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Cassidy Hubbarth is Focused on Engaging NBA Fans on ESPN

“When I look back on my career and I think, ‘What is the time when I was feeling at my best?,’ it was on the NBA Tonight desk.”

Derek Futterman




As a midfielder, Cassidy Hubbarth was responsible for contributing on offense and defense for the Evanston Wildkits soccer team – and she had to maintain her stamina in order to perform at a high level. Thanks to her play and that of her teammates, the group won the Illinois High School Association Class AA State Championship for the 2001-02 season. Throughout her time in high school, Hubbarth played more than just soccer, as she also developed her skills on the hardwood and followed the Chicago Bulls at the height of their dynasty led by Hall of Fame guard Michael Jordan.

Even though she enjoyed playing sports, Hubbarth knew from her time in middle school that she wanted to pursue a career in sports media. One day when she and her family were watching Fox NFL Sunday, Hubbarth found herself captivated by sideline reporter Pam Oliver and her role on the broadcast.

“I remember seeing her do a talkback interview with one of the players and it just kind of finally opened my eyes to, ‘I’m not just watching the game but I’m actually enjoying coverage about the game,’” Hubbarth recalled. “That’s the moment I decided that this is what I want to do. I honestly don’t think I thought of any other career after that point.”

Although she was an athlete, Hubbarth made sure she maximized the opportunities available to her at Evanston Township High School to hone her broadcasting skills. She was a member of the radio, television and film club in the school and also did play-by-play for boys basketball home games when she had time in her schedule.

Hubbarth had always looked to attend Northwestern University located in her hometown of Evanston, Ill.; however, her family did not have the necessary means to send her there. Because of this, she went to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as a freshman on several grants and worked at both the school’s radio and television stations. That year was especially difficult though because of her father’s diagnosis with throat cancer – and Hubbarth prioritized being there for her family through the arduous circumstance.

Fortunately, her father recovered from the disease and is a cancer survivor, but the hardship motivated Hubbarth and her family to find a way to afford tuition at Northwestern University. Once she was accepted, Hubbarth officially transferred as a sophomore to study within its acclaimed Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.

During her time at the university, Hubbarth was a member of the Northwestern News Network and volunteered her time in the athletic department helping stream football press conferences. It was her earliest experience in digital media, an expansive niche in the industry that has been prominent throughout her career.

She received her first two jobs out of school from the university’s job fair – one as a traffic reporter and producer at WMAQ NBC5 Network in Chicago; the other as a producer and host for Intersport, a sports production company that created short content for Sprint Exclusive Entertainment on flip phones. Immediately working in both news and sports media, she gained unique perspectives and recognized the lack of dichotomy between these two ostensibly contrasting sectors of the industry.

“I think they kind of learn from each other [about] how to collect the right information and what question to ask [while] trying to capture the right emotions of certain stories,” Hubbarth said. “When it comes to that early part of my career, it was just kind of a grind doing traffic and really not knowing where the hell I was going but trying to tell people places to avoid. Then also working [in] sports media at Intersport, [I was] trying to figure out how sports media was changing digitally.”

Cassidy Hubbarth has been with ESPN since 2010 working on several signature properties most notably the NBA Photo ESPN Press Room

Hubbarth joined Comcast SportsNet Chicago in 2008 working as an associate producer with wide ranging tasks and responsibilities. The movement from optimizing sports stories and information for nonlinear digital platforms to contributing to live television broadcasts gave her a new perspective on the ferocity and efficiency required when working on a deadline.

Additionally, it helped her develop aplomb in these types of situations, burgeoning her overall versatility. She describes it as her “grad. school,” expanding on what she learned and experienced as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University.

“Cutting voiceovers; writing shot sheets; making sure I was on deadline and making sure there were no typos in the scripts for the anchors; these were things that I learned in school,” Hubbarth said. “As far as having the intensity and the pressure of live shows happening, that experience taught me a lot about live TV essentially and all the work that goes into putting together a live broadcast.”

Starting in fall 2009 though, she only worked at the outlet four days of each week, ending each Wednesday by taking a flight from Chicago to Atlanta This was to work her other job overseeing social media for SEC Gridiron Live on Fox Sports South, a studio show previewing the upcoming college football action in the Southeastern Conference. Then she would travel to an SEC school to be among the fans and film “Cassidy on Campus,” a digital segment for the show giving viewers an inside look at the game atmosphere.

