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Skip Bayless Launches New ‘Undisputed’ on ‘Greatest Morning of Career’

“This is about to be the greatest show that I have ever been a part of!”

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Skip Bayless Undisputed
Skip Bayless - Courtesy: Steve Gooch, The Oklahoman | Background - Courtesy: FOX Sports

On Monday morning, FOX Sports 1 launched the new era of Undisputed, ending widespread speculation about the next iteration of the show following the departure of Shannon Sharpe. The program opened with a new theme song by Lil’ Wayne titled “Good Morning,” which had been teased for several weeks leading up to its debut. Bayless then sat alone at a desk with four chairs and opened the show with unrestrained enthusiasm and alacrity to start the program.

“How ‘bout that Lil’ Wayne!?,” Bayless said, slamming the desk. “I love you, man. How ‘bout this Undisputed!? You are going to love it, man. How ‘bout them Cowboys? NFC Championship Game, here we come baby!”

Bayless was jubilant on this Monday morning, set to commence the next stage of his television career. After tensions reportedly grew between he and Sharpe, they parted ways and put the show on a two-month hiatus to determine its next steps.

In the weeks leading up to its relaunch, news broke that Richard Sherman, Keyshawn Johnson and Michael Irvin would be joining the show as new co-hosts for Bayless. Additionally, basketball reporter Rachel Nichols and the aforementioned Lil’ Wayne were named as contributors, while other members of FOX Sports 1’s on-air talent roster will appear on the show from time to time.

“This is the greatest morning of my career!,” Bayless articulated. “This is about to be the greatest show that I have ever been a part of! Welcome to the new Undisputed! I am about to introduce my new dream team of co-hosts.”

One by one, Bayless ran through the accolades of his new co-hosts, welcoming them on to the set similar to a public address announcer if they were suiting up for a football game. When Sherman emerged to take his seat with Bayless, he expressed how joining the show felt somewhat inevitable to him.

“I wanted you and I got you,” Bayless replied.

Next, Johnson was introduced, with Bayless remarking that he is another fan of LeBron James considering he cheers on the Los Angeles Lakers. The former USC Trojans star was part of ESPN’s layoffs and recently negotiated an exit from his talent contract that allowed him to join Bayless on FOX Sports 1.

“I’m going to have a little bit of fun on this show,” Johnson said. “A lot different from what they think it was, I’m sure.”

The introductions concluded with Bayless welcoming Irvin, who he affirms is the best receiver in the history of the National Football League. Since the Super Bowl, Irvin has been off of network television following allegations of sexual harassment from a hotel employee. ESPN First Take featured commentator and executive producer Stephen A. Smith expressed his own disappointment about losing Irvin after asserting that he should be back on the airwaves.

“I am here now,” Irvin said. “It’s good to be home, too. Good to be home. Skip, you know I ain’t got nothing but love for you when you say I’m the baddest man out there.”

As the panel was situated together for the first time, Irvin took the moment to remark the credibility of the program and how it would be different from anything on sports television. The program promptly started with a debate about the Dallas Cowboys and their recent acquisition of quarterback Trey Lance, specifically discussing how it affects the future of starter Dak Prescott.

“I love that we are standing here all champions,” Irvin said. “As players, all champions, so when we talk, we all know what we’re talking about and what we’re talking from. We’re talking from that stadium of a champion since we all are that.”

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ESPN Reaches 5-Year Deal to Sublicense College Football Playoff Games to TNT Sports

“We’re confident in the reach and promotion that this new agreement will provide as we enter the new, expanded playoff era.”

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ESPN; TNT; College Football Playoff
Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company; College Football Playoff; Warner Bros. Discovery

ESPN and TNT Sports have reached a five-year agreement that will result in TNT Sports sublicensing select College Football Playoff games from ESPN. TNT Sports will broadcast two first-round College Football Playoff games during the 2024 and 2025 seasons, along with an additional two quarterfinal games beginning with the 2026 season and ending in the 2028 campaign. These games will be primarily presented on TNT along with several other distribution platforms under the company’s portfolio. ESPN will present all other College Football Playoff games on its networks, which includes the CFP National Championship Game, in addition to managing the sponsorship program for presenting the College Football Playoff.

“We’re delighted to reach this agreement with ESPN, providing TNT Sports the opportunity to showcase these College Football Playoff games on our platforms for years to come,” Luis Silberwasser, chairman and chief executive officer of TNT Sports, said in a statement. “TNT Sports aims to delight fans and drive maximum reach and engagement for these marquee games.”

Earlier in the year, ESPN and the College Football Playoff agreed to a six-year contract to retain the network as the rightsholder of the event through the 2031-32 season. ESPN has been the broadcast home of the College Football Playoff since 2015 and is set to present the expanded format for the postseason tournament containing 12 teams beginning in the 2024-25 season. The network has expanded its package of games in the final two years of the deal that will include all four of the new first-round games in addition to the quarterfinals, semifinals and CFP National Championship Game.

