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Atlanta Braves Nearing Split from Liberty Media Corporation

The split of the team from Liberty Media will be completed through the exchange of stock by investors.

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Atlanta Braves
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

The Atlanta Braves, a successful Major League Baseball franchise that captured a World Series title in 2021 and is on track to win the National League East division for the sixth consecutive season, is set to become its own distinct, public entity. Liberty Media Corporation, based in Englewood, Colo., has selected July 18 as the day where the split needs to become official as the company looks to reorganize its assets. The company’s President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Maffei says that the move will allow investors to gain more clarity in decision-making and highlight the value of the team. Forbes assessed the value of the organization to be approximately $2.6 billion and generated $51.2 million in operating income during 2022.

Liberty Media Corporation is the parent company of Formula 1 racing, a subsidiary rapidly growing in popularity across the United States. Television audience metrics for the racing property last season were up 28% from 2021, and 12 of the 22 races shattered U.S. television event viewing records. Formula 1 and The Walt Disney Company announced an extension of their media rights deal through the 2025 season, estimated to be worth up to $90 million annually.

The media conglomerate also owns a majority share of SiriusXM satellite radio and has shares in Live Nation Entertainment. Over the years, the company has made numerous investments in the sports media space, including as a previous owner of the DIRECTV family of regional sports networks and led a Series D funding round for Overtime Sports.

Atlanta National League Baseball Club, LLC was integral in constructing Truist Park, a state-of-the-art facility that holds just over 41,000 spectators – and often sells its games out. Additionally, the team created The Battery Atlanta around the ballpark, providing fans with unique shopping and culinary experiences to accentuate the game day experience. The mixed-use development, owned and operated by the Braves Development Company, contains a hotel, apartments, entertainment venues and office space, some of which is occupied by Dickey Broadcasting (WCNN 680 The Fan).

While divulging its earnings this past May, Liberty Media Corporation reported first-quarter revenue for the Braves as $31 million, 35% higher than last year’s mark. The average attendance for Braves games at Truist Park is 39,076, up 3% from last year and one of the top 10 draws in the sport. As a whole, Major League Baseball is experiencing larger crowds across the board, perhaps engendered by the implementation of new rules intended to hasten play and boost offensive output. Stars such as Austin Riley, Ronald Acuña Jr., Spencer Strider and Matt Olson have fostered a strong relationship between the team and its fans with hopes of another World Series run.

The split of the team from Liberty Media will be completed through the exchange of stock by investors – essentially a trade of Liberty Braves stock into shares of Atlanta Braves Holdings, Inc. This new company will contain all of the assets currently encompassed within Braves Group and Braves Holdings, LLC. Projected revenue for the 2023 season is $425 million, according to Forbes, while its operating income is anticipated to be $51 million.

A new Liberty Live common stock will be created in early August, a reclassification of the common stock, and will contain Series A, Series B and Series C common stock pertaining to assets including Live Nation, the Drone Racing League, Overtime Sports and the Kroenke Arena Company. It will be funded with nearly $100 million of corporate cash from the Formula 1 Group and contain an undrawn margin loan through 9 million Live Nation shares.

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Report: Netflix Looking for Production Partner for NFL Christmas Day Game Broadcasts

The report also indicates that there could be “more resistance among current NFL partners to help out Netflix” because the company may be looking to become a long-term media rights partner for the league in the future.

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Netflix will stream two National Football League games on Christmas Day this year as part of a new deal with the league that was inked ahead of the official release of the regular-season schedule. The company is starting to prepare for these matchups by reportedly reaching out to broadcasters in an effort to find a partner to produce these matchups, the first of which is an AFC tilt between the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers at 1 p.m. EST. Some of the broadcasters with whom Netflix has reportedly spoken with are ESPN, NBCUniversal and CBS Sports, according to a new report from Lillian Rizzo and Alex Sherman of CNBC.

The Walt Disney Company, which has a majority ownership stake of ESPN, will reportedly not produce these games since it has college football matchups on the same day, according to people familiar with the situation. CBS Sports and FOX Sports produce several games in different regions every week, which could make producing games with Netflix somewhat of a burden. The report also indicates that there could be “more resistance among current NFL partners to help out Netflix” because the company may be looking to become a long-term media rights partner for the league in the future. The NFL is able to opt out of its current media contracts following the 2029-30 season.

Over the years, Netflix has produced a variety of sports-related content in the form of documentaries and live specials. The company signed a media rights agreement with World Wrestling Entertainment to become the new broadcast home of the WWE Raw series beginning in 2025 reportedly worth $5 billion over 10 years.

