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Adam Silver: NBA Will Discuss Expansion After Inking New National Media Rights Deal

“The reason we wanted to get those deals done, no secret, is we want to have a better understanding of what the economics would be going forward.”

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Adam Silver
Courtesy: Darren Yamashita, USA TODAY Sports

The National Basketball Association is in its penultimate season of media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery, and various reports have affirmed that the league is looking to ink its next deal with broadcast, cable and digital components. The league, led by Commissioner Adam Silver, and its two existing rightsholders have the ability to enter an exclusive 45-day window negotiating period on March 9, 2024. There are other bidders interested as well, which reportedly include Amazon Prime Video, Apple and NBC Sports among others, and there seems to be a collective understanding of the burgeoning reach and growth potential of the Association.

Concurrent with these media rights deals is expansion, a topic that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was asked about during an interview with Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Tuesday night. With the Oakland Athletics decision to move the franchise to Las Vegas, Nev., the market has been speculated as being a potential landing spot for an NBA team.

The Las Vegas Aces of the WNBA won their second-consecutive league championship over the summer, preceded by a Stanley Cup victory by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Although Silver divulged that players, former players and well-known wealthy people have expressed interest in having the franchise, he shared that there are no “inside candidates.” He is thrilled about the interest, but knows that in order to move forward, it is incumbent on the league to ink a new media rights deal.

“The reason we wanted to get those deals done, no secret, is we want to have a better understanding of what the economics would be going forward,” Adam Silver said. “So that to the extent, if you have 30 teams; if you’re dividing up your national or international television money by 30 teams, that’s one check that you’re writing the teams. If it’s by – let’s say we expand by two teams [to] 32 teams – that’s a different one.”

Silver recognizes the importance of media revenue and how it impacts the operations of the league and its member teams. At the conclusion of the season, the league will be receiving regional rights back from Diamond Sports Group, part of a term sheet within the cooperation agreement. Yet the regional sports network is facing motions to compel filed by both its parent company, Sinclair, along with Major League Baseball, which are set to be deliberated in a hearing on Dec. 15. While the future of the local rights remains unknown at the moment, Silver wants to have an idea of what the economics within the league would look like going forward before considering these plans.

“We’ll see what the timing is on those national television agreements,” Silver added. “You know, we don’t have to wait till the end of the second season to get those done, but once we do, we’ll turn back to expansion, or turn to expansion.”

The league is in the midst of its first In-Season Tournament, which concludes this week in Las Vegas, Nev. featuring a semifinals doubleheader Thursday night on ESPN and TNT, and the championship game on ABC on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST. During group play – which took place on Tuesdays and Fridays throughout the month of November – ESPN and TNT had various nationally-televised windows that averaged 1.5 million viewers, up 26% from the comparable window last season. Silver acknowledged that the tournament has been going well and seems to be resonating with fans, but he does not want to jump to any conclusions before its completion.

“I mean, when we first started this people said, ‘What are you going to be looking for to decide whether it’s something that you’ll think will be successful and you’ll want to move forward?,’” Silver reminisced. “And I said, ‘Most importantly, let’s look to the competitiveness of the players; the enthusiasm on the floor; the buy-in, and we’re getting that in spades.”

Termine asked Silver about expanding the NBA Draft to two days, something that the Commissioner confirmed that the league is working on with ESPN/ABC, the broadcast home of the event, along with the NBA Players Association. There remains interest in the players that are being drafted and Silver believes that both rounds deserve to be broadcast in prime time, but he wants to ensure things are worked out with partners and thinks they will get to that point. He went on to call the decision a “no-brainer” because of the interest and how it can guide more comprehensive coverage.

“There’s so much interest in these players,” Silver said. “The other advantage to moving the second round to a separate night just gives more time for the announcers like you guys – the media – to have a better understanding of who those players are. A little bit more time between picks to talk about who they are and why they make sense for those teams.”

There have been several star NBA players who have been selected in the second round of the event in recent years, including Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green. Various second-round prospects from this year’s draft, such as Toumani Camara and Andre Jackson Jr., have already made an impact on their respective teams. Rather than these selections being announced after midnight on the east coast, Silver postulates the value another day would bring to the sport.

“I’m hoping to get there actually for this season – for this June – and move the second round to its own night,” Silver said.

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KFC on WFAN: What Makes Barstool Sports Successful is the “Reality TV Aspect”

“Anybody that has success in entertainment and sports…I think there is going to be that desire to see behind the curtain and we just kind of opened the curtain willingly.”

