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Viacom Deal Makes CBS A Player For More TV Rights

“The last time CBS Sports locked in a new TV rights partnership was 1998 when they brought on the AFC.”

Jack Ferris

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CBS Sports, especially when compared to the bells and whistles of FOX and ESPN sportscasts, has always produced conservative broadcasts.  The reserved CBS coverage of the Masters and Sunday AFC football goes hand in hand with the simple, traditional eye-logoed blazer on each of it’s male broadcasters.  To go one step further, as pointed out in a recent Big Lead article by William Pitts, CBS hasn’t obtained a new sports deal in nearly 2 decades.  Instead, they’ve been steadily renewing contracts they’ve had in place for, in some cases, half a century.  

On paper, the rights to SEC football, the Masters, the NCAA tournament and AFC football looks quite impressive for any sports network.  However, with cash rich competitors like Disney, AT&T and Comcast, CBS needed some backup to ensure they hold onto their flagship partnerships during the next round of negotiations.  The recent merger with Viacom is that backup.

With Viacom’s checking account behind them, not only will CBS be able to be competitive in retaining their partnerships, they’ll have a shot at locking in new deals.  According to Pitts, the last time CBS Sports locked in a new TV rights partnership was 1998 when they brought on the AFC.  Now, they could conceivably make a play at expanding their college football portfolio and grabbing a piece of the NHL in the next couple years.

While the merger improves their bankroll, CBS is still at a decided disadvantage compared to their network competitors, and could slip even further if any of the streaming giants decide to fully commit to the live events game.  Outside of Hulu, a Disney property, Amazon is poised to make a big splash in the next few years as it already has a steady relationship with the NFL.  

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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