Howie is the epitome of success both on the field and in the studio,” said Andrew Schneider, Chief Marketing Officer, FOX Bet. “His accomplishments on the gridiron are legendary, and there is no doubt he will hit the ground running in this new role with incisive, engaging content as FOX Bet broadens its appeal and audience throughout the country.”

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Report: MLB Commissioner, Some Owners Discussing Potential of Nationalizing TV Rights

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward.”

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Major League Baseball
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

With uncertainty looming surrounding the future of Major League Baseball on regional sports networks, there is reportedly discussion taking place about nationalizing the television rights for the league. MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. and some owners around the league are discussing the possibility of nationalizing the league’s television rights, according to a new report from Evan Drellich of The Athletic. The conversation is reportedly borne out of concerns towards cord cutting, the situation surrounding RSNs and the augmenting presence of live sports in an environment with more reliance on streaming.

Some of the owners and executives within baseball, largely in the smaller markets, believe that the best way to bolster media revenues over time is by centralizing deal-making. This could result in selling all of the regular-season broadcasts for the 30 teams across the league within a singular streaming package. Conversely, those who attain larger profits are believed to be against the plan and do not want to forsake such power.

“As the local media situation evolves, we will continue to evaluate the best model for us moving forward,” Manfred said in a statement to The Athletic. “Our course of action will be determined by the clubs, who are the ultimate decision makers under our constitution.”

Major League Baseball currently has national media deals with The Walt Disney Company, FOX Corporation and Warner Bros. Discovery; however, the teams themselves have typically controlled a large portion of the inventory. The league office controls the out-of-market rights for the teams, which gives fans the ability to watch games from around the league using MLB.tv. Major League Baseball, along with the NBA and NHL, argued in court last week about the viability of Diamond Sports Group as it is entrenched in Ch. 11 bankruptcy and at a carriage impasse with Comcast.

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Dan Le Batard: ESPN Game 7 Coverage of Knicks-Pacers ‘Was Disrespectful’

“It was very celebrating all things New York the same way that the big networks celebrate the Cowboys and the things that get ratings.”

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Dan Le Batard
Courtesy: Jason Koerner, Getty Images

While the season ended for the New York Knicks on Sunday night in a series-deciding Game 7 against the Indiana Pacers, the basketball world has taken notice of what has occurred with the team over the last several years. Led by the play of superstar guard Jalen Brunson, the Knicks defied the odds and secured the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, going on to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in a six-game series. Although the team’s championship aspirations were not realized this year, the team is widely regarded as a success story with a bright future ahead. A problem, however, that viewers had with coverage of the game on ESPN was in its discussion about the New York Knicks, specifically the quantity of that thereof. The matter led to a debate on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, beginning with discourse about purported East Coast bias.

Before the contest, NBA Countdown took the air featuring analyst Stephen A. Smith broadcasting live from Madison Square Garden. The rest of the studio team was in Los Angeles, Calif. in the studio while Smith was courtside at the game with players taking warmups in the background. Smith has an affinity for the Knicks that he has divulged publicly and discusses across programming on the network, and he tried to encourage the team while appearing on the show. Spike Lee also took the air and showcased his enthusiasm ahead of the pivotal contest with Smith. Although Le Batard does not have a vested rooting interest in either team, he can understand how basketball fans feel after watching the coverage.

“It was very celebrating all things New York the same way that the big networks celebrate the Cowboys and the things that get ratings,” Le Batard said. “But to me if I’m a Pacers fan, the part that pisses me off is the last four minutes of that game – a historic game for the Pacers – only [Mike] Breen every once in a while would bring it back to the Pacers. It was the Knicks that they were talking about the whole time, and if I were a Pacers fan, I’d be mad at how slanted that coverage was.”

Jon “Stugotz” Weiner, who is from the New York area, expressed that the Knicks represented the story to discuss on the air yesterday and believes that ESPN did the right thing. At the same time, he thinks that Pacers fans have ultimately received the last laugh in advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. Moreover, he does not think people genuinely care about ESPN covering the Pacers in the game and articulated that the storyline changed once the game began.

“Stugotz, when you say, ‘Who cares?,’ sports fans care about perceived disrespect, and this was disrespectful,” Le Batard replied. “I’m not a fan of either of the teams I’m watching. I see one winning, the other losing, and the one that’s being talked about is the losers as if they’re the winners when they sh** the bed at home, although there were valid reasons.”

One example that was presented on the show was NBA Countdown analyst Bob Myers being asked about the Pacers and bringing his answer to talk about Knicks forward OG Anunoby. Le Batard is cognizant of how Pacers fans may feel when it is the third different roster that has made the Eastern Conference Finals for the team. The Knicks have not made the NBA Conference Finals since the 1999-00 season, a 24-year run that ranks as the third-longest drought in the NBA.

“One thing that definitely rates for the NBA is the New York Knicks, and ESPN now is a propaganda machine for the broadcast they own the rights to,” producer Mike Ryan said. “What is getting people in – they see the metrics. I guarantee you they’re going to talk Dallas Cowboys today on First Take because they have the metrics to support they need to be talking Dallas Cowboys every day.”