“To be exposed to SEC football was a different beast and understanding that fandom and being able to capture that fandom on social media which is really what social media has done for sports fans – it’s allowed them to have a voice and a say basically in the coverage of their teams,” Hubbarth said. “….I created comment sections on our Facebook pages and I was trying to engage with viewers and break down that wall between viewers and our show.”

While she enjoyed the early part of her career working both in front of and behind the camera, Hubbarth always coveted covering basketball and bringing viewers stories to enhance broadcast coverage. It is what enthralled her to sports media in the first place – and she knew ESPN would be just the place to do it. Out of college, Hubbarth had considered applying to join the production assistant program at the network and moving to Bristol, Conn., but instead decided to take opportunities closer to home that allowed her to get on the air.

During her time working at both Comcast SportsNet Chicago and Fox Sports South, Hubbarth felt she had the momentum necessary to move upwards in the industry, perhaps at a national level. Her feelings were validated when she received a call from ESPN inquiring about her interest to join the network as an independent contractor to help develop its digital platforms. Once she auditioned and subsequently landed the job, she moved to Bristol, Conn. within a month and put the wheels in motion to excel in the next chapter of her career.

“It happened quick; it happened fast,” Hubbarth said. “….[I was] basically hosting the simulcast of our college football games and college basketball games on ESPN3 before we had the app. As ESPN was launching their digital streaming network, I was essentially the face of it.”

From her early days at ESPN, Hubbarth established professional relationships with her colleagues and found mentors to help ease the transition in leaving her home market to join a distinctive, national brand. When Hubbarth was young, she found inspiration for watching Erin Andrews and Michele Tafoya work as sideline reporters on NFL broadcasts, reporting on what would otherwise perhaps be concealed storylines.

At ESPN, Stuart Scott, a longtime SportsCenter anchor who passed away from appendiceal cancer in 2015, had a profound impact on Hubbarth and encouraged her through his work ethic and dedication to the craft to endure and chase her dreams.

“I think so many times when I would be talking to him in the hallways at ESPN and he would not be feeling well and dealing with just all the emotions going in his head with his daughters and his health,” Hubbarth said. “He would step on to that studio floor, the light would go on and he would absolutely give it his all until the light went off.

“You could see that it was taking so much out of him, but it was also giving him so much that he took so much pride and so much joy into this business – which is such a gift to be able to do. I try to remind myself of that in times where I’m dragging or not feeling grateful for the opportunity I have.”

After hosting various shows across the network including Highlight Express with Jorge Andres; SportsNation with Christian Fauria and Jarrett Payton; The Word with Jemele Hill and Sarah Spain; and various digital series including This Day in Sports History, College Football 411 and NBA 411, Hubbarth made the move to covering the Association on a full-time basis.

In 2013, then-ESPN NBA coordinating producer Bruce Bernstein gave her the chance to host NBA studio coverage on both NBA Tonight and NBA Coast to Coast. At this stage of her career, Hubbarth was living out her dream – covering basketball nationally and serving as a vital part of the network to guide discussion and debate, informing and entertaining viewers.

ESPN NBA host and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth has grown into her role with the networks coverage Photo ESPN Images

Over the years, she has worked with various analysts on these programs including P.J. Carlesimo, Chauncey Billups and Ohm Youngmisuk, and helped broaden her skill set on linear programming.

“The NBA is my favorite sport and it’s always been my favorite sport,” Hubbarth said. “….When I look back on my career and I think, ‘What is the time when I was feeling at my best?,’ it was on the NBA Tonight desk.”

Although both shows taped their final episodes in 2016, Hubbarth has continued to find opportunities to appear on the linear side of programming. Over the years, Hubbarth has served as a guest host across ESPN’s programming portfolio on shows including Get Up, First Take and SportsCenter, and has also contributed to Mike & Mike, a discontinued sports talk radio show that featured Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg and was simulcast on ESPN2.

“I’ve hosted basically every single show at ESPN except for NFL Countdown and College GameDay,” Hubbarth said. “I feel confident I can host anything in terms of seriousness or as formal as it needs to be…. I like to have a little bit more fun; have it be a little bit more loose; have it be more casual; more conversational. That’s typically my style.”

