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Dontrelle Willis Joins Dodgers Front Office, Will Remain on MLB on FOX

“After injuries and lack of pitching command derailed his playing career, Willis joined FOX Sports as a studio analyst in 2015.”

Brandon Contes

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After one shortened season as a studio analyst for NBC Sports and the Oakland Athletics, Dontrelle Willis won’t be returning to the same role this year. Instead, the charismatic broadcaster and former pitcher announced he’s joining the Los Angeles Dodgers as a special assistant in their player development department.

A World Series champ and two-time All-Star, Willis last pitched in the majors during the 2011 season at the age of 29. After injuries and lack of pitching command derailed his playing career, Willis joined FOX Sports as a studio analyst in 2015. 

Now 39, Willis is still listed as a FOX Sports analyst and contributed to their postseason coverage last year. But continuing as a baseball analyst for a national outlet, while being part of a Major League Baseball team’s payroll is a conflict of interest that has been called out before.

Last year, ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza was blasted for her baseball commentary while she was simultaneously an employee of the New York Mets. Mendoza criticized pitcher Mike Fiers for his role in uncovering the Astros sign-stealing scandal. At the time of her comments, the Mets were considering what to do with their manager at the time, Carlos Beltran who reportedly played a key role in helping the Astros cheat.

Ultimately, Mendoza parted ways with the Mets and remained with ESPN. Mendoza is not the only person who has attempted to hold similarly conflicting dual roles. Alex Rodriguez, who works for ESPN and FOX Sports has held advisory roles with the Yankees, TBS analyst Pedro Martinez has also been simultaneously employed by baseball teams. Dontrelle Willis will be the latest example if he remains with FOX Sports, depicting the same conflict of interest that Mendoza was criticized for. 

Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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