Despite all the great things that John Skipper did as president of ESPN from 2012-2017, it is normal for people to have regrets or wonder what could have happened if certain decisions were made.
On Part 3 of South Beach Sessions on Le Batard and Friends, Dan Le Batard and Skipper examined some of those possible regrets as part of what is now a 4-part series.
The first event that Skipper mentioned that he regretted was losing the rights to the World Cup. ESPN had the rights to the World Cup in 2010 and 2014, but eventually FOX won the rights to soccer’s premiere event from 2018-2026. Here is what Skipper had to say about that process:
“I regret losing the World Cup. One of my proudest accomplishments was getting the World Cup for 2010 and 2014 just three weeks into my job as chief content officer. I did see that the World Cup was going to become a huge event in the United States. To me, it is the world’s greatest sporting event. I wanted to give it its due on the air on ESPN, which we did. We lost it and it is now on FOX.”
Skipper also addressed the corruption that was going on at FIFA and how he thought the bidding process was not fair.
“I used to say about Sepp Blatter that the fact that his first name is short for septic and his second name is a receptacle for urine should tell you all you need to know about him and how he runs FIFA.
“FIFA was a dramatically corrupt organization. Indeed, people had been indicted for what had gone on in that process. I don’t think it was a fair bidding process for the 2018-2026 rights. I do not believe we lost in a fair manner. However, I still regret not figuring out how to overcome that. If somebody had said to me if you bribe this person, you would have got it. I would have said no.”
Skipper also mentioned that he regretted losing out on the rights to the NHL while acknowledging that NBC has been a good place for the NHL. He later went in-depth on that possible negotiation towards the end of the podcast:
“I’ve mentioned before, but another real disappointment was I was working with John Collins (NHL’s chief operating officer at the time) on the NHL deal and I thought we were quite close, we made a very aggressive bid. I expected to hear back from John that we could get there if you can sweeten this a little bit. John called me and said we decided to renew with NBC. It still stings a little bit. I was a pretty relentless negotiator and that was one where I thought I worked hard, I did the right thing, and it just didn’t happen. It was the right decision for them, but disappointing for me.”
Throughout Part 3, you will hear how Skipper became the president at ESPN in part to an answer he gave on an annual review, how he negotiated the NBA deal and the College Football playoff deal, and why the idea of ESPN The Phone just did not work.
John Buccigross: Return Of NHL ‘Reenergized’ Me In ESPN Role
“I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long.”
John Buccigross is probably the most thankful out of anyone that the NHL returned to the ESPN airwaves this season.
Bucci has been at the network for 25 years and was a part of the coverage team the last time ESPN had NHL broadcast rights. He told Awful Announcing that the change after the 2003-04 season really helped change his focus at the network.
“It’s probably a good thing that it went away back in 2004, because I was able to focus on SportsCenter and kind of move up the ladder there, and maybe I never would have if hockey had stayed all these years,” he said. “Maybe that was good. And then I got involved with college hockey, I asked to do play-by-play a couple of years after we lost the NHL, so I’ve been doing college hockey for over 15 years with play-by-play, hoping we would get the NHL back and then I could do NHL play-by-play.”
Now the NHL is back, the Stanley Cup Final will air on ESPN and ABC, and John Buccigross will be a part of it in some fashion. He said having the chance to pick back up where he left off all those years ago gave him a second wind in his career.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me in my career, being at ESPN over 25 years,” he said. “To kind of get reenergized, reinvigorated with your job after being in the same place for 25 years, that’s probably pretty rare. I’m just grateful that I was able to get reenergized without leaving the company that I’ve worked for so long. At this stage of my career, it was just perfect timing.”
ESPN and Turner Sports replaced NBC Sports as the U.S. broadcast rightsholders for the NHL this season.
Mark Sanchez Emerges As Potential #2 NFL Analyst At FOX
“It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth.”
Football season is 104 days away and FOX is still sorting out its broadcast crews for the upcoming season.
Enter former New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez as one of the top candidates being considered for the number two booth at FOX this season.
Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that if Drew Brees doesn’t end up in the role, Sanchez is next in line. Greg Olsen and Kevin Burkhardt will comprise the top broadcast team for FOX this season.
It is believed that Joe Davis will be the play-by-play man to sit opposite either Brees or Sanchez in the booth. Marchand reported that Sanchez made a great impression on producers in auditions and tests.
Mark Sanchez began his broadcasting career three years ago. After two seasons of covering college football for ESPN, he made the move to FOX last year.
Tracy McGrady’s Basketball League Enters Media Partnership With Showtime
“The Showtime Basketball brand will create a behind-the-scenes documentary following the OBL’s 2022 tour.”
Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady launched his own basketball league this year. Ones Basketball League is a touring competition to find the best one-on-one basketball players in the country. Now fans can follow the action on Showtime.
The Showtime Basketball brand will create a behind-the-scenes documentary following the OBL’s 2022 tour. The all-access series will put new episodes on the Showtime YouTube channel.
“The production and creative team at Showtime Sports knows how to build and tell stories like no one else, and the detailed background and exciting drama we have already started to capture with OBL makes this content partnership a perfect fit for us,” McGrady said in a press release. “The team at Showtime shares our excitement for putting a spotlight on one-on-one basketball and all of the great action, rich stories, and hyper-competition that flows from the game.”
OBL competitions from now until the end of the season will be documented. Each tour stop features a 2-day, 32-player competition. Three of the league’s six competitions are complete.
Showtime will be there for stops in New York, Springfield, Virginia, and Los Angeles as well as the championship tournament in Las Vegas.
“We believe in Tracy’s vision and are thrilled to be working with the OBL on their inaugural season,” Brian Dailey, SVP of Sports Programming & Content for Showtime Networks Inc, added. “This collaboration embodies the Showtime Basketball brand — premium, bold and boundary-pushing. We are delighted to welcome Tracy and the OBL team to our unmatched lineup of content and talent.”