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Jessica Smetana: Demise of Sports Illustrated Result of Internal Power Struggle

“Management is threatened by the Sports Illustrated Union.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz

The apparent downfall of Sports Illustrated has shocked the sports media world, but Jessica Smetana felt like this was a not so shocking outcome.

On The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Monday, Smetana pulled back the curtain some on the situation. She helped launch the SI union, which has been impacted hardest by the recent decision to lay off the vast majority of the publication’s remaining staff. But she noted that the union kept SI going.

“Because of the union, I think Sports Illustrated has existed longer than it probably would’ve after the initial sale in 2019,” she said. “Because a huge chunk of the staff was laid off in 2019, and it’s almost like incredible that the magazine has been able to exist since 2019.”

Smetana got the impression that Authentic Brands Group never cared about SI as a sports media outlet and institution. The same could be said for Arena Group, which operated Sports Illustrated.

“It was just very unorganized and messy from the start because I do not believe that ABG cares or even wants to pretend to care about journalism or any of the stories that made Sports Illustrated an iconic brand,” she said. “I think that they simply want to put the sports illustrated name on things that they can sell like vitamins, a hotel, a throw blanket, whatever the thing is.”

Jessica Smetana continued that Arena Group management was threatened by the union. She said the issues between Arena Group and Authentic Brands Group compounded the situation.

“I think this really comes down to a power struggle between these two groups of people and really trying to figure out how they can continue to make money off of Sports Illustrated without giving any sort of a shit about quality work and quality journalism and the things that made Sports Illustrated a valuable brand name to begin with,” she said.

Jessica Smetana added that while previous management of SI deserve some blame for never finding a way to make the publication profitable in the internet age, the point still stands that ABG and Arena Group should shoulder the brunt of the blame.

“I do believe that the current owners and operators of Sports Illustrated deserve a ton of blame and honestly should be ashamed of themselves,” she said.

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Sports Online

Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit Featured As Commentary Team for ‘NCAA Football 25’

“I’m so excited to FINALLY announce that I’m part of @EASPORTSCollege
. I’m proud to be a partner and one of the voices of the game once again.”

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An image of Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler
Courtesy: Sports Illustrated

NCAA Football fans rejoice — NCAA Football 25 will feature ESPN’s Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. Fowler will be making his first appearance in the game while Herbstreit will be doing it for the 14th time. The pair confirmed the news today via their X accounts:

The pair were finally able to reveal their involvement as more news came out about the game starting today. Multiple news items about the game were reported, including the participation of all 134 Division I football programs, and that college football players could opt into the game for NIL purposes. According to The Athletic’s Chris Vannini, players will receive $600 and a free copy of the game for opting in. Those who fail to opt in will be replaced by a generic avatar.

Following the initial news, Front Office Sports revealed more names attached to NCAA Football 25 — Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, Kevin Connors, and David Pollack. All but Pollack, who was laid off from the company in June, are ESPN employees.

The last NCAA Football game was released in 2013 and started the conversation of whether players should be paid for their participation. EA Sports then stopped putting out versions of the game, despite critical and commercial success. Fan projects like College Football Revamped strived to bring the game into modern times — but now it’s no longer needed. College Football 25 will be revealed in earnest this May, with a release date slated for the summer.

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Joy Taylor and Taylor Rooks to Launch New Podcast

“This show is a space for us to be honest about our experiences, our emotions, and the way we view the world.”

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Joy Taylor and Taylor Rooks podcast logo
Courtesy: Two Personal Podcast

Fox Sports 1’s Joy Taylor and Thursday Night Football’s Taylor Rooks are teaming up for a new podcast, Two Personal, which will debut on March 6. The description of the new content says it will take on subjects beyond the world of sports such as mental health, discrmination and other social issues. The two friends plan to share things they would normally talk about only in private.

“Joy [Taylor] and I have navigated our careers together as sisters in sport, but Two Personal allows us to expand and share our private thoughts and conversations with our listeners,” said Rooks. “This show is a space for us to be honest about our experiences, our emotions, and the way we view the world. There is infinitely more to us than what we have allowed the public to see, and I’m thrilled to be in a place where I feel ready to bare my full self and give an honest look into who I am completely.”

“I am so excited to launch Two Personal with Taylor [Rooks]” Joy Taylor said. “We have spent our careers in sports and now have created an opportunity to show a different side of ourselves. The authentic, raw and exposing side of our experiences and personalities outside of sports. We can’t wait to bring our girl talk to the world!”

The podcast is scheduled to drop a new episode each Wednesday on YouTube and wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Report: Amazon Prime Video Paying $120M to Stream NFL Playoff Game

NBCU wanted to keep the game, however, the report says Amazon has a clause in its agreement for ‘Thursday Night Football’ which allows it to have first choice.

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Amazon Prime Video Logo

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Amazon and the NFL have reached agreement on a $120 million deal for Prime Video to have exclusive rights to stream an NFL playoff game at the end of the 2024 season.

Amazon had passed on the opportunity to air the game this past season. It subsequently aired on Peacock in a deal which was valued at $110 million. The AFC Wild Card round matchup between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs made sports media history, garnering an average minute audience (AMA) of 23.0 million viewers, making the contest the most-streamed live event in the history of the United States.

NBCUniversal also revealed that the contest reached 27.6 million total viewers and peaked at an average of 24.6 million viewers during the second quarter. Engagement with the playoff game accounted for the largest internet event in history with 30% of internet traffic prioritizing the game at this time.

NBCU wanted to keep the game, however, the report says Amazon has a clause in its agreement for ‘Thursday Night Football’ which allows it to have first choice.

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