Ariel Helwani Announces Post-ESPN Media Strategy
Helwani just wrapped up a three-year stint at ESPN.
Well, that didn’t take long.
One of the premier MMA journalists finished up his time at ESPN, and now he’s wearing a whole bunch of different hats. Ariel Helwani announced today that he is working with The Ringer, BT Sport, Substack, and Vox Media as he moves on from a three-year stint at ESPN.
Helwani is bringing his signature podcast, The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, back to Vox Media as a part of their podcast network.
“It feels like not a day has gone by without someone asking me to bring back The MMA Hour or telling me how much they miss it,” Helwani said in a press release. “Well, I missed it, too. Tremendously. So, I am extremely excited to let the fans know that — finally — The Mixed Martial Arts Hour is back in their life. Man, it feels good to write that.”
Speaking of writing, Ariel Helwani will house his scribing on Substack for the foreseeable future. His TV duties will shift over to BT Sport, where he will conduct long-form interviews with MMA voices while also contributing to their WWE and Boxing coverage. While his podcast duties will be twofold: the MMA Hour and a live-focused show with Spotify and The Ringer.
The live-Spotify show is listenable for fans and records in real-time on their Green Room app, which they recently rebranded from Locker Room. Helwani goes live on the app before and after weekly fight cards to discuss all of the action. He also confirmed additional live Green Room shows if there is any big breaking news in the MMA world.
Ariel Helwani’s main podcast will still be The MMA Hour, but the Spotify partnership allows him to flex his live audio chops.
“We’re excited to welcome Ariel and the whole MMA Hour community back to MMA Fighting and SB Nation,” SB Nation SVP Jermaine Spradley said. “Ariel is a much-needed voice in the world of mixed martial arts — and the community that he’s built around that podcast and video series is one we’re excited to help him continue to grow.”
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
Blue Wire Adding Podcasts Cut During SB Nation Downsizing
Blue Wire has announced it is adding three NBA podcasts that were cut during a downsizing by Vox Media that hit SB Nation earlier this year.
Lakers Lounge, hosted by Anthony Irwin, Green With Envy, hosted by Will Weir, Greg Maneikis, and Adam Taylor, and Pod Maverick with Kirk Henderson are all being revived with Blue Wire.
“We’ve built Blue Wire around being able to identify exceptional talent hitting the podcast free agency market,” said Blue Wire CEO Kevin Jones. “We were thrilled to act quickly and provide a new home for three standout local NBA podcasts.”
“I’ve known Kevin for years and we’ve often spoken about working together,” Irwin said. “I couldn’t possibly be more excited to add to all the great work Blue Wire has become known for as we finally see years of conversations become a fruitful partnership.”
The former SB Nation programs that follow the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics, and Dallas Mavericks, respectively, were able to negotiate the ownership of their podcasts with Vox, allowing them to bring their former feeds with them to Blue Wire.
The addition of the three podcasts adds to the company’s growing list of NBA shows. Currently, Blue Wire hosts Road Trippin’ with Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye, and No Chill with Gilbert Arenas, among others.
Rob Parker Bringing MLBBro.com Podcast To iHeartRadio
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball.”
Rob Parker loves Major League Baseball and he is expanding his reach in the sport. His site MLBBro.com is taking another step forward just weeks after announcing a partnership with the league to provide coverage of minority players from the past and present.
He will add a podcast to the brand’s portfolio. The MLBBro Show Podcast – The Mixtape will join the iHeartRadio podcast lineup. While Parker oversees the brand, the show will be led by MLBbro.com’s Vice President of Operations JR Gamble.
Gamble brings more than two decades of experience covering the league to the show. The first episode drops right after Opening Day on March 31.
“I’m thrilled to be a part of this groundbreaking project – this sound has never been heard before in connection with Major League Baseball,” said Parker, who has been a Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) member since 1990.
“It’s baseball coverage with hot sauce, loud and proud and in living color. Get on board from day one!”
What Implications Would TikTok Ban Have on Sports Media & Business?
“Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support.”
If TikTok is banned in the United States, a very realistic possibility, the ad market around sports and sports media stands to take a significant hit. Front Office Sports took a look at the companies that used the social video platform to advertise to sports audiences in 2022 and 2023.
Among the advertisers making major investments in TikTok was Degree, whose March Madness advertising campaign includes an ad that is exclusive to TikTok and stars Giannis Antetokounmpo. For the Super Bowl, T-Mobile supplemented its FOX ad buy with a TikTok campaign, while State Farm chose to skip the network broadcast of the game and spend all of its advertising with the digital platform.
It’s not only advertisers. Leagues and networks factor TikTok prominently into reaching younger audiences. The WWE, FIFA and the NBA all saw significant growth in their audiences on the app last year. On top of that, FOX and ESPN both have taken advertising money from TikTok in the past for postseason baseball and college football broadcasts respectively.
Prominent Democrats have spoken out against banning TikTok in the United States, but the effort has bipartisan support. The Biden administration and other lawmakers have voiced concern about the security threat the Chinese government’s involvement with the app poses to Americans and their personal data.
The appeal of TikTok for networks and advertisers is easy to see. Between 2021 and 2022, no social media platform showed more growth for engagement from sports fans. TikTok’s sports audience jumped 65% in that timeframe. Facebook saw 22% growth and for Twitter, it was just 8%.