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Sinclair Boss: ‘Sports Still at the Heart of This Company’

“Take a look at what drives our business on the local media side and the broadcast side, it’s sports.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group Logo

Despite the bad news for Diamond Sports Group and its Bally Sports regional networks, Sinclair boss Chris Ripley says that the company is still very serious about the sports business. That is true for the regional networks, its stake in the Tennis Channel, and the local broadcast stations it owns.

“Sports is still at the heart of this company,” Ripley said in an interview with Next TV. “Take a look at what drives our business on the local media side and the broadcast side, it’s sports. And we continue to believe that it should be gamified and more highly integrated with sports betting, but also, not-for-money interactivity for virtual goods, or badging, or recognition.”

He described sports as “what’s left that works” for media companies.

Ripley refused to comment on the lawsuit between Diamond Sports Group and Sinclair. Diamond claims that Sinclair held on to $1.5 billion as it spun Diamond into its own company. 

He reiterated that the problems Diamond’s Bally Sports Networks are having are not Sinclair’s problems.

“Diamond is on its way,. It has its own management team, it has an independent board. We provide management services, and you know, it will figure out its own way, Largely Sinclair’s passive at this point. We’ve been in that position for quite some time now. And we just have to support Diamond and whatever its future may be. And you know, that’s getting worked out right now. But we’re largely bystanders, and outside viewers just like you.”

With Diamond in bankruptcy, teams across Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL and WNBA have been looking to end their deals with the company’s regional networks. Ripley says that presents an opportunity for Sinclair’s broadcast stations, which offer more reach to teams looking for a new home for their local media rights.

“I think any sport should be looking at their strategy and including over-the-air broadcast as a significant component,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be everything, but having a component of your sport on the most broadly available and most broadly watched platform will continue to make your sport healthy, and that will only be accelerated by Next-Gen TV.”

He added that the future is bright for local sports broadcasts, particularly as sports betting continues to proliferate across the country. Putting games on local networks with separate FAST channels will allow for “gamified” broadcasts that are more engaging.

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Sports TV News

Report: MLB Nearing Deal with Unknown Platform to Resume Sunday Morning Game Broadcasts

“Our initiative with Peacock was a valuable experience with a collaborative partner in our ongoing effort to explore a variety of streaming offerings for our fans as their consumption habits continue to evolve.”

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Major League Baseball
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

Ahead of the Major League Baseball season, the league and Comcast had yet to reach a deal regarding Sunday morning baseball games. Peacock, the OTT streaming platform for the company, broadcast these games for the last two seasons, which equated to 19 such contests last year. Andrew Marchand of The Athletic reports that there is interest from Comcast and NBC in a deal to resume airing these games but for less than $30 million per year, the rate it had paid over the last two years. MLB is reportedly nearing an agreement with another platform to broadcast the Sunday morning baseball games.

“Our initiative with Peacock was a valuable experience with a collaborative partner in our ongoing effort to explore a variety of streaming offerings for our fans as their consumption habits continue to evolve,” a Major League Baseball spokesperson said in a statement to The Athletic.

The Sunday morning MLB games on Peacock started either at 11:35 a.m. or 12:05 p.m. EST and included a play-by-play announcer and an analyst who had familiarity with the teams playing in the game. Other MLB games taking place on Sundays were prohibited to begin earlier than 1:30 p.m. EST, granting the platform a window. Two weekly Friday night MLB games during the regular season are exclusively broadcast on Apple TV+ as part of a seven-year contract between the two entities worth a reported $85 million per season.

Peacock recently served as the exclusive home of an NFL Wild Card game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins. The coldest game on record from GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium drew an average minute audience of 23 million viewers, rendering it the most-streamed event in U.S. history. Moreover, the playoff game was attributed to 30% of worldwide internet usage for the day. The platform reportedly paid $110 million for the rights to the game, part of a weekend featuring three NFL Wild Card contests.

Amazon Prime Video is reportedly set to exclusively stream an NFL Wild Card game next year, continuing to expand its portfolio of games that includes Thursday Night Football and an exclusive Black Friday Football game.

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ESPN Reveals Broadcast Plans for 2024 WNBA Draft

“WNBA Countdown will air live from the WNBA Draft for the first time and commence the proceedings at 7 p.m. EST.”

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WNBA Draft '24
Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN will be the broadcast home of the 2024 WNBA Draft from the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Brooklyn, N.Y., taking place on Monday, April 15 at 7:30 p.m. EST. Ryan Ruocco will be the host for on-site coverage and will be joined by analysts Rebecca Lobo and Andraya Carter and reporter Holly Rowe. Lobo and Carter will provide their insights and analysis on the draft picks throughout the night, while Rowe will interview the draftees once they are officially selected.

Preceding this coverage is a special edition of SportsCenter that will be hosted by Elle Duncan live from the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Duncan will welcome Andraya Carter and Chiney Ogwumike on the 6 p.m. EST version of the show to discuss the WNBA Draft leading up to ESPN coverage of the event.

Once SportsCenter concludes, WNBA Countdown will air live from the WNBA Draft for the first time and commence the proceedings at 7 p.m. EST. LaChina Robinson will host the show with analysts Chiney Ogwumike and Carolyn Peck where they will preview the action. ESPN will look back at the college basketball season for Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, who became the NCAA Division I basketball all-time scoring leader earlier in the year. The show will also highlight some of the best outfits on the night as they arrive on the “Orange Carpet” and interview draftees as well.

ESPN will provide WNBA Draft coverage through the conclusion of the third round, which will include cameras situated in draft rooms for several teams around the league. These organizations, all of whom will be making a first-round selection, are the Indiana Fever, Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago Sky, Dallas Wings and Washington Mystics. Ruocco, Lobo, Carter and Rowe will also guide viewers regarding storylines for the WNBA season, which will be broadcast across Disney and ESPN platforms as announced on Wednesday.

Aside from its network coverage, ESPN.com will provide content related to the WNBA Draft including ranking draft classes, forecasting Caitlin Clark’s WNBA rookie season and feature articles surrounding the consensus No. 1 pick from Ramona Shelburne and Kevin Pelton. ESPN staff writer Alexa Philippou will anchor live coverage on draft day that will provide the latest information on trades, draft picks and news. Moreover, WNBA DraftCast will provide information and analysis surrounding draft picks, along with prospect grades and rankings. ESPN staff writer Michael Voepel will issue report-card grades to the draft classes for each team at the conclusion of the event as well.

ESPN Social will execute an all-access takeover featuring the projected top draft picks on the Instagram story for SportsCenter. There will also be live content from New York City including moments on the “Orange Carpet,” on-site content and selection updates with custom images on Instagram and TikTok.

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Sports Media Reacts to the Death of O.J. Simpson

Simpson was a star football player, turned actor and sports broadcaster, who was later accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her boyfriend Ronald Goldman.

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Photo of OJ Simpson, Frank Gifford and Joe Namath
Credit: Mickey Pfleger/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images

The family of O.J. Simpson announced his death from cancer earlier today at the age of 76. Simpson was a star football player, turned actor and sports broadcaster, who was later accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her boyfriend Ronald Goldman.

Many in the sports media world reacted to his passing:

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