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Why Bill Simmons Is Out At ESPN

Jason Barrett

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Bill Simmons’ shocking and sudden public dismissal from ESPN was indeed shocking, but not all that sudden, according to the most plugged-in man at Bristol.

James Andrew Miller, the co-author of the oral history of ESPN, “Those Guys Have All the Fun,” wrote the inside story about the billowing feud between the Worldwide Leader and its biggest star in a piece for Vanity Fair.

While ESPN president John Skipper told the New York Times on Friday that Simmons’ contract would not be renewed when it expires later this year, the drama had been building for quite some time between the Grantland front man and a network increasingly frustrated with his perceived entitlement. Simmons’ free-wheeling nature — a blessing and a curse, as it turned out — catapulted him from everyman Boston blogger to perhaps the most read sports columnist of all time, but also ended up costing him allies in Bristol and a job that pays around $5 million per year.

The first step in the Sports Guy’s fall was losing a supporter in Skipper. The man who worked with Simmons to strike a deal in 2010 was soon named network president and had bigger issues to worry about. Without Skipper at the ready, Simmons’ ESPN enemies seemed to multiply, believing the co-creator of the “30 for 30″ documentary series “operated as if certain rules simply did not apply to him,” Miller writes.

Then came the much-talked-about suspension. Concerning the Ray Rice tape, Simmons called NFL commissioner Roger Goodell a “liar” on his wildly popular “B.S. Report” podcast, which resulted in two weeks banishment without pay. The money wasn’t initially withheld, however, leading Simmons to believe ESPN was giving a peace offering — until a Dec. 19 paycheck lacked two weeks’ pay, which set Simmons off.

A tired network and angry Simmons then had to deal with contract negotiations, which weren’t quite negotiated. Simmons refused to offer any specific monetary number to prevent ESPN from saying it couldn’t meet his demands, according to Miller, while ESPN largely remained silent until Friday.

“I decided today that we are not going to renew Bill Simmons’ contract,” Skipper said.

So what happens now? ESPN still owns “30 for 30,” Grantland and, oddly, the B.S. Report. In a bizarre detail, Miller noted a network executive was heard pondering who would replace Simmons on his titular podcast. (Is Simmons the latest candidate for the Ewing Theory?)

Simmons likely will end up somewhere he can speak his mind. He had grown tired of the eternally corporate network censoring him, and a final straw was his appearing on “The Dan Patrick” show Thursday, vexing ESPN both by going on a show outside the ESPN umbrella and slamming Goodell for his handling of Deflategate.

If Simmons wants to test anyone’s “testicular fortitude,” he’ll be doing it for another outlet.

Credit to the NY Post who originally published this article

Sports TV News

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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