As announced on Friday, longtime ESPN reporter Mark Schwarz is retiring after 32 years with the network. His final day is Monday, Jan. 31.
On Sunday, ESPN’s Andy Hall shared Schwarz’s final report for SportsCenter, in which he detailed results from a network survey of 1,002 fans regarding how they felt about star athletes Kyrie Irving, Aaron Rodgers, and Novak Djokovic refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
As Schwarz explains in the report, fans participating in the study disapproved most strongly of how Rodgers handled being unvaccinated, in particular claiming that he was “immunized” when asked about it by media and misleading the public. Djovokic was also viewed unfavorably among those surveyed, though by less of a percentage than Rodgers. Contrast that with Irving, whom a majority of fans felt was up front about his vaccination status.
The report can be viewed below:
“The results of the ESPN study confirm one unmistakable truth about our country right now,” said Schwarz in the report. “When it comes to this virus and when it comes to the vaccine, America is a nation divided.”
As anyone who’s paid attention to the news, current events, and social media over the past couple of years, Schwarz’s final sentence applies beyond sports. (And it applies beyond COVID-19 and the vaccine for it.)
But the study and subsequent SportsCenter report do demonstrate why Irving, Rodgers, and Djovokic have dominated sports and mainstream news headlines in recent months and weeks. These are polarizing figures representing a divisive time in the country. Schwarz certainly took on a hot-button topic for his final ESPN report, not settling for a puff piece.
Kudos to Schwarz on an impressive, storied career for ESPN, with outstanding work for SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, and other network platforms. As he said in the official announcement of his retirement, Schwarz gave everything he had to his work and is ready to devote that time and energy to other aspects of his life. Here’s hoping he gets to enjoy that.
Shannon Sharpe Apologizes to Richard Jefferson for Calling Him Lazy
FS1’s Shannon Sharpe took to social media to clear the air between him and ESPN’s Richard Jefferson over some comments Sharpe made about the former NBA champion.
Sharpe said Jefferson was lazy for only wanting to talk about basketball. Jefferson is an NBA analyst for ESPN and doesn’t normally appear on debate shows or provide analysis on other sports.
“There is not a person in this industry since I have retired that would ever refer to my work ethic as being lazy,” Jefferson said in a response video on his TikTok. “So as long as you live don’t ever do that again or this conversation is gonna be much different.”
Sharpe saw the video and apologized saying his assessment of Jefferson was lazy.
“I want to apologize, I come to you as a man, Rich, and apologize to you for my take on what you said,” he said.
Much like Jefferson did, Sharpe then went on to break down the differences between hosts on debate shows who have to watch and study various different sports and analysts like Jefferson who only specialize in analyzing one sport.
But ultimately Sharpe wanted to bury the hatchet and make it clear to the internet that there’s no problems between the two.
“Richard and I do not have a beef,” Sharpe said. “There is nothing going on, and this is my last time addressing this issue.”
Jefferson tweeted on Saturday accepting Shannon’s apology.
NBA Sees Over $800 Million in Advertising Revenue for 2022 Playoffs
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together.
The NBA and its media partners saw quite a boost in ad revenue over the course of the 2022 playoffs.
Yahoo! cited data from iSpot.tv in a recent report indicating the league saw $842.4 million in revenue for the postseason. That number was up 19% compared to last year and up 54% from 2019.
Data shows league ad sales for both Disney and Turner Sports, the NBA’s two national TV rights holders, will eclipse $1.3 billion when the playoffs and regular season are factored together. The figure makes for a 45% bump from 2020-21 and 39% from 2018-19.
State Farm, AT&T, Google Pixel and Kia Motors were the biggest ad spenders for this season. State Farm spent just over $40 million while AT&T and Google both spent over $30 million.
Despite the television viewership still not climbing back to pre-pandemic levels, the NBA has certainly kept it broadcast partners happy.
Media Rights Deals are Recession-Proof, Benefit from Longer Terms
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year
The U.S. economy may be in the “worry” phase about an upcoming recession, but if recent television deals are any indication, sports leagues are not. Media rights deals continue to skyrocket despite all of other financial indicators showing that people, businesses are currently struggling.
As recently as last week, Apple and Major League Soccer agreed to a $2.5 billion deal. The NFL is mulling billion-dollar deals for just about everything, most recently the NFL Sunday Ticket package which will leave DirecTV after this year. Those are just a couple of examples of the massive figures that seem to run counter what the average person is dealing with.
Media rights seem to be unharmed by overall macroeconomic environment. It’s interesting to look at why.
One of the main reasons seems to be scarcity. There are only so many NFLs in the world. The number might be one. If you have those media rights, you have access to a multitude of cashflow. It’s important to have the product that people want. Since people will not stop wanting their sports, it’s important to have live sports.
Also, fan participation isn’t one that seems to dwindle, overall, even in a pandemic or financial crunch. Fans care about their team, sport and the league they are in. That kind of fervor for a product makes payment to them or to whomever owns their rights to see them, a foregone conclusion.
A huge reason, also, for the value of a franchise and/or media rights deal to be largely unharmed by current economic climates is their length. Those rights are structured to be long-term and hopefully weather whatever financial crisis may be on the horizon in a hope that it is temporary.