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Could Warner, Discovery Merger Push Netflix Into Sports?

Sportico discussed whether Netflix could enter the sports media space to compete with other services.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Brite Box Electrical

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.

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Amazon Prime Video Has Its Lowest-Rated NFL Game of Season on Black Friday

The contest averaged 9.61 million viewers, marking Amazon Prime Video’s second-least watched NFL game of the season.

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TNF Black Friday
Courtesy: Amazon Prime Video

For the first time in the history of the National Football League, Amazon Prime Video broadcast an exclusive game on Black Friday between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. The company utilized various broadcast viewership verticals outside of the primary broadcast featuring play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, color commentator Kirk Herbstreit and sideline reporter Kaylee Hartung. A special edition of TNF Tonight took the air before the game, which was followed by an alternate broadcast from YouTube sports comedy group Dude Perfect. The day ended with a postgame concert from country music recording artist Garth Brooks, closing the day of a new tradition that Prime Video expects to continue over the years.

The contest averaged 9.61 million viewers on Friday afternoon, and while it outperformed all competing programming in afternoon and prime time across broadcast and cable television, it was the second-least watched Prime Video game this year (Panthers-Bears on 11/9/23 averaged 9.56 million viewers). Moreover, Sports Media Watch states that the game garnered a 4.0 rating, marking the streaming provider’s lowest-rated contest of the year. Within the P18-34 demographic, the game was No. 1 across dayparts on Friday with an average of 1.77 million viewers, 220% higher than the No. 2 program. Additionally, the game finished No. 1 on the day among persons ages 18 to 49, averaging 4.28 million viewers. Ratings in both these categories, however, were low-points on the year at 2.5 and 3.2, respectively.

Viewership for the game peaked at 11.18 million viewers between 5 and 5:15 p.m. EST, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. When combined with out-of-home (OOH), local station (OTA) and computer and mobile measurements, the game attained an average minute audience of 10.83 million viewers.

“Prime Video’s first Black Friday Football game welcomed meaningful successes across Amazon’s many touchpoints with fans and customers,” Jay Marine, vice president and global head of sports at Prime Video, said in a statement. “We’re beyond proud of this new tentpole event we’ve created with the NFL, and how so many parts of Amazon worked to create a fun and innovative production that surrounded football, family, shopping, food and music. We look forward to building this Black Friday game into one of America’s great annual sports traditions.”

Reports from various sources indicated that Prime Video was successful in selling its available advertising slots ahead of the NFL Black Friday game, reportedly pricing 30-second commercials at approximately $600,000. Next year’s matchup for the day after Thanksgiving has yet to be announced, but the intent of the NFL is to rotate the contest and grant another NFL market the chance to host the game, according to Hans Schroeder, NFL executive vice president of media distribution.

Amazon Prime Video will resume its Thursday Night Football broadcasts this week when the Seattle Seahawks visit the Dallas Cowboys at 8:15 p.m. EST/5:15 p.m. PST.

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Stephen A. Smith: You Can’t Just ‘Go Out There Running Your Mouth’ About Serious Topics

Smith’s comments came after being asked why he had remained silent on the accusations against Oklahoma City Thunder guard Josh Giddey.

Jordan Bondurant

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Stephen A. Smith
Courtesy: Stacy Revere, Getty Images

Stephen A. Smith clapped back towards those who have been critical of the First Take panelist and podcast host for his silence on the ongoing Josh Giddey situation.

Giddey, a 21-year-old guard from Australia, is being investigated by the NBA after allegations on social media surfaced that he was having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl.

On The Stephen A. Smith Show on Monday, Smith was annoyed with people who just want him to skewer Giddey based on the limited information available.

“Y’all are getting on my last damn nerves. Could you try to be responsible? Could you try?” he asked. “That’s all I’m asking. What you want Stephen A. to say?”

Stephen A. Smith pointed out that there are a lot of unknowns with this case right now. All that people have to go off of currently are social media posts. He said throwing around accusations without proof or supporting facts is a good way to get slapped with a lawsuit.

“You know why Stephen A. hasn’t said anything? Because you could get sued, idiots!” he said. “You don’t just go out there running your damn mouth over something this serious.”

Smith concluded by saying until there’s more information available and signs that something wrong has taken place, he’s going to stay out of it. It’s hard to offer a reaction when you don’t know how deep the accusations run.

“If I had a clue, I would have spoken on it, but I don’t and it’s why I haven’t said anything,” he said. “My advice to you all is to shut the hell up and do the same.”

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Pat McAfee: SI Scandal ‘Raises a Real Thought That This Is What the Future Could Look Like’

“Let’s say that a company like Sports Illustrated was like, ‘You know what we have no money to start up a content creation website. Boom, we just need to get fake people to do this.'”

Jordan Bondurant

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Pat McAfee
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

Pat McAfee is fascinated by the ongoing saga with Sports Illustrated.

SI came under fire on Monday after a Futurism article came out claiming that the legacy sports media outlet published AI-generated content on its website and published the content under bylines of fake authors.

McAfee talked about the story initially on his show Monday. But on Tuesday, after reading the statement from The Arena Group, Pat McAfee said the story is both bizarre and a potential look ahead to what the media space could be like.

“To be completely candid, the reason why I enjoyed it so much is just because this raises a real thought that this is what the future could look like,” McAfee said. “We’re not saying this happened, but for the sake of it this is how we took the news that we learned yesterday. Let’s say that a company like Sports Illustrated was like, ‘You know what we have no money to start up a content creation website. Boom, we just need to get fake people to do this.’ Like I think that was what was so awesome yesterday in my mind.”

McAfee continued to ponder how wild it was to think that entire news outlets could potentially have content completely generated by AI.

“It is f–king insane to think that that’s gonna be the possibility of what the future looks like,” he said. “And we said it yesterday, but we need to enjoy these times, boys, because these things are taking our jobs. And they’re gonna be so much better than us. So much better.”

Pat McAfee added that with the way the media landscape is changing, it’s hard to tell if AI hasn’t already infiltrated the space. He gave one example of some sites and platforms offering readers the chance to read a condensed version of an article.

“Who’s picking the condensed version of what the article is, because I see some condensed articles on Twitter or X, and they’re taking some quotes that I don’t think are necessarily as accurate as the article that I’m reading,” McAfee said. “So who’s summarizing it? Who’s doing that, AI?”

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