Part of that confidence was fostered in 2015 when Hubbarth was assigned to host Baseball Tonight. While she possessed knowledge about the game of baseball growing up as a fan of the Chicago Cubs, it was not her strength. As a result, the initial days hosting the show engendered anxiety resulting in her experiencing eye twitches because she never felt prepared enough for the show, which operated without a rundown.

Thanks to the team of analysts, producers and other ESPN personnel, Hubbarth assimilated into the role and consequently, started to feel increased sanguinity with each repetition.

“It got to a point at the end of the summer where I felt really, really confident that I could handle that desk. I was no Karl Ravech out there – I’m not saying I was good at it – but I think I did a decent job and I think I served the viewers, and I walked away from that experience very proud of myself. If I just work hard, put my mind to it and respect the role, I can do any job they put in front of me.”

Following that summer, in which she simultaneously hosted NFL Insiders and NFL Live, Hubbarth began hosting college football coverage on ESPN and ABC. She also explored the aural space, appearing on the NBA Lockdown podcast with Jorge Sedano and Amin Elhassan and on the first all-female ESPN podcast, The Hoop Collective, on Mondays with Ramona Shelburne and Chiney Ogwumike.

Today, she contributes to both NBA Countdown and NBA Today while covering the Association as a sideline reporter on-site during NBA on ESPN broadcasts.

Whether it has been LeBron James, Luka Dončić or Damian Lillard, Hubbarth has interviewed a countless number of NBA players, coaches and team personnel before, after and sometimes during games. In having this type of access, she strives to enrich viewers with contextual information through enterprising stories and using her journalistic instincts to identify focal points, applying her vast preparation to the specific nature of her job.

“It’s understanding what teams are dealing with and making sure as the game’s going on, how those stories can best be told that compliments the viewing experience and doesn’t distract from it,” Hubbarth said. “That’s always a delicate dance of doing sideline because you can prepare a million stories, but if it’s not in the natural flow of the game, then you’re not really helping the broadcast; you’re just helping yourself.”

The NBA is genuinely a year-round league, piquing interest from consumers whether or not games are happening. Social media is a new content avenue that has given fans unprecedented levels of freedom to curate the content they are exposed to and consume on a daily basis.

Moreover, it has afforded them the chance to consume content related to basketball culture, something that was, for a long time, principally covered through magazines and other sports lifestyle media outlets. Today, the culture of the game has become just as prominent as the games themselves; therefore, consumers are hungry for content pursuant to their interests.

ESPN+ is the company’s direct-to-consumer subscription-based streaming platform, and Hubbarth is a regular part of its NBA coverage hosting various digital shows related to the Association.

Before its launch in the second quarter of 2018, she was hosting shows designed for social media platforms, including SportsCenter on Snapchat and Buckets on Twitter, the latter which was co-hosted by Rob Perez. She also hosted SneakerCenter, a seven-part mini-series on ESPN+ underscoring the influence of sneaker culture in basketball at large.

“There’s so much content outside the lines of the game that it just continues to snowball for NBA fans who just can’t get enough,” Hubbarth said. “I think that’s at the heart of the success and then also the clips that you see on Twitter are easily digestible.”

Starting in 2018, ESPN+ launched Hoop Streams, a live, digital pregame show that takes place on-site supplementing its linear, national broadcast coverage before select matchups. Hubbarth has been the host of the show since its inception and is joined by a rotating cast of the network’s personalities, some of whom include Chiney Ogwumike, Kendrick Perkins, Gary Striewski and Jorge Sedano.

Before the suspension of the 2019-20 NBA season, the show was averaging 1.6 million streams per episode, reaching an all-time high of 2.4 million streams in February 2020.

Cassidy Hubbarth has hosted virtually every show at ESPN during her run with the company Photo ESPN Images

This season, Hubbarth has helped launch her third digital show with ESPN/ESPN+ in the last five years; this one is called NBA Crosscourt. Co-hosted by Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, the production is pre-recorded and streams on ESPN+ on Wednesdays and Fridays, bringing fans focused digital coverage of the league.

Moreover, the program utilizes ESPN’s coast-to-coast network of NBA contributors to provide viewers with a genuine panorama across the league featuring compendious local and national perspectives tailored to the wide array of fan interests.

“We are following the trends and culture of the NBA – and the culture of talking about the NBA,” Hubbarth said. “….Our main goal is not to inform; it’s to engage. That’s what this show is; it’s just to engage the NBA fan in you who is informed and taking [very] informed viewership to engage with just your excitement about the league.”

