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Maria Taylor On Upcoming Documentary, Leaving ESPN, Career Ambitions

“I don’t want to talk about her,” Taylor said about Rachel Nichols.

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In recent months, Maria Taylor’s move to NBC Sports has proven to be a significantly beneficial decision for her career. Since leaving ESPN in July, Taylor has hosted coverage of the 2021 Summer Olympics, Football Night in America during the NFL season, the 2022 Winter Olympics, and Super Bowl LVI.

Regardless of the circumstances under which she left ESPN and the role tensions with Rachel Nichols over hosting NBA Countdown, in addition to her contract negotiations, it’s difficult to imagine Taylor could receive a better showcase than she has in her short time with NBC.

Another aspect of Taylor’s career growth at NBC was revealed during Super Bowl pregame coverage with the announcement of an upcoming project that she’ll be working on with legendary producer Lorne Michaels for Peacock. The eight-part documentary series will chronicle the history of Black quarterbacks and is scheduled to air during Super Bowl week next year.

“Now, if you turn on your TV, it is not unusual to see a Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson — you know, insert whoever — they dominate the NFL,” Taylor told Vanity Fair‘s Joy Press. “But it wasn’t long ago that not only was it rare, but it didn’t happen… It was believed that maybe they weren’t intelligent enough or they lacked the leadership skills.”

The Peacock docuseries fulfills one of Taylor’s ambitions, to tell untold stories. Could she have had an opportunity to produce such a project at ESPN under the ESPN Films or E60 banners? For ESPN+, if not the network’s linear channels? We’ll never know. The Vanity Fair piece also mentions that Taylor is developing scripted series with the same goal in mind.

Naturally, Press also asked Taylor about the end of her time at ESPN and the circumstances that led to her departure. Those looking for Taylor to say something juicy about Nichols, perhaps clapping back against Nichols’ assertion that Taylor was named host of NBA Countdown during the NBA Finals because she’s Black, will be disappointed, however.

“I don’t want to talk about her,” Taylor said to Press when asked if she’s talked to Nichols since her comments were made public by the New York Times.

Yet Taylor didn’t criticize ESPN, instead expressing gratitude for what she learned there and the opportunities she received.

“Everything that I’ve learned since I graduated college, everything that I learned was there,” she said. “I was promoted, given my first opportunities; so many great things happened. So I could never say that.”

The entire Vanity Fair feature is worth reading, which includes Taylor’s thoughts on a key reason she wanted to work at NBC, how she’s enjoyed Olympics coverage because it places female athletes at the forefront, and the importance of being a role model.

Sports TV News

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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