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ESPN Moving Some Content Behind ESPN+ Paywall

“Marchand reports that breaking news and investigative pieces will still be free. Anything written by any of the network’s insiders though will now be premium content.”

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ESPN Plus

Disney’s shift to a direct-to-consumer, digitally focused company is taking its first effects on ESPN. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that much of the analysis and features usually available on the network’s website will be integrated into ESPN+. That means content that used to be free will now go behind a paywall.

“ESPN+ has established itself as the industry-leading and fastest-growing sports streaming service, but we have no intention of taking that position for granted,” Russell Wolff, Executive Vice President and General Manager of ESPN+, said in a press release. “A core part of what ESPN+ gives subscribers is exclusive original content that complements our live sports – content that, whether written or video, is truly distinctive because of the expert voices it comes from, and the exceptional insights, context, creativity and personality it delivers.”

Marchand reports that breaking news and investigative pieces will remain free, and anything written by network’s insiders will become premium content. Even with the changes, most of ESPN’s content will remain free. Roughly 10% of ESPN’s overall written digital content will require a subscription.

Disney is certainly bullish on building its digital subscription business. ESPN+ has consistently performed well in 2020 according to CEO Bob Chapek, tripling its subscriber base during the past year, and delivering more than 8.5 million subscribers as of June. That said, the company hasn’t lost sight of continuing to provide strong, high-quality content on ad-supported models too.

Sports Online

Rebecca Lowe: Studio Shows Are ‘All About Analysts’

“I’m literally there to lead them down a road they want to go down and bring with us down that road all of their experiences and insight.”

Ricky Keeler

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Rebecca Lowe

Since 2013, Rebecca Lowe, who recently signed a contract extension to remain at NBC through the 2026 Summer Olympics, has been the network’s lead studio host for coverage of the Premier League. After not being the number one host for soccer coverage at the BBC or at ESPN, she was happy to get the chance to be the number one for a network’s soccer coverage.

Lowe was a guest on The Press Box podcast with Bryan Curtis and she said when she decided to go to NBC, she knew that the USA was ready for Premier League.

“I wanted to be the number one at a network. I had been the number two to Ray Stubbs at ESPN for 4 years….To be the number one was a dream. An American audience that I knew from spending a lot of time in America beforehand was ready for this and was wanting there. Therefore, I knew there was massive, massive growth. I was lucky to be proven right with that.”

In her role as the studio host, Lowe knows it’s her job to bring the storylines to the table and let the analysts bring the bulk of the information:

“It’s less about for me stats and facts and more about storylines. Peter Drury is the stats and facts guy. I am the person who weaves the storylines and he fills in all the colorful bits. I have the page and he colors it in. I listen to the radio constantly. I’m reading blogs every week. It never actually ends. I never have a day where I don’t have access to an audio podcast, blog, or newspaper.”

“To me, a studio show is all about the analysts. I’ve never played the game. I’m literally there to lead them down a road they want to go down and bring with us down that road all of their experiences and insight. That’s what the audience pay for. That’s what the audience wants to hear and that’s my job is to get it out of them.”

Lowe told Curtis that ever since her career began, she has over prepped for any show because she wants to be able to have enough information in her grasp as possible.

“I just did what I felt was necessary, which was over prep. I over prep every studio show I have ever done because my biggest fear has always been to be live on-air with a delay or with a situation where you are having to fill and not having enough information at my fingertips. I feel less about that now 20 years in, but I am in the rhythm of over prepping. I just want to know everything about everything.” 

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Sports Online

Bleav Launches Kordell Stewart Podcast

“My Podcast will be an On The Edge experience however tough but fair. To be able to SLASH in and out of topics takes a team that BLEAVs in me,” Stewart said in a statement.

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Former Pro Bowl quarterback Kordell Stewart is joining Bleav for a new podcast called On The Edge with SLASH.

“My Podcast will be an On The Edge experience however tough but fair. To be able to SLASH in and out of topics takes a team that BLEAVs in me,” Stewart said in a statement.

 “Kordell was electric on the football field, and we are thrilled for him to be electric in front of a microphone. Kordell will bring top notch insights to Bleav,” Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm said. “We are ecstatic to work with him!”

The 49-year-old Stewart, nicknamed “Slash” for his ability to play several positions, mostly played quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1995-2002. He also played for the Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens during his NFL career

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Sports Online

Over Half of All NFL Viewers Don’t Know Thursday Night Football Is Streaming on Amazon

A study of 1,000 Americans 18 and older indicated 53% of frequent NFL viewers are aware that the games will only be available on Amazon Prime Video.

Jordan Bondurant

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Thursday Night Football

The new NFL season is heading our way fast, and in Week 2, Amazon will be kicking off its historic run as the home for Thursday Night Football.

The only thing is apparently there’s a large group of football fans out there that still have no idea that you’ll only be able to stream those games.

Cumulus Media and Westwood One Audio Active Group commissioned a study of 1,000 Americans 18 and older which indicated 53% of frequent NFL viewers are aware that the games will only be available on Amazon Prime Video.

What’s more concerning, according to Nielsen Scarborough, 54% of of those who watched TNF (36.7 million) in the last year say they are not Amazon Prime members. So they likely won’t have access to a game stream anyway unless they subscribe.

On the flipside, though, those who already have Prime are more likely to tune in to games anyway. Of those surveyed, there’s a good chance the various alternate broadcasts offered in addition to the traditional feed with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit will bring in larger audiences and viewers who may be occasional NFL watchers.

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