Last season, Hubbarth continued working on ESPN’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, an exhibition contest featuring former NBA stars and personalities from the worlds of pop culture, sports and entertainment. She had worked as the event’s sideline reporter and host for many years, but largely interviewed event participants throughout the broadcast. This year, she continued to host coverage but, unlike in years past, provided play-by-play amid conversation with analysts Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson.

“Us having fun on the air watching, I think, kind of breeds hopefully [the] viewers having fun watching it,” Hubbarth said. “That’s the whole point; the whole weekend is just the celebration of the league; a celebration of basketball, and…. I think not taking it [too] seriously is part of the way of being professional about it.”

As Cassidy Hubbarth continues hosting and reporting for ESPN, she looks forward to continuing to pioneer the growing emphasis on digital, direct-to-consumer content taking place throughout the sports media landscape. Launching her career working primarily behind-the-scenes amplified her viewpoint of the industry, and she makes it a point to understand everyone’s roles and the way sports media is changing at large.

“Take a professional approach just to how this business continues to grow because that will give you a leg up as employers are trying to figure out how they can continue to gain new viewers because that’s what everyone is looking for,” Hubbarth said. “….I had a genuine interest in how media was changing digitally. It allowed me to not just ride a wave, but to be a part of the wave.”

BSM Writers

Amanda Brown Has Embraced The Bright Lights of Hollywood

“My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”

Derek Futterman




The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and eight others aboard a helicopter, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, sent shockwaves around the world of sports, entertainment, and culture. People traveled to Los Angeles following the devastating news and left flowers outside the then-named STAPLES Center, the arena which Bryant called home for much of his career, demonstrating the magnitude of the loss. Just across the street from the arena, Amanda Brown and the staff at ESPN Los Angeles 710 had embarked in ongoing breaking news coverage, lamentation, and reflection.

It included coverage of a sellout celebration of life for Kobe and his daughter and teams around the NBA opting to take 8-second and 24-second violations to honor Bryant, who wore both numbers throughout his 20-year NBA career. They currently hang in the rafters at Arena, making Bryant the only player in franchise history to have two numbers retired.

During this tumultuous time, Bryant’s philosophy served as a viable guiding force, something that Brown quickly ascertained in her first month as the station’s new program director.

“I had people that were in Northern California hopping on planes to get here,” Brown said. “You didn’t even have to ask people [to] go to the station; people were like, ‘I’m on my way.’ It was the way that everybody really came together to do really great radio, and we did it that day and we did it the next day and we did it for several days.”

The 2023 BSM Summit is quickly approaching, and Brown will be attending the event for the first time since 2020. During her first experience at the BSM Summit in New York, Brown had just become a program director and was trying to assimilate into her role. Because of this, she prioritized networking, building contacts, and expressing her ideas to others in the space. This year, she looks forward to connecting with other program directors and media professionals around the country while also seeking to learn more about the nuances of the industry.

“The Summit is kind of like a meeting of the minds,” Brown said. “It’s people throughout the country and the business…. More than anything, [the first time] wasn’t so much about the panels as it was about the people.”

Growing up in Orange County, Brown had an interest in the Los Angeles Lakers from a young age, being drawn to play-by-play broadcaster Chick Hearn. Brown refers to Hearn as inspiration to explore a career in broadcasting. After studying communications at California State University in Fullerton, she was afforded an opportunity to work as a producer at ESPN Radio Dallas 103.3 FM by program director Scott Masteller, who she still speaks to on a regular basis. It was through Masteller’s confidence in her, in addition to support from operations manager Dave Schorr, that helped make Brown feel more comfortable working in sports media.

“I never felt like I was a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Brown said. “I always just felt like I was a part of the industry. For me, I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I deserve to be here; I deserve a seat at the table.’”

Brown quickly rose up the ranks when she began working on ESPN Radio in Bristol, Conn., working as a producer for a national radio show hosted by Mike Tirico and Scott Van Pelt, along with The Sports Bash with Erik Kuselias. Following five-and-a-half years in Bristol, Brown requested a move back to California and has worked at ESPN Los Angeles 710 ever since. She began her tenure at the station serving as a producer for shows such as Max and Marcellus and Mason and Ireland.

