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NABJ Honors Rob Parker, Dave Roberts at Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

“How I got here is that plenty of people helped me along the way, and that’s what it’s all about.”

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NABJ HOF 2023
Rob Parker - Courtesy: FOX Sports | Dave Roberts - Courtesy: ESPN | NABJ Logo/Birmingham - Courtesy: National Association of Black Journalists

Rob Parker was officially inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Hall of Fame at their annual convention and career fair in Birmingham, Ala., one of the industry’s most prestigious honors. Parker currently works at FOX Sports Radio with Chris Broussard on The Odd Couple and is the founder and editor of MLBbro.com, a platform dedicated to covering Black and brown major leaguers. He has had a 37-year career in journalism through which he has broken boundaries while inspiring the next generation of reporters, normalizing multiplatform presences in a time where media was significantly more compartmentalized than it is today.

“Thank you to NABJ,” Parker said as he received the honor from the NABJ luncheon. “There’s nothing better than being honored by your own people – your peers – so this is very special to me. I want to thank my family, my friends, [and] all the people who have supported me throughout the years… all my mentees – they fuel me [and] they inspire me every day… How I got here is that plenty of people helped me along the way, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Parker began his work in journalism as the first Black sports columnist at the Detroit Free Press before contributing to a number of local television outlets. He had previously been with the New York Daily News and made his return back to the locale in 1995 to work for Newsday. In 2005, he began national coverage as a contribution across ESPN programming before moving back to local television in Detroit, Mich.

During his first year with FOX Sports Radio in 2018, Parker was honored by NABJ as its sports journalist of the year – and he continues to mentor the next generation as an associate professor at the University of Southern California (USC). Today, he is focused on his responsibilities with FOX Sports Radio and MLBbro, and has podcasts on both platforms.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Rob,” Julie Talbott, president of Premiere Networks, said in a statement. “He truly deserves this recognition for his trailblazing career in sports journalism, and for his continuing efforts to elevate and mentor the next generation.”

In addition to Parker, ESPN Head of Event and Studio Production Dave Roberts was also welcomed into the Hall of Fame. Roberts oversees production for the network’s signature studio shows, including Get Up, First Take and NBA Countdown, and he will also manage The Pat McAfee Show, which will debut on ESPN this fall. He was on hand to express his gratitude for the honor, and started his speech by reading off of the teleprompter and recalling the week he found out about the honor. It happened to coincide with his promotion to an executive vice president at ESPN and his wedding to his fiancé, T’Erica, a ceremony that had several ESPN personnel on hand.

“It is our collective responsibility to never become complacent in respect to this fight for tangible progress,” Roberts said. “If you’re starting your career journey, I urge you to strongly consider the decision-making path, and always look for opportunities to give back to those deserving and those responsible for taking the lead in this journey. We all must lift up each other, and that must be one of the priorities for each and every one of us.”

Roberts concluded his speech by announcing a donation from The Walt Disney Company and ESPN of $20,000 to go towards the existing scholarship programs run by NABJ. Both he and Parker are grateful for the guidance and support they received from the organization. They and the other Hall of Fame inductees, which include Randall Pinkston, Sheila Dean Brooks and Roy S. Johnson among others, will look to foster the next generation of media professionals and continue the fight for equality.

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NTT IndyCar Series Reportedly Nearing Media Rights Deal with FOX Sports

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle.

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NTT IndyCar Series
Courtesy: NTT IndyCar Series

The NTT IndyCar Series, which includes the Indianapolis 500 and other races throughout the year, is reportedly closing in on signing a media rights deal with FOX Sports, according to a new report from Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal. The deal is reportedly expected to be announced “within days,” a development that comes after IndyCar expert Tony Donohue reported that FOX Sports offered IndyCar a complete network television package starting with the 2025 season and beyond. Potential occupants for IndyCar Rights are said to have been down to FOX and NBC in recent weeks, the latter of which is in the final year of its three-season contract with the open-wheel car racing league.

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle. If this ends up being the case, it would presumably end the property’s relationship with NBC following the conclusion of the racing season in September. Penske Entertainment owns the NTT IndyCar Series, which attains a reported $20 million per year in media rights fees from NBC Sports.

News of the reported agreement between IndyCar and FOX Sports comes after the Indianapolis 500 averaged 5.34 million viewers on NBC and Peacock despite a four-hour weather delay. The broadcast marked the largest audience for the Indy 500 in the last three years and was also up 8% year-over-year from the 2023 iteration of the race.

INDYCAR removed the local blackout of the race in Indianapolis, Ind. and secured an 18.15 household rating and 54 share in the locale. The first six races of the 2024 IndyCar season averaged a total audience delivery of 1.95 million viewers, five of which were televised on NBC while the other one was on USA Network.

NASCAR announced new seven-year media rights deals with FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Amazon’s Prime Video and Warner Bros. Discovery beginning in 2025, collectively worth a reported total of $7.7 billion. FOX Sports will no longer air the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend because of how the new NASCAR media rights deal is structured, with the race moving to Prime Video.

Media rights for Formula 1 are currently held by ESPN and expire following the 2025 racing season, and there is reported interest from Apple to bid $2 billion per year for exclusive global rights to the property. FOX Sports previously broadcast Formula 1 races through its SPEED Network for 17 years through the conclusion of the 2012 season.

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NBC, TNT Sports to Join FOX Sports as Big East Basketball Partners According to Report

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all.

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As jockeying continues for any available live sports programming, NBC and TNT Sports are reportedly on the verge of adding coverage of men’s and women’s basketball from the Big East. A report from Andrew Marchand of The Athletic says the two networks are expected to join current Big East partner FOX Sports in airing games starting with the 2025-26 season.

The report says while no agreement has been finalized, it appears FOX Sports will remain the top partner and is expected to continue airing the Big East Tournament, although Marchand says NBC and Peacock could end up with some tournament games. It also notes NBC plans to air most of its Big East games on Peacock.

What is not known yet is how CBS, another current Big East partner, may factor into the deal. According to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, the few games CBS has carried are sublicensed from FOX Sports.

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all. Earlier this week, the company announced a 10-year deal for the US rights to the French Open tennis tournament. That followed the announcement in May they had reached a 5-year deal to sublicense College Football Playoff games from ESPN. TNT Sports also carries NASCAR and has a partnership with CBS for NCAA Tournament games.

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Jen Lada to Appear on Around the Horn

Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

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Graphic for Jen Lada appearing on Around the Horn
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN

Jen Lada, ESPN host and reporter and also part of the morning show team at ESPN Milwaukee, will make her debut later today on Around the Horn. Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

In her time with ESPN, Lada has been seen on College GameDay, College Football Live, SportsCenter, First Take, Outside the Lines, E:60 and more. Lada started with ESPN in 2015 and she joined College GameDay as a features reporter and College Football Live as a host in 2016.

Prior to ESPN, Lada was an anchor and reporter for two and a half years in the Chicago area for Comcast SportsNet.

Around the Horn has been on the air since November, 2002. Woody Paige is the all-time leader in guest appearances on the show, which is nearing 3,000 times. Jackie MacMullan has the record for most appearances by a female panelist, she has appeared on 890 episodes.

Around the Horn is hosted by Tony Reali and airs weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN and on the ESPN App.

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