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Chael Sonnen Agrees To New Deal With ESPN

Sonnen has worked with ESPN as an MMA analyst since 2015.

Russ Heltman

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Chael Sonnen has a been a big part of ESPN’s dive into MMA over the past decade and he’s not leaving anytime soon. The former UFC title contender has agreed to a multi-year contract extension with ESPN. Sonnen’s role will largely remain the same, with him covering UFC fight weekends and co-hosting Ariel & the Bad Guy on ESPN+.

“To quote the late, great, Glenn Frey ‘So much has happened; but nothing has changed.’ After so many wonderful experiences, I’m glad to say I am STILL with the Worldwide Leader in Sports, ESPN. Just re-signed. Here’s to the future with ESPN,” Sonnen said in a press release.

The former-NCAA All-American wrestler has been with ESPN since 2015 and his role expanded to fight coverage in 2019 once the company obtained the UFC’s full broadcast rights. Prior to ESPN, Sonnen was a UFC analyst for FOX Sports and a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen,” which aired on FX, and “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil: Team Wanderlei vs. Team Sonnen.”

“We are thrilled that Chael will be with us for years to come,” ESPN Vice President of Production Glen Jacobs said. “Even as an analyst, he still has the biggest arm and the greatest charm. Without doubt, Chael remains undefeated and undisputed and helps make ESPN the place to be for UFC fans.”

Sonnen reached two title fights in his UFC career. Once in the Middleweight division against Anderson “Spider” Silva and another in the Light Heavyweight division versus Jon “Bones” Jones. He lost both fights but finished his MMA career with a 30-17-1 record.

“There’s not a lot of ways to participate,” Sonnen said. “You always have to stay humble and very grateful to have a way. Aside from getting in the ring and taking and trading the punches and the kicks. There’s not a lot of ways to get to be a part of it, and ESPN has definitely found a way and allowed me to contribute.”

Fans can catch Sonnen and Ariel Helwani on Ariel & the Bad Guy, airing on ESPN+.

Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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FOX Sports VP: ‘USFL Proves Spring Football As Valuable As Rising Properties’

“We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”

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Michael Mulvihill says the USFL accomplished exactly what FOX needed it to. It proved there is a large enough audience for spring football that it has a value on par with some of the hottest properties in sports media right now.

 “All we wanted to do is demonstrate that spring football can do viewership at the levels of Premier League, NHL regular season, Formula One or MLS,” the FOX Sports Executive VP said according to Sports Business Journal. “We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”

While none of those properties are pulling in the kind of media rights money the NFL or major college football is, Mulvihill pointed out that all of them have been in the news for the right reasons.

“You’re talking about properties that have all recently negotiated deals at substantial increases, or with F1, people know it’s about to.”

The USFL had a solid broadcasting footprint with games airing on FOX, NBC, FS1 and USA. Regular season games for the first year of the revived league averaged just under 700,000 viewers.

Mulvihill said fans behaved exactly how he expected them to in the first season of the USFL. Without any team loyalties, he isn’t surprised that people watched less of an average USFL game than they did the NFL or college football.

The USFL Playoffs begin this weekend. Canton, OH will host the league’s first championship game on July 3.

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