ESPN’s relationship with UFC is paying dividends in a time when the MMA promotion is one of the only games in town for sports fans. UFC 249 was staged in an empty arena over the weekend and streamed on ESPN+. According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, more than 700,000 people purchased the pay-per-view.
Joe Lucia of Awful Announcing looked at the audiences for past UFC pay-per-view events to put UFC 249’s success in perspective.
“A year ago, UFC 236 on ESPN+ reportedly couldn’t even crack a six figure buyrate. In January, UFC 246 was estimated to have drawn around a million buys by Disney’s Bob Iger (despite earlier reports stating it was around the “equivalent” of two million buys, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean). In 2018, the UFC’s final year on “traditional” pay per view, just two events drew even 400,000 buys – Conor McGregor’s loss to Khabib Nurmagamedov at UFC 229 (which drew a record 2.4 million buys) and Jon Jones’ second successful title defense against Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 232 (700,000 buys). UFC 235 in March of last year, featuring Jones’ win over Anthony Smith, was the final PPV not available exclusively on ESPN+, and drew a reported 650,000 buys.”
It says a lot about the starvation for live sports right now that people were willing to sign up for a $4.99 per month subscription to ESPN+ just to have the chance to pay $64.99 to watch UFC 249.
The UFC isn’t done providing ESPN with content. This week, the promotion stays in Jacksonville, Florida where it will film events on both Wednesday and Saturday in front of no fans. The fights will be shown on ESPN and ESPN+.
Washington Post Reporter Sally Jenkins Details Jerry Jones Reporting to Dan Le Batard
“We just started to research to ask him questions about it and we came across that photo.”
A report from The Washington Post that featured a photo of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones witnessing the controversial integration of North Little Rock High School in 1957 caused a stir late last week, and one of the reporters on the project, Sally Jenkins, detailed how it came to be to Dan Le Batard Monday.
“It was part of a larger project,” Jenkins said of the discovery of the photo. “We came across this photo of Jones. It’s at the start of the school year at North Little Rock High School. He’s on the cusp of his 15th birthday and he’s very clearly identifiable in the photo, which ran on the front page of The New York Times in 1957 because Little Rock was undergoing a real crisis of desegregating it’s schools to the the point that (President Dwight D.) Eisenhower had to send the 101st Airborne into Little Rock to quell violence over black kids trying to go to white schools.
“We knew that Jerry Jones had witness — or at least lived through — a tough civil rights era in Little Rock, and we wanted to talk to him about that. We just started to research it to ask him questions about it and we came across that photo.”
The Washington Post debuted a nine-part series entitled “Blackout” that dove into why there are not more minority head coaches in the NFL. They asked every NFL owner for an interview for the project, but Jones was the only one to agree.
Stugotz asked Jenkins if it was fair to judge someone from a photo taken of them while they were a child, referring to some of the media backlish pushed towards Jones because of the photo.
“Of course not,” Jenkins said. “What is fair is to ask him about what he witnessed, ask him what he experienced, ask him how his views may have changed, or if they did change at all, ask him how he has evolved on issues of social justice or racial justice. And the fact is he has evolved, particularly recently. He started out as a real hard-liner on the Colin Kaepernick situation. At one point, Jerry Jones said ‘The Dallas Cowboys will stand for the anthem and tow the line’, and he’s really softened on that.”
She later conceded the answers Jones provided won’t satisfy everyone, and said there are legitimate questions about his positioning in the photograph, noting the Little Rock Six were spit on, and had the n-word shouted at them from those standing on the steps where Jones was located.
Mike Francesa: George Steinbrenner’s Idea to Put Mike and The Mad Dog On YES Network
“It was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were.”
Mike and The Mad Dog is often cited as one of, if not the, best sports radio shows of all time. The show saw an expanded reach with its partnership with the YES Network beginning in 2002. During his podcast Tuesday, Mike Francesa gave all the credit to the simulcast hitting the air on YES Network to the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.
“It was George Steinbrenner that came up with the idea of Mike and The Mad Dog being on the YES Network. No one else,” Francesa said.
“They came to us when they were negotiating a new radio deal with him and they said ‘Hey, we need a quick answer on this. Would you guys want to be on the YES Network every day, simulcasting? You know what Imus is doing with MSNBC? We wanna do it with you guys, but we need a very quick answer’.”
Francesa said the show airing on YES Network was a sticking point for the Yankees in negotiations with CBS Radio to continue airing the franchise’s broadcasts.
“Our first deal with them were not for a lot of money. Our later deals with them were for a very significant amount of money. But it was George’s idea. So give him credit for it. He wanted Mike and The Mad Dog as part of the CBS Radio contract, and we were. Our joining the YES Network was part of the CBS Radio contract.”
Dave Portnoy Reveals Back-And-Forth With New York Times Reporter Who Claimed He ‘Did Not Provide Answers’
“You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.
A story from The New York Times centered around “aging casino company” — Penn National Gaming — and its relationship with “degenerate gambler” — Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy — caught the eye of the face of the online outlet after the claim that he “didn’t provide answers”.
In the story, Steel claims “Penn and Barstool executives did not respond to repeated messages. Mr. Portnoy did not provide answers.” Portnoy brought the receipts to Twitter with a video of all of the correspondence he had with Times writer Emily Steel.
The alleged conversation takes place sporadically from May through November, with Portnoy offering to meet face-to-face with Steel for an interview that is mutually audio and video recorded, which Steel declines. She offered to meet Portnoy in New York for an audio recorded interview, which he declined, saying the interview needed to take place in Miami, because “I’m not running around to accommodate you at the 11th hour.”
He added “You waited till (sic) your hit piece was done and now you just need to say you gave me a fair chance to speak even though you have no interest in the truth and your article is already written”.