From Twitter Spaces to Clubhouse, live audio apps have gained a foothold in the media world over the past 12 months. Spotify became the largest media giant to join the fray by acquiring the sports talk app Locker Room.
The deal with Betty Labs, Locker Room’s parent company, values the app at roughly $50 million. Locker Room is a mobile-focused app that allows users to create specific “rooms” to discuss sports like the NBA, NFL, and MLB. Hosts can interact and allow listeners into the discussion to ask questions and debate.
Prominent athletes like Seth Curry, Andre Igoudala, and B.J. Armstrong have appeared on the app. Igoudala was an early investor in Locker Room alongside current and former NBA players like Kevin Durant and Baron Davis. Spotify plans to broaden the app’s branding to welcome pop culture and music alongside sports.
Spotify is making a splash in a growth period for the live audio medium. Twitter Spaces has been gaining steam while the live-audio app Clubhouse received a $1 billion valuation in January. Facebook is also planning a live-audio app.
Ethan Sherwood Strauss Says ESPN Killed Unflattering Mark Jackson Story In 2016
“In his latest newsletter, Strauss writes that some of the information in that piece is what has caused Jackson to be passed over for coaching opportunities in the past.”
A story written for ESPN: The Magazine in 2016 was killed because it made former Warriors coach and current ABC analyst Mark Jackson look bad. That is an accusation Ethan Sherwood Strauss, who covered the NBA for ESPN at the time, is making in his latest Substack newsletter.
Strauss notes he was not the writer of the piece. He declined to name who was.
The purpose of the story was to examine how the Golden State Warriors had turned into a championship team under Steve Kerr. Part of the background of the story involved laying out what the team had become under Mark Jackson, who was fired in 2014. Strauss describes that information as “incendiary” and the reason the story did not see the light of day.
In his latest newsletter, Strauss writes that some of the information in that piece is what has caused Jackson to be passed over for coaching opportunities in the past. Most recently, he lost out on the Sacramento Kings’ coaching job to Mike Brown.
“The reasons for Mark Jackson’s drought are hidden, in part, because he’s an announcer,” Strauss writes. “If he ever gets what he wants and leaves that position, we’ll see more on why the object of his pursuit was kept from him. Teams know. They’ve done the work to find out what Jackson’s current employer has tried to keep quiet.”
Among the allegations in the 2016 article were that he called asisstant coach Jason Collins and team president Rick Welts, both openly gay, “penis touchers” and would remark that they were “going to hell.” Jackson also reportedly accused team employees of “being influenced by the devil” and regularly tried to pit the locker room against the front office.
While these specific allegations have never been made public, they are in line with past allegations against Jackson, particularly the homophobia. Warriors co-owner Joe Lacob said after Jackson was fired from the team that the coach “couldn’t get along with anybody else in the organization”.
It is reasonable to assume as an employee covering the NBA for ESPN at the time that Ethan Sherwood Strauss would have been aware of the story and it never seeing the light of day. Still, he does not have any first-hand accounts of ESPN’s decision or what was in the story on the record.
Ohio Accepting License Applications From Sportsbooks Next Month
“The first window opens on June 15 and closes and July 15. The second window opens immediately after and closes on August 15.”
After sports betting was approved in the state of Ohio last year, a countdown clock began. The law the state adopted indicates that sportsbooks have to be taking bets by January 1, 2023. That means lawmakers and regulators have had to speed up their timeline in selecting who to do business with.
Originally, the state’s Casino Control Commission expected to begin taking applications for licenses by early fall. A new timeline published last week shows that the first application window is now set to open next month.
The first window opens on June 15 and closes and July 15. The second window opens immediately after and closes on August 15.
Ohio is leaving the field wide open. Every casino, racino, pro sports team and pro sports organization that operates in the state will be eligible for a mobile license. If regulators believe a second skin could provide additional economic benefit to Ohio, the state will grant licenses for those as well. That means there is a potential for 42 mobile sportsbooks in the state.
Barstool Could Get Second Chance At Bills Stadium Naming Rights
“With sports betting legal in New York State, it could be argued that a naming rights deal for a stadium in the state makes more sense now for Barstool and parent company Penn National Gaming than it did in 2020.”
Two years ago, Barstool Sports made a bid to win the naming rights to the Buffalo Bills’ stadium. In the end, the digital sports brand lost out to Highmark Health Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York, but the team announced in March that a new stadium is on the way. That could pave the way for Dave Portnoy and company to make another bid.
Highmark has a deal to keep naming rights on the stadium through 2025. The company also has first right of refusal on the next deal, but with the new stadium not set to open until at least 2026, that leaves the door wide open. A spokeswoman for Highmark told Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports that no deal regarding the current stadium’s naming rights will carry over to the new one.
Dave Portnoy said on Twitter that he was “very serious” about Barstool bidding for the naming rights to the stadium in August of 2020. He has not commented about any intentions Barstool would have for the new stadium. With sports betting legal in New York State, it could be argued that a naming rights deal for a stadium in the state makes more sense now for Barstool and parent company Penn National Gaming than it did in 2020.
Barstool, Highmark, or any other company that may be interested in putting their name on the new home of the Buffalo Bills are probably doing some PR math right now. The plan for the new stadium has been met with some resistance from the public as the $1.4 billion stadium plan is set to receive more than half of its funding from the public.
If the NFL bristles at Barstool, remember that in 2020, a bidet manufacturer called TUSHY also wanted to bid on the naming rights to the stadium. The company’s founder, Miki Agrawal, told McCarthy that she intends to bid again.
“We really think it would make a statement: ‘TUSHY Stadium’ with an annual ‘Toilet Bowl’ event. It would be so much fun,” Agrawal said. “Who wouldn’t want to go to an event called the Toilet Bowl? We’d get comedians there and do a fun comedy show and halftime.”
New Era pulled out of its naming rights deal with the stadium. That is what created the opening in 2020. At that time, Highmark won the naming rights over the next ten years at a cost of $5 million per year.