Michael McCarthy

XFL Broadcasts Score With On-Screen Betting Data and On-Field Access

  • Replay booth access and mic’d up play calls proving a hit with fans.
  • Fox averaged 3.3 million viewers and ABC/ESPN 2.9 million over their first two games, networks say.

Given the hot start of the first XFL in 2001, the startup league’s TV partners are savvy enough to realize the final verdict on the performance of the reborn XFL in 2020 will come at the end, not the beginning, of the season. Still, executives at ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports are thrilled with the access they were given by Vince McMahon’s XFL 2.0 to go where NFL TV partners have not gone before. XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck and President Jeffrey […]

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FOS Exclusive

LaMelo Ball Shopping Documentary About His Long Road To NBA Draft

  • LaMelo Ball's reps are seeking a steep price for his proposed HBO '24/7'-like documentary about his road to the NBA Draft June 25.
  • But NBA insiders think youngest Ball brother can spur Zion Williamson-type excitement: 'LaMelo is as hot as anybody coming into the Draft."

LaMelo Ball has seemingly spent half his life in front of the TV cameras. He’s prepared to do it again as he heads for the NBA. The 18-year old Ball’s representatives are shopping around an HBO “24/7”-like documentary series about his road to the 2020 NBA Draft, sources tell Front Office Sports.  The 6’7,” 190-pound point guard is expected to be one of the top picks on June 25 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  The proposed documentary about the youngest […]

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YES Finds Viewers in Bars As Network Plans Rate Hike

  • Nielsen portable people meters reveal Yankee viewership up 40% in 2019
  • Network predicts ‘double digit’ revenue gain after record 2019

When Howard Levinson of YES Network walks home at night to his Manhattan apartment, he can literally follow the progress of the New York Yankees game by checking TV sets through the windows of crowded local bars.  Like many TV executives, the experience frustrates, Levinson, the senior vice president of ad sales for the nation’s most-watched regional sports network.  Consumers now spend half of their waking hours away from home, according to Nielsen Media Research. Levinson has long desired a […]

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The Athletic to Add 50 Podcasts to Lineup

  • The Athletic plans to expand its podcast line up by more than 30% this year.
  • New offerings will be a combination of subscription based and free, ad-supported productions

The Athletic is poised to launch a major expansion of its podcast business that will see over 50 new offerings over the next year, bringing its total to more than 200. The company’s podcast downloads are currently in the range of “seven figures” per week, according to Nick Adler, general manager of audio strategy for The Athletic. “I think (podcasts) will continue to be a big part of our strategy,” said Adler. “We really believe in it – and are […]

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FOS Exclusive

ABC/ESPN To Show XFL Betting Lines On-screen

  • ABC/ESPN's XFL “score bug” to display point spread and over/under total along with down and distance.
  • Unlike the NFL, ABC and ESPN's XFL announcers will be allowed to discuss gambling metrics in booth.

When TV viewers turn on ABC and ESPN for inaugural coverage of the XFL this weekend, they’ll see something completely taboo for NFL game telecasts: the betting point spread and over/under points for the game. The network’s new “score bug” display for XFL broadcasts will feature those two popular football bets, along with the traditional elements of the score, game clock, down, distance, and timeouts remaining. Also unlike the NFL, ABC/ESPN will allow its XFL announcers to discuss the game’s […]

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Bleacher Report Leverages Sub-Brand To Deliver Differentiated Super Bowl Experience

  • Bleacher Report's new B/R Gridiron football brand is activating for the first time on location during Super Bowl Week.
  • Rather than throwing a swanky VIP Super Bowl party, B/R Gridiron is creating an 'oasis' for fans shut out of other events.

Throwing a Super Bowl party is a well-worn activation strategy during Super Bowl week. Media companies and sponsors spend big trying to convince athletes and celebrities to attend their VIP event, hoping the buzz will have a halo effect on their brand. But as Turner Sports’ Bleacher Report has looked to activate its new B/R Gridiron brand for the first time during Super Bowl Week, the company has passed on an expensive late-night party in lieu of trying to create […]

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DAZN Wants To Capitalize On Buzz Around Major Sporting Events

  • DAZN will stage a 'Miami Fight Night' the Thursday before Super Bowl 54. YouTube stars Jake Paul and AnEsonGib will co-headline the action.
  • If successful, DAZN may bring the concept to other events, including the NFL Draft and NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Drafting is not just a tactic used by NASCAR drivers or cyclists. It’s also the nickname for an internal media strategy by DAZN to grow its audience off big events like the Super Bowl.  The sports streaming service is staging a “Miami Fight Night” on January 30, three days before Super Bowl 54 between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. The four-fight card will be headlined by social media stars Jake Paul and AnEsonGib as DAZN attempts to […]

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ESPN’s Personality-Driven Instagram Approach Leading to More Engagements

  • The hiring of HoH founder Omar Raja has helped boost January video views for 'SportsCenter's Instagram account 65% to 495 million.
  • ESPN has also seen engagement increase 30% per post.

Most high-profile executive hires spend their first few weeks earning their way around the office. Omar Raja, however, spent his first days elevating ESPN’s social media profile and covering big sporting events such as LSU’s win over Clemson at the College Football Playoff National Championship and Zion Williamson’s NBA debut. It’s only been a couple of weeks since ESPN hired the founder of House of Highlights, but the 25-year old Instagram influencer is already moving the needle, according to Ryan […]

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ESPN Going All-In for Zion Williamson’s NBA Debut

  • ESPN has launched three-day programming and promotional effort to get the word out on Zion Williamson's NBA debut.
  • ESPN knows from Williamson's Duke days that 'fans have a great appetite for Zion content,' says producer Mike Shiffman.

Zion Williamson of the New Orleans Pelicans is expected to make his NBA regular-season debut against the San Antonio Spurs on January 22. If viewers don’t tune in to ESPN to watch the No. 1 overall pick out of Duke, it won’t be because of a lack of trying by the network. Once ESPN learned the 6’6,” 285-pound Williamson had recovered from right knee meniscus surgery, swapping out the previously scheduled Denver Nuggets-Houston Rockets telecast for Pelicans-Spurs was an easy […]

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FOS Exclusive

Sources: Bill Simmons Wants $200 Million For The Ringer

  • $200 million would be a 'whopping multiple for Bill Simmons' The Ringer in current environment, says tech investor Eric Jackson.
  • Simmons could try to re-establish his relationship with ESPN following the departure of former boss John Skipper to DAZN.

Subscribe to the Front Office Sports Newsletter here. Bill Simmons wants roughly $200 million from Spotify Technology or other bidders looking to purchase The Ringer, sources told Front Office Sports.  However, given the current media environment, sources said a more accurate valuation for the sport and pop culture website and podcast network is more like $90 million to $100 million. The gap between Simmons’ desired price and the true market value for The Ringer could make any deal problematic, said […]

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