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ESPN To Air Around The Horn 20th Anniversary Special on December 13

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN’s daily sports debate game show Around the Horn is celebrating 20 years on the air this year, and the network is planning an hour-long edition of the show on December 13.

The special show will air at 7 p.m. Host Tony Reali will be joined by current and former panelists to shine a spotlight on the program.

Reali has served as the show host and moderator, as well as the judge in terms of the competition since February of 2004 when he replaced Max Kellerman. Four panelists debate a slate of topics, and Reali has the ability to award points for good arguments, deduct points for poor arguments and mute panelists if he feels the need.

The show has evolved over time, but one thing remains the same in that the debates are almost always lively in some shape or fashion.

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Diamond Sports Group, AT&T Agreement Rejection Approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court

“Based on the anticipated cost savings, the Debtors determined that entering into an agreement with the alternative service provider and rejecting the AT&T Agreement was in the best interests of their estates and a prudent exercise of their business judgment.”

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AT&T
Courtesy: David Woo, The Dallas Morning News

As Diamond Sports Group looks to actualize its proposed restructuring agreement where it would continue broadcasting regional games while accepting an investment from Amazon, it has received permission to reject an existing contract with AT&T Corp. The Sinclair subsidiary, which was created upon the sale of 21 FOX Sports-branded regional sports networks from The Walt Disney Company in 2019, has been in Ch. 11 bankruptcy for over a year.

The company signed a deal with AT&T in December 2020 that provided broadcasting services to Diamond Sports Group through the AT&T Global Video Service. That deal was set to expire on Feb. 24, 2025; however, the Debtors were able to identify a cost-saving opportunity wherein it could execute its plan.

Within its basis for relief, the Debtors argued that it represented a sound exercise of their business judgment. As has been established through previous precedent, “In the absence of a showing of bad faith or an abuse of business discretion, the debtor’s business judgment will not be altered.” Moreover, Diamond Sports Group was able to find an alternative service provider open to providing similar services “on more favorable economic terms for the Debtors,” prompting them to file a motion to request the authorization to reject such an agreement.

“Based on the anticipated cost savings, the Debtors determined that entering into an agreement with the alternative service provider and rejecting the AT&T Agreement was in the best interests of their estates and a prudent exercise of their business judgment,” the Debtors said in the motion filed May 7, 2024. “Accordingly, the Debtors have determined that they no longer need the services provided under the AT&T Agreement and have filed this motion to request authorization to reject the AT&T Agreement.”

Judge Christopher Lopez authorized the proposal on Wednesday following the deadline for the receipt of objections to the Motion, therefore nullifying the AT&T agreement. U.S. Bankruptcy Code permits debtors in possession to “reject any executory contract… of the debtor” subject to the approval of the court. Diamond Sports Group has agreed to a deal with another provider for pricing more favorable to Debtors’ estates and its “go-forward business.” Furthermore, Diamond Sports Group was granted authorization “to take all actions necessary to effectuate the relief” that was granted within the Order.

Last week, Diamond Sports Group filed a motion with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division that is overseeing the case to be granted a 41-day extension for the confirmation hearing. If such an extension is granted, the confirmation hearing would take place on Monday, July 29. Additionally, the company is in the process of trying to negotiate deals with the NBA and NHL.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed that the league is not sure if it will support the company’s reorganization plan, stating that there was no a bonafide plan at the moment. The league produces and disseminates games for the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies and expects Diamond Sports Group to carry regional games for 12 MLB teams through the 2024 season.

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The CW to Broadcast the Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl

“As we continue to bring high-adrenaline sports content to The CW, we are excited to welcome the Arizona Bowl back to our air this December.”

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Graphic for the Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl
(Illustration) | Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl Logo – Courtesy: Arizona Bowl | Arizona Stadium – Courtesy: Mike Christy, Arizona Athletics

The CW will serve as the broadcast home for the 2024 Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl presented by Gin & Juice by Dre and Snoop. The game, which was previously branded as the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl, was aired on The CW last year and drew over 1.1 million total viewers, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. This will mark the 10th edition of the Arizona Bowl Game featuring two bowl-eligible teams from the Mid-American Conference and Mountain West Conference. The broadcast will take place live from Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. on Saturday, Dec. 28.

“As we continue to bring high-adrenaline sports content to The CW, we are excited to welcome the Arizona Bowl back to our air this December,” Dennis Miller, president of The CW Network, said in a statement. “With the star power of Snoop Dogg fueling the excitement, we are looking forward to capturing even more viewers this year in what promises to be an action-packed football matchup.”

The Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl took place from Tucson last December and featured the Toledo Rockets facing the Wyoming Cowboys. Jake Marsh, Dave Portnoy, Dan “Big Cat” Katz, Caleb Pressley and Adam Ferrone encompassed the broadcast team for the game, which was broadcast on The CW and streamed online by Barstool Sports. Wyoming ended up winning the game 16-15 with a 10-point fourth quarter while holding the opponent scoreless.

“I am fired up that The Snoop Dogg Arizona Bowl presented by Gin & Juice by Dre and Snoop will be broadcast live on The CW Network,” Snoop Dogg said in a statement. “The CW is in almost every home in America making it the perfect place for fans to catch our Bowl.”

As the College Football Playoff expands to 12 teams next season for the first time in its history, The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) will air first-round games on the journey to the National Championship, some of which will be sublicensed by Warner Bros. Discovery. ESPN will continue to broadcast the College Football Playoff through the 2031-32 season, which includes the National Championship Game.

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Jamal Crawford: ‘Inside the NBA’ Transcends Basketball

“There’s some people out here [that] say, ‘I don’t even watch the game. I tune in for pregame, postgame and after the game to see what they’re going to say,’ so they’ve always had the pulse.”

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Jamal Crawford
Courtesy: Jamal Crawford on X

Throughout the Western Conference Finals, the NBA on TNT has presented an alternate broadcast, NBA X Live, featuring on-air talent Taylor Rooks and Channing Frye. Three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year and 21-year league veteran Jamal Crawford joined the program for Game 2 between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks.

With Minnesota holding a 108-106 lead with 12.8 seconds to go, Rooks asked Crawford what he thought would happen in the situation. Crawford prognosticated that Mavericks guard Luka Dončić would have the basketball and shoot a stepback three-point shot, adding that he would walk off the set if he was right. Sure enough, the play unfolded exactly how Crawford predicted and resulted in a 109-108 Dallas win and 2-0 series advantage.

The accurate prediction was a subject of discussion when Crawford joined The Pat McAfee Show on ESPN to discuss the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday. Show host Pat McAfee was curious to know if Crawford was able to decipher the outcome of Game 2 because of a supposed penchant for predicting plays while he was playing in the league or the longevity that he achieved.

“I think it’s a little bit of both, but to be honest with you, I always had a feel,” Crawford said. “I think my feel is one of my greatest gifts, and I saw it – I closed my eyes and I saw it. And I wouldn’t even say it as much as I did, but Taylor kept pressing me on details, and I just saw it exactly how it played out, which is crazy.”

Shortly thereafter, the discussion transitioned to the future of Inside the NBA after Warner Bros. Discovery has reportedly not secured National Basketball Association media rights beyond next season. The league is reportedly in the process of formalizing deals with The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon that would nearly triple its collective media rights fee. While Warner Bros. Discovery is said to have the ability to match rights, there is ambiguity surrounding the breadth of that contractual provision.

As evinced over the last several weeks, there is internal and external concern surrounding Inside the NBA, which features host Ernie Johnson and analysts Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. Barkley recently appeared on the Dan Patrick Show where he excoriated his TNT bosses and claimed that he could look to take the show independent with his production company.

In a recent article by Tania Ganguli of The New York Times, it was reported that O’Neal stated that they were instructed not to talk since Barkley’s outburst, something later confirmed by a network public relations official. In fact, Johnson is said to have castigated Ganguli for discussing the future of the program with Barkley while in an elevator alongside his colleagues.

Crawford, being a former player in the NBA and current TNT analyst, understands the significance of Inside the NBA and the role it plays within the basketball landscape. McAfee expressed to him that it feels like the show sets the conversation for the entire sport and feels embedded within the culture.

“There’s some people out here [that] say, ‘I don’t even watch the game. I tune in for pregame, postgame and after the game to see what they’re going to say,’ so they’ve always had the pulse,” Crawford explained, referring to Inside the NBA. “And for them, if this whole thing shakes out – I don’t know much about it right now; it’s a lot of conversation – but they transcend sport. They’re almost like The Golden Girls, like they got their own sitcom.”

Crawford explained that the show has been the backdrop and soundtrack of basketball for over 25 years, prompting McAfee to state that the leverage the show has is a bad thing for TNT. Moreover, he mentioned that TNT could opt to keep the show without having basketball rights, although Barkley, Smith and O’Neal all reportedly have opt-out clauses in their contracts should the network lose rights to the NBA. The three studio analysts, along with Johnson, inked 10-year contract extensions together in October 2022.

“They can get access to arenas even if they’re not doing the games because of who they are, so maybe TNT’s able to keep it together,” McAfee said, “but if not, there’s a lot of big pockets that are looking to get into live sports.”

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