The NBA Playoffs and much of the sports world came to a screeching halt on August 26. The Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the floor for a first round game against the Orlando Magic in protest of the Kenosha, Wisconsin police shooting Jacob Blake in the back.
While the rest of the NBA slate followed suit, pausing play for two days, many fans also remember the moment a television personality joined in. Kenny Smith walked off the set of TNT’s Inside the NBA that night, saying that he was emotional and tired and didn’t know how to do the show.
His friend and Inside the NBA co-host Charles Barkley talked about that moment this week and said he didn’t like it in the moment.
Barkley was a guest on The Ringer’s podcast Winging It with Vince Carter. Co-host Annie Finberg asked Barkley what his thoughts were that night. He said that he thought Smith owed him, Shaq, and Ernie a heads up of what he was thinking and what was about to happen.
“He should’ve told us in advance. Because I had just said that it was bogus what the Milwaukee Bucks just did to the Orlando Magic. They didn’t tell them. And then like 30 seconds later, he did the exact same thing,” Barkley said. “I had no problem with him walking off. He should’ve told us so we could’ve prepared. The show was like, ‘Uh-oh.'”
Being fair to Smith here, it is possible that he didn’t know what he was going to do until it was too late to give his team an off-camera heads up. Awful Announcing’s Ian Casselberry writes that the surprise of that that moment is what made it so memorable.
“Smith walking off the set was also a more powerful moment because of its apparent spontaneity. Had it been more organized, the moment likely wouldn’t have been as notable. Ultimately, the show didn’t have to suffer because Smith left in protest.”
Barkley is under some fire from social media for saying that he wouldn’t put the killing of Breonna Taylor in the same category as the murders of Ahmaud Arbrey or George Floyd. While he did note during the podcast that he thought the Bucks put the rest of the NBA in a position where they all had to refuse to play, his beef with Kenny clearly isn’t about Kenny’s position on the police shooting a man in the back. It seems that this is one co-worker telling another that his actions left the team in an awkward situation.
Charles Barkley did not say if he and Kenny Smith ever addressed the situation. He only said “I got nothing but love and respect for Kenny.”
NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings
“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”
The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer.
In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD.
“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”
There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week.
No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.
Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+
“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”
Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.
Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.
“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”
Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.
Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+
“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”
As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.
Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.
Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.
“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”
The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.
“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”