Dick Vitale received good news at his checkup with Dr. Steven Zeitels, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Laryngeal Surgery and Voice Rehabilitation Center, and has plans on making his return to ESPN to call college basketball on Nov. 28 when Miami faces Kentucky. In a video posted on social media, Vitale spoke for the first time in seven months and expressed that he would be utilizing his voice in moderation for the next couple of weeks. Throughout his message, his emotion was palpable and potent, and he shared that viewers were the first people to hear his voice in a very long time.
The video then panned to Dr. Zeitels, who explained that Vitale had undergone a variety of procedures to manage vocal cord cancer. He expressed that the hospital had plans to look under the microscope in the operating room, but changed their course of action after the images demonstrated no evidence of the presence of the cancer. Dr. Zeitels acknowledged that they will need to monitor Vitale’s condition and could ultimately engage in an endoscopic procedure to enhance his voice.
“The best pathway now is patience,” Dr. Zeitels said. “Let’s see how Dick can heal himself and get back to what he loves to do, which is being with all of you and announcing.”
Vitale previously fought both melanoma and Lymphoma and was declared cancer-free this past April. Following this important step in his recovery, he proceeded to share details of his broadcast return, stating that he is hoping and praying that he will be able to be at the Miami-Kentucky game. Until then, he will use his voice in moderation with hopes of making it back courtside to call games, something he has no intention of stopping any time soon.
“I love all of you and I thank all of you for your prayers and your unbelievable love you’ve sent me,” Vitale said. “It meant so much to me. I tell you – it’s been tough. It’s been tough, but boy, I just say [to] have faith [and] think positive, and I’ve tried to do that.”
Scripps Sports Exec: Teams Are Making Contingency Deals For After Bally Sports Bankruptcy
Lawlor said that Scripps Sports “already has deals in place with at least a couple of teams as a contingency in case Bally halts broadcasts before the end of the 2024 season.”
With the writing on the wall that Diamond Sports Group will drop its regional sports contracts after next year, entities like Scripps Sports are bracing for additional opportunities to work with various teams.
Scripps Sports president Brian Lawlor recently said teams and leagues are already thinking ahead.
“There’s a lot of contingency planning by teams and leagues to have distribution options if the creditors pull the rug out early,” Lawlor told Cincinnati Business Courier. “It’s really messy right now.”
Lawlor added that Scripps has already been involved in contingency planning with those leagues and teams, with talks having gone on for months in some instances.
“(Scripps) already has deals in place with at least a couple of teams as a contingency in case Bally halts broadcasts before the end of the 2024 season.
Scripps Sports already stepped in to help provide a new TV home for both the Vegas Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes. Lawlor said returns with those teams, particularly in Vegas, have been great.
“We’ve been blown away by the Golden Knights over-the-air ratings and the number of people who have subscribed to direct-to-consumer,” he said.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Bob Iger: ESPN Could ‘Go It Alone’ and Not Take Financial Partners
“We are fully prepared to do that. It would be a little more challenging if we did.”
As Disney continues to consider selling an ownership stake in ESPN, Disney CEO Bob Iger told employees he’s not ruling out the possibility of not bringing in new financial partners.
Front Office Sports reported Wednesday that Iger spoke at a Disney town hall on Tuesday and there’s no requirement in place that says Disney must seek out new investors to maintain ESPN’s financial future.
“We could go it alone,” he said. “We are fully prepared to do that. It would be a little more challenging if we did.”
Disney has already had some level of conversations with potential partners including pro sports leagues and big tech companies.
NASCAR to Announce $1.1B Rights Deal with FOX, NBC, Prime Video, TNT
The $1.1 billion figure represents a nearly 40% increase in what the organization receives from its current deals.
NASCAR is on the verge of announcing a new TV rights deal that will see the racing organization bring in $1.1 billion annually from five TV partners.
Beginning in 2025 and running through the 2031 season, NASCAR will air its first 14 Cup Series events with FOX and FS1. The next five events will air on Amazon Prime Video, making the first time a NASCAR event will be shown exclusively on a streaming service.
Following Amazon’s portion of the schedule, another five events will be broadcast on both TNT and the B/R Sports tier of the Max streaming service. The final 14 races of the year will be broadcast with NBC, USA Network, and Peacock, according to reporting from Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern.
Previously, FOX Sports aired 18 races, while NBC aired 20, which includes two exhibition events.
In addition to its new deals with Amazon Prime Video and TNT for the Cup Series, NASCAR also has a previously announced new broadcast agreement with The CW to air each race of the Xfinity Series.
The upcoming announcement, which is expected either Wednesday or Thursday, comes on the heels of NASCAR President Steve Phelps admitting new TV partners would be entering the fray in the next contract.
“We are going to have an additional partner and we may have two additional partners,” Phelps told NBC Sports. “That’s kind of where we’re trying to figure out in these last few weeks — what that’s going to look like, but we already know we’re going to have more partners.”