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Turner Sports SVP Tara August Clarifies Kobe Bryant ‘Inside the NBA’ Situation

“It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do PR or other things or a litany of things to promote the show. It was actually the press release wording where the deal fell apart.”

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In any press release from a media company or public relations firm, the wording is always important because you never know what effects it can have. In fact, according to Turner Sports senior vice president Tara August, it ended up costing them hiring Kobe Bryant. 

Last week, Charles Barkley was on The Draymond Green Show on The Volume and revealed to Green that Turner Sports had a deal with Kobe Bryant, but it ended up falling through.

Soon thereafter, August went on The Steam Room with EJ and Chuck podcast with Barkley and Ernie Johnson just to clarify Barkley’s comments a little bit. He wasn’t wrong, but it was actually the wording in the press release that cost the big deal from happening 12 hours before it was going to be official. 

“It was an amazing opportunity that we had when Kobe had announced that he was retiring,” said August. “We knew he was the best and we wanted him with TNT with you guys. This was the season right before we added in the additional Tuesdays. We started talking to Kobe at the All-Star Break and then meeting with him along the way up until the end of the season.”

“We got the deal done, a short version of the deal done. He was really excited. We made up plans that we were going to announce it during the playoffs,” she continued. “The great Craig Barry and Drew Watkins came up with this amazing piece of tape that we would use as the announcement video. Kobe had his creative hands in it. We did the deal and then we got to the press release.

“The press release talked about what he would be doing on Tuesdays and Thursdays with TNT and Inside The NBA and contributing the rest of the season. He didn’t like that kind of phrasing in the press release. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do PR or other things or a litany of things to promote the show. It was actually the press release wording where the deal fell apart.”

In fact, Bryant actually had a lot of ideas for Turner Sports that the company was willing to try.

“End of the season came and he had some really unique ideas about the Tuesday package,” August said. “We were going to sort of say hey, do you want to executive produce this with us in a different way? He had some really unique ideas. I don’t think that we were totally bought into all of them, but we were willing to try.”

While the deal never got done, August mentioned that the two sides were able to work on different ideas together. However, she like everyone else, wonders what would have happened if Bryant had decided to join TNT:

“The best thing that came out of it was we still worked with him,” said August. “Both sides really still had so much respect for each other… He still came on our air and did some other really fun projects. It was one of those deals that never really got out that it could have happened and how that would have changed things.” 

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Stanley Cup Final Game 6 Draws 4.2 Million U.S. Viewers

The game peaked at 4.9 million viewers as the Oilers evened the series at three games apiece after being down three games to none in the series.

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Logo for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Friday night’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Edmonton Oilers and the Florida Panthers delivered the highest number of viewers of the series with 4.2 million people tuning in in the United States according to Nielsen fast-nationals. The number was reported by Sports Media Watch’s Jon Lewis who said the game drew 28% less viewers than the last Game 6 two years ago between the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The game peaked at 4.9 million viewers as the Oilers evened the series at three games apiece after being down three games to none in the series. While a high for the series, Lewis reports there have been 20 Game 6’s in the past 30 years and this game had the fifth-lowest audience.

Lewis also said three of the bottom five games on the list involved a Canadian team. The Carolina Hurricanes-Edmonton Oilers series in 2006 and the New York Rangers-Vancouver Canucks series in 1994 were the other two in addition to Friday night’s game.

Game 7 of the series will be played tonight at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and ESPN+. The Oilers will be looking for their sixth Stanley Cup win and first since 1990. The Florida Panthers will be looking to hoist the Stanley Cup trophy for the first time in franchise history.

Sean McDonough is calling the games on ABC along with Ray Ferraro and Emily Kaplan. Steve Levy, Mark Messier and PK Subban provide analysis before the game and in between periods.

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Miami Marlins Offer Two Months of Bally Sports+ as Diamond Sports Group Ch. 11 Bankruptcy Continues

“It’s not summer without Marlins baseball, and we want to ensure that Marlins fans have access to watch our games whether at loanDepot park, at home or on-the-go.”

