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ESPN Begins Promotional Push As NBA Faces Off With NFL On Christmas

The commercial is narrated by Anthony Anderson, with features from Billy Crystal, Quavo, Pau Gasol, Sue Bird, and Dominique Wilkins among others.

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The NBA already released its schedule for the upcoming Christmas Day slate of games on Disney platforms. The games will take place across ESPN and ABC. ESPN has now started its promotion for the slate of games.

The league released a sneak peek to their “Family Dinner on NBA Lane” commercial, featuring notable athletes and celebrities.

The commercial is narrated by Anthony Anderson. It features Billy Crystal, Quavo, Pau Gasol, Sue Bird, and Dominique Wilkins among others. The spot is set to premiere Saturday on ESPN.

The NBA has become synonymous with Christmas, but they will have some competition for viewership this year. The NFL has scheduled a doubleheader on Christmas day with two high-profile matchups to compete with the NBA. The Cleveland Browns will take on the Green Bay Packers at 4:30 ET on FOX and the NFL Network, while the Indianapolis Colts will play the Arizona Cardinals for their nightcap at 8:15 on the NFL Network.

The NFL has played games on Christmas from time to time. Last year was the first game on the holiday since 2017, but it seems that it will be far more common moving forward. FOX acquired the rights in March to broadcast Christmas day games when the schedule permits. This is on top of specials such as Thursday Night Football and Sunday Night Football if Christmas happens to fall on those days.

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Report: Matt Barnes No Longer Part of Sacramento Kings Broadcasts

Barnes, the former 14-year NBA pro who played for the Kings twice, will no longer appear on NBC Sports California’s pre-and post-game coverage of the Kings.

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Former NBA player and All the Smoke Podcast host Matt Barnes
Credit: USA Today

According to reports, Matt Barnes has been removed from his analyst position on Sacramento Kings broadcasts. An NBC Sports California spokesperson told the news to The Sacramento Bee.

According to The Bee, Barnes, the former 14-year NBA pro who played for the Kings twice, will no longer appear on NBC Sports California’s pre-and post-game coverage of the Kings. NBCSC and The Bee gave no concrete reason for Barnes’ dismissal, but the publication did mention a recent incident between Barnes, AAU referees, and a student broadcaster.

Weeks ago, Barnes attended a youth basketball game between Crespi Carmelite High School and Harvard-Westlake School. The Los Angeles Times reported Barnes interacted with Harvard-Westlake student announcer Jake Lancer after one of his sons was whistled for a technical foul. Video posted to X showed Barnes and Lancer interact, though the noisy arena makes it difficult to hear what’s said.

Barnes gave his side of the story on The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz.

“I was yelling at the refs, Dan. I’ve yelled at the refs my entire college career, my 15-year NBA career,” Barnes said via The Bee. “I coach AAU in the summertime, I have high school boys, and I have a 5-year-old coming down the pipeline, so I’m going to be doing a lot of yelling at the refs. This particular incident — I will say my one mistake was putting my hand on (the student broadcaster’s) shoulder. A lot of people want to say I grabbed this kid or I did this — I literally put my hand on this kid’s shoulder because it was almost like I was talking to my son.

“He told me to sit my a– down. I was just like, ‘Why do you feel comfortable to be able to tell a grown man to sit his a– down?’ So he and I had a little back and forth, and obviously, admitting my faults to even touch him was wrong of me. But I want to make clear that the narrative of me as some guy that beats up people, I want people to know I didn’t body slam this kid. I didn’t choke slam him. I didn’t do any of the sort. I literally put my hand on his shoulder like I was talking to one of my sons. And, again, for touching him, I was wrong. But I just didn’t like the disrespect that came with the entitlement where they felt like they could say anything to me.”

The situation escalated but Lancer maintained that he was never disrespectful. “I want to make it very clear that I never told him to ‘shut up’ or anything close to that, he came up to me,” Lancer said. “All I wanted to do in the moment was get back to announcing the championship game.”

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Nick Wright Lambasts JJ Redick in Tweet Storm — Without Directly Saying His Name

“I will never understand someone who is incredibly wealthy, opts into working in the space, and then simply…complains about how useless the space is.”

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Nick Wright on First Things First

Nick Wright just inserted himself into the war of words surrounding JJ Redick — but never mentioned the former Duke guard by name. Before Wright headed to the set of First Things First, he took to X to let his opinion known of certain individuals who insult sports media while working in it.

“I totally understand folks who aren’t into televised sports discussion/debate. It’s not for everyone,” Wright said via X. “I will never understand someone who is incredibly wealthy, opts into working in the space, and then simply uses the platform to complain about how useless/dumb the space is.”

Wright continued, “As I told [NBA Writer Ethan Strauss], if I’m hosting an Uno party & invite you, and you eagerly show up, and then spend the whole party explaining how incredibly stupid you think Uno is, how it’s a waste of everyone’s time, and how we should all be playing chess, you’re the problem!”

“The great thing about modern sports media is there’s literally an audience/platform for ALL TYPES of coverage. You can do anything! And folks can create their own lanes/platforms where they do literally whatever they want! It’s really an exciting time!”

“But personally, I’d be a little embarrassed if, for example, [WNBA writer Nekias Duncan] invited me on to talk deep Xs & Os & I just yelled at him ‘This is boring! Let’s rank players!’ To know exactly what you signed up for, take the check, then whine about how beneath you it is wild to me.”

Wright may have been prompted by Redick’s latest appearance on First Take, when he asked whether or not it’s up to the players or the media to educate basketball fans.

