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Amazon To Stream 16 WNBA Games In 2021

The league is airing 16 games on Prime Video this season.

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Amazon isn’t slowing down with their à la carte approach to live sports rights. The shipping giant and the WNBA have partnered on a multi-year deal to air a game package, starting with 16 contests on Prime Video during the 2021 season.

The league now has linked up with Amazon, TwitterFacebookParamount Plus, and Oculus as streaming partners. ESPN and CBS Sports own the TV broadcasting rights for the WNBA.

The Amazon slate of games is centering around the brand-new Commissioner’s Cup. The in-season tournament adds another wrinkle to the competitive flow of the season for ten games. The two teams with the best record across those contests are battling for the Cup and $500,000 on Aug. 12. 

“The WNBA is one of the premier professional sports leagues in the world and serves as an inspiration to millions of young and aspiring athletes everywhere,” said Marie Donoghue, VP of global sports video at Amazon. “I am delighted we are bringing these outstanding athletes and games to Prime Video.”

The league is showing nine Cup games on Prime Video, and the remaining seven games in the streaming package are regular-season games. Prime Video airs the first of their Cup games on May 29 – a battle pitting the Atlanta Dream against Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty.

“Innovative competitions require exceptional partners, and we’re thrilled that Amazon will be streaming a WNBA game of the week and our inaugural Commissioner’s Cup Championship this year. We’re grateful for Amazon’s support in increasing visibility and expanding access to our fans to more games on more devices, and we’re honored to be the first professional basketball league streamed on Prime Video as part of a Prime membership.” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said.

Amazon’s WNBA programming starts in a few weeks as they continue gaining ground in the live sports arms race.

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JOX Roundtable Exits JOX 94.5 in Birmingham

On Friday afternoon, Dunaway and Brown broke the news on Twitter noting that it is “an amicable parting.”

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One of the biggest names in Southern sports talk radio is looking for a new morning show. Lance Taylor, Jim Dunaway and Ryan Brown, known professionally as The JOX Roundtable, have left JOX 94.5.

The show had been off the air most of the week. On Friday afternoon, Dunaway and Brown broke the news on Twitter noting that it is “an amicable parting.” Sean “Rockstar” Heniger, the show’s producer, is also leaving the station.

The trio have been together for 12 years on JOX 94.5. They started in the mid day. In 2017, the show was moved to morning drive.

Program Director Ryan Haney took to Twitter to wish his friends and now former employees well.

The JOX Roundtable always enjoyed tremendous success in the ratings as well as in the BSM Top 20. This year saw the trio hit #2 on the list of Top 20 Mid Market Morning Shows.

Brown recently told AL.com that the show will launch its own digital platform. He said the plan ws born out of a desire to own their own content and set the course of their future for themselves.

He says that JOX 94.5 offered the opportunity for a series of “farewell” shows. That is not something he, Dunaway and Taylor wanted to do.

“They were very generous in offering that. It was much appreciated. Frankly, I just don’t know if that is good radio. Nobody tunes in to hear sappy calls or people complaining or celebrating or whatever. It isn’t the nature of what we do on a daily basis. I just don’t think it was overly appealing to us to do a good-bye show.”

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Learfield IMG College Raises $242 Million

Learfield now has access to $425 million in capital as they forge ahead to a more normal college sports climate this fall.

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Courtesy: Learfield IMG College

Learfield IMG College just got a new influx of cash from their existing investors. According to Sportico, The dominant college sports broadcasting platform received $242 million in new investments from Endeavor, Silver Lake, and Atairos.

All three of those firms have been staunch supporters of the broadcast group. The move also helped Learfield extend the maturity date of $183 million in existing loans scheduled to be paid off this year to 2023.

“While the college sports community has navigated dynamic challenges, we have continued to lean in to unlock new value for our university partners and brand partners alike,” Learfield IMG College CEO Cole Gahagan said in a statement. “We now have the deepest and broadest platform that includes digital sponsorships, contactless mobile ticketing, governance for NIL, esports, content, and industry collaborations, with the necessary fan data and analytics to help school partners grow their entire athletics departments.”

This was perfect timing for Learfield after the pandemic threw their business model in flux, with games canceled left and right across college sports. Learfield now has access to $425 million in capital as they forge ahead to a more normal college sports climate this fall.

About a month ago, Sportico uncovered the net profit Learfield brings in from Georgia, Nebraska, Michigan, Kansas, Houston, Georgia Tech, Marshall, and UCLA.

Georgia was far and away the most profitable partner for Learfield in the pandemic year of 2019-20. The Bulldogs produced $7.4 million in profit for the network. The low positive number came from Marshall, who produced $492,000 in profit.

The only school on the list that didn’t make Learfield money was UCLA. The Bruins lost Learfield $933,000 in 2018-19 and $1.7 million in 2019-20. Conferences around the country expect to allow more fans into sporting events this year as Learfield prepares to bring all the action to those not lucky enough to be there in person.

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Chris Simms Defends His QB Rankings To Dan Patrick

Chris Simms joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss his annual quarterback rankings, and defend some of his positions.

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NBC Sports/Peacock

When one has a successful parent, it can be heard to emerge from their shadow, particularly within the same field. Chris Simms has followed his father Phil into both the NFL and the broadcasting world. The younger Simms has found a distinctive niche in infuriating NFL fanbases in mass with his annual quarterback rankings.

Simms went on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday to discuss the rankings, which are unveiled sequentially over a period of time, and defend some of his positions. There is never a shortage of polarizing picks on the list, and the 2021 rankings were no exception. Reigning Super Bowl champion and widely accepted greatest QB ever Tom Brady came in at No. 10 on the list, behind newly-acquired Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford. When asked about it, Simms chastised the Detroit Lions for their lack of help for the quarterback in 2020, and mentioned Brady benefitting from the talent around him.

“I can look at Tampa Bay and they lost five (games) in the regular season, you can legitimately look at all five and say the main culprit in all five losses was Tom Brady.”

McLovin asked him to defend his pick of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray at No. 7 while asking why the Cardinals are picked by many to finish last in their division. Simms said he is intrigued by some of the offseason additions by the birds out in the desert, but did not appear to be impressed by head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense.

“He (Murray) makes them considerably better in my opinion,” Simms said. “They’re out of that spread, four wide. It’s a little predictable, and he’s the reason it goes.”

Anyone that has perused NFL Twitter in the last calendar year has seen a spirited discussion and a slew of blocked accounts stemming from the debate over Miami Dolphins second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. Simms has Tagovailoa outside of the top 32 quarterbacks in his rankings, and Patrick asked if Simms believes the Alabama product should be starting in the NFL.

“There’s question marks, certainly,” he said. “They had to micromanage him and whenever they had to let it loose, they had to put Ryan Fitzpatrick in. People think I hate Tua. I root for him, I like the guy, he’s charismatic as hell, no doubt about it, (but) there’s nothing to write home about from last year.”

The order of the top four quarterbacks on the list will be revealed on Monday with Simms refusing to give Patrick any insight ahead of time. That did not stop Simms from summing up the predestined outcome of the rankings.

“I’m just setting myself up to get crapped on, and I deal with it every year.”

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