Netflix also released the trailer for Receiver, the NFL docuseries following players on and off the field throughout the 2023-24 season, which is produced by NFL Films, Omaha Productions and 2PM Productions. The eight-episode series, which is a sequel to Quarterback, will feature Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

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Amazon Prime Video to Broadcast Weekly NHL Whiparound Show in Canada

“We are thrilled to work with NHL Productions on this new concept for hockey offering the ultimate destination for all the NHL action.”

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NHL on Prime Video
Courtesy: National Hockey League, Prime Video & Amazon MGM Studios

The National Hockey League and Amazon’s Prime Video have announced the creation of NHL Coast To Coast, a new weekly whiparound live look-in show airing on Thursday nights in Canada. This new program will feature live views, highlights and analysis of every NHL game on the schedule as Prime Video prepares to embark on a two-year sublicensing deal with the league and Rogers Communications to present live games on Monday nights. The series is produced by NHL Productions in collaboration with Prime Video, and more information, including details surrounding the talent and production for the show, will be revealed at a later date.

“We are thrilled to work with NHL Productions on this new concept for hockey offering the ultimate destination for all the NHL action,” Magda Grace, head of Prime Video, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement. “NHL Coast To Coast will provide fans with a comprehensive look at the latest key moments in games, as-they-happen highlights, interviews and analysis from the world of hockey featuring top players, coaches and commentators. The show will bring innovation and offer more to fans of the game than ever before, all in one place with their Prime membership.”

Earlier in the month, Prime Video and NHL Productions unveiled an untitled docuseries with Box to Box Films that will provide consumers with access to compelling players from around the league at different stages of their careers all trying to win the Stanley Cup. The series will include interviews with players, their rivals and those in their inner circle, trying to accurately depict what life is like for these players on and off the ice.

Amazon and the NHL have worked together since 2021 on their cloud-based delivery system, which has facilitated the delivery of in-game analytics and video highlights to enhance the overall fan experience. Among these ventures is the NHL Edge IQ stats portfolio that implements advanced analytical outputs to engender a better understanding of the on-ice action.

NHL Coast To Coast is yet another example of Amazon’s extraordinary investment in hockey programming and commitment to delivering an enhanced viewing experience for hockey fans,” Steve Mayer, senior executive vice president and chief content officer of the National Hockey League, said in a statement. “We are impressed with Amazon’s all-in approach to hockey and the NHL. Together with our amazing team at NHL Productions, Amazon continues to build on its mission to serve hockey fans across Canada with whiparound coverage that will make Thursday nights appointment viewing.”

Over the last several years, Amazon has expanded its presence in sports media through the acquisition of broadcasting rights within the National Football League, NASCAR, National Women’s Soccer League and Overtime Elite. The company is reportedly set to acquire media rights within the National Basketball Association’s new broadcasting deal, which is also said to include The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) and NBCUniversal, although no deals have currently been announced.

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NBC Sports Announces Olympic Commentators for Swimming, Diving, Track and Gymnastics

In swimming, Dan Hicks, covering his 14th Olympics, will once again work with Rowdy Gaines.

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Logo for the 2024 Paris Olympics on NBC

U.S. Olympic Team Trials for swimming, diving, track & field and gymnastics will be taking place from June 15-June 30 for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Those trials will be presented across NBC, Peacock and USA Network. With that, NBC Sports also announced its roster of announcers who will call those sports during the Olympics.

In swimming, Dan Hicks, covering his 14th Olympics, will once again work with Rowdy Gaines. The pair will have Elizabeth Beisel, working her second Olympics and Melissa Stark who will be working her fourth Olympics.

Jason Knapp will also provide swimming play-by-play and he will do so with Amy Van Dyken and Heathe Olson as analysts.

In diving, Ted Robinson will call the play-by-play and work with analysts Cynthia Potter and Laura Wilkinson. Andrea Joyce will serve as a reporter. Robinson will be working his 14th overall Olympics and 13th with NBC.

Track & Field will have Leigh Diffey, Paul Swangard and Bill Spaulding calling the play-by-play. Analysts for track include Ato Boldon, Sanya Richards-Ross, Kara Goucher, Trey Hardee, Lewis Johnson, Dawn Harper-Nelson and Shannon Rowbury.

Terry Gannon and Rich Lerner will be on play-by-play for gymnastics. Gannon will work the primetime show with analysts Tim Daggett, Samantha Peszek, John Roethlisberger and Zora Stephenson. Lerner will be teamed with Laurie Hernandez and Justin Spring.

The Olympics will conclude on August 11.

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