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Ernie Johnson, Curtis Granderson Join TBS Playoff Coverage

“As for the play-by-play booths, TBS will use two man booths in the division series. One will feature Brian Anderson and Ron Darling. The other will be Dan Orsillo and Jeff Francoeur.”

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TBS is making some changes to its studio team for the Major League Baseball playoffs. Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Ernie Johnson and Curtis Granderson will replace Casey Stern and Gary Sheffield respectively. Pedro Martinez and Jimmy Rollins will remain in place.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed, but I’m so proud to have worked with my teammates on set and an incomparable crew in studio,” Stern told Marchand. “We will always be family. With the trauma I’ve been through and witnessed with my own family over the past two years, perspective is easy to find.”

The trauma he alludes to involves his ex-wife and her boyfriend being charges with multiple felony counts of cruelty to Stern’s children.

Granderson made some guest appearances on TBS last year. This will be his first full-time broadcasting opportunity though. While Granderson has proven to be comfortable in front of the camera, Marchand speculates that he will be “less likely to let it rip like Sheffield.”

Johnson is certainly a known commodity to Turner Sports executives. He leads TNT’s Inside the NBA throughout the season and has been part of postseason Major League Baseball coverage since TBS began carrying playoff games.

As for the play-by-play booths, TBS will use two man booths in the division series. One will feature Brian Anderson and Ron Darling. The other will be Dan Orsillo and Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur will move into the booth with Darling and Anderson for the LCS.

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FOX Sports and The Basketball Tournament Announce Multi-Year Agreement

“With a growing number of players I’ve crossed paths within the league committed to play, this summer will be both competitive and entertaining for TBT.”

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Picture of the trophy for The Basketball Tournament
Courtesy: FOX Sports

The Basketball Tournament (TBT), the $1 million winner-take-all summer event announced a multi-year media rights agreement with FOX Sports to carry games on FOX, FS1, and FS2. As part of the agreement, the network will carry 27 TBT games live on linear television, including three on FOX.

“We are thrilled to make FOX Sports the new home of TBT,” said TBT co-owner and Golden State Warriors guard Chris Paul. “The event has experienced tremendous growth these past few years and this agreement will take it to new heights. With a growing number of players I’ve crossed paths within the league committed to play, this summer will be both competitive and entertaining for TBT.”

“We are excited to kick off our second decade of TBT with FOX Sports,” said TBT founder and CEO Jon Mugar. “Across FOX, FS1, and FS2, we will reach more basketball fans than ever before, further cementing TBT as a mainstay on the basketball calendar. This summer will make for our most electrifying tournament yet.”

TBT is a 64-team, single-elimination tournament hosted across eight regionals. All regional events are hosted by an alumni team representing a powerhouse college basketball program.

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Diamond Sports Group Approved to Hold Creditor Vote on Reorganization

“We are focused on reaching long-term agreements with our partners to enable us to continue serving fans across the U.S. and delivering meaningful value to distributors, teams and leagues.”

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Bally Sports
Courtesy: Diamond Sports Group

Diamond Sports Group has been within bankruptcy proceedings for over a year as it looks to restructure its debt, but received news on Wednesday that could potentially point in a positive direction. Judge Christopher M. Lopez has approved a disclosure statement that will help guide Diamond out of the bankruptcy, which includes $450 million of debtor-in-possession (DIP) financing, $350 million of which will pay its first-lien debt holders. The plan Diamond outlined within its DIP approval was that the remainder of the funding would be transferred to the company’s balance sheet concurrent with broadcasts of National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball games.

The Sinclair subsidiary, which was created upon the acquisition of the then-FOX Sports-branded regional sports networks as part of a $10.6 billion deal with The Walt Disney Company so it could complete its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, currently serves as the broadcast home for 38 professional sports teams. Junior creditors are expected to assume operations of the subsidiary should it be able to successfully emerge from bankruptcy and enact its restructuring support agreement (RSA).

“Approval of the disclosure statement is another important step forward in our restructuring and we are working toward confirming our plan and emerging as a sustainable, go-forward business,” a Diamond Sports Group spokesperson said in a statement. “We are focused on reaching long-term agreements with our partners to enable us to continue serving fans across the U.S. and delivering meaningful value to distributors, teams and leagues.”

A hearing to determine the confirmation of the plan will take place on Tuesday, June 18 at 10 am. CST, and objections to which must be filed by Wednesday, May 22 at 4 p.m. CST. Lopez will also take the results of a forthcoming creditor vote regarding the plan into account in his decision. The company recently reached a multi-year distribution deal with Charter that would come to fruition if it is able to emerge from bankruptcy. Diamond has yet to come to agreements with Comcast or DIRECTV on new deals, creating ambiguity surrounding revenue that comes from retransmission and advertising fees. John Ourand of Puck News reports that Diamond is closer to reaching a deal with DIRECTV than Comcast.

The NBA will reportedly not consider a long-term renewal with Diamond until its national media rights deals are in place, according to Anthony Crupi of Sportico. The expiration of its exclusive negotiating window with The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery closes on Monday, April 22, which will then allow other interested parties to bid for media rights associated with the league.

Earlier in the week, the NBA and NHL communicated concerns about the ongoing process because of the ambiguity it has engendered for planning its broadcast scheme after the year. Ahead of the hearing on Wednesday, Lopez had approved an extension that delayed the deadline to solicit acceptance of the company’s reorganization plan through and including Thursday, Nov. 14.

As part of the restructuring, Amazon will invest a reported $100 million in Diamond Sports Group that will have Prime Video become the primary streaming partner of the regional sports networks. Diamond owns digital rights to the NBA and NHL teams it carries; however, it does not have all of those rights for teams in MLB. Nine months after the restructuring plan is complete, Amazon will reportedly have the option to invest an additional $50 million into Diamond Sports Group.

Diamond claims that approximately 81% of its revenue is attributable to its deals with national multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) Charter, Comcast and DIRECTV. Furthermore, it stated that its subscribers have dropped by 35% from 2019 until the petition date in late-February of this year.

The company has been broadcasting Major League Baseball games as scheduled throughout the year following a season in which it terminated agreements with the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. Recent court filings revealed that Diamond Sports Group and the San Diego Padres agreed to a settlement worth approximately $79 million. It remains unknown if Diamond discussed and/or reached a deal with the Diamondbacks or if the organization is in active litigation with the regional sports network operator.

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Woody Paige Inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

“They must have run out of qualified people after the first four honorable and most worthy inductees were chosen for the 2024 class of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.”

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Photo of Woody Paige on ESPN's Around the Horn

Longtime sports columnist and ESPN Around the Horn panelist Woody Paige was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame last night. Paige graduated from the University of Tennessee and wrote for the Knoxville Journal, The Commerical Appeal in Memphis and then the Rocky Mountain News in Denver. In 1981 he started at The Denver Post and stayed until 2016. He is still writing two columns per week for The Gazette.

In 2002, Paige became one of the original panelists on ESPN’s Around the Horn and he has appeared on the show almost 3,000 of the over 4,000 shows recorded. To date, he is the only panelist with more than 600 wins.

Paige was inducted along with four others, including longtime NFL player and Hall of Famer Tony Boselli who starred at Fairview High in Boulder. When the announcement was made back in October, Paige said, “They must have run out of qualified people after the first four honorable and most worthy inductees were chosen for the 2024 class of the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame.”

Paige has written nine books and estimates he has written about nearly 10,000 sporting events.

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