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Kevin Clancy, aka KFC from Barstool Sports
Courtesy: Barstool Sports

Kevin Clancy, better known as ‘KFC’ from Barstool Sports, filled in for Boomer Esiason on WFAN this morning with Gregg Giannatti. The two hosts discussed the feuding going on between members of the 1990’s Chicago Bulls as some players, most notably Scottie Pippen, are disputing some of what was said in The Last Dance back in 2020.

They compared the situation to some of what they face at their offices, noting they spend a lot of time with their co-workers, who aren’t members of their family or in most cases their best friends and drama can sometimes ensue. “Barstool has taken that office drama to a level that no one else has achieved,” Giannotti said to KFC. “When we do stuff like that here [at WFAN], it’s very rarely serious. The drama that you guys have, it’s real and it’s out there and that’s got to be a really difficult thing to deal with if you’re not prepared for it.”

“We usually refer to it as “being in the mud,” Clancy responded. “And there’s only certain people that can really live in the mud…It’s part of what made Barstool successful, is that reality TV aspect of it in that it is kind of like a team, and there is internal drama like clubhouse drama, locker room drama and the way we usually handle that is let’s do it out there and on the air.”

KFC talked about being a fan of WFAN and seeing it from the outside looking in. He said as a listener you could sense who was not a fan of certain people. He used the example of the feuds which would take place between Mike Francesa and Craig Carton and then the subsequent feuds Giannotti found himself in with “The Pope” when he took over for Carton.

“Anybody that has success in entertainment and sports…I think there is going to be that desire to see behind the curtain and we just kind of opened the curtain willingly,” KFC said about Barstool Sports. “We will probably fight each other more than anything, but then when there’s an outside problem, we close ranks and we are like, let’s handle business.”

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Gow Media Parts Ways With Sports Map Radio Program Director Craig Larson

“With Larson exiting, Gow Media will make another change, tapping into its partnership with VSiN to satisfy its Sports Map Radio affiliate stations.”

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It’s been a tough week in Houston for Gow Media. First, the company made cuts to ESPN 97.5, parting ways with the midday team of Joshua Beard, Michael Connor and Andrew Carlson. Then yesterday, the company informed longtime network program director Craig Larson that he too was unfortunately a budget cut casualty.

Larson had been with Gow Media since the company acquired the Sporting News Radio network in 2010. He started with Sporting News Radio as a producer in Illinois, moving next to Los Angeles to take on programming duties for the network before relocating to Houston to lead the outlet following David Gow’s acquisition of the brand.

During the fourteen years that Larson managed the network, it’s gone through a few changes. Gow elected to change the identity from Sporting News Radio to Yahoo Sports Radio in 2011. That was followed by rebrands to SB Nation Radio and its current name, Sports Map Radio.

With Larson exiting, Gow Media will tap into its partnership with VSiN to satisfy its Sports Map Radio affiliate stations. The two groups have already been working together. This just gives the sports betting network an even bigger push. It also helps Gow stand out better in a crowded national sports radio marketplace.

As for Larson, this is his first trip to free agency in nearly a quarter century. When reached by BSM, he acknowledged that his time with the company had come to an end. He added, ‘It was an amazing 14 years in Houston. I’m proud of the work we put in, and there’s no better person in the world to work for than David Gow.’

Those interested in chatting with Larson about future possibilities can reach him at [email protected].

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Eli Gold Out as Voice of Alabama Football; Ends 35-Year Run

“I will not be returning. The university chose to not bring me back. I have not retired!”

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Eli Gold
Courtesy: Alabama Athletics

The Tuscaloosa News has reported longtime University of Alabama radio play-by-play voice Eli Gold will not be returning next season. Gold, who has been in the position for 35 years, told Birmingham FOX 6 Reporter Jonathan Hardison, “I will not be returning. The university chose to not bring me back. I have not retired!”

The report says Chris Stewart, who has been calling Alabama basketball for the Crimson Tide Sports Network, will take over the football broadcasts.

“Eli has been an invaluable member of our broadcast team,” Jim Carabin, Vice President and General Manager of the Crimson Tide Sports Network said in a statement. “We are grateful for his years of service and wish him all the best in this next chapter. CTSN is fortunate to have someone as part of our existing broadcast team in Chris to step up and seamlessly transition into this role.”

Gold missed the 2022 season for health reasons, otherwise he has been calling Crimson Tide games each season since 1988. Gold, 70, had been diagnosed with cancer just over one year ago but called home games in 2023. Stewart filled in for Gold both in 2022 and 2023.

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