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Bill Simmons Gets New Deal at HBO

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Bill Simmons has signed a new contract with HBO. The new deal won’t include a regular television show like the previous one between the two sides did, but in the wake of the success of Simmons’ documentary Andre the Giant, which more than 7 million people watched across both broadcast and digital platforms, the network saw fit to lock Simmons down for the foreseeable future. That’s something Simmons was more than happy to let happen.

I witnessed it firsthand with our Andre doc — when you create something unique for HBO, they’ve built so much trust and equity in their audience over the years that it’s always going to be seen. Every single time. If it’s good and it’s on HBO, it will stand out. Even though we have more entertainment choices than ever right now, HBO still cuts through in an incredibly precise, almost unassailable way — and they work better with creatives than anyone, period. I am lucky to work with them and I know it.

Simmons says he has some more ambitious projects in the works, but did not go into specifics. Former AT&T executive and now head of WarnerMedia Jon Stankey recently told investors that he wants to increase the output of original content from HBO now that AT&T owns the network and has more outlets that need content. Simmons recently launched Ringer Films. Some of its work will likely find a home on HBO.

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NFL Owners Not Voting on Flex Scheduling For Thursday Night Football

“The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.”

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Thursday Night Football

Amazon will have to wait for flex scheduling. NFL owners decided to table a proposal that would allow the league to create more compelling matchups for Thursday Night Football later in the season.

That doesn’t mean flex scheduling won’t be a reality on Thursday nights this season. The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.

Earlier this week, Peter King of NBC Sports reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is pushing the idea. Coaches have been outspoken about how much they dislike it, complaining about managing injuries and the competitive disadvantage that would come with finding out you suddenly have a shorter week of preparation than expected. According to King, Goodell is trying to make Amazon happy after the first season of Thursday Night Football failed to deliver projected audience numbers for Prime Video.

League owners did take a step they hope will lead to fewer games between losing teams. Last season, teams could only be scheduled once for a Thursday night game. The owners decided to bump that limit up to twice per season.

Goodell defended the proposal against accusations that the league is prioritizing revenue over player safety. 

“We always look at the data with respect to injuries,” he told the media gathered at the league meetings. “That is what drove our decisions throughout the first 12 or so years of Thursday Night Football and how it’s evolved. I think the data was very clear: it doesn’t show a higher injury rate. But we recognize shorter weeks. We went through this with COVID, too.”

When the idea of flex scheduling is revisited in May, it will require the support of 24 team owners in order to become a reality. 

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Eric Shanks Got Approval From Alex Rodriguez Before FOX Hired Derek Jeter

“Why wouldn’t we reach out?”

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Derek Jeter is going to work a very limited schedule for FOX next season. Still, before he came on board, FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks wanted the support of Jeter’s former Yankees teammate and on-again/off-again friend Alex Rodriguez.

Andrew Marchand is reporting that Shanks reached out to ARod personally. Rodriguez gave his approval to the network.

“Why wouldn’t we reach out?” a Fox Sports spokesman said when The New York Post reached out for confirmation.

While Derek Jeter is now part of the FOX family, fans shouldn’t expect to see him every time baseball is on the network. He is only scheduled to work “marquee events”. This season, those include the London series, the All-Star Game, and the World Series.

He will be at the desk alongside Kevin Burkhardt, David Ortíz, and Rodriguez.

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Alex Rodriguez: You Used To Be Able To Hang Out With Reporters And Know It Was Off the Record

“I would say that back then it was a little bit more of a camaraderie.”

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The way that MLB players interact with reporters has evolved and changed significantly over the years in Alex Rodriguez’s eyes.

In a media availability Tuesday ahead of the season premiere of the KayRod Cast, ESPN’s alternate feed of select games slated for Sunday Night Baseball featuring Rodriguez and Yankees play-by-play man Michael Kay, A-Rod was asked for his biggest surprises as the media coverage has transitioned over the years.

“I would say that back then it was a little bit more of a camaraderie,” Rodriguez said. “You could actually go to a bar and have drinks with reporters, believe it or not, and talk about, you know — and everything was pretty much off the record.”

In today’s game, Rodriguez said you won’t find it being the case where reporters and players are friends away from their respective jobs.

“That ship has left, right? I think it’s just a lot more Twitter, get out there first. Fact check later, but shoot first,” he said. “As a result, I think it’s made players and everybody a little bit more aware.”

“I think in a long-worded answer, I think relationships that go back many years, I think, win in the long run, that trust,” A-Rod added.

The second season of the KayRod Cast starts on Sunday at 7 p.m. featuring the defending N.L. champion Philadelphia Phillies and the Texas Rangers.

Kay and Rodriguez will be live from ESPN’s Seaport District Studios in New York City. There are eight total editions of the KayRod Cast scheduled for the 2023 season.

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