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Charter CEO Chris Winfrey: Disney Willing to Let TV Networks ‘Burn to the Ground’

“If I had anything material to highlight, I would. So that should tell you something.”

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A photo of the ESPN and Charter Spectrum logos

It does not sound like a resolution to the standoff between Disney and Spectrum is anywhere in sight. Chris Winfrey, Charter Cable’s CEO had some strong words for the entertainment giant on Thursday at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia + Tech Conference in San Francisco.

“If I had anything material to highlight, I would,” he said. “So that should tell you something.”

He told the audience that Disney doesn’t seem motivated to get a deal done to get ESPN, ABC and its other TV networks back in front of Spectrum subscribers. He said that the company will let its “linear programming house burn to the ground.”

Joe Flint of the Wall Street Journal was in attendance at the event. He writes that Winfrey is very aware that the current model for his business is in some trouble. He said that Charter is tired of paying high carriage rates for channels that are not delivering the ratings for Spectrum that they used to.

He also says the company is committed to making big changes to the traditional cable business. In fact, he is optimistic that the longer a fight with Disney drags on, the more power it gives Charter over ESPN.

“The average customer who remains isn’t going to be a sports customer,” he said. “If we’re moving on, that’s OK.”

Winfrey said that Charter’s position is that the exorbitant carriage fees that Disney is asking for will be passed on to consumers who may not care if the networks are available to them or not and that the ones that do care will be forced to pay them twice if they were to sign up for one of the company’s streaming services – Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.

The Walt Disney Company did not wait long. The ESPN PR department issued a statement on behalf of the company after Winfrey’s speech concluded. 

“As the US Open reaches the men’s and women’s finals, and fans gear up for a weekend of college football and the opening of the NFL season, it’s unfortunate that Charter decided to abandon their consumers by denying them access to our great programming,” it reads. “While they have stated their ‘indifference’ to the needs of millions of paying customers, we will not lose sight of what is most important – investing in the highest-quality stories, news and sports for our audience. The question for Charter is clear: Do you care about your subscribers and what they’re telling you they want – or not? Disney stands ready to resolve this dispute and do what’s in the best interest of Charter’s customers.”

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Report: Dusty Baker to Once Again Join TBS for MLB Coverage

Baker worked with TBS in a similar capacity in 2015 and was also an analyst for ESPN in 2006 and 2007.

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Screengrab of Dusty Baker on MLB Network
Screengrab: MLB Network

World Series champion Dusty Baker, the former player and manager, is headed back to TBS. According to a report from Ryan Glasspiegel of the New York Post, the former player and manager will take part in some regular season broadcasts and will be a part of the studio team for the postseason where he is expected to work with co-analysts Pedro Martinez, Jimmy Rollins and Curtis Granderson.

Baker worked with TBS in a similar capacity in 2015 and was also an analyst for ESPN in 2006 and 2007.

A three-time Manager of the Year, Baker managed over 4,000 games over 26 years before retiring after the 2023 season. Baker spent time with the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros, who he won a World Series with in 2022.

As a player, Baker played 19 seasons, mostly with the Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a two-time All-Star and won a World Series in 1981.

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Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese Matchup on ESPN is Most-Watched WNBA Game Since Memorial Day 2001

Eight of the nine games with more than an average of 1 million viewers have included Clark and the Fever.

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Courtesy: ESPN

The Indiana Fever and Chicago Sky have been embedded within the conversation surrounding the WNBA this season as both teams aim to contend for a league championship. The Fever selected Iowa guard and NCAA Basketball all-time scoring leader Caitlin Clark with the first-overall selection in the WNBA Draft, while the Sky chose LSU forward and former national champion Angel Reese seventh. Clark and Reese faced one another for the third time in the WNBA on Sunday, drawing an average of 2.3 million viewers on ESPN. It was the second consecutive week in which a matchup between these two rookies surpassed 2 million viewers and represents the most-watched WNBA game since Memorial Day 2001.

Before the WNBA season began, the league had not surpassed an average of 1 million viewers for a game in 16 years. Amid the 2024 regular season as it stands, the league has shattered that outcome nine times with more than half of the schedule to go. Eight of those nine games have had Clark and the Fever, which includes the team’s Friday night game against the Atlanta Dream. That matchup averaged 1.18 million viewers on ION, the largest WNBA audience the network has ever attained as it continues the second season of its three-year media rights deal.

Reese, along with Sky rookie Kamilla Cardoso, received media exemptions following a change in the WNBA media season access policy. This means that they will be exempt from media availability following morning shootarounds; however, they will still be available in pregame and postgame windows throughout the season. It is unknown if this change will extend to other teams around the league as the season continues, but the rule states that two members of the team can be exempt from speaking with media after morning shootaround. Sky players had previously demonstrated frustration by questions pertaining to the flagrant 1 foul committed by Sky guard Chennedy Carter on Clark in early June.

The NBA is reportedly negotiating media rights deals including the WNBA and is expected to leave a slate of games available for a separate deal later. NBA media rights are expected to be granted to The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC), NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video following the conclusion of next season, although no resolutions have officially been announced. Reports have indicated that the NBA expected to net $76 billion over the term of the new deals, which would nearly triple the fiscal value of its existing rights. Moreover, the WNBA could quadruple the money it receives from media rights to $240 million per year, according to a recent report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

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FOX Sports Draws Over 3 Million Viewers for USMNT Copa América Opener

This makes the game the most watched non-World Cup soccer telecast ever on FOX.

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Sunday night’s soccer matchup between the United States Men’s National Team and Bolivia, which the USMNT won 2-0 drew an average audience of 3,165,000 viewers on FOX Sports according to Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics. This makes the game the most watched non-World Cup soccer telecast ever on FOX and the most watched English language Copa América telecast ever in the United States.

The game peaked at 4,013,000 viewers from 6:30 p.m. ET to 6:45 p.m. ET. The top local markets were San Diego, Washington D.C., Austin and Kansas City.

FOX Sports said the game was up 191% from last year’s USMNT Concacaf Gold Cup telecast and up 108% from the 2016 average of USMNT Copa América Group Stage telecasts which were carried on FS1.

The next USMNT Copa América game is scheduled for Thursday, Jun 27 against Panama at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, followed by another Group Stage game on Monday, July 1 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1. The CONMEBOL Copa América is taking place in the U.S. through Sunday, July 14.

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