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Fred Toucher: Deadspin Used To Be ‘A Thousand Times Better’

What Deadspin is now, which I have not looked at in years… [has] the general vibe [of] ‘You’re all evil, and you should be fired, and let someone who is poor have your job.’”

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Toucher & Rich on The Sports Hub 98.5 WBZ-FM in Boston spoke about a recent article published by Deadspin headlined “So here’s one of the worst tweets of all time.” The article, written by former Chicago sports writer Sam Fels, centers around a tweet written by co-host of NBC’s Men In Blazers Roger Bennett.

Fels opines within the article about how he does not “subscribe to the well-held belief that Twitter is the ultimate cesspool of our society,” defining the user experience as something that is unique to each person every time they log on.

“…Every so often,” says Fels in the article, “it provides something so wholly bewildering that you really do have to question if it’s art or a vision into a plane/dimension where the rules are completely different.”

Additionally, Fels calls Men In Blazers solely a celebration of hosts Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, the latter of who authored the referenced tweet, and how they are unique for being fervent soccer aficionados in the United States.

“It’s just a half-hour of two guys saying, ‘We’re awesome because we’re soccer fans and we live in the States and you have to think we’re awesome, too!’ It’s two Brits patting all us ignorant Yanks on the head for being fans and sticking a gold star on our nose.”

Fred Toucher, co-host of Toucher & Rich, shared his thoughts on the direction Deadspin has gone in ever since former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan won $115 million in an invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker Media Group, the owner of the popular sports blog.

“The site was a thousand times better when [A.J. Daulerio] was the editor of it,” said Toucher. “What Deadspin is now, which I have not looked at in years… [has] the general vibe [of] ‘You’re all evil, and you should be fired, and let someone who is poor have your job.’”

As the article continues, Fels divulges why he considers the tweet sent out by Bennett to be foolish, especially with the advancements the sports media world have made in giving leagues the opportunity to disseminate their events and related pieces of content.

“Just to review, Roger Bennett — who apparently loves to read his own written words as much as he loves to hear his spoken ones — is claiming a show that has been on less than a year-and-a-half has done more for the popularity of an entire sport than… anything that has happened in the entire sport,” writes Fels. “Not various World Cup runs from either the USWNT or the USMNT, not a generation or two or three of people who grew up playing it becoming adults and watching it, not NBC making every game viewable for the first time, not the FIFA video game, none of it. A fictional show that’s been on 17 months…”

Sports media has certainly expanded its reach over the last decade, giving fans from all around the world opportunities to consume live sporting events. Toucher, in an apparent critique of Fels’ style of journalism, expressed that he was just seemingly stating the obvious.

“There’s a thousand more outlets now,” emphasized Toucher. “We have to look at it from a macro point of view. Good media journalism there. It’s a little bit easier to have soccer games on TV now given that there’s a trillion more platforms.”

Toucher continued by mentioning how soccer, while it attracts many kids who are looking to try sports, is ultimately boring and retains very few people over a long period of time. Among impassioned, zealous soccer fans though, the game engenders a tribalism communicated en masse, similar to how a television show attracts a subset of the population that becomes a fanbase who constantly talk about the show. Sure, it’s great for social media engagement and the spread of information, but it ultimately limits the audience to which the topic can be effectively marketed.

“These people — the Deadspin people — not only do they want you fired because of things that you’ve said,” expressed Toucher. “They rally around soccer, which makes me hate soccer even more. You’re watching television. You are not part of a scene. You are wearing a scarf that is sold by a manufacturer that manufactures these things… and sells them by the billions for… a markup. Let’s get over the fact that we’re so precious for liking soccer.”

Moreover, the sport, according to co-host Rich Shertenlieb, does not seem to have many marketable, recognizable American stars that someone could name if they were suddenly asked to do so on the street.

“I could ask ten people on the street [to] name one character from Ted Lasso,” said Shertenlieb. “I guarantee I get more people who know that than know one player on the U.S. Men’s National Team.”

The morning drive radio show concluded the discussion by hearing the perspective of a caller. He compared the tribalism associated with soccer to an underground rock band suddenly going national on a major platform such as MTV, helping it quickly garner worldwide acclaim.

“It’s so punk rock to like soccer,” said Toucher. “My daughter still plays soccer, and there’s nothing that is harder to sit through than one of the games.”

