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‘Fans Only’ Broadcast Set for Friday on NBA TV

Brandon Contes

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With endless forms of entertainment, networks have been innovative in competing for viewers’ attention. Following the success of Turner’s Players Only broadcast, NBA TV is taking it one step further with a Fans Only telecast Friday night for their coverage of Lakers vs. Timberwolves.

NBA TV will offer more than just the game on the screen, viewers will see instant polls, social conversation, statistics and graphics to assist with describing the action. There will be no constant play-by-play announcer or analyst to narrate.

Casey Stern will host the broadcast along with analysts Grant Hill and Brendan Haywood, but NBA TV will not have traditional announcers. Dennis Scott and Nate Robinson will also join the broadcast, engaging with fans in the arena.

“Everyone knows that it’s a challenge right now for TV networks to engage with the fans and find ways to keep their attention throughout these games,” said NBA TV Executive Producer John O’Connor.

The game is not enough to keep the modern fan’s attention for four quarters, so the NBA will test more graphics and ask fans to be on their phones communicating with the broadcast. The goal is to keep the fan from searching for other forms of entertainment by making the telecast busier and more interactive.

“I equate it to how fans are engaged on their phones during games; we are trying to bring that type of engagement to the TV screen,” said O’Connor.

The concept is similar to Facebook’s exclusive broadcast of Mets vs Phillies on Wednesday. In addition to the game, there were graphics and a constant scroll of fan interaction in an attempt to keep viewers engaged.  Facebook’s broadcast was, however, met with plenty of criticism. Many fans watching were unaware the social interaction feed could be muted, if they wanted to watch the game as a normal broadcast. A graphic explaining how to hide the fan comments was added and the announcers mentioned it during the broadcast.

The way fans watch a game is constantly modernizing, from the first down line in football, to the pitch count in baseball, more information is being added to the telecast. The Fans Only broadcast allows the NBA to hear how much is too much directly from its consumers as the game unfolds.

“To be perfectly honest, we’ve never done this, so we’re going to find out how well it works,” says O’Connor. “But one thing that is key is that we’re going to be transparent with what’s working and what’s not working. We are going to ask the fans that night, is it too many graphics or not enough? We want direct one-on-one communication with the fans, so they feel like they are engaged in the broadcast and know that we are listening to their feedback. We will absolutely talk about that on the air during the broadcast.”

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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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