Through her persistence, work ethic and congeniality, Brown was promoted to assistant program director in July 2016. In this role, she helped oversee the station’s content while helping the entity maintain live game broadcast rights and explore new opportunities to augment its foothold, including becoming the flagship radio home of the Los Angeles Rams.

“Don’t sit back and wait for your managers or your bosses to come to you and ask what you want to do,” Brown advised. “Go after what you want, and that’s what I’ve always done. I always went to my managers and was like, ‘Hey, I want to do this. Give me a chance; let me do that.’ For the most part, my managers have been receptive and given me those opportunities.”

When executive producer Dan Zampillo left the station to join Spotify to work as a sports producer, Brown was subsequently promoted to program director where she has helped shape the future direction of the entity. From helping lead the brand amid its sale to Good Karma Brands in the first quarter of 2022; to revamping the daily lineup with compelling local programs, Brown has gained invaluable experience and remains keenly aware of the challenges the industry faces down the road. For sports media outlets in Los Angeles, some of the challenge is merely by virtue of its geography.

“We’re in sunny Southern California where there’s a lot of things happening,” Brown said. “We’re in the middle of Hollywood. People have a lot of opportunities – you can go to the mountains; you can go to the beach. I think [our market] is more about entertainment than it is about actual hard-core sports. Yes, obviously you have hard-core Lakers fans; you have hard-core Dodgers fans, but a majority of the fans are pretty average sports fans.”

Because of favorable weather conditions and an endless supply of distractions, Brown knows that the way to attract people to sports talk radio is through its entertainment value. With this principle in mind, she has advised her hosts not to worry so much about the specific topics they are discussing, but rather to ensure they are entertaining listeners throughout the process.

“People know the four letters E-S-P-N mean sports, but really our focus is more on entertainment more than anything,” Brown said. “I think the [talent] that stick out the most are the ones that are the most entertaining.”

Entertaining listeners, however, comes through determining what they are discussing and thinking about and providing relevant coverage about those topics. Even though it has not yet been legalized in the state of California, sports gambling content has been steadily on the rise since the Supreme Court made a decision that overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act established in Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2018). Nonetheless, Brown and ESPN Los Angeles 710 have remained proactive, launching a sports gambling show on Thursday nights to try to adjust to the growing niche of the industry.

Even though she has worked in producing and programming for most of her career, Brown is eager to learn about the effect sports gambling has on audio sales departments. At the same time, she hopes to be able to more clearly determine how the station can effectuate its coverage if and when it becomes legal in their locale.

“I know that a lot of other markets have that,” Brown said regarding the legalization of sports gambling. “For me, I’m interested to hear from people who have that in their markets and how they’ve monetized that and the opportunity.”

No matter the content, though, dedicated sports radio listeners are genuinely consuming shows largely to hear certain talent. Brown recalls receiving a compliment on Twitter earlier this quarter where a listener commented that he listens to ESPN Los Angeles 710 specifically for Sedano and Kap. Evidently, it acted as a tangible sign that her philosophy centered around keeping people engrossed in the content is working, and that providing the audience what it wants to hear is conducive to success.

At this year’s BSM Summit, Brown will be participating on The Wheel of Content panel, presented by Core Image Studio, featuring ESPN analyst Mina Kimes and FOX Sports host Joy Taylor. Through their discussion, she intends to showcase a different perspective of what goes into content creation and the interaction that takes place between involved parties.

“A lot of times in the past, all the talent were on one panel; all the programmers were on one panel,” Brown said. “To put talent and a programmer together, I think it’s an opportunity for people to hear both sides on certain issues.”

According to the most recent Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM (terrestrial) radio among persons 18-34 has a greater average audience than television. The statistical anomaly, which was forecast several years earlier, came to fruition most likely due to emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.

Simultaneously, good content is required to captivate consumers, and radio, through quantifiable and qualifiable metrics, has been able to tailor its content to the listening audience and integrate it across multiple platforms of dissemination. The panel will give Brown a chance to speak in front of her peers and other industry professionals about changes in audio consumption, effectuated by emerging technologies and concomitant shifts in usage patterns.

Yet when it comes to radio as a whole, the patterns clearly point towards the proliferation of digital content – whether those be traditional radio programs or modernized podcasts. Moreover, utilizing various elements of presentation provides consumers a greater opportunity of finding and potentially engaging with the content.

