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Turner Sports SVP Tara August Clarifies Kobe Bryant ‘Inside the NBA’ Situation

“It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do PR or other things or a litany of things to promote the show. It was actually the press release wording where the deal fell apart.”

Ricky Keeler

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In any press release from a media company or public relations firm, the wording is always important because you never know what effects it can have. In fact, according to Turner Sports senior vice president Tara August, it ended up costing them hiring Kobe Bryant. 

Last week, Charles Barkley was on The Draymond Green Show on The Volume and revealed to Green that Turner Sports had a deal with Kobe Bryant, but it ended up falling through.

Soon thereafter, August went on The Steam Room with EJ and Chuck podcast with Barkley and Ernie Johnson just to clarify Barkley’s comments a little bit. He wasn’t wrong, but it was actually the wording in the press release that cost the big deal from happening 12 hours before it was going to be official. 

“It was an amazing opportunity that we had when Kobe had announced that he was retiring,” said August. “We knew he was the best and we wanted him with TNT with you guys. This was the season right before we added in the additional Tuesdays. We started talking to Kobe at the All-Star Break and then meeting with him along the way up until the end of the season.”

“We got the deal done, a short version of the deal done. He was really excited. We made up plans that we were going to announce it during the playoffs,” she continued. “The great Craig Barry and Drew Watkins came up with this amazing piece of tape that we would use as the announcement video. Kobe had his creative hands in it. We did the deal and then we got to the press release.

“The press release talked about what he would be doing on Tuesdays and Thursdays with TNT and Inside The NBA and contributing the rest of the season. He didn’t like that kind of phrasing in the press release. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do PR or other things or a litany of things to promote the show. It was actually the press release wording where the deal fell apart.”

In fact, Bryant actually had a lot of ideas for Turner Sports that the company was willing to try.

“End of the season came and he had some really unique ideas about the Tuesday package,” August said. “We were going to sort of say hey, do you want to executive produce this with us in a different way? He had some really unique ideas. I don’t think that we were totally bought into all of them, but we were willing to try.”

While the deal never got done, August mentioned that the two sides were able to work on different ideas together. However, she like everyone else, wonders what would have happened if Bryant had decided to join TNT:

“The best thing that came out of it was we still worked with him,” said August. “Both sides really still had so much respect for each other… He still came on our air and did some other really fun projects. It was one of those deals that never really got out that it could have happened and how that would have changed things.” 

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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Sports TV News

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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