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Pat McAfee Has Heard From Jimmy Pitaro, to Meet with Bob Iger Over Swearing on ESPN

“You know I dropped two F-bombs on ESPN over the last six days.”

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Pat McAfee
Courtesy: Joshua R. Gateley, ESPN Images

ESPN brought part of its new daily programming lineup to Boulder, Colo. ahead of the Colorado Buffaloes Week 3 matchup against Colorado State, which will be televised live on ESPN tomorrow at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST. From head coach Deion Sanders to star quarterback Shadeur Sanders and standout two-way player Travis Hunter, the network welcomed various members of the team on its programs. Additionally, Pat McAfee and Stephen A. Smith joined each other’s shows, with McAfee starting his First Take guest spot after being regaled by cheers from the extensive crowd.

As McAfee took the stage and situated himself behind the desk with Stephen A. Smith and Shannon Sharpe, show host Molly Qerim asked if he was enjoying the early days of having his show on ESPN. McAfee inked a multiyear, multi-million dollar licensing deal that provides ESPN with 235 episodes of The Pat McAfee Show available on linear and digital platforms.

McAfee also continues to remain a member of College GameDay and has been bringing his program to the host city each week. While he was able to use explicit language freely on YouTube, he is prohibited from doing so on ESPN and thus has an active censor making sure nothing slips through the cracks. In the last week though, he has accidentally neglected these parameters.

“I’m enjoying the hell out of it,” McAfee answered. “You know I dropped two F-bombs on ESPN over the last six days.”

Qerim continued the conversation by asking him how ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro felt about the matter. Pitaro, along with The Walt Disney Company’s chief executive officer, Bob Iger, and ESPN President of Content Burke Magnus met and recruited McAfee to bring his program to ESPN. In the end, he divulged that the show had four to five major offers, but ultimately decided to settle with ESPN, who he had been working with on College GameDay in the year prior.

“I got a text; I did get a text,” McAfee said, referring to a message from Pitaro. “I’ve got a meeting with Bob Iger actually next week. There’s a whole conversation to take place, but I’m loving it. The ESPN people are so kind and friendly and hospitable.”

Sharpe, who made his ESPN debut last week and taking part in an on-site edition of First Take for the first time this year, concurred with McAfee and has enjoyed his time with the “Worldwide Leader.” The program has a disclaimer that is placed on the screen before each show, referencing “cuss words” as the way “humans in the real world talk.” The authenticity he brings to the air is greatly valued and encompasses who he is as a sports media talent; however, he might need to be more careful going forward. Nonetheless, McAfee wants to continue augmenting the reach and relevancy of his afternoon program and is excited to be with ESPN.

Before the conversation turned to football, though, McAfee made mention of the ratings First Take has been receiving recently, which are under increased scrutiny because of the return of Undisputed on FOX Sports 1 following a two-month hiatus. Smith himself re-posted an article from Front Office Sports on X about the show’s position with Undisputed despite the latter only being back on the air for three days at the time.

The ESPN featured commentator has spoken about his competitive drive on numerous occasions, but also conveyed that he does not see it as a battle against former co-host Skip Bayless. On live television though, Smith displayed his self-efficacy and gratitude towards the early head-to-head success.

“That’s what we do,” Smith said. “That’s ‘we’ baby, that’s ‘we.’ All of us.”

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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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