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More Layoffs Announced at NBC Regional Sports Networks

Brandon Contes

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Two weeks ago, Variety reported NBCUniversal was bracing for layoffs and after the company’s digital department was hit Monday, more downsizing was announced for their TV brands Tuesday. Three of NBC regional sports networks were significantly affected, NBC Sports Bay Area, NBC Sports Boston and NBC Sports Chicago. 

“Due to the ongoing economic challenges caused by the pandemic and with the need to better position NBCUniversal for the future, we have made a number of difficult decisions to achieve cost savings, including eliminating some roles across the portfolio,” a spokesperson for NBCUniversal said in a statement.

According to The Athletic, at least 17 employees have been let go from NBC Sports Bay Area. After nearly two decades with NBC, Kelli Johnson announced she was informed her contract would not be renewed by the company, but will, however, stay on through the baseball season to cover the Giants in this unique year. Johnson joined NBCSBA in 2014 after past tenures with NBC Sports networks in Houston and DC. 

Other NBCSBA employees impacted by the restructuring included senior director of communications Jay dela Cruz, who was laid off after a quarter century with the company. The Athletic also noted Brian Chen changed his Twitter bio to “free agent,” after working as NBCSBA’s creative and editorial manager. The RSN’s director of social engagement Dann Pedroza was let go after two and a half years with the network. 

According to Chad Finn of The Boston Globe, NBC Sports Boston was also hit hard by the round of layoffs, releasing nearly 20 employees this week. The Globe reported the following on-air personalities have been let go from NBC Sports Boston, anchor Gary Tanguay, Bruins reporter Joe Haggerty, host Danielle Trotta, Celtics reporters Abby Chin and A. Sherrod Blakely. NBC Sports Boston may keep some of their laid off employees for up to 60 days as they continue to cover the Celtics and Bruins throughout the playoffs.

NBC Sports Chicago was also impacted by the company’s downsizing efforts, which unfortunately ended the tenures of Laurence Holmes and Leila Rahimi with the network, along with multiple behind-the-scenes employees. Rahimi relocated to the Midwest to join NBC Sports Chicago in 2015, where she hosted White Sox pre and post, as well as Baseball Night in Chicago. Holmes was a part-time employee and hosted the Football Aftershow following Bears games. The popular Chicago sports personality can still be heard daily with his noon – 2pm radio show on The Score.

UPDATE: Crossing Broad reports that 17 employees were let go from NBC Sports Philadelphia. Among them were Phillies broadcaster Gregg Murphy, NBC Sports Philly Director of Communications Maureen Quilter, and former The 700 Level founder Enrico Campitelli. There were also multiple cuts on the digital side.

The site also reports that as a company, the NBC RSNs are moving away from sideline reporters. Sideline reporters will stay in place through the end of the NHL and NBA seasons. After that, some talent will be reassigned. Others will be released.

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David Kaplan Leaving NBC Sports Chicago

“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement.”

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David Kaplan has announced he is departing NBC Sports Chicago. In a video posted to his YouTube channel, Kaplan said a new path opened that he couldn’t turn down.

“I was presented an opportunity that will allow me to spend a lot more time my wife, Mindy, our four sons, and their expanding families. This is far from a retirement. You’ll still be able to catch me weekday mornings with Jonathan Hood on the Kap and JHood morning show on ESPN 1000. It will also allow me to provide you with more engaging and outstanding content right here on YouTube.”

Kaplan, who will turn 62 this weekend, accepted a buyout offered by NBCUniversal. He has hosted several different shows for the network during his tenure.

“He’s made enormous contributions to our network, and his passion, opinions and love of Chicago’s teams have made him a beloved and respected figure, not just with fans but also his colleagues,” NBC Sports Chicago Vice President of Content John Schippman told The Chicago Sun-Times. “We wish him the best and look forward to seeing what’s next.”

December 30th will be his final day at NBC Sports Chicago. He called his time with the network “an amazing run”.

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NASCAR Chasing Nearly $1 Billion Annual Rights Fee In Next TV Deal

“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport.”

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The current media rights deal for NASCAR with FOX Sports and NBC Sports doesn’t end until after the 2024 season, but the organization is currently plotting what it wants its next deal to look like, according to a report from Front Office Sports.

Currently, NASCAR makes $820 million per year from the two networks. In its new rights deal, it is expected to seek a deal in the neighborhood of $900-950 million range.

NASCAR plans to begin negotiating with its current media partners in the early months of 2023, but is currently happy with FOX and NBC.

“We work really closely together, both from a scheduling perspective, but also just in terms of how they monetize the sport. Whether that’s pushing more brands and advertisers to spend on Fox and NBC,” NASCAR Senior Vice President of Media and Productions Brian Herbst told FOS. “Fox had their third consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. NBC had their second consecutive year of ad revenue increases in 2022. So it’s working for them — both from a viewership and an ad revenue perspective.”

In February of this year, NASCAR President Steve Phelps told the Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast that broadcast television “has to be a part” of the organization’s next television rights deal.

As its current media partners, FOX and NBC have exclusive negotiating windows with NASCAR.

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NFL Sunday Ticket Negotiations With Apple ‘Have Gotten Silly’

“Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”

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A report from The Athletic details why the NFL has not announced a new partner for the NFL Sunday Ticket package. David Kaplan claims there have been continued hiccups in the negotiations, mentioning the bargaining has gotten sideways between the league and Apple.

“This negotiation has gotten silly. … Clearly, there’s a problem. I think it’s really clear Apple is learning things they didn’t know,” the anonymous NFL source told Kaplan. “What the conversation is, is Apple’s like, ‘OK, we can’t sell internationally. OK, that was important to us. And we can’t sell it exclusively against Fox and CBS. Well, OK. Well, that changes its value.’”

The report also details Amazon Prime and YouTube remain in the mix as potential suitors for the service, should talks with Apple and the league fall apart.

The NFL is looking for as much as $3.5 billion annually for rights to the service.

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