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Jackie MacMullan: ESPN Is An Entertainment Company Now

“She told Le Batard that while she enjoyed being a part of Around The Horn, it took a lot of effort if you wanted to do a great job on that show.”

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Back in August, Jackie MacMullan made the decision to retire from her job at ESPN. MacMullan was well-known for her NBA coverage and as one of the contributors on Around The Horn from the time she joined ESPN in 2010 after her great career writing for The Boston Globe. 

On the latest episode of South Beach SessionsMacMullan joined Dan Le Batard to talk about her career as a pioneer in sports journalism. During this episode, she explained why she decided to retire from ESPN after signing a three-year deal the previous Fall. 

“I have elderly parents, that’s a big one,” said MacMullan. “The day I retired, my poor 96-year-old dad fell on the day I retired, so he is my new full-time job. Part of me too was that the industry has changed. At ESPN for instance, they are an entertainment company in many ways and they should be. That’s where all their money lies. They are putting games on the air, it’s television.” 

While MacMullan had known for doing a lot of television, she always viewed herself as a writer. She told Le Batard that while she enjoyed being a part of Around The Horn, it took a lot of effort if you wanted to do a great job on that show. 

“My new contract that I had signed was heavily TV. I loved Around The Horn. Those guys were the greatest. They are going to be my friends for the rest of my life, but that show took a lot of effort if you wanted to be up-to-date on every sport, which I felt you needed to do if you wanted to do that show properly. It was a lot of time and effort.” 

Even though Jackie MacMullan is no longer at ESPN, she mentioned to Le Batard that she is still going to work, her job is just going to be a little bit different now. 

“ESPN treated me very well. There was no rancor. It was my choice. I walked away from two years of guaranteed money. I’m not sure I did the right thing. I finally got to the point in my career where I was being paid good money, but I haven’t looked back once and regretted it.  I’m not saying I will never work again. I’m just telling you I will never work again like that. That’s not going to be the model.”

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NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings

“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”

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The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer. 

In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD. 

“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”

There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week. 

No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.

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Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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