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Hollywood Reporter: Which Channels Will Be Victims Of Streaming Sports?

“The website used NBCSN’s 80 million subscribers as the threshold for what networks could be faced with uncertain futures.”

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NBCSN will be no more by the end of the year. Live sports and studio shows are a major part of the strategy to differentiate Peacock from other OTT services in what has become a crowded marketplace. On Wednesday, The Hollywood Reporter asked what other sports cable networks may soon shudder their linear operations.

HBO Max and ESPN+ are both going to stream games as part of their parent companies’ deals with the NHL. CBS won the TV rights to CONCACAF tournaments, but seems more focused on putting those soccer matches on Paramount+ than on CBS Sports Network. It makes sense then that The Hollywood Reporter is thinking this way.

The website used NBCSN’s 80 million subscribers as the threshold for what networks could be faced with uncertain futures. ESPNEWS and Big Ten Network both fall short of the mark with 62 million subscribers and 57 million subscribers respectively. The chart also highlighted Discovery’s Destination America which doesn’t even have 50 million subscribers. It has carried professional wrestling in the past, but is not a true sports network.

'On the Bubble' chart showing major cable channels carriage deals

It isn’t hard to imagine that Big Ten Network would go away anytime soon. FOX has not put a focus on creating a streaming platform for sports the way it has for news content. Plus, conference networks are a status symbol of the bond between the most powerful college sports properties and the TV networks they are partnered with.

ESPNEWS would seem like a possible candidate for extinction. The network’s programming could easily be folded into ESPN+ especially as more and more replays tend to populate its dayparts.

The Hollywood Reporter also quotes Pete Bevacqua, NBC Sports Chairman, on what shutting down NBCSN and moving more live games to USA Network would do for that outlet, saying that sports could make it “an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace.”

That could be another key to some smaller sports networks leaving the cable landscape. Moving live games to company’s largest cable outlets could be a better play for generating revenue.

Right now, no other studios have announced plans to shut down their sports networks, but at some point it is likely. The focus on streaming rights and the abundance of games that can fit on a streaming service as opposed to linear television will make it cost-effective to move sports to those OTT services exclusively.

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The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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