Monday’s news of AT&T merging WarnerMedia with Discovery sent waves through the industry. The sports sector is paying close attention with a big role to play in the streaming wars. Sportico chatted with media consultants Ed Desser and Pat Crakes about how the merger might change sports rights moving forward.
“It shows sports still matter—and will continue to matter—in a major way,” The president of Desser Sports Media said to Sportico. “You can’t really have a streaming service with broad appeal without a representative sample of key sports.”
AT&T punted on their media assets just three years after their $84 million acquisition of Time Warner. The deal expected to close next year includes a mix of CNN, TNN, TNT, Cartoon Network, HBO, and the HBO Max streaming service. Discovery’s assets combined with these properties would create the second-largest media company behind Disney.
All of this as sports media rights continue to grow in value amidst a splintered entertainment space. Netflix recognized this last decade by injecting original content across the platform. It doesn’t get more original than live sports, but Desser said “It’s not in their DNA” to go after them.
Crakes was a little more bullish on the prospects but indicated it would have to be a unique setup. “The most efficient way to do it is [for Netflix] to get together with someone else. It seems complicated to make acquisitions fast enough because the content simply isn’t available,” Crakes explained to Sportico.
The industry is torn on what the future might hold for live sports rights. There was a slight movement with the NFL rights this year and a big shift from NBC to ESPN and TNT for the NHL. As this merger finalizes in 2022, the new company will have a couple of years before their chance at a big pot of deals.
The College Football Playoff, NCAA, NASCAR, Big Ten, and PAC-12, all expire in 2024. A tectonic shift away from ESPN, CBS, and FOX may not be likely, but it’s on the radar in this media environment.
Greg Olsen: ‘I Don’t Have To Tell Everyone How Good I Am On FOX’
“Along with the quality of broadcast the Fox crew brought all year, Olsen also believes that there’s no stage too big for Kevin, Pam, and himself. “
Legendary Tight End and analyst Greg Olsen appeared on The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast Wednesday. He spoke about the Fox TV crew he works with, including Kevin Burkhardt and Pam Oliver, and explained what he believes makes them so good.
“I never believe that you need to tell everybody how good you are. I think people know. I think our crew, honestly speaking, made an impact on the scene,” he said. “It sounded different. I think we added an element that maybe they (viewers) weren’t getting on other broadcasts. That’s not to say we’re better or worse than other people. I just think we might’ve been a little different.”
Greg Olsen reiterated that viewers of all levels of knowledge probably appreciated the fact that the crew was able to analyze the game for the casual fan as well as the expert.
“I think the way we saw the game and talked the game; people appreciate it. I think we open people’s eyes to yes, we can talk about the complexity of football because I think it does it a disservice to completely dumb it down. I think football is too beautiful of a game, too complicated a game, to speak like it’s checkers. At the same point we can’t speak like we’re speaking to a PhD level graduate course of football to an average viewer. So, I think ability to find that balance was our strength.”
Along with the quality of broadcast the Fox crew brought all year, Greg Olsen also believes that there’s no stage too big for Kevin, Pam, and himself.
“And listen this is something that I really think I can pursue long-term, I think this is something that with opportunities based on how they open and timing and what not, we’re kind of at the mercy of, but I think Kevin and I, and Pam and our team has shown that yeah, I think we can call big games. I think we can call playoff games; I think we can call as big a game as the opportunity presents.”
Erin Andrews, Charissa Thompson Admit They’ve Made Up Sideline Reports
“Former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler was the featured guest on the show, and at one point he was asked about questions reporters asked that annoyed him the most.”
Being a sideline reporter or just reporting in general, particularly with poor-performing teams, can be a challenge.
Often, no matter how a reporter forms the question, a coach or player isn’t going to give the full in-depth answer the reporter was hoping for. But when the interviewee doesn’t give the answer a reporter wants to hear, that puts the reporter in a difficult situation. On the most recent edition of the podcast Calm Down with Erin and Charissa, sideline reporters Erin Andrews and Charissa Thompson admitted they’ve had to make up reports based on the answers, or non-answers, they were given.
Former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler was the featured guest on the show, and at one point he was asked about questions reporters asked that annoyed him the most. He answered that often it was a question along the lines of “What happened” or “Why did you throw a pass there” on a particular play.
“Sometimes the receiver just fell down, but you can’t be like, ‘Hey, the receiver fell down,’” he said. “You can’t be like, ‘You know what, the O.C. called an awful play, and I just ran it.’…You can’t say those things.”
As the conversation continued, and Cutler talked about having his own conversations with coaches breaking down what happened on the field, that’s when Thompson made the admission.
At the time, she was a newer reporter and covered the Detroit Lions during the 2008 season, when the Lions went 0-16. When things were going tough, then-head coach Rod Marinelli would tell her things like, “That’s a great perfume you’re wearing,” when Thompson would ask about making adjustments at halftime.
“I was like ‘oh f**k, this isn’t gonna work,” she said. “I’m like, alright I’ve got to make up a report. I’m not kidding, I made up a report.”
Andrews added that she, too, had to do the same thing because “he was telling me all the wrong stuff.”
“You’re not going to say anything that’s going to put them in a bad spot,” Thompson said.
Mike Tirico To Return From Beijing To Host Super Bowl
“The plan is to have Tirico on location in Beijing for the first seven days of the Olympics. He’ll then fly to Los Angeles in time to host the network’s primetime coverage on Friday, February 11.”
NBC Sports host Mike Tirico is going to log a metric ton of frequent flier miles at the beginning of February, as the network gears up to present two of the world’s biggest sporting events all within a span of a couple weeks.
The 2022 Winter Olympics are set to open on February 4. Given the time difference between the East Coast here in the U.S. and China’s capital city, American audiences will be seeing things unfold beginning February 3.
The plan is to have Tirico on location in Beijing for the first seven days of the Olympics. He’ll then fly to Los Angeles in time to host the network’s primetime coverage on Friday, February 11. Mike Tirico will be presenting from a special set located outside SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, where Super Bowl LVI will take place on Sunday, February 13.
He’ll host Olympic coverage on Saturday night and then host NBC’s five-hour Super Bowl pre-game coverage the next day. But he won’t be done when pre-game coverage is done, as he’ll then go back to the Olympic set to host the primetime show.
“It is a career highlight to host the biggest sports broadcast day any media company has ever undertaken,” Mike Tirico said in a statement. “The foundation of our Olympic and NFL productions are the incredible people behind the camera. It is their planning and excellence that make this possible.”
“Mike’s knowledge, preparation and ability to converse on anything from figure skating to football are second-to-none,” added NBC Olympics Production president and executive producer Molly Solomon. “We are counting down until it all begins next month.”
Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that Tirico will have to make a return flight to China for the final days of the Olympics. But the man will undoubtedly deserve a long break from TV hosting duties when all is said and done.
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