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ESPN, NFL Discuss Putting Sunday Ticket On ESPN+

DirecTV has held the rights to the package for over 25 years.

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Source: Streaming Clarity

DirecTV has controlled the NFL Sunday Ticket Package for over 25 years but that could be changing soon. According to The Hollywood Reporter, ESPN and the NFL are “in conversations” to transfer the package to ESPN’s platforms.

The league beefed up its relationship with “The Worldwide Leader In Sports” earlier this year under the new media rights deal signed by the NFL and its broadcast partners. Disney CEO Bob Chapek confirmed in the company’s quarterly earnings call that the two are in talks to put NFL Sunday Ticket on ESPN but “would only do the deal if it thought it would be profitable, and make financial sense.”

“While our overall strategy is still very supportive of our linear business, with every deal we make, we are considering both the linear and DTC components,” Chapek confirmed on the earnings call.

It has been a busy week for ESPN negotiators as they signed new rights deals with Major League Baseball and Spain’s top soccer league, La Liga. The Spanish addition now gives ESPN control over the Spanish Copa del Rey, Copa de la Reina, and Supercopa de España broadcasts. A dominant grip on Spanish soccer rights in America.

La Liga will be a main feature on ESPN+ in a similar fashion to Serie A soccer in Italy, which also airs on the streaming service. 

“As the sport of soccer continues its ascendance in the U.S. market, we are incredibly excited to work with LaLiga to establish a deeper connection to American fans through our company’s industry-leading streaming platforms, television networks, and digital and social media assets,” said Burke Magnus, executive vice president programming and original content for ESPN.

NFL Sunday Ticket could be the latest direct-to-consumer venture that ESPN invests resources into. ESPN+ has grown to 13.8 million paying subscribers since launching in April 2018.

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Henry Abbott: Bill Simmons Is ‘Supertalented Guy, Difficult Teammate’

Abbott appeared on the “Straight Fire with Jason McIntyre” podcast.

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Courtesy: AP

TrueHoop founder Henry Abbott appeared on Straight Fire with Jason McIntyre last week and expounded on the article he wrote last year surrounding Bill Simmons. The two worked together for years at ESPN after the network bought TrueHoop and Abbott went in-depth on their working relationship in the article.

“Bill’s fine. I don’t know, maybe he’s really mad at me because I wrote that piece,” Abbott said on the podcast. “He’s not the devil. A thing that frustrates me is a lot of talk without a lot of evidence.”

Abbott went more in-depth about the goal he set when he started writing the article last June.

“Bill Simmons was trending nationally, and the two positions were either he’s a terrible racist, or he’s the most wonderful human in the history of the planet. Like, have any of you f*cking met that guy? Like he is neither of those things. Like this is all incorrect. Trust me; it’s far from my collection of these are the worst things I could say about Bill. It was just kind of a summary of what my experience was like working for him for over a decade.”

The TrueHoop founder stuck to his brand with a basketball comparison ready for Simmons.

“I think he’s a super talented… This is a common NBA theme. Supertalented guy, difficult teammate, hard to get along with. Not really interested in team success right and pretty skilled at getting what he wants. It wasn’t the case that he was some sort of all or nothing hero or villain, he’s just kind of selfish.”

Simmons has not reached out to Henry Abbott about the piece, but the basketball blogging pioneer has no regrets about writing it and would welcome another opportunity with a big brand under the right circumstance.

“The dream for me and I think everyone I know in this business is to have a boss you really respect,” Abbott said about working for another large company. “You want a boss who makes your work better. If you can get that, greatest thing in the world. If you can’t, be your own boss.”

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Howard Bryant Heading To Meadowlark Media

“Bryant’s next major project is a biography of Ricky Henderson due out soon.”

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Another ESPN voice is choosing Miami over Bristol. Howard Bryant is the latest to join Dan Le Batard and John Skipper at Meadowlark Media. Bryant had been a versatile voice in Bristol, appearing on both TV and radio programs offering commentary.

Ian Casselberry of Awful Announcing speculates that “Bryant will focus largely on podcasts and documentaries” in his new role. Meadowlark says that he will “work on project development, including reporting, scriptwriting, and on-air narration.”

It is hard to imagine that Howard Bryant won’t continue to write. In fact, he is free to work on projects for multiple other employers, including ESPN.

Bryant is a three-time National Magazine Award nominee. He has written for Oakland TribuneSan Jose Mercury NewsBergen RecordBoston Herald, and The Washington Post. He is also one of the great baseball historians, having written five books about the sport. Bryant’s next major project is a biography of Ricky Henderson due out soon.

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Sinclair to Launch Streaming Sports Service

Two sources with knowledge of the plans told the Post that Sinclair is working with investment bank LionTree to raise more than $250 million for the venture.

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Sinclair Broadcast Group has made a lot of changes in the last year and, according to the New York Post, more are coming.

Sinclair recently rebranded what were formally Fox Sports regional networks to Bally Sports. Now, the Post explains that the media company is raising money for a new streaming service that would stream St. Louis Cardinals and Dallas Mavericks games, and scores from other popular sports teams.

Two sources with knowledge of the plans told the Post that Sinclair is working with investment bank LionTree to raise more than $250 million for the venture.

Sinclair hopes to launch the streaming service at the beginning of the next MLB season and has told potential investors that it aims to charge $23 a month to fans who want to stream games in markets where it owns broadcasting rights.

The Post notes that “fans who live outside of Sinclair’s 21 territories, where it owns broadcasting rights tied to 42 teams, would likely be out of luck.”

“This is a major, major development,” a director for a non-Sinclair broadcaster told The Post. “And if Sinclair is successful it will change the industry more quickly than I imagined.”

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