CNBC investment strategist Jim Cramer spoke with TheStreet.com about Disney’s restructuring to focus on its streaming businesses this week. He said that the decision does not indicate the company wants to stay in the sports media business.
“I think it’s really about getting rid of ESPN,” Cramer said. “There is a belief we’re saturated in sports. That ESPN is no longer integral.”
ESPN was hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ratings for the network hit a 41-year-low while the sports world hit the pause button earlier this year. Reports of a coming round of major layoffs loom large over the company.
All this news comes on top of the cord-cutting problems ESPN and other networks have dealt with for the better part of a decade now. Cramer says that with revenues down and the network still on the hook for some huge broadcast rights fees, ESPN may cost too much to fit into Disney’s new model.
“ESPN used to be this unbelievable thing, and now it’s just a really expensive thing they are having trouble monetizing. ESPN is no longer the precious place that it once was.”
ESPN+ was one of the digital products that Disney CEO Bob Chapek touted as outperforming all projections the company had for it. That doesn’t necessarily prove Cramer’s belief is wrong, but perhaps Disney does have a vision of an all-digital future for ESPN. In order for an all-digital future to look at all familiar to ESPN fans, the network would need its play-by-play partners to buy in in a BIG way.
If Cramer is right though and Disney wants out of the sports media business entirely, it will be very intriguing to see how the company is sold. There would be plenty of interest, but would Disney be better off selling ESPN as a single business or selling the broadcast networks, the radio network, and the digital properties individually?
Kentucky Derby Rebounds With 16 Million Viewers
“The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.”
The Kentucky Derby has now eclipsed 15 million viewers in each of the last eight years that the event was not effected by the Covid-19 Pandemic. An average audience of 16 million tuned in Saturday to see longshot Rich Strike win the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.
During the weekend, the event kept finding new life on social media. According to an NBC Sports press release, the overhead shot of the final call drew big audiences across a number of the network’s digital platforms, having been viewed in total more than 36 million times.
Peacock also cashed in on the event’s success. The streaming platform posted an average minute audience of over 247,000 viewers during the Kentucky Derby.
ESPN Releases Details For Joe Buck’s PGA Championship Broadcast
“Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host.”
Omaha Productions and ESPN are getting ready for the PGA Championship. News broke last week that Joe Buck would make his ESPN debut at the center of alternative coverage of the event. Now the network is sharing a few details of the broadcast.
Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host. ESPN’s senior golf analyst will bring the perspective of a former caddie to the broadcast as well as the humor of a former comedian.
The duo will welcome plenty of guests too. The lineup suggests that while the broadcast will be built around golf, the conversations could go anywhere. Troy Aikman, Josh Allen, Charles Barkley, Doris Burke, Fred Couples, Jon Hamm, and Peyton & Eli Manning are all scheduled to make appearances.
“We loved doing Monday Night Football with ESPN and the entire Omaha team has been looking forward to producing alternate telecasts that celebrate other sports,” Peyton Manning said in a press release. “As one of golf’s majors, the PGA Championship is a perfect place to do our first one for golf and we look forward to working with Joe, Michael and everyone in ESPN’s golf team.”
Joe Buck and Michael Collins will be on TV for all four days of the PGA Championship. They will be on for four hours each day. The broadcast will alternate between ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+ depending on where the traditional coverage of the event is airing.
The PGA Championship with Joe Buck & Michael Collins is the latest offering from ESPN’s deal with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions. The company has also committed to produce alternate coverage of MMA and college football broadcasts in the future.
Tom Brady Lands Massive Deal To Join FOX At End Of Career
“Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.”
Tom Brady won’t be in the booth this season for FOX, but he will be there eventually. The network’s PR account tweeted that as soon as Brady is ready to call it a career, he will join Kevin Burkhardt to call the biggest game on the network’s slate each week.
“We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the Fox team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season,” FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement.
FOX has made no secret of its desire to bring Brady aboard. The network has been courting him ever since he announced his retirement in February. The desire to pair him with Burkhardt was first reported in March by Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.
This news raises questions about the future for a lot of the parties involved. First, who will be Burkhardt’s partner this season? Tom Brady has committed to play for the Buccaneers. Next, what does this mean for the quarterback’s future? Does this guarantee that 2022 will be his final season in the NFL? Finally, what now for Greg Olsen? He had been Burkhardt’s partner last season and has expressed interest in continuing to work together.
All of those answers will be addressed in time. Right now, FOX is busy celebrating.
Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.
But adding Brady is going to cost them too.
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post has a full salary breakdown for Brady. The Bucs QB will get $375 million over the course of ten years. Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, FOX’s former top NFL play-by-play team, will make a combined $33 million per year at ESPN. Brady’s annual salary will top that number on its own.
FOX’s deal with Brady is similar to the one NBC made with Drew Brees before his final season in New Orleans. It allowed the quarterback one more season, and promised him a nice landing spot in the media when his playing days are done. We will have to wait and see whether or not FOX will end up waiting longer than the one season NBC did.