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AT&T Platforms Drop beIN Sports

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August has been rough for beIN Sports. The networks were dropped by Verizon and Comcast systems earlier this month. Now they are gone from AT&T platforms as well. Both DirecTV and U-Verse have eliminated beIN from their offerings.

beIN was built on international soccer coverage. That content has become more valuable as OTT streaming services like ESPN+ and B/R Live look to fill programming holes. beIN has been unable to compete in bidding wars. It, most notably, recently lost US TV rights to Italy’s Serie A to ESPN+.

The network attempted to diversify its offerings in recent years. College football and basketball games from Conference USA were added to the lineup. A deal with SB Nation Radio to televise a simulcast of The Sean Salisbury show was reached in 2017. None of it made the intended impact with American audiences.

The combination of those factors means beIN has become expendable in the eyes of a number of TV providers. While the network has launched a public campaign asking its viewers to contact AT&T and demand beIN and beIN en Español return to DirecTV and U-Verse, it is a plea Awful Announcing’s Matt Yoder believes will fall on deaf ears.

This is going to be a very tough, uphill battle for beIN. They’re losing more rights than they are gaining at the moment and unless they are able to make a big play for a major rights package like the Premier League or Champions League (which aren’t going anywhere anytime soon) then their argument to get wide distribution is likely going to fall on deaf ears.

The fact that AT&T has already pulled the channel without the usual public back and forth that we typically see in these carriage disputes trying to force a deal is a discouraging sign. AT&T clearly feels like they have all the leverage here. And with beIN already removed from Comcast, it’s not like they’re on an island with this decision.

Spain’s top soccer league La Liga is still carried by beIN in the United States. While it considered one of the world’s top leagues, La Liga alone isn’t enough to convince TV providers to keep the network on its lineup. It also stands to reason that when the league’s US TV rights are up they will be the subject of a bidding war that history says beIN cannot win.

Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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