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Shannon Sharpe: Skip Bayless and I ‘Barely Talked’

“It was really like a heavyweight fight.”

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Shannon Sharpe; Skip Bayless
Shannon Sharpe - Courtesy: Kevin Mazur, Getty Images for We The Best Foundation | Skip Bayless - Courtesy: FOX Sports

As Shannon Sharpe gave a heartfelt goodbye to his longtime Undisputed co-host Skip Bayless, it marked the end of a near seven-year run together on FOX Sports 1. For two-and-a-half hours each morning, Sharpe and Bayless would debate the sports topics of the day and help define an era of debate television. Directly opposing them for most of that time was First Take on ESPN, a show that they had both been a part of in varying capacities over the years.

Stephen A. Smith, working alongside analyst Max Kellerman and host Molly Qerim, engaged in a similar format before the show adopted a new format in late 2021. As Smith utilized the deep ESPN talent pool to have experts on different topics oppose him, the show grew in popularity and, at times, left Undisputed significantly behind in the ratings.

Sharpe is now a member of First Take and is contributing to the program on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the football season. At the same time, he is building Shay Shay Media with his flagship Club Shay Shay Podcast on The Volume and working to produce content in tandem with the media brand.

Nonetheless, he misses working with FOX Sports 1 on a daily basis because of all the people on the lot aside from the show itself. From the security guard that would walk him to and from his car every day to those in wardrobe, props and in the cafeteria, no longer being able to see them for 240 days throughout the year has been a difficult thing to come to terms with.

“People don’t understand just how hard I worked at that job,” Sharpe said in a recent interview on The Stephen A. Smith Show. “What they saw was the two-and-a-half hours a day, but they didn’t see the prep – the six-seven hours of prep time I actually did to get ready for the show [and] the re-watching of the entire show to try and get better.”

After Sharpe completed his protracted answer to Smith about the things he misses most regarding FOX Sports, the First Take featured commentator elocuted an observation he made therein.

“You do understand that in that lengthy answer that you just gave to my question, you did not mention Skip Bayless one time,” Smith said. “You do know that.”

There were reportedly growing tensions between Sharpe and Bayless that ultimately led to the latter’s exit from the network. When Sharpe officially departed, Bayless and FOX Sports 1 management began work on compiling a new cast and format for the program, which relaunched earlier this month. Michael Irvin, Keyshawn Johnson, Richard Sherman, Rachel Nichols, Josina Anderson and Lil’ Wayne have all appeared on the show as contributors, facing off against Bayless, an institution and influential professional in the format.

Sharpe has gone on the record numerous times to thank Bayless for everything he did to welcome him to the network and create a stellar program. The part that he revealed to Smith was that they did not have much of a relationship off of the set, even within the corridors of the production facility.

“Skip would get to work; I would get to work,” Sharpe described. “I was in my dressing room; he was in his dressing room. It was really like a heavyweight fight. We barely talked…. [and] it was not a carry on a conversation and then, all of a sudden, we get up there and do what we do…. It was very little communication.”

Some of the public perception of Sharpe’s time on FOX Sports 1 and the split he had with the network adopted the notion, “Skip Bayless made Shannon Sharpe.” The remark perturbs Sharpe, who was a three-time Super Bowl champion and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he started working at the network. As one of the most accomplished tight ends in the history of the National Football League, he had already been enshrined in the history of the game and sports as a whole in perpetuity. The aspect of his being that FOX Sports 1 helped him with was in becoming more popular and well-known, and it is something he owes to Bayless and the program itself.

“Skip Bayless did not make Shannon Sharpe relatable. Skip Bayless did not make Shannon Sharpe the storyteller that he is [and] Skip Bayless did not make Shannon Sharpe the football player that can break down plays,” Sharpe articulated. “….I miss debating him, but it had gotten to the point over the last six-seven months – and I won’t allow it to ruin the six great years that we had – but it had gotten to the point that we needed to go our separate ways.”

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MLB at Rickwood Field Game Averages 2.346 Million Viewers on FOX

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST.

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MLB at Rickwood Field Logo
Courtesy: Major League Baseball

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals played from Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday night, marking the first time that the ballpark hosted a regular-season Major League Baseball game. The historic event paid tribute to the Negro Leagues and the life of Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Mays, who passed away peacefully on Tuesday at the age of 93. FOX Sports broadcast the game and attained its best performance for a Thursday night MLB regular season telecast since September 2022, averaging 2.346 million viewers for the event. Viewership data for the game is provided by Nielsen Media Research and Adobe Analytics.

