Sports TV News
Bill Simmons To Join HBO
Just over a month after rumors surfaced that HBO was pursuing Bill Simmons, the premium cable network and the former ESPN personality announced a multi-year agreement that includes a weekly TV show and a production deal.
As reported by the New York Times‘ John Koblin, Simmons’ new talk show will debut in 2016 and his contract with HBO begins in October. According to The Hollywood Reporter‘s Lacey Rose, the show will not only be available on the regular HBO collection of networks but also on the HBO Go and HBO Now services, featuring stories and guests from both the sports and culture landscapes.
Simmons’ production deal with HBO will include creating video, podcasts and features for the network and its various digital platforms. Additionally, he’ll have a consulting role with HBO Sports working on developing shows and documentaries. (Rose specifically mentioned that Simmons will work with HBO Sports president Ken Hershman on non-boxing-related programming.)
“We have been fans of Bill Simmons and his work for a very long time,” HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said in an official statement. “His intelligence, talent and insights are without precedent in the areas he covers. We could not be more thrilled for him to bring those talents to HBO and to become a signature voice at the network, spanning the sports and pop culture landscapes.”
Simmons also had a quote in the statement: “It’s no secret that HBO is the single best place for creative people in the entire media landscape. From the moment I started talking to Michael and Richard [Plepler, HBO chairman and CEO], it was hard to imagine being anywhere else.”
Credit to Awful Announcing who originally published this story
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
Chris Evert: Athletes in Individual Sports Have to Learn to be on a Team in Broadcasting
“It’s been growth for me to be on a team. Tennis, you’ve got to be selfish and so self-absorbed and think about yourself.”
It is never too late to re-learn something or adjust to a new way of doing things. For Tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert, she did not have success in her eyes when she first started calling matches.
Evert was a guest on the Fowler Who You Got? Podcast with Chris Fowler and she said that when she first called matches for NBC along with Jimmy Connors, she did not feel she was at her best.
“It was so circus and we got no training, nobody kind of guided us. I think right after you retire, maybe I needed a breather, but I was really bad. I was awful.”
Evert ended up going to ESPN in 2011 as an analyst and she said that having the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Florida helped her learn the changes in the game of tennis compared to when she played and allowed her to go more inside the lines.
“I watched the kids play tournaments. I see the pros would come in and I watched them train. I was getting an education by going to my tennis academy and I think that kind of made my commentating a little deeper and a little more informative. I feel like I can talk about the mental side with my eyes closed, but the physical shotmaking was what was different. I had to re-learn the game.”
When a tennis player goes from the court to the broadcast space, they go from being in a highly individual sport to being a part of the team. Evert mentioned that she used to worry about what assignments the other analysts were getting, but now that she feels comfortable, she wants the team to succeed.
“It’s been growth for me to be on a team. Tennis, you’ve got to be selfish and so self-absorbed and think about yourself. In this team aspect, you stand out like a sore thumb and everyone knows if you think about yourself. We have a great team. We have so many different personalities. Everybody is so different and I think that adds to the color and the commentating.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
Sports TV News
Domonique Foxworth: First Take is ‘Us Against the Audience’
“When you do first take with Stephen A, you learn that he understands that we are on the same team.”
There is an art to the debate shows on ESPN. Domonique Foxworth is a frequent presence on many of them. On Friday, he said that he had to learn that in that format, opponents are actually teammates.
“I think the First Take thing is always an interesting one, and I’ve mentioned this before. People forget when you’re on First Take, we on the same team,” he told Bomani Jones on the latest edition of The Right Time. “When you do first take with Stephen A, you learn that he understands that we are on the same team.”
Both Foxworth and Jones admitted that they are fierce debaters and like to win. Stephen A. Smith made sure that Foxworth understood the reality of television. Even if things seem adversarial to the audience, two people debating on a show like First Take have to come in with the same goal.
“It’s us against the audience. Like, we try to keep you from changing the channel.”
First Take is not your standard debate. Foxworth said that Smith made sure he understood that there is no score. Wanting to win the argument is good, but it is important to understand what “winning” means in that setting.
“My inclination was, I’m here for blood, I want to win. And while wanting to win is important, to make the show entertaining, cutting people off and yelling and preemptively defeating their points? That shit ain’t entertaining,” he said. “You know what’s entertaining? Having a conversation where I make a point, you make a point, we build on it, and we grow to a point that we get better information. That’s not how First Take is built. So what’s entertaining there is I shoot a jab, you shoot a jab.”
This isn’t the first time that Domonique Foxworth has talked about the learning experience he has had on the First Take set. On an episode of The Right Time last year, he told Jones that he has come into debates with Chris Russo with the goal of triggering one of Mad Dog’s infamous rants, because that is what the audience wants to see.
Sports TV News
Jimmy Pitaro: ESPN Priority is Expanding Our Audience & Pat McAfee Does That
“I have a son and a daughter, both of whom not just know who Pat is but they like him, and I have a father who also happens to really like Pat.”
The announcement of Pat McAfee joining forces with ESPN raised a lot of questions as to whether McAfee’s daily brand of sports talk can sustain itself for the long-term on cable.
But ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro has no doubts that Pat can be wildly successful for years to come. He spoke with The Big Lead recently and said bringing McAfee’s show to the daily lineup allows the network to tap into a different audience.
“When we talk about our priorities at ESPN, one of the things we always mention is audience expansion,” Pitaro said. “That means a lot of things, but it especially means attracting a younger audience. We feel like Pat really helps us in that regard.”
“I have a son and a daughter, both of whom not just know who Pat is but they like him, and I have a father who also happens to really like Pat,” he added. “That’ll tell you a lot about his appeal.”
Also expanding the relationship between The Worldwide Leader and McAfee made sense in Pitaro’s eyes. The two sides already have a history.
“We’ve been in business with Pat for some time by now,” he said. “He’s done a fantastic job for us on College GameDay, he’s done some alternate broadcasts that have really resonated with our audience, so we feel like his show is a natural extension of what we’re already doing.”
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@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.