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Dick Vitale Memorializes Late ESPN Colleague Jim Valvano In ESPYs Speech

“Jimmy’s dream was to beat cancer. But we must do it because it doesn’t discriminate. It comes after all.”

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A photo of Dick Vitale

Dick Vitale was the rightful recipient of the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance Wednesday night at the annual ESPY Awards. He used his time on stage to thank and honor his friend and former colleague Jim Valvano, for whom the award is named.

Valvano’s speech at the inaugural ESPY ceremony in 1993 is credited with putting the event on the map. It is also the moment that the former NC State basketball coach and ESPN launched the Jimmy V Foundation, which raises money for cancer research.

“When he got up on that stage I was mesmerized, blown away as he electrified the nation,” Vitale told the crowd on Wednesday night.

Since its launch, the Jimmy V Foundation has raised over $300 million. Vitale told the crowd that the number is impressive and worth celebrating, but it isn’t enough.

“We are not going to stop, stop chasing the dream of raising dollars,” he said. “Jimmy’s dream was to beat cancer. But we must do it because it doesn’t discriminate. It comes after all.”

Dick Vitale missed the majority of the last college basketball season as he battled a number of ailments. He survived both lymphoma and melanoma and also was left silent for weeks as he recovered from surgery to treat dysplasia and ulcerated lesions on his vocal cords.

Fans and colleagues shared well-wishes, tributes, and messages of support with Dickie V during that time. He acknowledged that when you spend as much time in the hospital as he did, it is that kind of support that motivates you to keep going and to get well.

He closed his speech by asking anyone that had been personally affected by cancer in some way to stand up. With the vast majority of people in the room standing, Vitale told the audience that cancer can be devastating and it clearly does not discriminate.

“There’s only one way to beat it, my friends, we have to raise dollars and give oncologists a fighting chance.”

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FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

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The United Football League logo

FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

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NBA Finals Game 3 Up 2% on ABC and ESPN

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Game 3 of the NBA Finals series which saw Boston take a three games to none lead in the series was up 2% from last year’s Game 3. The game averaged 11,426,000 viewers and peaked at 13,926,000 at 10:45 p.m. ET.

The game was the top draw in all of television for the night and took the top spot in all of the key demographics. So far through three games, the series is even with the television numbers from 2023.

NBA Countdown, the show which airs right before the game begins, was also up two percent compared to the same show a year ago. NBA Countdown averaged 4,330,000 viewers. Through three games, the show is up five percent from last season’s pregame shows.

The Celtics will look to secure their 18th NBA Championship when the two teams meet again for Game 4 tonight at 8:30 ET. If a Game 5 is necessary, it would be played on Monday, June 17.

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