“We do YouTube streaming; obviously, we stream on our app,” Brown said. “We’ve even created, at times, stream-only shows whether it’s stream-only video or stream-only on our app. We all know that people want content on-demand when they want it. I think it’s about giving them what they want.”

As a woman in sports media, Brown is cognizant about having to combat misogyny from those inside and outside of the industry, and is grateful to have had the support of many colleagues. In holding a management position in the second-largest media market in the United States, she strives to set a positive example to aspiring broadcasters. Additionally, she aims to be a trusted and accessible voice to help empower and give other women chances to work in the industry – even if she is not universally lauded.

“I’ve kind of always made it my goal to be like, ‘I’m no different than anyone else – yes, I’m a female – but I’m no different than anyone else,’” Brown expressed. “My whole goal was that I didn’t need people to like me; I needed people to respect me.”

Through attending events such as the BSM Summit and remaining immersed in sports media and the conversation at large about the future of sports media, Brown can roughly delineate how she can perform her job at a high level.

Although the genuine future of this business is always subject to change, she and her team at ESPN Los Angeles 710 are trying to come up with new ideas to keep the content timely, accurate, informative, and entertaining. She is content in her role as program director with no aspirations to become a general manager; however, remaining in her current role requires consistent effort and a penchant for learning.

“Relationships are very important overall in this business whether you’re a programmer or not,” Brown said. “Relationships with your talent; relationships with your staff. If you invest in your people, then they’re going to be willing to work hard for you and do what you ask them to do.”

The 2023 BSM Summit is mere days away, and those from Los Angeles and numerous other marketplaces will make the trip to The Founder’s Club at the Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC).

Aside from Brown, Kimes and Taylor, there will be other voices from across the industry sharing their thoughts on aspects of the industry and how to best shape it going forward, including Colin Cowherd, Rachel Nichols, Al Michaels and Eric Shanks. More details about the industry’s premiere media conference can be found at

“I’m excited to be a female program director amongst male program directors for the first time and get a seat at the table and represent that there can be diversity in this position,” Brown said. “We don’t see a lot of it, but… there is an opportunity, and I hope I can be an example for other people out there [to show] that it’s possible.”

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BSM Writers

Pat McAfee Has Thrown Our Business Into a Tailspin

Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve, McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.

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When you have one of the hottest talk shows in America, you’re always up to something. That’s the case for the most popular sports talk show host in America – Pat McAfee. 

The former Pro Bowl punter was on top of the world on Wednesday. With over 496,000 concurrent viewers watching at one point, McAfee was able to garner an exclusive interview with frequent guest Aaron Rodgers who announced his intention to play for the Jets.

Yet even with all the accomplishments he’s been able to achieve — a new studio, consistent high viewership, a syndication deal with SportsGrid TV, a four-year, $120 million deal with FanDuel — McAfee is still anxious and unsatisfied with the state of his show and his career.

At the end of the day, he is human and he’s admitted that balancing his show, his ESPN gig with “College Gameday,” and his WWE obligations has taken a toll on him.

McAfee and his wife are expecting their first child soon and he recently told The New York Post he might step away from his deal with FanDuel. Operating his own company has come with the responsibility of making sure his studio is up and running, finding people to operate the technology that puts his show on the air, negotiating with huge behemoths like the NFL for game footage rights, booking guests, booking hotels, implementing marketing plans and other tasks that most on-air personalities rarely have to worry about.

McAfee says he’s looking for a network that would be able to take control of those duties while getting more rest and space to spend time with family while focusing strictly on hosting duties. FanDuel has its own network and has the money to fund such endeavors but is just getting started in the content game. McAfee needs a well-known entity to work with who can take his show to the next level while also honoring his wishes of keeping the show free on YouTube.

The question of how he’s going to be able to do it is something everyone in sports media will be watching. As The Post pointed out in their story, McAfee hasn’t frequently stayed with networks he’s been associated with in the past for too long. He’s worked with Westwood One, DAZN, and Barstool but hasn’t stayed for more than a year or two.

There’s an argument to be made that the latter two companies weren’t as experienced as a network when McAfee signed on with them compared to where they are today which could’ve pushed the host to leave. But at the end of the day, networks want to put money into long-term investments and it’s easy to see a network passing on working with McAfee for fear that he’ll leave them astray when he’s bored. 

It’ll also be difficult for McAfee to find a network that doesn’t put him behind a paywall. Amazon and Google are rumored to be potential new homes. But both are trying to increase subscribers for their respective streaming services.

