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Hershman Steps Down as HBO Sports President

Jason Barrett

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Ken Hershman, president of HBO Sports since 2012, resigned in a surprise move on Friday, although he will remain in his position through the end of the year.

In his role, Hershman, 52, was one of the most powerful people in the boxing business. He controlled an eight-figure annual budget for HBO’s boxing franchise, the gold standard in the sport for decades, and oversaw its pay-per-view division. He decided which fighters the network — the key player in creating most of boxing’s stars since the 1970s — would back and was a key figure in moving fighters to the lucrative HBO PPV platform.

“I am particularly proud of what I accomplished and believe now is the perfect time to hand over the reins to someone new,” Hershman said in a statement released by the network.

Hershman’s resignation comes almost four years to the day after his hiring was announced in October 2011, a few months after Ross Greenburg, who had been with the network for 33 years and led the division for 10 as president, was forced to resign.

Hershman began the job in January 2012, leaving a similar role at HBO rival Showtime, where he also ran the boxing program to much critical acclaim, even if his viewership numbers and budget could never match those of the much larger HBO.

“I’ve had the distinct privilege of having been involved in many of boxing’s biggest and most thrilling moments, including the Mike Tyson era, creating the Super Six tournament [at Showtime], and staging the biggest pay-per-view event of all-time this past May in Floyd Mayweather versus Manny Pacquiao [in a joint deal with Showtime],” Hershman said. “I have also had the privilege to steward over some of the best sports shows on television, including ’24/7,’ ‘Real Sports’ and ‘Hard Knocks,’ and to work with some of the best talent in television, both behind and in front of the camera.”

HBO said that Hershman will work with HBO programming president Mike Lombardo on the transition to a new president, who has not been selected, although Peter Nelson, an HBO Sports vice president, is viewed as a possible successor.

“Ken’s dedication and commitment to our sports division is deeply appreciated,” Lombardo said. “His approach to rebuilding our boxing franchise was strategic and creative, which led HBO Sports to great success. All of us here are grateful and proud of the success Ken and the HBO Sports team have had over the past four years in delivering unparalleled sports programming to our subscribers. We wish him all the best in his next challenge.”

One of Hershman’s most significant accomplishments was bringing Manny Pacquiao back from a one-fight move to Showtime in 2011 — which he oversaw — that was a big part of why Greenburg was forced to resign. Hershman also made the controversial decision to banish all the fighters involved with manager/adviser Al Haymon from the network because of Haymon’s unwillingness to set up tough matches for his fighters. But Hershman was also in charge when recently retired pound-for-pound king Mayweather, Haymon’s top client, left HBO for a nine-figure deal at Showtime.

Also under Hershman’s watch at HBO, the network signed established fighters such as Mexican star Canelo Alvarez and heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko to network contracts. He also signed middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin and light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev and helped build them from virtual unknowns into cornerstones of their boxing program.

Hershman’s final major act in boxing was announced on Thursday night: the signing of super middleweight champion Andre Ward, one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best, to a multi-fight contract that will culminate with a pay-per-view showdown against Kovalev next fall.

“HBO Sports is well positioned for the future, especially in the boxing arena, with nine of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters in the sport today, including the world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Miguel Cotto, Andre Ward, Terence Crawford and many others,” Hershman said. “I cannot wait to watch these great fighters exhibit their skills, but from the vantage point of a passionate boxing fan,” Hershman said.

Credit to ESPN who originally published this article

Sports TV News

LIV Golf Nearing TV Deal With The CW Network

“LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.”

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LIV Golf

According to a report from Front Office Sports, LIV Golf has laid out a deal with The CW Network for television carriage in the United States.

The deal is a multi-year agreement that will see the tour own real estate in lesser-viewed time slots on the network. A revenue-sharing relationship between the tour and the television network is expected to be struck.

LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.

After a standup comedy show in West Palm Beach last week, Feherty reportedly told the crowd “Have you heard of CW? I might get fired for this, but…,” according to report from Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand had previously reported a deal between the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and the network was likely.

Nexstar Media Group — the nation’s largest television owner — is the majority owner of The CW Network. There are around 220 affiliates of the network on over-the-air television stations. Rumors of an acquisition of LIV Golf’s rights come on the heels of The CW Network being linked to the potential launch of a college football bowl game that would air exclusively on the network.

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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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