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Disney CFO: ESPN ‘Part Of Our Overall Portfolio’

“As a management team, we always look at our assets and look at, ‘Is our portfolio made up of the right group of assets?”

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After an investor urged Disney to sell ESPN, the company’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy essentially nixed the idea during comments at a media conference.

“As a management team, we always look at our assets and look at, ‘Is our portfolio made up of the right group of assets? Are we leveraging things across the business so it’s more than just a standalone company barnacled onto a larger company?’” McCarthy said. “ESPN is a great business and it is fully integrated into how we think about delivering entertainment [and] compelling content to customers.

“We are always looking at, ‘Are there other alternatives, where we would be better off doing something different.’ And we have gone down that road very deliberately and rigorously with my finance team and strategy team…We look at ESPN as being part of our overall portfolio.”

Daniel Loeb of Third Point increased his stake in Disney in August and sent a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek saying “ESPN would have greater flexibility to pursue business initiatives that may be more difficult as a part of Disney, such as sports betting”. Loeb also said the company needed to institute cost cuts and accelerate a takeover of streaming platform Hulu.

In response, Chapek said “our sports fans that are under 30 absolutely require this type of utility”, in regards to sports betting. ESPN announced a litany of sports betting moves yesterday, with expanded roles for sports betting analysts and increased sports betting content.

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Alex Rodriguez: You Used To Be Able To Hang Out With Reporters And Know It Was Off the Record

“I would say that back then it was a little bit more of a camaraderie.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The way that MLB players interact with reporters has evolved and changed significantly over the years in Alex Rodriguez’s eyes.

In a media availability Tuesday ahead of the season premiere of the KayRod Cast, ESPN’s alternate feed of select games slated for Sunday Night Baseball featuring Rodriguez and Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay, A-Rod was asked for his biggest surprises as the media coverage has transitioned over the years.

“I would say that back then it was a little bit more of a camaraderie,” Rodriguez said. “You could actually go to a bar and have drinks with reporters, believe it or not, and talk about, you know — and everything was pretty much off the record.”

In today’s game, Rodriguez said you won’t find it being the case where reporters and players are friends away from their respective jobs.

“That ship has left, right? I think it’s just a lot more Twitter, get out there first. Fact check later, but shoot first,” he said. “As a result, I think it’s made players and everybody a little bit more aware.”

“I think in a long-worded answer, I think relationships that go back many years, I think, win in the long run, that trust,” A-Rod added.

The second season of the KayRod Cast starts on Sunday at 7 p.m. featuring the defending N.L. champion Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers.

Kay and Rodriguez will be live from ESPN’s Seaport District Studios in New York City. There are eight total editions of the KayRod Cast scheduled for the 2023 season.

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Elite 8 Sees Ratings Drop

“Much of the pandemonium, given the number of upsets in this year’s tournament, unsurprisingly impacted viewership as things advanced.”

Jordan Bondurant

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With the last two number one seeds bowing out of the 2023 NCAA tournament by the end of the Sweet 16, viewership for the Elite 8 expectedly dropped.

Over 11 million tuned in for the Miami/Texas regional final on CBS. Viewership for the two versus four seed matchup was down 17% compared to the Elite 8 game in the same window last year (UNC/Saint Peter’s). The broadcast was also the lowest rated and least-watched Elite 8 game in that window in seven years.

San Diego State/Creighton in the early game on Sunday drew 8.34 million viewers, which was down 12% year over year.

Almost 8 million watched UConn cruise past Gonzaga on TBS late Saturday night, while Florida Atlantic’s historic upset over Kansas State had a little more than 7 million watch. The Owls’ win over the Wildcats was only down 1% when looking at the numbers from the same window in 2022 (Villanova/Houston).

Much of the pandemonium, given the number of upsets in this year’s tournament, unsurprisingly impacted viewership as things advanced.

But the Final Four and the national championship are often the three most-watched college basketball games of the year, so there should be no shortage of eyeballs glued to Houston this weekend.

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Hawk Harrelson: ‘I Didn’t Retire, I Got Retired’

“I got fired is what it all boils down to.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Former Chicago White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson opened up about his departure from the team in 2018. In an appearance Tuesday on the Foul Territory podcast, Harrelson said his whole farewell that season was forced.

“I didn’t retire,” Harrelson said talking to former White Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski and co-host Scott Braun. “I got retired.”

“I got fired is what it all boils down to,” he added.

Harrelson, who was the 2020 Ford C. Frick Award winner given by the Baseball Hall of Fame, said he stand behind the claim that he was shown the door.

“I’m sure that they will deny that. But it’s what led up to that and everything else, that’s interesting,” Harrelson said.

The White Sox hired Jason Benetti in 2016 as Harrelson’s fill-in. Benetti continues to call games on NBC Sports Chicago full-time.

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