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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

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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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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