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ESPN In 8 Million Fewer Homes Than In 2020

“Rumors of Disney looking to divest from ESPN have persisted.”

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ESPN

Some people in the media watch ESPN’s subscriber numbers like a hawk and report them without real context. In 2021, the people that cheer whenever there is news about ESPN having fewer subscribers than it used to will tell you that the network is in 8 million fewer homes at the end of the last fiscal year than it was in at the end of fiscal 2020. There is some context that is missing though.

Linear cable isn’t an a la cart service. So, if ESPN is in 8 million fewer homes at the end of 2021, then that means FOX News, Bravo, Nickelodeon and every other cable network is in 8 million fewer homes too. Also missing is the fact that while linear ESPN is losing subscribers, plenty of people are signing up for ESPN+ subscriptions.

At the end of fiscal 2021, ESPN Plus had more than 17 million subscribers. That is significant growth over fiscal 2020. ESPN Plus had 10.3 million subscribers at the end of the prior year.

ESPN’s traditional cable network and its sister channels net around $10 per subscriber for Disney each month through packages on cable, satellite and digital TV. At $6.99 per month, ESPN Plus is not a perfect replacement, but that is a direct payment to the company.

Rumors of Disney looking to divest from ESPN have persisted. A drop in linear cable distribution will do nothing to end that speculation. We may be in for an extended session of number watching though. If cable subscriptions keep dropping off at such a high rate, it could motivate Disney to make a move.

Sports TV News

Meadowlark Media Partnering With Skydance Sports On Documentaries

Up first will be a documentary series titled Good Neighbors, which chronicles the soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexican men’s national teams.

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Since launching Meadowlark Media with Dan Le Batard, former ESPN president John Skipper has said that he wants the start-up sports media company to make a big push with video content, citing an opportunity in the sports documentary space.

On Thursday, Meadowlark announced a new partnership with Skydance Sports, a division of Skydance Media, to produce unscripted sports content. The production companies will collaborate on two upcoming projects.

Up first will be a documentary series titled Good Neighbors, which chronicles the soccer rivalry between the United States and Mexican men’s national teams. The series is currently in production and plans to debut before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The second project from Meadowlark and Skydance will be a documentary on women’s basketball star Diana Taurisi, billed as “the definitive and authorized chronicle of [her] remarkable life and career.”

Last November, Meadowlark hired Deirdre Fenton as the company’s executive director of unscripted content. Fenton previously produced documentaries at ESPN and DAZN, with O.J.: Made in America and The Last Dance among her credits.

Skipper and Fenton will work alongside Skydance Sports executives Jon Weinbach and Jesse Sisgold in producing the upcoming documentary projects.

“Deirdre and I are excited for the tremendous opportunity to work with Jesse and Jon, who share our vision of using sports storytelling to explore and explicate larger cultural and societal issues,” Skipper said in the official announcement. “Our two first documentaries are a wonderful way to launch this partnership.”

It isn’t yet known with which streaming outlets or networks these projects will land. Meadowlark has a first-look deal with Apple TV+, but that is likely an exclusive agreement unrelated to the new partnership with Skydance Sports.

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Sports TV News

HBO Releases ‘Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep’ Trailer: “It’s Been An Amazing Life”

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HBO Sports

HBO has released a trailer and poster image for its Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep documentary, just over one week after the project was announced.

In collaboration with NFL Films, Going Deep is a combination of footage from a stage show that Bradshaw performed in Branson, Missouri (with singing, music, stories, and monologues), archival clips from the quarterback’s football career, and a new interview with the Fox NFL studio analyst.

Check out the trailer below:

Bradshaw taking the stage to tell personal stories and singing country-style music, with a band playing behind him, should help this HBO Sports special stand apart from a more conventional documentary with football-related interviews and clips. For example, Bradshaw’s A Football Life episode for NFL Network in 2019 or the 2003 installment of ESPN’s SportsCentury series.

Directed by longtime NFL Films documentarian Keith Cossrow, Going Deep appears to be Bradshaw telling his own life story and sharing personal anecedotes, rather than a filmmaker cutting together footage to tell his or her own version of the story. Though longtime NFL Films documentarian Keith Cossrow directed this film, not Bradshaw himself.

“As you can imagine, God knows I’ve had a lot of therapy,” Bradshaw jokes with the Branson audience, as shown in the trailer.

Terry Bradshaw: Going Deep premieres Tuesday, Feb. 1 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and will be available for streaming on HBO Max.

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Sports TV News

Lindsey Vonn To Be NBC Primetime Correspondent For Winter Olympics

“My first memories of Olympics were from NBC broadcasts, so I am very excited to be working with a team that has been there for so many amazing Olympic moments.”

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Lindsey Vonn will be the newest former Olympian to join NBC to cover the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

Vonn is one of the most well-known names in winter sports and one of the most accomplished. She has won 82 World Cup races, four overall World Cup championships, is one of six women to have won World Cup races in all five disciplines, and she took part in four Olympics, winning three medals. 

Vonn has worked for NBC before, once during the 2014 Sochi Olympics as a correspondent while she recovered from injury. This role, however, provides Vonn the opportunity as a “primetime correspondent” in Beijing. It seems that by title alone, this position carries a little more weight.

Executive Producer and President, Molly Solomon, had this to say about the addition of Vonn:

“As one of the greatest Olympic skiers of all time and a superstar who has transcended her sport, we’re thrilled to have Lindsey join our team,” said Molly Solomon, Executive Producer & President, NBC Olympics Production. “Lindsey will provide a perspective unique to an athlete known for excellence, intensity and determination on the world’s biggest and most competitive stage.”

Vonn seems grateful and enthusiastic about the opportunity.

“I am excited to share my perspective along with my insight on what athletes might be feeling during high pressure moments,” Vonn said. “My first memories of Olympics were from NBC broadcasts, so I am very excited to be working with a team that has been there for so many amazing Olympic moments.”

Since she retired, Vonn has made the move into sports media a priority. Other than her correspondent work, she is also a co-director and executive producer of the upcoming Peacock documentary Picabo, on revolutionary American downhill racer Picabo Street which will premiere Friday.

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