The telecast of the game peaked with 2.559 million viewers in the quarter-hour spanning from 8:45 to 9 p.m. EST. Compared to last year’s regular season average for MLB telecasts on FOX, the contest was up 25%. Thursday night games on FOX averaged 1.665 million viewers last year, rendering the game from Rickwood Field an increase of 41%. The San Francisco, Calif. designated market area posted a 3.9 rating and 18 share for the game, the best for an MLB telecast on any network in the 2024 season in the area. Additionally, the St. Louis, Mo. designated market area had a 9.4 rating and 29 share for the game, also its best performance for an MLB telecast on any network amid the current season.

The broadcast of the game on FOX Sports featured play-by-play announcer Joe Davis, analyst John Smoltz and reporters Ken Rosenthal and Tom Verducci. During the FOX MLB pregame show, various special guests joined host Kevin Burkhardt and analysts Álex Rodríguez, David Ortiz and Derek Jeter, including Reggie Jackson, Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. Within the game, Rosenthal interviewed former Birmingham Black Barons pitcher Rev. Bill Greason, along with former Indianapolis Clowns second baseman Reggie Howard. FOX Sports broadcast half an inning of the game in black and white as well, replicating how baseball telecasts looked in 1954.

FOX Sports is currently in the third year of its seven-year media rights deal with Major League Baseball and will broadcast the MLB All-Star Game next month from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The network will also present the World Series for the 25th consecutive year this October featuring the American League and National League Champions.

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ESPN Announces Coverage Plans for Inaugural Two-Day NBA Draft

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

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Logo for ESPN and the 2024 NBA Draft

The NBA is set to debut a new format for its draft. Instead of doing both rounds in one night, this year will be the first time the league has used a two-day format with night one coming up on Wednesday, June 26 followed by night two on Thursday June 27. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN and ABC.

On Wednesday, ESPN will begin with NBA Today starting at 3 p.m. ET, which will be hosted by Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and CJ McCollum. They will be followed by a Red Carpet Special at 5 p.m. ET with Cassidy Hubbarth, Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson. Coverage of the draft begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

ESPN reporters and insiders Monica McNutt, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony are set to appear on both broadcasts.

For Round 2 on Thursday, ESPN will again start with NBA Today at 3 p.m. ET with Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and Tim Legler. That will be followed by coverage of the draft beginning at 4 p.m. ET with Malika Andrews, Stephen A. Smith, Bob Myers, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony.

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Michael Phelps Joining NBCUniversal Coverage of Olympic Games Paris 2024

“With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

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Michael Phelps
Courtesy: NBC Olympics & Paralympics on X

Michael Phelps, the 23-time Olympic gold medalist who is the most-decorated Olympic athlete of all time, will be joining NBCUniversal for coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 this summer. Phelps returns to the coverage after being part of the broadcast during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and will provide his commentary and analysis on prime time and daytime shows in Paris on NBC and Peacock.

Additionally, he will join Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines in the broadcast booth for select swimming competition telecasts from the París La Défense Arena, along with correspondent/analyst Elizabeth Beisel and reporter Melissa Stark. Phelps will return to NBC and Peacock on Friday night broadcasting coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials-Swimming from Indianapolis, Ind. beginning at 8 p.m. EST/PST.

“We are excited to have Michael return to our coverage across both daytime and primetime, and of course, the place where no one knows more about winning – at the pool,” Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said in a statement. “With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

NBC has been televising coverage throughout the week live in prime time leading up to the Olympic games. The swimming trials are averaging 3.2 million viewers in prime time across NBC and Peacock, which is up 20% from the trials for the Olympic Games three years ago. The event is taking place from Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and has featured accomplished swimmers such as Katie Ledecky, Gretchen Walsh and Regan Smith. Moreover, the prime time broadcast of the diving competition on Monday and Tuesday from Knoxville, Tenn. is averaging 2.9 million viewers, a 39% rise from three years ago.

The International Olympic Committee granted NBCUniversal the U.S. media rights for the Olympic Games through 2032 for $7.65 billion. NBCUniversal has been the exclusive broadcast home of the Summer Olympic Games in the United States since 1988 when it produced 179.5 hours of broadcast coverage. The company is scheduled to broadcast the Olympic Games from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 2026, Los Angeles, Calif. in 2028 and Brisbane, Australia in 2032, along with the 2030 Winter Olympic Games from a location to be determined.

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