Ahead of the Eastern Conference Finals, Weiner asserted that the storyline is going to be about the Boston Celtics regardless of the result. The Celtics finished the NBA regular season with the best record in the league and play in the eighth-largest designated market area in the United States, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“Nobody cares what those people think about the coverage,” Weiner said, referring to fans living in Indiana. “They are moving on to the Eastern Conference Finals. That’s it – that’s enough for them. ESPN did the right thing. They covered the right team, the right city because that was the story headed into the game.”

The Pacers ended the game shooting 67.1% from the field, which is the highest field goal percentage in any playoff game in the history of the NBA. Le Batard did not comprehend the Knicks to have played poorly; rather, the team was the subject of a historic performance from a young, dynamic Pacers team. Yet he felt that triumph was being ignored because of the conversation surrounding the injuries of the Knicks, including star guard Jalen Brunson fracturing his left hand during the game.

At the same time though, The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz had New York-centric segments and rebranded itself as WFAT several times over the last few weeks. Le Batard wanted to make sure that the audience knew that engaging in that tactic was to make sure that the program could reach the day where the Knicks were officially eliminated.

“I knew I was going to get there somehow; I was going to get this day,” Le Batard said. “There was no chance all the other teams could be as injured as the Knicks, and the Knicks were not going to have a day where I was going to eat it at the end. That’s not what was going to happen. The whole of that was strategic. We turned into WFAT – we got bloated.”

“Fire Tom Thibodeau – trade OG [Anunoby], get rid of him, don’t re-sign him. Isaiah [Hartenstein] as well,” Weiner added. “Just light up the phone lines today boys and enjoy your 20 share.”

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John Skipper: ‘I Do Not Believe TNT’ Had Right to Match in NBA Media Rights Contract

“It’s not for me to accuse anybody of mendacity, but I am puzzled by it.”

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John Skipper

Throughout the New York Knicks playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, Warner Bros. Discovery president and chief executive officer David Zaslav has been seen sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden with a Knicks hat on watching the game. Zaslav and the company are reportedly in negotiations to try and retain media rights to the NBA, with whom the Turner Broadcasting entity has done business since 1984. Yet subsequent reports have stated that the likely outcome is in Comcast’s NBCUniversal receiving the final rights package, thus granting them NBA rights for the first time since 2002 and presumably shutting Warner Bros. Discovery and TNT Sports out. NBCUniversal was reportedly preparing a bid of $2.5 billion for rights to the NBA, according to The Wall Street Journal.

There has been discussion, however, as to whether or not Warner Bros. Discovery has the right to match a competing offer and if it would do so with NBCUniversal or potentially Amazon, which reportedly has the framework for a streaming package for $1.8 billion annually.

John Skipper, who was the president of ESPN at the time the company signed its existing nine-year media rights deal with the NBA, recalled that the two media rights deals the league signed were quite similar. He does not believe that it had the right to match, however, which led to subsequent discussion on the latest edition of The Sporting Class because of the ambiguity and intrigue surrounding the Warner Bros. Discovery contract. The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) has also reportedly reached a framework for a media rights package for approximately $2.6 billion a year, which would include keeping the NBA Finals on its networks.

“I am puzzled and don’t understand how they could have a right to match, and I really have a hard time understanding how they could have a right to match Amazon because that is not even the same package,” Skipper said. “You get a right to renegotiate your own package – an exclusive negotiating window. I never had much luck getting a match right because that dramatically decreases the rightsholders’ chances to get the most money, so I’m puzzled, and I do not believe we had that right.

“I do not believe TNT had that right, which would mean that subsequently somehow when there was this consolidation of these assets into Warner Bros. Discovery, they got the NBA to agree to let them have a matching right.”

Meadowlark Media personality and former Miami Marlins team president David Samson was seen on camera ostensibly mouthing the word ‘Wow’ as Skipper provided this explanation. After Skipper concluded, he said that the people in the booth would know which part of the show to clip because of what was said. Samson referred to Skipper stating that Warner Bros. Discovery had been lying for the last two months, an accusation he refuted. Instead, Skipper articulated that he was stating what he knew to his knowledge.

“It’s not for me to accuse anybody of mendacity, but I am puzzled by it,” Skipper said, referring to Warner Bros. Discovery and TNT Sports.

“Puzzled because you have signed a deal that is supposed to be quite similar to the deal that they are also working with and doesn’t have the thing that they say that they have?,” Samson questioned.

“I can’t be privy or read anybody’s mind as of what may have happened subsequent to those signatures,” Skipper replied.

During the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront on Wednesday in New York City, TNT Sports division chairman and chief executive officer Luis Silberwasser addressed the situation surrounding the NBA. Within his remarks, he stated that the company was looking forward to another season and reaching a deal that makes sense for all of the parties. WBD CEO David Zaslav has previously stated that he believes his company has the right to match. Both Warner Bros. Discovery and The Walt Disney Company have one year left on their existing NBA contracts, which expire at the end of the 2024-25 season.

“They will do ad business in the next year,” Skipper said of the message at the Upfront, “and they’re just reminding the advertisers in the audience not to change their budgets yet.”

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