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Derrick Hall: ‘Diamondbacks Evaluating Media Future Amid Bally Sports Fallout’

“The most important part here was to make sure that there was no interruption in television [and] our fans could always get the games,”

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Derrick Hall
Courtesy: C-Level Magazine

Major League Baseball has officially assumed control of local broadcasts for the Arizona Diamondbacks after a bankruptcy judge granted Diamond Sports Group the right to terminate its rights agreement. Beginning with tonight’s matchup against the Atlanta Braves, Diamondbacks fans will need to find the new home of these league-produced game broadcasts. Earlier this year, the league took over local broadcasts for the San Diego Padres after Diamond Sports Group neglected to pay the team its rights payment after a 30-day grace period.

Anticipating the turmoil with the company in advance, Major League Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. created a local media department, headed by Billy Chambers, to prepare for these scenarios and ensure fans do not miss a beat. Moreover, the league will be compensating afflicted teams 80% of media rights remuneration, although its future implications are not yet known.

In an interview on Arizona Sports 98.7, Diamondbacks team president and CEO Derrick Hall seemed optimistic about the sudden transition the team is making. Since the Diamondbacks have accumulated eight losses over their last 10 games played, Hall decided to start the conversation with Ron Wolfey and Luke Lapinski in a lighthearted manner.

“Well just another day at the ballpark here,” Hall said. “You know what, Wolf? This was by design. I figured the way we’ve played the last 10 to 18 games, we don’t want [our fans] to be able to find us on TV until we get straight again.”

The Diamondbacks were previously televised on Bally Sports Arizona under a 20-year, $1.5 billion contract, agreed to while it was a Fox-branded regional sports network. Diamond Sports Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March in order to reorganize itself, granting it the ability to selectively reject contracts. Bally Sports Arizona also lost the Phoenix Suns and Mercury since the two teams inked a deal to appear on broadcast television free of charge. The loss of the Diamondbacks leaves the Arizona Coyotes as the only local professional sports team televised on the regional sports network, which some cable providers hope to drop entirely.

The Diamondbacks initially thought they would be dropped by the regional sports network on July 1, the day the rights payment was due. Yet there was a sense of optimism in the negotiations, which reportedly included a lower rights fee and coveted direct-to-consumer broadcast rights; therefore, the bankruptcy court granted an extension. Manfred, however, was reportedly prepared to block the deal should it go through, which would have been a five-year deal valued at 20% less annually. During the moratorium period, the team was paid on a per-game basis.

“The most important part here was to make sure that there was no interruption in television [and] our fans could always get the games,” Hall said. “Now because the ruling came down today – this morning just now – it doesn’t give us a lot of time to notify and educate the fans on where the stations will change. Those fans that have always had access to the games, be it through cable or be it through satellite, [are] still going to get the game.”

The new television deal will increase the amount of households Diamondbacks games reach by nearly five-fold, and it will also open an opportunity for fans to stream the games in-market without blackouts or other restrictions. For the first seven days, fans will be granted a free trial of MLB.TV and can also stream the games on the Diamondbacks’ official team website. Then, they can sign up for the individual team plan for $19.99 a month or $54.99 for the rest of the season.

“We’re going to be able to see how it goes this year now that we’re with MLB, which by the way has done a phenomenal job in producing the games for the Padres,” Hall said. “I think they look as good, if not better, than they ever have. It feels like [in] talking to their fans; talking to their P.R. staff [and] talking to their executives [that] they didn’t miss a beat.”

Although Hall wishes the team had a few more days’ notice to inform the fans of the change, he is confident that people will discover how to watch the games and take a liking to the new format. The remainder of the 2023 season will guide what the team wants to do with the media rights going forward, which has already received considerable amounts of interest.

“We’re talking about MLB about what it looks like next year – if it’s just a specific partner of theirs exclusively or if we can bring in other partners to help distribution,” Hall said. “What’s important to me is to make sure we can have more viewership than ever before [and] cover more territory than ever before, and not only state-wide but outside because we have so many fans when you look at New Mexico and Utah and Nevada.”

More information about the Diamondbacks’ broadcast changes can be found on dbacks.com/watch and on the team’s official social media pages.

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Andy Bunker and Randy McMichael Celebrate 5 Years Together on 92.9 The Game

“To make it five years, we are proud of it because in the grand scheme of things in radio it is unusual.”

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Graphic for Andy and Randy on 92.9 The Game and a picture of hosts Andy Bunker and Randy McMichael
Graphic Courtesy: Audacy Photo Courtesy: Randy McMichael X Account

It was a milestone week for Andy Bunker and Randy McMichael, hosts of 92.9 The Game’s The Midday Show with Andy & Randy in Atlanta. It was this week five years ago they permanently took over the midday slot replacing John Michaels and Rick Kamla who had been released earlier that year.

The show celebrated on remote at a party with several listeners, friends and family members and spent time talking about their time together. “People listening right now, thank you, we appreciate that,” said Bunker. “We wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t listening and if you hadn’t been listening the last five years…Making it five years on a radio show is not normal. I know it seems normal at 92.9 because we are a radio station that has a lot of stability. Dukes and Bell have been on for 10 years. The morning show that’s on right now is doing great, and the show before them was on for a lot of years.”

Bunker later added, “To make it five years, we are proud of it because in the grand scheme of things in radio it is unusual.” McMichael replied, “It has been a fun five years.”