It will be difficult to sell Amazon on investing money to build a channel on YouTube – a rival platform. For Google, they may have the tech infrastructure to create television-like programming but they aren’t an experienced producer, they’ve never produced its own live, daily talk show, and investing in McAfee’s show doesn’t necessarily help increase the number of subscribers watching YouTube TV.

Networks like ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox might make sense to partner with. But McAfee faces the possibility of being censored due to corporate interests. Each of these networks also operates its networks or streaming channels that air talk programming of their own. Investing in McAfee could cannibalize the programming they already own.

And if McAfee works with a traditional network that isn’t ESPN, it could jeopardize his ability to host game casts for Omaha or analyze games on Gameday. It’s not impossible but would definitely be awkward on days that McAfee does his show remotely from locations of ESPN games with ESPN banners and signage that is visible in the background.

If SportsGrid has the money to invest in McAfee, they might be his best bet. They have all the attributes McAfee needs and they already have a relationship with him. It is probably unlikely that he’ll be censored and he would even be able to maintain a relationship with FanDuel – a company SportsGrid also works alongside.  

Roku is another option — they already work with Rich Eisen — but they would move his show away from YouTube, something McAfee should resist since the majority of smart TV users use YT more than any other app.

If the NFL gave McAfee editorial independence, they would make the perfect partner but the likelihood of that happening is slim to none. NFL Media has independence but it was clear during the night of the Damar Hamlin incident that they will do whatever is necessary to stay away from serious topics that make the league look bad until it’s totally unavoidable. 

It’s hard to think of a partner that matches up perfectly with McAfee’s aspirations. But once again, at the moment, he’s on top of the world so anything is possible. The talk show host’s next move will be even more interesting to watch than the other fascinating moves he’s already made that have put the sports media industry in a swivel.

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BSM Writers

5 Tips For Networking At the BSM Summit

“Have a plan and don’t leave home without it.”

Jeff Caves




Bring your game plan if you attend the BSM Summit in LA next Tuesday and Wednesday. No matter your purpose for attending: to learn, get a job, speak, or sell an idea, you must be able to read the room. To do that, it helps to know who will be there and how you can cure their pain. 

Have a plan and don’t leave home without it. If you have time, buy How to Work a Room by Susan Roane. If you don’t, just follow these five tips:

  1. INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Before you arrive at The Summit, figure out what you want, who you want to meet, and what you will say. Once you get there, scout out the room and see if anyone of those people are available. Talk to speakers after they have spoken- don’t worry if you miss what the next speaker says. You are there to meet new people! Most speakers do not stick around for the entire schedule, and you don’t know if they will attend any after-parties, so don’t risk it. Refine your elevator pitch and break the ice with something you have in common. Make sure you introduce yourself to Stephanie, Demetri and Jason from BSM. They know everybody and will help you if they can.  
  2. GET A NAME TAG: Don’t assume that name tags will be provided. Bring your own if you and make your name clear to read. If you are looking to move to LA or want to sell a system to book better guests, put it briefly under your name. Study this to get better at remembering names.
  3. LOSE THE NOTEBOOK: When you meet folks, ensure your hands are free. Have a business card handy and ask for one of theirs. Remember to look people in the eye and notice what they are doing. If they are scanning the room, pause until they realize they are blowing you off. Do whatever it takes to sound upbeat and open. Don’t let their clothes, hair, or piercings distract from your message. You don’t need to wear a suit and tie but do bring your best business casual wear. A blazer isn’t a bad idea either. 
  4. SHUT UP FIRST! The art of knowing when to end the convo is something you will have to practice. You can tell when the other person’s eye starts darting or they are not using body language that tells you the convo will continue. You end it by telling them you appreciate meeting them and want to connect via email. Ask for a business card. Email is more challenging to ignore than a LinkedIn request, and you can be more detailed in what you want via email. 
  5. WORK THE SCHEDULE: Know who speaks when. That is when you will find the speakers hanging around. Plan your lunch outing to include a few fellow attendees. Be open and conversational with those around you. I am a huge USC fan, so I would walk to McKays– a good spot with plenty of USC football memorabilia on the walls. Sometimes you can find the next day’s speakers at the Day 1 after party. Need a bar? Hit the 901 Club for cheap beer, drinks, and food. 

You’re welcome. 

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