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John Skipper Shares Candid Thoughts On Barstool, DAZN, and RSNs

Asked about Barstool Van Talk, the cross over show with Barstool Sports, Skipper responded by calling it a “catastrophe.”

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John Skipper didn’t hold back any opinions in his appearance at the Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators Conference. Appearing on stage with John Ourand, the Meadowlark Media boss discussed his time with ESPN and DAZN.

Asked about Barstool Van Talk, the cross over show with Barstool Sports, Skipper responded by calling it a “catastrophe.” The show only lasted one episode after ESPN’s own employees objected to the show being on air.

“I think the toxicity of (Barstool) has only been proved last week,” he said referencing Business Insider’s report about Barstool founder Dave Portnoy to justify the decision to pull it off the air.

Big Cat, who was part of Van Talk and also one of Barstool’s most popular personalities wasn’t having it. He took to Twitter to object to Skipper’s characterization of the brand.

Asked about why his time at DAZN wasn’t the triumph some expected, Skipper was blunt. No deal with any major American sports leagues doomed the streamer from the start. Without what he called “first tier” rights, DAZN tried to “aggregate some things” around boxing. That failed to catch on as well, although he doesn’t regret the play.

Skipper said that what he characterized as “passion sports” could never carry a streaming service to success. If a fan base isn’t large, it will never be able to financially support a platform.

“Until you can get the NFL, or the SEC, or the NBA on a streaming service, it’s going to be marginal in this country.”

One service that does have first tier sports rights are regional sports networks. But don’t mistake that to mean that Skipper has faith in their business model. Without 24-hour programming, he says they aren’t really players in the sports television space. He called RSNs “the great imposter in the world of sports”.

Skipper isn’t afraid to voice his opinion and when he speaks, the industry listens and reacts. It will be interesting to see how many people want to push back on the thoughts he shared. Don’t forget, John Skipper will be a part of the 2022 Barrett Sports Media Summit in March in New York City.

Sports TV News

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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Sports TV News

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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Sports TV News

Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live

“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

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Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.

“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.

Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.

“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.

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