“Since when is it player’s jobs to educate people on basketball,” Redick said. “Isn’t that our job? It’s our job to educate people on basketball, and here’s the reality: I can do a video on my podcast where I break down the last nine games the Pelicans have used Zion Williamson as the primary ballhandler…I looked it up this morning, 54,000 views on YouTube. But I want to call out a coach yesterday, that gets tens of millions of engagements — that’s the ecosystem we live in. So do fans actually want to be educated or not?”

Redick referred to yesterday’s comments he made about his former Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who now coaches the Milwaukee Bucks. Redick said there’s “never accountability” with Rivers, words that drew the ire of Barstool Sports podcaster and current Milwaukee Bucks guard Patrick Beverly.

From Wright’s perspective, it seems like it’s up to the individual to decide whether they want to educate or entertain.

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FuboTV Sues Disney, FOX, Warner Bros. Discovery Over Joint Streaming Venture

“This strategy ensures that consumers desiring a dedicated sports channel lineup are left with no alternative but to subscribe to the Defendants’ joint venture.”

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FuboTV
Courtesy: FuboTV Inc.

Following the announcement of a joint television streaming venture between The Walt Disney Company, FOX Corporation, Warner Bros. Discovery and their associated affiliates, FuboTV Inc. has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the companies. The suit alleges that these entities have tried to block the sports streaming business in a campaign spanning several years, harming FuboTV and its consumers for several years. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and requests a jury trial and punitive damages, alleging that these companies have included expensive non-sports channels in bundles with coveted sports networks. 

There are various other examples of antitrust behavior within the lawsuit, including upcharges on Fubo licensing content 30% to 50% higher than rates charged to other distributors. Additionally, the lawsuit stated that the companies have imposed non-market penetration requirements, causing FuboTV to confer more costs towards its customers. FuboTV asserts that it has suffered billions of dollars in damages because of these actions. These media conglomerates control 85% of the U.S. sports market, according to a report from Brian Steinberg of Variety cited in the press release.

The combined endeavor, which is currently slated to be released this fall, would contain ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNEWS, ABC, FOX, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS, truTV and ESPN+. An announcement pertaining to pricing of the service has yet to be divulged, although various sources informed Puck sports correspondent John Ourand that it could fall between $40 and $50 per month.

“Each of these companies has consistently engaged in anticompetitive practices that aim to monopolize the market, stifle any form of competition, create higher pricing for subscribers and cheat consumers from deserved choice,” David Gandler, co-founder and chief executive officer of Fubo, said in a statement.

“By joining together to exclusively reserve the rights to distribute a specialized live sports package, we believe these corporations are erecting insurmountable barriers that will effectively block any new competitors from entering the market. This strategy ensures that consumers desiring a dedicated sports channel lineup are left with no alternative but to subscribe to the Defendants’ joint venture.”

One of the outcomes Fubo is looking to attain in this lawsuit is to instruct or require the companies to be subjected to restrictions, which could include economic parity in licensing terms and the payment of damages. Consumers in the United States are continuing to cut the cord at higher rates as people stream more content utilizing vMVPDs or access linear and nonlinear channels through free ad-supported television services (FAST).

Nielsen Media Research recently revealed that streaming accounted for a share of 36% of total day television viewership among Persons 2+, while cable television held 27.9% and broadcast television at 24.2%. Corroborating research from Ampere Analysis finds that global pay television penetration will experience its first-ever yearly decline in 2024, forecasting that all regions will endure this reality by 2025. The research firm also stated that North America pay television penetration equated to 45% for 2023 while the average price of a pay television subscription is over $90 per month.

“Simply put, this sports cartel blocked our playbook for many years and now they are effectively stealing it for themselves,” Gandler said. “Silence is no longer an option. The fact that live sporting events dominated television viewership in 2023, with 97 of the top 100 broadcasts, highlights the critical importance of sports in entertainment and the necessity for its broad dissemination.”

FuboTV called it “encouraging” that the U.S. Department of Justice has the intent to look into the joint venture, something it claims underscores “the potential negative and widespread impact this alliance will have.” The company aspires to receive equal treatment as it relates to pricing to safeguard fair competition and benefit its customers. FuboTV plans currently span from $79.99 to $99.99 per month, with the top-tier plan including 266 channels including major national and regional sports networks along with events in 4K resolution.

MoffettNathanson data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal found that more than 42 million U.S. households have forsaken pay television plans altogether in the last decade. The 7% rate of decline is a haste rise from the 2% rate measured several years earlier. The Walt Disney Company revealed that ESPN generated $255 million of domestic operating income last quarter on $4.07 billion in revenue. Its own direct-to-consumer offering, currently referred to as “Project Flagship,” will be available in August 2025, according to Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger. ESPN+, the company’s OTT streaming service, currently has 25.2 million subscribers, down 3% year-over-year. 

Warner Bros. Discovery reported that its Max streaming service has approximately 95 million subscribers, although it is unknown how many of those subscribers will pay for the Bleacher Report-branded sports add-on. This tier will cost $9.99 after Feb. 29, marking the end of a free promotional period the company has run since last fall. FOX Sports does not offer a streaming service for its live sports, although users can access live games using services including FuboTV and Hulu.

A proposed launch date for the combined streaming service would coincide with the beginning of the final year of the National Basketball Association’s existing seven-year media rights deal with The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver were both reportedly not aware of discussions nor an impending announcement revealing plans for the streaming service.

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