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Sports Online

Audacy & MLB Partner On Cubs World Series Podcast

“I believe this moment of the Cubs winning was the last pure, joyful, optimistic moment in the history of this nation,” Spiegel jokes in the trailer for the show.

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The Run: 2016 Cubs is the first collaboration between Audacy’s 2400Sports and Major League Baseball. The show will tell the story of the year the Chicago Cubs broke the curse of the billy goat and finally won the World Series.

The podcast has some real name recognition working for it. It will be hosted by comedian Roy Wood Jr. and 670 The Score afternoon co-host Matt Speigel. The series is being produced by Jody Avirgan, formerly of ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcast series and FiveThirtyEight. David Ross, Theo Epstein, and Joe Madden are all set to make appearances on The Run as well.

Not only will the show follow the Cubs, it will put the championship run in historical perspective. Segments of episodes will be dedicated to what was happening in Chicago and around the country during the playoff run as America was nearing the contentious 2016 presidential election.

“I believe this moment of the Cubs winning was the last pure, joyful, optimistic moment in the history of this nation,” Spiegel jokes in the trailer for the show.

Starting Monday, September 27, The Run: 2016 Cubs will break down every moment, game, and controversy the team endured in route to its first title in 108 years. There will be ten episodes in total with new shows being released every Monday.

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Bloomberg Questions Adam Schefter’s Investment In Boom Entertainment

“O’Brien asked the company if they have a conflicts-of-interest policy, and they declined to answer.”

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

The Walt Disney Company is ready for ESPN to start diving deeper into sports gambling, but one of their well-known employees is already wading into the space with an investment.

Bloomberg’s senior columnist Timothy O’Brien noticed that ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter was part of a recent investment round for Boom Entertainment. The company helped develop NBC Sports Predictor and is using the latest funding round to expand into “real money gaming products.”

Among the other investors is NFL owner Robert Kraft, sparking questions as to whether or not the investment is a conflict of interest for Schefter as he continues covering the league.

O’Brien had this to say on the matter: “That information is also valuable to gamblers — or anyone who might own, say, a sizeable stake in a newfangled gambling company interested in digital sports betting. Viewers, and Schefter’s 8.5 million Twitter followers, might end up wondering whether he will shade his opinions or bury important information if he directly or indirectly has money riding on games and athletes. It gives a whole new meaning to “NFL Insider,” but ESPN seems unconcerned.”

O’Brien asked the company if they have a conflicts-of-interest policy, and they declined to answer.

ESPN dove headfirst into gambling in recent years and have reportedly been hard at work on a $3 billion licensing deal with Caesar’s Entertainment and DraftKings.

“There’s a long way between embedded into the ESPN business model and licensing out,” Disney chief executive Bob Chapek said to investors at Tuesday’s conference. “Let’s just say that our fans are really interested in sports betting. Let’s say that our partners — with the leagues — are interested in sports betting. So we’re interested in sports betting.”

ESPN is ready to embrace gambling, and it looks like one of their most well-known employees is as well.

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Sports Online

The Athletic Hires Firm To Facilitate Sale

“The Athletic boasts 1.2 million subscribers and had previously been in talks to merge with Axios or The New York Times, but those deals fell through.”

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Courtesy: The Athletic

The Athletic is back on the market after hiring a new firm to find a buyer at a $750 million evaluation. The Information reports the sports media company hired LionTree to expedite the sale process.

The Information confirmed that The Athletic has raised $145 million in funding since 2016 and was valued at $530 million last year. Their revenue has been healthy as well despite the sports shutdown in 2020. The Athletic is projecting $80 million in revenue this year, a 50% jump from the same 2020 figure.

By hiring the LionTree firm, the company is showing a more serious and defined approach to eventually being sold. The firm is looking to have initial bids submitted for The Athletic by October.

The Athletic boasts 1.2 million subscribers and had previously been in talks to merge with Axios or The New York Times, but those deals fell through. 

“As a general matter of policy, we do not comment on rumors about potential acquisitions or divestitures,” a Times spokesperson told TheWrap at that time, while an Athletic representative echoed similar sentiments: “The Athletic does not comment on rumors or speculation in the market.”

Reports also surfaced around Fanatics being interested in The Athletic, but those never came to fruition. Talks with the New York Times dissolved because the two sides couldn’t agree on how to offer the site’s employees equity in the company.

Next year, The Athletic expects revenues to increase to $120 million as they continue their search for a buyer.

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