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Disney Reportedly Explored Buying UFC in 2016

“Bob Iger thought the sport was “too bloody and violent” for Disney’s family orientated brand image.”

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Now that streaming giants like Amazon and Apple+ have dipped their toes in the world of live sports, these massive companies are reportedly seeking out more. According to an article from CNBC, a number of these companies could potentially acquire the rights to more ‘niche’ sports like UFC, WWE and Formula 1.

Before UFC signed an exclusive deal with ESPN, the combat sports company almost negotiated a deal with the network’s parent company Disney. According to a source cited in the article, Disney had negotiated terms with the combat sports giant to acquire the company for about $4.3 billion.

However, that deal eventually fell through because then-president Bob Iger thought the sport was “too bloody and violent” for Disney’s family orientated brand image. UFC was eventually bought by The Endeavor Group (then known as WME) back in 2016 for $4 billion. Two years later, ESPN snagged the TV rights, paying $1.5 million, with their streaming service also inking a $150 million per year deal to stream UFC fights.

After signing with the worldwide leader in sports, the UFC instantly increased their value to $7 billion according to UFC’s president Dana White. The deal is just another indication of the rising value for sports broadcasting rights which gives advisers a unique opportunity as more and more people are cutting the cord from cable but are still tuning in to watch their favorite teams and athletes.

LightShed analyst Rich Greenfield believes that instead of Disney paying for the UFC’s TV rights, it would’ve been a lot smarter to just buy the UFC outright rather than spending billions on licensing.

“Disney would have been far smarter to buy UFC than spend this much to license,” Greenfield said. “Now the costs are going way up. Owning a league makes a ton of sense.”

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ESPN Releases Details For Joe Buck’s PGA Championship Broadcast

“Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host.”

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Omaha Productions and ESPN are getting ready for the PGA Championship. News broke last week that Joe Buck would make his ESPN debut at the center of alternative coverage of the event. Now the network is sharing a few details of the broadcast.

Michael Collins will serve as Buck’s co-host. ESPN’s senior golf analyst will bring the perspective of a former caddie to the broadcast as well as the humor of a former comedian.

The duo will welcome plenty of guests too. The lineup suggests that while the broadcast will be built around golf, the conversations could go anywhere. Troy Aikman, Josh Allen, Charles Barkley, Doris Burke, Fred Couples, Jon Hamm, and Peyton & Eli Manning are all scheduled to make appearances.

“We loved doing Monday Night Football with ESPN and the entire Omaha team has been looking forward to producing alternate telecasts that celebrate other sports,” Peyton Manning said in a press release. “As one of golf’s majors, the PGA Championship is a perfect place to do our first one for golf and we look forward to working with Joe, Michael and everyone in ESPN’s golf team.”

Joe Buck and Michael Collins will be on TV for all four days of the PGA Championship. They will be on for four hours each day. The broadcast will alternate between ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+ depending on where the traditional coverage of the event is airing.

The PGA Championship with Joe Buck & Michael Collins is the latest offering from ESPN’s deal with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions. The company has also committed to produce alternate coverage of MMA and college football broadcasts in the future.

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Tom Brady To Join FOX At End Of Career

“Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.”

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Tom Brady won’t be in the booth this season for FOX, but he will be there eventually. The network’s PR account tweeted that as soon as Brady is ready to call it a career, he will join Kevin Burkhardt to call the biggest game on the network’s slate each week.

“We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the Fox team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season,” FOX CEO Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement.

FOX has made no secret of its desire to bring Brady aboard. The network has been courting him ever since he announced his retirement in February. The desire to pair him with Burkhardt was first reported in March by Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

This news raises questions about the future for a lot of the parties involved. First, who will be Burkhardt’s partner this season? Tom Brady has committed to play for the Buccaneers. Next, what does this mean for the quarterback’s future? Does this guarantee that 2022 will be his final season in the NFL? Finally, what now for Greg Olsen? He had been Burkhardt’s partner last season and has expressed interest in continuing to work together.

All of those answers will be addressed in time. Right now, FOX is busy celebrating.

Whether or not Tom Brady is great on TV remains to be seen. What is certain is that the network just added star power that is unmatched amongst other networks that carry NFL games.

That is going to cost them too. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Brady’s FOX paycheck will eclipse $20 million annually.

FOX’s deal with Tom Brady is similar to the one NBC made with Drew Brees before his final season in New Orleans. It allowed the quarterback one more season and promised him a nice landing spot in the media when his playing days are done. We will have to wait and see whether or not FOX will end up waiting longer than the one season NBC did.

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Ratings for NHL Regional Coverage Down Across Most Of The League

“Only four teams with available data (the Kings, Wild, Panthers, and Red Wings) saw ratings growth in 2021-22.”

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While national TV ratings for the NHL season can and should be celebrated, ratings for regional sports networks appear to be a cause for concern. John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reported Monday that RSNs across the league were down 23% compared to last year.

The 2020-21 season was shortened to 56 games because of the COVID pandemic.

Only four teams with available data (the Kings, Wild, Panthers, and Red Wings) saw ratings growth in 2021-22. Numbers for Carolina, Nashville and the Canadian teams were unavailable.

Arizona saw the biggest dip year over year. Bally Sports Arizona was down 58% compared to last year. Part of it is understandable. The Coyotes were one of the worst teams in the league.

Viewership for the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning was down 20%. The average rating for games on Bally Sports Sun was 1.49, good enough for 10th of the teams on the list.

The Pittsburgh Penguins had an average rating of 5.43 on AT&T Sportsnet Pittsburgh this season, which topped the league, but viewership was still down 30% versus last season.

The Seattle Kraken had an average rating of 0.96 for their inaugural season on Root Sports.

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