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ESPN Acquires High School Sports Brand BallerVisions

“ESPN is taking over control of the BallerVisions social media accounts and making Chappell a social media producer.”

Russ Heltman

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ESPN is diving deeper into the high school sports content business. According to Variety, the network struck a deal with Marcel “Celly” Chappell to acquire his company, BallerVisions.

ESPN is taking over the BallerVisions social media accounts and making Chappell a social media producer.

“I’m excited to see the impact we can have in the high school scene with the power of ESPN behind me and can’t wait to get started,” Chappell said in a statement.

Chappell founded the account in 2012 as a favor to his high school buddy, who needed their highlights to get more exposure. The BallerVisions YouTube channel sports over 1,200 videos and 65 million views since 2018.

“We haven’t been as aggressive in the high-school video highlights space, even though a number of high school games are played on air on ESPN,” ESPN’s vice president of social media, Kaytee Daley, said to Variety.

The move to hire Chappell opens up fresh avenues to cover high-school athletes, and, “allow us to connect more deeply with the high-school sports community.” Chappell’s compensation in the deal went undisclosed.

Rising social media accounts have been in ESPN’s sights for years. Last January, they hired Omar Raja to be a prominent voice on their Instagram account. Raja founded the House of Highlights social media account.

“This next generation of athletes and stars wants to be featured on SportsCenter and TV is still a pinnacle for them,” Daley said. “But they also want to see themselves on YouTube and they want to see themselves on SportsCenter Snapchat and SportsCenter Instagram.”

ESPN is doing there best to stay ahead of trends in viewership. Many young sports fans rely on social media for their sports viewing diet, and the network is trying to meet them in the social space; rather than trying to revive traditional media.

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EverWonder Studio, Meadowlark Media Producing Feature Documentary

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EverWonder Studio
Courtesy: EverWonder Studio

EverWonder Studio has announced that it will finance a project co-produced by Meadowlark Media, co-founded by executive John Skipper and host Dan Le Batard. The feature-length documentary, which will explore the friendship, support and rivalry between tennis stars Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, is the first publicly announced project for EverWonder Studio since its launch last month. Moreover, these teams have garnered rights for a future scripted adaptation to be determined at a later date.

The film will feature never-before-seen footage and information about Evert and Navratilova, outlining how a staunch rivalry turned into an unbreakable friendship. Viewers will receive behind-the-scenes looks at all of the action, in addition to details on their tennis careers both on and off the court.

“Chris and Martina revolutionized the sport of women’s tennis,” Skipper said in a statement. “Their story has all the elements of a fascinating, inspiring documentary, and we are thrilled to bring it to the screen in partnership with EverWonder.”

Executive producers on the project include the aforementioned Skipper, along with Deirdre Fenton, Mary Greenham and Jon Wertheim of NewsPresenters Media. Lawrence Frankopan of StarWing Sports and Jeff Zucker of RedBird IMI also have executive producer credits on the project, and all involved are excited to present their story en masse. Zucker formerly served as the president of CNN and chief executive officer of NBCUniversal, and this project marks the first media investment under his new venture.

“Chris and Martina’s story is exactly the type of project we launched EverWonder to tell – a never-before-seen look at one of the great friendships and rivalries of our time,” Zucker said in a statement. “I know this is the first of many powerful narratives EverWonder will bring to life, and I’m grateful to Chris and Martina for trusting us with their story.”

EverWonder Studios hired chief executive officer Ian Orefice to help launch the company after he worked as the president and chief operating officer of Time Studios. After forging a professional relationship with Zucker over several years, he decided to join on building this new entity predicated on genuine storytelling that reaches a global audience and has a widespread impact. Producing non-fiction intellectual property is at the center of the company’s mission, and there are several journalistic- and sports-related hires that are set to begin work with the studio.

“It’s an honor that after a very competitive process, Chris and Martina have chosen EverWonder as their storytelling partner along with Meadowlark Media,” Orefice said. “EverWonder was created to celebrate the world’s best stories, and we’re thrilled to tell the tale of one of the greatest rivalries – and friendships – in sports history. Their journey has already inspired so many, and we know it will do the same for new audiences around the world.”

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Fanatics Sportsbook Letting Gamblers Stream NFL Games They Have Money On

“The only condition is that the game must also be available in the bettor’s local market.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Fanatics Sportsbook logo

NFL fans using the Fanatics Sportsbook in four states have the ability to watch the broadcast of some of the games they bet on.

Legal Sports Report writes that users who place at least $1 in wagers on the NFL in the app will get access to the stream of the corresponding bet. The only condition is that the game must also be available in the bettor’s local market.

This feature of the Fanatics Sportsbook app is available in Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio and Tennessee, and it’s been available since the start of the regular season.

Fanatics joins Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings and FanDuel as platforms that have agreements with the league’s exclusive rights holder of official NFL data, Genius Sports. These agreements give the sportsbooks the ability to provide live streams.

So far, Caesars is the only other platform with stream access available, but Legal Sports Report noted that DraftKings and FanDuel will likely bring streams online later this season.

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More Than 5000 Attend Barstool Pizzafest Amid Washington Post Controversy

“Everyone had a great time. The vibes were actually probably higher because of the controversy surrounding it.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Barstool Pizza Fest
Courtesy: Barstool

With the remnants of Tropical Storm Ophelia bearing down on New York City and a wave of buzz surrounding Barstool founder Dave Portnoy in the days leading in, some 5,000 people braved the elements to attend the One Bite Pizza Festival in Brooklyn on Saturday.

Portnoy went viral last week after he posted video of himself calling Washington Post food reporter Emily Heil to confront her and ask why she and the pave had been contacting festival sponsors and asking them how they feel about Portnoy’s past controversies.

Participating pizzerias and sponsors also faced pressure to back out from other food writers and Barstool critics. But Portnoy told FOX & Friends Weekend on Sunday that the festival was a rousing success.

“It couldn’t have gone better,” he said. “It was our Woodstock moment with the rain. We had 5,000 people strong. Everyone had a great time. The vibes were actually probably higher because of the controversy surrounding it.”

Dave added that he owed the pizzerias a debt of gratitude for standing strong against those trying to shame them out of the event.

“The thing about the hit pieces, what they try to do, whether it’s those or the Washington Post, if you can get one sponsor to drop, one pizza place to drop – which none of them did so I owe them a huge thank you – that becomes a story in itself,” he said.

“They don’t deserve this,” Portnoy added. “They’re just trying to promote their small business, and they’re being put in this box.”

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