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Charles Barkley Tested on College Basketball Names to Tip Off March Madness

Poking fun at Barkley’s lack of familiarity with college basketball is better than trying to make him awkwardly attempt analysis on something he clearly isn’t knowledgeable on at this point.

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The first round of the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament tipped off Thursday afternoon. In addition to thrilling college basketball action, that means the return of TNT’s Inside the NBA crew to host pregame, halftime, and postgame March Madness studio coverage.

Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith have spent the past five months following the NBA, and it’s typically a crash course — especially for the analysts — in studying up to become familiar with the 64 teams competing for the national championship from here on out. (And Clark Kellogg is there to keep analysis and commentary in their proper lane.)

But the “Tournament Central” production is at least steering into the fact that Barkley doesn’t do much homework on college basketball, the teams, or players. That was apparent at halftime of the Michigan-Colorado State game with the crew playing a game that Johnson said they would “probably regret.” Barkley was given several college basketball player names in a round of “How Do You Pronounce That?”

Barkley was given Kansas’s Christian Braun as a warm-up before getting into some names that were a bit trickier to pronounce, like Saint Mary’s Tommy Kuhse and Tennessee’s Santiago Vescovi.

Astute viewers pointed out that UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez was misspelled as “Jamie,” but everyone was likely focused on the last name there.

Poking fun at Barkley’s lack of familiarity with college basketball is better than trying to make him awkwardly attempt analysis on something he clearly isn’t knowledgeable on at this point. (To be fair, Barkley seems to get better as the tournament progresses, as he watches the games and becomes familiar with who’s involved.)

But several fans pointed out on social media that viewers would be better served — though not necessarily better entertained — and it would be more fair to broadcasters who have covered college basketball all season if Barkley didn’t get such a prominent role on Turner and CBS’s NCAA Tournament coverage.

That’s certainly a valid point, but CBS and Turner have obviously placed a priority on entertainment and name recognition over diehard college basketball knowledge. For a majority of the audience that’s tuning in for college hoops the first time this year, it’s probably a good fit. And it’s all meant to be fun.

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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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