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Tara Lipinski, Johnny Weir Stay Silent During Kamila Valieva’s Skate

“For all the other Olympic athletes competing here, I feel I need to say again that she had a positive test. We should not have seen this skate.”

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Sometimes, broadcasters are just as effective with what they don’t say, rather than what they actually do say. Many announcers have been praised for being quiet and letting the scene speak for itself. For example, crowd noise after a big moment or an important victory.

Tuesday night, NBC’s Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir let their silence convey their disapproval, their dismay over Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva being allowed to compete in the women’s short program at the Beijing Olympics despite testing positive for a banned substance.

When Lipinski, Weir, and Terry Gannon were introducing the figure skating slate for the evening, both analysts said they felt strongly that Valieva should be barred from participating.

“We have to remind ourselves that she is just 15 years old, a minor, and I know more than anyone what it’s like to compete at an Olympic Games at 15 years old,” said Lipinski (via The Washington Post). “But a positive test is a positive test. She cannot skate.”

Weir agreed. “If you can’t play fair, then you can’t play, and it is a shame because she is a tremendous athlete,” he added, echoing the sentiments of the figure skating community.

Amid the controversy surrounding her, Valieva had an excellent performance on Tuesday, compiling an 82.16 score that gave her the lead over fellow Russian Anna Shcherbakova and Japan’s Sakamoto Kaori going into Thursday’s women’s free skate program.

Yet throughout most of Valieva’s skate and after she completed her performance, Lipinski and Weir had little to say. They wouldn’t praise someone who shouldn’t have been allowed to compete, but also wouldn’t pile criticism on a 15-year-old girl whose use of a banned substance may have been decided by others.

For an audience accustomed to effusive praise and strong criticism from NBC’s star figure skating analysts, their silence was notable. And it was certainly effective in telling viewers how they felt about the entire situation.

When the two eventually did speak, their disapproval was clear.

“All I feel I can say is that was the short program of Kamila Valieva at the Olympics,” Weir said.

“For all the other Olympic athletes competing here, I feel I need to say again that she had a positive test,” added Lipinski. “We should not have seen this skate.”

“We are so sorry it’s overshadowing your Olympics,” said Weir.

As Valieva left the ice and waited for her scores, Lipinski said that she viewed Valieva as the best figure skater she’s ever seen. But that only made her feel confused and angry, knowing that the Russian skater utilized an unfair advantage.

Weir added that the entire circumstance make him feel uncomfortable both as a skater and commentator.

For two star personalities known for their bold commentary, flashy fashion, and social media presence, their terse restraint said everything that needed to be said in one of the most scrutinized events in recent Olympic history. It was a remarkable broadcasting moment.

Sports TV News

Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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