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Stephen A Smith: ‘I Haven’t Been This Excited To Do First Take in Years’

“Anytime Smith and Irvin match up it creates headline haymakers and that contributed to the feel of First Take on day one.”

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Courtesy: ESPN

The new era of First Take just hit the two-week milestone, and the path to changing the show up was a big group effort. ESPN FrontRow detailed the changes and those behind them, including a prizefight feel on the Sept. 6 debut.

Michael Irvin is now debating Stephen A. Smith on Mondays, while Tim Tebow saddles up to the debate desk on Fridays with a rotating cast in between.

“I haven’t been this excited to do First Take in years,” Smith said in the story. “The future is limitless.”

Anytime Smith and Irvin match up it creates headline haymakers and that contributed to the feel of First Take on day one.

“My first Monday on First Take,” Irvin described. “The set was covered with white boxing ring ropes on all the walls throughout the studio. I thought it was beautifully designed and set the stage for what was about to transpire every Monday. ‘Put your dukes up!!!’”

The first shot of the new era featured just Qerim Rose on the debate desk — then the prizefighting debaters walked out to the arena.

“Senior coordinating producer Antoine Lewis wanted to swing big and come out with something memorable,” producer Michael Goldfarb said about the process. “I pitched him on the boxing intro open. Meg Drobniak directed the shoot from Bristol. Stephen A., Michael, and Molly all came in on their off day to film. Associate producer Kat Seelig then worked with remote editor Lauren Bernstein on Sunday night to turn it around in edit for Monday morning. It was an awesome team effort to create something memorable to kick off an important new era for the show.”

The talent and production crew went above and beyond to create the memorable open. A new beginning for a show that’s leaned on Smith for years and isn’t shying away from that strategy anytime soon.

“I’m incredibly excited about First Take’s future. Considering the exceptional lineup of experts who already contribute to our show, combined with an enthusiasm that emanates from the close relationships we all have with one another, you can expect lots of laughter and entertainment, along with astute analysis.”

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Sports TV News

Leo Rautins Exits Raptors Broadcasts on Sportsnet, Joins TSN

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday that Alvin Williams will be serve as an analyst for all 41 Raptors home games on Sportsnet, replacing Leo Rautins.

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There have been a number of changes to NBA broadcasting booths ahead of the new 2021-22 season. Add Toronto to that conversation.

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday that Alvin Williams will be serve as an analyst for all 41 Raptors home games on Sportsnet, replacing Leo Rautins. Jack Armstrong and Matt Devlin will continue to work in their previous roles.

Williams played with the Raptors from 1998 to 2006, and has had a role with the Sportsnet broadcast since 2015, mostly as a studio analyst.

This is certainly a big change, as Rautins has had a role with Raptors broadcasts since the team’s 1995 debut. Rautins is a staple in Canadian basketball, serving a number of different roles for the Canadian National Team. However Rautins did not last too long away from the Toronto Raptors, as he announced today on Twitter that he will be returning for the TSN broadcast for the upcoming season.

Rautins previously worked for TSN as an in-studio analyst for Raptors games. His role for the upcoming season with TSN has not quite been defined yet.

It will be interesting to see how Williams will be able to adjust to his new role, but it seems like this move can work out for both Williams and Rautins in the end.

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NFL Reportedly Wants Apple To Win Sunday Ticket Bidding

“While ESPN+ and Amazon are both also reportedly involved in discussions for Sunday Ticket, there isn’t much win for the league if the out of market games end up with either of those streamers.”

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NFL Sunday Ticket is on the open market. While the league is accepting bids for the out of market package, Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic reports that it does have an ideal outcome in mind.

That outcome? Kaplan writes that the NFL would like to be in business with Apple. While ESPN+ and Amazon are both also reportedly involved in discussions for Sunday Ticket, there isn’t much win for the league if the out of market games end up with either of those streamers.

“The league already has a deep partnership with Amazon, which provides stats through Amazon Web Services, and will pay $1 billion annually starting next year for exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football after carrying the midweek games nonexclusively since 2017. And the league has long been intertwined with ESPN, which surely could juice its streaming service, ESPN+, with Sunday Ticket.”

Apple is making major investments in Apple TV+, but it isn’t that streaming platform that has the NFL’s attention. The NFL wants a partnership with Apple because Apple makes hardware.

“It would marry the NFL with the company that sells arguably the globe’s most critical consumer product, the iPhone,” writes Kaplan.

It is well-known that the league would like to package Sunday Ticket with an equity stake in NFL Media. Goldman Sachs was enlisted over the summer to help sell those properties.

Representatives for the NFL declined to comment for the story. Apple owning and controlling NFL Media would ensure mass availability and an ability to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology and presentation.

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Pat Forde: College Football Playoff Won’t Expand If ESPN Is Only Broadcaster

“Basically it comes down to an unwillingness to let the SEC and ESPN get everything it wants here more than anything else.”

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Yahoo’s Pat Forde was a guest on The Dan Patrick Show on Thursday and he made an interesting prediction. Despite all of the bluster about the College Football Playoff expanding to include 12 teams and what that could do for revenue for all of the conferences involved, the ACC, Big Ten and PAC-12 are willing to derail the process.

Commissioners of the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-12 and SEC) met on Wednesday and didn’t even take a vote on whether to expand. Forde told DP that the decision was largely about pettiness and hurt feelings coming out of the SEC’s move to add Oklahoma and Texas.

“Basically it comes down to an unwillingness to let the SEC and ESPN get everything it wants here more than anything else.”

While ESPN has denied being involved in the effort to get the two marquee properties in the Big 12 to leave for the SEC, league commissioners are not buying it. A bigger SEC, particularly one that includes Oklahoma and Texas, likely means more of the 12 available spots go to the conference. The SEC and College Football Playoff’s exclusive media partner is Disney/ESPN.

“ESPN would be the sole media benefactor, and we don’t like what happened with Texas and Oklahoma, so we’re gonna throw a stick in the wheels here and at least slow it down,” Forde said, explaining the position of the other conference commissioners. “I still think we’re gonna get to expansion. I don’t know if it is going to be 8. I don’t know if it is going to be 12, but we’re gonna get to expansion with multiple broadcast partners is my belief.”

The College Football Playoff’s current television contract expires after the 2025 season. Forde pointed out that it is possible if everyone has the same goal that a change could be made in time for the 2024 season. That seems unlikely now.

Dan Patrick added that he had heard that 12 may not be a number etched in stone. The CFP could expand to 8 or even 16 teams. Forde cautioned against expecting as many as 16 pointing out that conference commissioners still want to give college football an illusion of amateurism, and likely don’t want two teams having to play a 17-game schedule like the NFL.

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