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Bally Sports Logo
(Illustration) | Courtesy: Diamond Sports Group

As Diamond Sports Group moves closer to a confirmation hearing in late-July amid its Ch. 11 bankruptcy, the Bally Sports RSN operator will need to provide its league partners with documentation of its carriage agreements with certain distributors, albeit with restrictions to safeguard against divulging sensitive information. Attorneys for Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League will be given access to Diamond Sports Group contracts with Cox, Charter and DirecTV with strict levels of confidentiality following a ruling by Judge Christopher Lopez within U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. The most-favored nation clauses within these deals will be released in an anonymized manner to be reviewed by non-staff counsel of the leagues.

Diamond Sports Group and Comcast Corporation were unable to come to terms on a new carriage agreement before the expiration of the deal at the end of April, limiting the consumer footprint in certain marketplaces. Comcast had moved several of its regional sports network partners to its “Ultimate TV” tier in the past, which requires consumers to pay a premium to receive those channels. As the bankruptcy proceedings continue, the Miami Marlins have introduced an offer to pay for consumers to receive two months of games through Bally Sports+, the company’s direct-to-consumer streaming service.

“It’s not summer without Marlins baseball, and we want to ensure that Marlins fans have access to watch our games whether at loanDepot park, at home or on-the-go. With thanks to our ownership, we are proud to offer two months of Bally Sports+ for our fans to catch every pitch of Marlins Baseball,” Caroline O’Connor, Marlins President of Business Operations, said in a statement. “With this incredible offer, fans can catch our games and follow along throughout the summer months – on us.”

Bally Sports+ provides fans a means to watch the games without a television provider and currently has direct-to-consumer broadcast rights for five of the 12 MLB teams it carries on linear television. Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. testified in bankruptcy court last year that Diamond Sports Group threatened bankruptcy and the subsequent selective rejecting of contracts if the league did not grant it direct-to-consumer broadcast rights to strengthen the Bally Sports+ offering. Manfred declined this proposal and established a local media department, which began producing and disseminating games for the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks following the teams being dropped by Diamond Sports Group.

Diamond Sports Group agreed to a streaming deal with Amazon that would make Prime Video the means for consumers to purchase direct-to-consumer access to stream local regional sports networks and live game broadcasts. Earlier this year, Diamond was approved to receive $450 million in debtor-in-possession financing, and Amazon agreed to pay $115 million in convertible notes, some of which are expected to be used to pay back the DIP financing it receives. Junior creditors would then assume operations of the subsidiary if it is able to emerge and successfully execute its restructuring support agreement (RSA).

Diamond also reached an amended management services agreement with Sinclair, its parent company, that was approved by Judge Lopez. The pact dropped litigation that Diamond had brought against Sinclair and provided the plaintiff a cash payment of $495 million, along with ongoing management and transitional services in support of its reorganization and partition from parent company operations.

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MLB at Rickwood Field Game Averages 2.346 Million Viewers on FOX

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST.

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MLB at Rickwood Field Logo
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals played from Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday night, marking the first time that the ballpark hosted a regular-season Major League Baseball game. The historic event paid tribute to the Negro Leagues and the life of Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays, who passed away peacefully on Tuesday at the age of 93. FOX Sports broadcast the game and attained its best performance for a Thursday night MLB regular season telecast since September 2022, averaging 2.346 million viewers for the event. Viewership data for the game is provided by Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics.

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST. Compared to last year’s regular season average for MLB telecasts on FOX, the contest was up 25%. Thursday night games on FOX averaged 1.665 million viewers last year, rendering the game from Rickwood Field an increase of 41%. The San Francisco, Calif. designated market area posted a 3.9 rating and 18 share for the game, the best for an MLB telecast on any network in the 2024 season in the area. Additionally, the St. Louis, Mo. designated market area had a 9.4 rating and 29 share for the game, also its best performance for an MLB telecast on any network amid the current season.

The broadcast of the game on FOX Sports featured play-by-play announcer Joe Davis, analyst John Smoltz and reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci. During the FOX MLB pregame show, various special guests joined host Kevin Burkhardt and analysts Álex Rodríguez, David Ortiz and Derek Jeter, including Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. Within the game, Rosenthal interviewed former Birmingham Black Barons pitcher Rev. Bill Greason, along with former Indianapolis Clowns second baseman Reggie Howard. FOX Sports broadcast half an inning of the game in black and white as well, replicating how baseball telecasts looked in 1954.

FOX Sports is currently in the third year of its seven-year media rights deal with Major League Baseball and will broadcast the MLB All-Star Game next month from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The network will also present the World Series for the 25th consecutive year this October featuring the American League and National League Champions.

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