Bunker had been hosting the evening show for three years prior to partnering with McMichael, and had previously been in sports radio in Seattle, Portland and Boston. McMichael had been with the station for about four years at the time, after an 11-year career in the NFL. Prior to that he was a three-year letterman at the University of Georgia.

The show amassed an 8.3 share for the most recent quarter, retaining their fourth place ranking it had in the fall. The show airs from 11a-2p EST.

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Gregg Giannotti: ‘We’re Going to Move On and Forget About’ TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’

“They’re living, they’re healthy and they’re rich. Big deal.”

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Gregg Giannotti
Courtesy: Peter Ackerman, Asbury Park Press

Since the end of the exclusive 90-day negotiating window between the National Basketball Association and its incumbent media partners, there has been augmented speculation surrounding a new media rights contract to commence in the 2025-26 season. Multiple reports have stated The Walt Disney Company to have exited the period with the framework for an agreement, whereas Warner Bros. Discovery did not reach a deal. Gregg Giannotti has seemingly been following these negotiations and understands the potential implications the end result could have.

A point of concern for basketball fans surrounding these reports has been the future of Inside the NBA, TNT Sports’ heralded studio program featuring Ernie Johnson, Kenny “The Jet” Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. Barkley recently commented that he could consider taking the show independent through his production company and licensing it to a network should TNT lose broadcast rights to the NBA.

Barkley, O’Neal and Smith all reportedly have opt-outs in their contracts should the network no longer broadcast NBA games. The quartet all signed 10-year extensions with TNT Sports last October and recently won another Sports Emmy award for the program. WFAN host Gregg Giannotti, however, is growing tired of hearing about the show and ostensibly tried to put things in perspective on Friday morning’s edition of Boomer & Gio.

“They have a great show – it’s entertaining – they do a good job with the studio show,” Giannotti said. “The Beatles aren’t breaking up. This has been going on for two weeks now as if Yoko went in there and blew up the greatest combo of all time.”

Co-host Boomer Esiason, who recently left CBS Sports and The NFL Today after a 22-year run on the studio program, acknowledged before Giannotti provided his opinion that the rights fees have become “too exorbitant” and represents something that Warner Bros. Discovery cannot afford. Later on, he reminded Giannotti that the program has a special place for NBA fans whether or not the show appeals to him.

“I know they do,” Giannotti replied, “but we’re going to move on and forget about it like everything else.”

A new report from Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg divulged that Warner Bros. Discovery president and chief executive officer David Zaslav would not bid higher than $2.1 billion despite the NBA looking for $200 million more for a package of games. Moreover, subsequent reporting suggests that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was irked when Zaslav stated that the company did not need the NBA at a conference two years ago.

While Barkley was on the Dan Patrick Show on Thursday, he explained that the situation has caused low morale and fear about what will happen to people who work on the NBA on TNT property. In addition to using an analogy pertaining to the quality of different wines to illustrate what executives at the company are doing during these negotiations, Barkley also stated that he has watched family members of the crew grow up and that a familial relationship exists. Giannotti, however, believes there has been adequate discussion and coverage pertaining to a potential end to the program.

“It’s like, ‘Alright, enough already. It’s over. So what? Everything in media ends. We’re all walking around with a guillotine over our head every single day, so tough,’” Giannotti said. “These guys made hundreds of millions of dollars throughout their careers, got paid handsomely and now they’re not going to do a show today. Oh, okay. Great. They’re living, they’re healthy and they’re rich. Big deal. We’ll be able to move on without the TNT Inside the NBA show.”

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Carrington Harrison: ‘I Can’t Express How Sad I am About the Potential of Losing ‘Inside the NBA’

“They need all of them if the show is going to work. Shaq, Kenny, Ernie, Charles, we need all of you.”

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Graphic for The Drive with Carrington Harrison and a photo of the Inside the NBA team

As sports media continues to react to the news of the NBA being likely to leave TNT in favor of renewing with ESPN and signing new deals with NBA and Amazon’s Prime Video, 610 Sports Kansas City host Carrington Harrison weighed in on The Drive about TNT’s Inside the NBA possibly being lost in the shuffle after next season.

Harrison played an audio clip of Charles Barkley joining The Dan Patrick Show to discuss the latest with the situation. “Morale sucks – plain and simple,” Barkley said. “I just feel so bad for the people I work with, Dan. These people have families, and I just feel really bad for them right now, these people I work with. They screwed this thing up clearly. We don’t have zero idea what’s going to happen. I don’t feel good – I’m not going to lie – especially when they came out yesterday and said, ‘We bought college football.’ I was like, ‘Oh damn, they could have used that money to buy the NBA.’”

As the clip ended, Harrison said, “I can’t express how sad I am about the potential of losing Inside the NBA, I don’t know what’s going to happen. Maybe this show just moves from one network to the next, but Erine [Johnson] has been pretty steadfast on ‘I don’t want to work for another network, I work for Turner and even if they don’t have the NBA I am staying loyal to Turner.’

“They need all of them if the show is going to work. Shaq, Kenny, Ernie, Charles, we need all of you. You are a package deal in all of this. Maybe Amazon comes in and throws a boatload of money. Maybe ESPN, which has been trying to fix its NBA television problem it feels like for 20 years…It makes me so sad.”

Harrison went on to say Inside the NBA belongs on the ‘Mt. Rushmore of Sports Television Shows’ and named College GameDay, SportsCenter and PTI as the other three on his list.

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