Up To Something Season has officially concluded, Pat McAfee said on Monday’s edition of The Pat McAfee Show. He promised a major announcement sometime in the next 10 days.
This revelation comes just days after McAfee and his wife welcomed their first child into the world and shortly after McAfee was seen taking various meetings around Los Angeles. Akin to Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, McAfee has represented himself and his own entity throughout the negotiating process – and now, he has found a deal. He previously called the move “industry changing.”
“This is big,” McAfee said. “It is very large. I think some would call it historic…Just know that we are thankful for everybody and yeah, it’s probably going to be in books someday. I’m very, very fortunate, happy, lucky, thankful [and] grateful.”
McAfee had posted a photo of himself with Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, but he has kept a preponderance of his business proceedings concealed. He reportedly took six meetings in Los Angeles, and has seemingly conversed with a variety of other decision makers in sports media. McAfee’s goal going into this “Up To Something Season” was to find a network that would give him a better work-life balance while continuing to keep the show free to view on YouTube, with Amazon and Google being rumored as potential landing spots.
“There’s a lot of big time humans I was having conversations with that I could have never expected to be having conversations with, and everybody was so kind [and] so nice,” McAfee said. “[I am] thankful for everybody at all [the] places that I [talked] to. We found the right direction for us, and it’s going to be pretty large, I think.”
The former NFL punter has fostered a successful media career, hosting his own digital program and appearing as an analyst on various ESPN football programming. In fact, McAfee and members of his show participated in several alternate broadcasts, including on the College Football National Championship titled Field Pass with The Pat McAfee Show. NFL national insider Ian Rapoport is a frequent guest of the program, and he appeared in the show’s Indianapolis studio, yet was oblivious to just what the announcement was.
“The reason why all this is happening is because how good the boys are,” McAfee said to Rapoport. “If they would have told you, that would go against everything that they are and we are, and it would be a reason why we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re about to announce that we’re doing.”
McAfee was previously a member of Barstool Sports, joining the company upon his retirement from professional football in 2016. He left the entity two years later to create his own production business and eventually began broadcasting his show on the radio syndicated by DAZN and Westwood One. The show transitioned to satellite radio on Sirius XM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio and remained on its airwaves until August 2022, during which McAfee inked a four-year endorsement deal with FanDuel.
He promised that his show will always remain free and never be behind a paywall when speaking about the potential of exiting his FanDuel deal early. NBCUniversal, FOX Corporation, The Walt Disney Company, YouTube and Warner Bros. Discovery are all holding their upfront events next week in New York City where new programs and acquisitions are frequently divulged to the public.
Former CNN Exec Jeff Zucker Purchases Stake in Front Office Sports
“The team at Front Office Sports has built an impressive platform for sports business journalism, and I’m excited to help it grow in the years ahead.”
Upon his departure from CNN one year ago, former network president Jeff Zucker launched RedBird IMI, a venture looking to invest in properties throughout the media and finance industries. The entity is composed of private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and International Media Investments, and it has approximately $1 billion in capital backing from key figures within both entities. Zucker is now set to make his first acquisition and third investment with the reported purchase of a minority stake in Front Office Sports, a multiplatform media brand covering all aspects of sports business.
The company was launched by Chief Executive Officer Adam White and President Russell Wilde while they were in college, and the property rapidly flourished over the last several years. While most of the content from the publisher is free, it did begin selling paid subscriptions in 2021 and was able to raise $5 million from Crain Communications last year at an overall valuation of $25 million. According to Axios, which first reported news of negotiations and, ultimately, the closed deal, Front Office Sports will be part of EverWonder Studio – a new, non-fiction content outlet – being led by former Time, Inc. president Ian Orefice.
Orefice was recently involved in a deal between the studio and Meadowlark Media pertaining to a feature documentary about a feature documentary between tennis stars Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. With Zucker’s purchase, the company now has a valuation of $40 million, and it also installs him as co-chairman of the board alongside Jason Stein, an investor within SC Holdings.
“The team at Front Office Sports has built an impressive platform for sports business journalism, and I’m excited to help it grow in the years ahead,” Zucker said in a statement. “Audiences are more interested than ever in the business of sports, and this investment will allow Front Office Sports to create even more compelling news content that draws people in.”
