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Detroit Pistons Broadcaster George Blaha To Miss Remainder of 2021-22 Season

Blaha, the voice of the Pistons since 1976, will undergo a heart bypass procedure. He’s expected to make a full recovery and return next season.

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The Detroit Pistons will finish their 2021-22 season without the longtime voice of the franchise calling their games.

George Blaha will miss the team’s remaining 14 games due to a heart bypass procedure that he’ll undergo on Tuesday (March 15). (With a record of 18-50, third-worst in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the Pistons will not be making the playoffs.) The issue requiring treatment was discovered during a routine check-up last week.

“I am disappointed to miss the remainder of the season, but my health is the number one priority right now and I have a great team of doctors guiding my short-term and long-term health,” Blaha said in a statement (via the Detroit Free Press).

“I’m grateful that they caught my issue early and they expect a full recovery. I look forward to getting back to full speed with rest and rehabilitation during the offseason and returning next year for my 47th season calling games for the Pistons.”

Blaha, soon to turn 77, has broadcast Pistons games since 1976 on both radio and TV. He has called over 3,200 regular-season and 260 playoff games for the franchise, chronicling three NBA championship teams (in 1989, 1990, and 2004), and the Hall of Fame careers of Bob Lanier, Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Adrian Dantley, Grant Hill, Ben Wallace, and coach Chuck Daly.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to George. He’s one of the best in the business and he’s seen almost everything in the business, both college and the pros,” said Pistons coach Dwane Casey before Sunday’s home game versus the Los Angeles Clippers. “We’re going to miss him the rest of the season, and my thoughts go out to him and his family.”

For generations of Detroit sports fans, Blaha is an iconic figure. It’s difficult to imagine watching or listening to a game without him welcoming fans to “another exciting night of NBA basketball” and one of his catchphrases including “Count that baby and a foul,” “Fires, fills it,” “Off the high glass,” “Throws up a rainbow gun, it goes,” and “Sweet string music.”

Also the play-by-play voice for Michigan State football on radio, Blaha was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

“George is part of our family and he and his wife, Mary, have our full support every step of the way,” said Pistons owner Tom Gores in a release. “George is in the best of care and in great spirits. We join his many fans, friends and colleagues in wishing him a full and speedy recovery.”

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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Sports TV News

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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