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John Skipper: People Will Long For Cable When They Can’t Find Their Games

“You are going to go through a very difficult period of time in the next 5-10 years in which people are not going to be able to find the game they want to watch nearly as easily as they did in the 2000s and 2010s.”

Ricky Keeler

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With the lucrative contracts that have been given out to college football coaches in recent weeks, it has led some to wonder whether those coaches actually deserve the large sums of money that they are receiving. 

To discuss that topic and the future of streaming rights and television, Dan Le Batard was joined by the CEO of Meadowlark Media, John Skipper, and the former president of the Miami Marlins, David Samson on a special episode of the South Beach Sessions podcast.

Both Skipper and Samson believe that coaches do deserve to make that much money. Both men arrived at the conclusion for a different reason.

“I think they are worth the money they are being paid. It may seem outlandish to some people who are making $53,000 a year and don’t understand why you have to pay a football coach 5 or 6 times more than you pay a university president. But, relative success on the football field leads to excitement from your donors, leads to increased admissions, leads to a lot of people showing up in your town for football games. A 12-0 Miami is worth $8 million more than a 7-5 Miami,” said John Skipper. 

“The reason why football coaches to me are making this amount of money is universities are realizing that they are getting fewer and fewer students to pay full freight tuition. They are running at a deficit operationally in a way they never have before. What they are finding is people like you running broadcast empires who are willing to pay rights fees in numbers that are probably irrational, but based on the need for live content. Sports live content in the college area drives so much revenue that if you can get a program that is attractive into a conference that is attractive, it’s going to do way more for your bottom line than anything you can do in any other department. University presidents think coaches are the key master to that money and that’s why they do it,” said Samson. 

Skipper even mentioned that the first broadcast rights deal he negotiated when he was president of ESPN was with the Big Ten. While he was able to accomplish a lucrative rights deal, there is one thing he wished ESPN did not allow to happen in that deal: 

“The first conference deal I worked on was the Big Ten, which came up in 2005. We were competing with FOX. We did a 10-year, $1 billion deal. That was the first billion-dollar deal in college sports for the rights to most of the Big Ten’s games. They kept some games for the Big Ten Network. We should have never let the Big Ten Network happen at ESPN. Wasn’t good for our business that those games leaked out of the system, but Jim Delany had the smart idea to launch a network with FOX and that also was good business, even though it had a rough start.”

Samson mentioned that when he was in charge of the Marlins, he never made a decision with the fans’ thoughts in mind. Well, he now believes that fans are going to have to be heard because they are going to control what actually happens over the next few years.

“What’s happening is there’s a greater demand for people 18-34 to not put up with that. They want no wall in the way of what they want to watch when they want to watch it and where they are when they watch it and on what they watch it on. One of the things team owners have done is they have tried to get back the streaming rights that they gave away to broadcast networks. The reason why networks are willing to pay teams so much for their local rights fees is that’s all you got and you are going to pay your cable company or you are going to pay to have that network available to you to get the game. If you don’t have to pay that network, that network is not going to pay that team and that team isn’t going to pay the players.”

So, what could the future of sports television look like? John Skipper mentioned that people should prepare to be frustrated that it won’t be easy to find their team’s favorite game: 

“You are going to go through a very difficult period of time in the next 5-10 years in which people are not going to be able to find the game they want to watch nearly as easily as they did in the 2000s and 2010s. I will hazard a guess that people will be nostalgic about paid television before too long because it was a great system and very great value because everything you wanted to watch, you paid Spectrum or Comcast and every college football or baseball game was on.

“You can find them all with a single remote and single service. You are going to enter into a bewildering time where people do not know where their game is because 5 of them will be on NBC broadcast and 3 of them will be on ESPN+ and 2 of them will be on Paramount+ and one of them will be on the ACC Network. Every week, you are going to have to figure out where the hell are they playing this week…It’s going to be more expensive, more difficult to find.”

Sports TV News

Gus Johnson: ‘Nobody Ever Told Me I Was Doing It Wrong’

“I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me.”

Ricky Keeler

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Gus Johnson

While fans get to hear Gus Johnson call big college football and college basketball games and get to see his reactions to memorable moments, he unfortunately never gets to see his own reaction, but he just enjoys being a part of sports, such as when he called Michigan-Ohio State for FOX this past Saturday.

Johnson was a guest on The Rich Eisen Show last week and he said while calling a game, he never wants to be too controversial and he appreciates that people choose to watch him during their times of relaxation.

“They say you never see yourself, you only see a reflection. You’ve never seen your face. You’ve only seen a reflection of your face as a human being. I can’t see myself. I would love to see myself during those moments because I sometimes don’t really understand the reaction. To me, I’m just watching the game, I’m a fan. I’m a journalist and I take that seriously, but more than anything, I’m just a fan of sports. Thank God for sports.

“People for the last almost 30 years have allowed me to come into their homes during their times of relaxation, rest, to spend time with their families. That’s important to me. When I call the game, I don’t want to be too controversial. I’m not trying to be 60 Minutes. I just want to delight in the excellence of these young men and women that I have the chance to call because I know it’s so important to them because it’s important to me. It connects you to great moments in your life and in your mind.”

Before he got to FOX, Johnson was at CBS Sports from 1995-2011 calling some memorable NCAA Tournament games and NFL games that went down to the wire. In an era where criticism can be found easily, Johnson told Eisen that he never received criticism about his broadcast style from any of his bosses:

“Nobody ever told me that I was doing it wrong. That’s one thing I loved about the CBS experience. At CBS Sports, we had different kind of broadcasters. Our leader back then and still is Jim Nantz. He had his own style. We had Verne Lundquist, we had Dick Enberg there during that time. Don Criqui was there during that time. Not one time did anybody ever tell me that I wasn’t doing it right. Nobody ever said ‘Gus, don’t do it that way’. I would get negative criticism when the Internet started, but not from my bosses.”

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Sports TV News

Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.

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NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.

Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.

Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.

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ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.

Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.

“The future ACC/SEC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Challenges will be outstanding events for our student-athletes, member institutions and fans,” said ACC Commissioner Jim Phillips, Ph.D. “The SEC, led by Greg Sankey, and our partners at ESPN have been terrific, and there’s great excitement for the first annual ACC/SEC Challenge next season. As part of this announcement, we’d like to acknowledge the Big Ten for its partnership on the ACC/B1G Challenge that spanned more than 20 years.”

“We are excited women’s and men’s basketball student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete with their colleagues from the ACC as we initiate a new Basketball Challenge experience,” said SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. “I appreciate the collaboration of Jim Phillips and the ACC members, along with our broadcast partner ESPN, to make possible the SEC/ACC Basketball Challenge which will provide our fans with exciting basketball early in the 2023-24 season. I also thank the Big 12 for the many great challenge games we experienced together in past years.”

The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.

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