The minority investment encompasses the 20% previously owned by Crain Communications, and also includes additional shares from SC Holdings. Both RedBird IMI and SC Holdings will have equal minority stakes, while the rest are owned by employees.
“The business of sports has become ubiquitous in recent years, permeating across all corners of culture. It now commands mainstream attention and is part of even the most casual fan’s daily content consumption,” White said in a statement. “The foundation of our company was built on a deep understanding and connection to this shift, and has long informed our editorial strategy and product development. As we enter this next stage of expansion, we are incredibly excited to partner with Jeff Zucker, one of the media industry’s greatest minds.”
“Front Office Sports has become a clear leader and important voice in the growing sports media landscape,” Stein added in a statement. “We were an early believer in their approach to covering sports in a way that would influence business leaders and inform fans. This credibility with highly coveted audiences will continue to separate them as they expand the business.”
Front Office Sports has a twice-daily newsletter with more than 800,000 subscribers and reports on news targeted towards both mainstream consumers and industry professionals. In recent news, the outlet was one of the first to report on Taylor Swift being in attendance for the Sunday Night Football matchup between the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. The company currently employs more than 40 reporters to contribute to its content, ensuring that it remains a timely and credible source of information.
Sports Media Reacts to NFL Toy Story Broadcast
Sports media was ablaze with reaction to the unique broadcast.
The NFL held the first London game of the season on Sunday as the Jacksonville Jaguars took on the Atlanta Falcons. In addition to being the first ESPN+ exclusive game of the season, the game also featured a kid-focused, Toy Story-themed simulcast.
Similarly to how the NFL did their SpongeBob SquarePants simulcasts, trackers on all the players allowed for the game to be transformed into the world of the beloved Pixar film series.
ESPN had a similar simulcast earlier this year in its NHL coverage, having a game transformed into the Disney show Big City Greens.
Several across sports media had positive reactions to Sunday’s Toy Story Football.
While the majority of the reaction was overwhelmingly positive, there were some who didn’t care for the simulcast and how it was presented. Barstool’s Kevin Clancy was in that group.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
YouTube TV Having ‘Incredible Growth’ From NFL Sunday Ticket
“We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future.”
NFL Sunday Ticket is in the midst of its first season being accessed through YouTube and YouTube TV as part of a 7-year deal worth a reported $14 billion. In being available on an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, fans have had to adjust to new ways to sign up and find the content to watch on each Sunday. While feedback for the platform has been stellar across the board as it pertains to the user interface, latency levels and viewing options, one area that endured levels of sustained criticism was multiview functionality.
In the past, NFL Sunday Ticket users had the capability to fully customize their screen, placing the games they want to watch in different windows and customizing the order thereof. With the new iteration of the service though, users are subject to preset layouts of games compiled for viewing, essentially losing a sense of jurisdiction over the totality of their experience. In a recent interview with Deadline, YouTube Chief Business Officer Mary Ellen Coe commented on how the service plans to adapt going forward.
“That is a very hard thing to do technically,” Coe said. “Put it this way – the feedback is [that] we hear you loud and clear. We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future, and one thing that we’re doing to address that is [in having] a lot of insights on the game combinations and what matchups fans are interested in. So, we can use those insights.”
Coe believes that an interminable number of combinations is superfluous for fans and that the company is instead basing their decisions from bonafide, quantifiable data. Through these metrics, NFL Sunday Ticket is able to appeal to the largest faction of viewers interested in engaging with a multiview combination.
“We actually will have insight into what are the games that are must-watches, and then we can preload those combinations,” Coe explained. “I think as you see the season goes on, the demand [for customization] will become less because people will see the combinations they want will be up.”
Within the Deadline interview, author Dade Hayes made a shrewd observation in that when The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications were embroiled in a carriage dispute, both companies offered YouTube TV as potential viewing solutions. While a resolution was reached on the morning of the Week 1 broadcast of Monday Night Football and season debut of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, YouTube as an entity has not yet extrapolated and bifurcated the data to see if there was any substantial effect therein.
“We’re having incredible growth because of the Sunday Ticket relationship with YouTube TV,” Coe said. “It is interesting that both Charter and Disney referred to YouTube TV as a place to go when they couldn’t get content. I think that’s an endorsement for the user experience on YouTube TV, which we appreciate.”