“ESPN is pleased to sublicense to TNT Sports a select number of early round games of the College Football Playoff, an event we’ve helped to grow – alongside the CFP – into one of the preeminent championships,” Rosalyn Durant, executive vice president of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, said in a statement. “We’re confident in the reach and promotion that this new agreement will provide as we enter the new, expanded playoff era.”

“It is exciting to add TNT Sports, another highly respected broadcaster, to the College Football Playoff family,” Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said in a statement. “Sports fans across the country are intimately familiar with their work across a wide variety of sports properties over the past two decades, and we look forward to seeing what new and innovative ideas they bring to the promotion and delivery of these games.”

The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery, along with FOX Corporation, are part of the Venu Sports joint streaming venture that is expected to be released this fall. This offering will provide sports fans with a direct-to-consumer outlet wherein they will be able to subscribe and watch marquee sporting events and other programming on networks across the three companies. Pricing and a launch date have yet to be announced for the platform, the latter of which is “conditional on receiving regulatory approval,” according to the home page of the website. Both The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery will also introduce a streaming bundle this summer that implements Disney+, Hulu and Max.

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Kirk Herbstreit: I Had 8 Emmy Awards Taken Out of My Home

“I thought the people on the set would get an Emmy, so all these years, I didn’t know what was going on.”

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Kirk Herbstreit

ESPN apologized to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences following a report by The Athletic that divulged that the network had fabricated names in order to garner more Emmy Award trophies. With the Sports Emmy Awards taking place on Tuesday night in New York City, the network secured eight victories recognizing excellence in innovation, its NFL coverage and Mike Breen for his work as a play-by-play announcer. Moreover, College GameDay attained its 14th Sports Emmy award win by being named the winner in the “Outstanding Studio Show – Weekly” category. Pat McAfee joined the cast of the program last season and worked alongside host Rece Davis, analysts Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit.

Herbstreit, who has been a member of the show since 1996, has been a part of several of its award victories and displayed the physical trophies on the mantle in his home. In reality, the physical trophies were granted to faux associate producers with names similar to on-air talent. These plaques were then subsequently re-engraved to have the name of the on-air personalities before the statuettes were delivered to them. During a recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Herbstreit outlined his perspective surrounding the incident, which ultimately led to eight Emmy trophies being taken out of his home.

“For people that don’t know, when College GameDay or any of these shows win an Emmy – when the show does – I was naïve to the whole thing,” Herbstreit said. “I thought the people on the set would get an Emmy, so all these years, I didn’t know what was going on. I was not privy to that information, [and] I just thought, ‘Hey, it finally came. Where’s this been?,’ and I stuck it on the mantle and we kind of moved on.”

Herbstreit stated that he received a call that the trophies were granted to them in error and that they would need to be taken back by the organization. When he revealed that he was not at home, the organization said that it would come to get the trophies out of the residence. After investigations by both the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and ESPN, additional sanctions were placed upon members of the network. Craig Lazarus and Lee Fitting, the latter of whom left ESPN last August, were ruled ineligible for future participation in the Emmys.

“They went down and got them and took eight of my 13 of them out of the house, and then I guess – again, I don’t follow this as closely as a lot of the people – I think after that, they changed the rule, I think, and now if GameDay wins one, now I think guys like you – all the schleps – guys like me and you and Des and Rece, Coach, I think we… legally get one,” Herbstreit said. “I think technically it’s our ninth, but it would be our first one that we actually are supposed to actually have in our house.”

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‘NHL DataCast’ Alternate Broadcast to be Featured During Oilers-Stars Series on truTV, Max

The broadcast will use cutting edge data and real-time in-depth insights from NHL EDGE positional data.

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Graphic for the NHL Western Conference Finals coverage on truTV, TNT and Max
Courtesy: NHL

TNT Sports’ 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage will continue with the Western Conference Finals starting this Thursday.  2023 Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers will be taking on Jason Robertson and the Dallas Stars. This series also marks the debut of the ‘NHL DataCast’ powered by AWS alternate broadcast which will air on truTV and Max.

On the call for the series on TNT will be Kenny Albert, along with commentary from Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher, and reporting from Jackie Redmond. 

Steve Mears will provide play-by-play for ‘NHL DataCast’ along with commentary from World Championship gold medalist Colby Armstrong and Mike Kelly, NHL Network analyst and Director of Analytics and Insights for Sports Logiq.

In a release the league describes ‘NHL DataCast’ as “a new analytics-driven alternative viewing experience on truTV and MaxThe broadcast will use cutting edge data and real-time in-depth insights from NHL EDGE positional data (NHL Puck and Player Tracking) to provide deeper context and understanding of how statistics are utilized by players, coaches and front offices across the National Hockey League. NHL EDGE IQ powered by AWS advanced analytics, including Face-Off Probability, Opportunity Analysis and Ice Tilt, will also be featured. “

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