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The first topic we wrote about in this newsletter was the idea of ESPN going live to the consumer, which we thought would happen in less than five years.
While we know you trust what we say, another Ithaca College classmate, one Bob Iger Speaking on the matter last Thursday, the Disney CEO said at the Morgan Stanley TMT Conference that it is “inevitable” that ESPN will go DTC:
“One of the reasons we’re optimistic is that we know the strength and popularity of live sports and we know how attractive it is,” Iger said. “Not only to consumers, but to advertisers.
“At this point, (ESPN+) is what I call a side business or brand to the core ESPN brand. I think it’s inevitable that at some point down the road … (ESPN) will become a direct-to-consumer business. There’s reason to be bullish. We think we’re well positioned.” .
Disney CEO Bob Iger recently said the launch of ESPN as a direct-to-consumer product was “inevitable.”Getty Images for AFI
We still think it will be in the next couple of years, probably sooner rather than later. Keep an eye on industry trends with regional sports networks. NESN, MSG, BAI, Bally Sports all have direct-to-consumer products or plans to have one soon.
What is sometimes lost in this debate is that no one is ruling out cable or satellite television. Not even ESPN. It’s not an either/or equation. There will be another direct-to-consumer offering next to cable.
There’s a needle to be threaded, which is why I think ESPN DTC will be cheaper than the $29.99/month that RSNs generally get.
The RSN numbers feel designed to get people to stick with cable, because they’re not good deals and maybe aimed at an audience that isn’t that big.
The Knicks at MSG, for example, have about 115,000 spectators per game. “Monday Night Football” on ESPN, meanwhile, averaged nearly 15 million (when you include the playoff game).
Because “Monday Night Football” helps ESPN generate a much larger audience than RSN, the network’s DTC offering may be cheaper than YES, MSG or NESN.Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
MNF costs ESPN far more in rights fees than the Knicks do MSG, but DTC’s potential audience is far greater. The subscription game has all kinds of tricks, but ESPN+ has about 25 million subscribers. How many would draw the full ESPN offer?
We will find out. It is inevitable.
Devin McCourty, who was on our 5 offseason NFL TV free agents list, retired this past week. Can CBS and CBS Sports Network match up? … Jim Nantz, who will be calling his final Final Four this year, no doubt hopes to finish cutting down the nets at his alma mater, No. 1 Houston, in Houston, the home of the Final Four. Nantz, who has used “we” in recent interviews when talking about the Cougars, says if Houston wins the title, it would be one of the highlights of his career. Would he cut the nets? …
Jim Nantz has a chance to call a national championship for his alma mater, the University of Houston, in his final Final Four play-by-play call.
Getty ImagesGetty Images
Bad job by the Big 12 commissioner Brett Yorkmark leading the media off the court to nosebleeds for his speech tournament. While it’s easy to call sports reporters spoiled, they’re there to do a job. If you’re not close to the court and are instead in the building above, you miss the aspects of the game that bring the competition to life in the game stories and columns. …. CBS Sports is launching Golazo Networks, a 24/7 streaming platform dedicated to global soccer…. Amazon will offer its new Black Friday NFL game in front of its paywall in November. The goal would be to get more people on their platform or think about what is the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season on their platforms. The start of the game is expected to be at 3:00 PM… YES it was Michael Kay and David Kone In the Tampa booth for the last two Yankees Spring Training broadcasts, which is where they should be for the call-up. …
Dick Vitale turned down an offer to call NCAA Tournament games for CBS out of respect for his longtime network home, ESPN.Getty Images
Nice gesture from the president of CBS Sports Sean McManus 83 year old offer Dick Vitale A chance to call an NCAA Tournament game or two, Sports Illustrated reports Jimmy Train. I loved that Vitale resigned out of loyalty to ESPN. Vitale mentioned how good ESPN has been over the decades, including his recent battle with cancer. Good work, all.
Aaron Rodgers and the New York media
Aaron Rodgers and the New York media has become increasingly hotly debated as we wait to see if No. 12 will become a Jet. Should it be a problem? Let’s take a look.
1. It’s an old-school way of looking at the media landscape that doesn’t take the digital age into account.
2. At one time the combination of back and front pages, along with sports radio, made New York different. Not only was there more media, it was generally tougher.
3. While the back pages are still very strong and—call me biased—maintain their place as the tone-setters of sports in the city, the Internet has leveled the gap from market to market.
The explosion of digital media following athletes on and off the field has diminished the anticipation a star like Aaron Rodgers might feel from traditional media sources, wherever he plays.Getty Images
4. The thing about social networks, some blogs and the internet in general is that there are no rules; as an athlete it is in front of you. The feedback that was unique to New York – the back page that calls out to you – is on these players’ phones the second they check in the locker room after a game.
5. Rodgers is already a weekly national talking point. He says something remarkable in his appearances Pat McAfee and it’s the news cycle. In New York, it would stay that way. The spectacle of Rodgers trying to bring a championship to the Jets may add more hype, but it won’t be fundamentally different.
6. Whether or not the New York media is tough depends on who’s on a certain beat. There are people who ask tough—I would say fair—questions, but there are more and more young writers who want to write about what athletes eat for breakfast (here’s 2,000 words on Cheerios!). from these beats.
7. Overall, the New York media is still awesome, even if there are pockets where it has regressed. (Not The Post, thankfully.) But the digital world has flattened it from market to market, which will make Rodgers’ transition from Green Bay to New York dependent on one thing it always has been: how it plays out.
From SiriusXM to Shaina’s Wish
Steve Cohen is stepping back from his job as SiriusXM’s chief programming officer to devote more time to the charity he and his wife founded to help youth with mental health and addiction issues.Getty Images for SiriusXM
SiriusXM Senior Director of Sports Programming, Steve CohenHe will move to a consulting role in the company for almost two decades.
However, Cohen will be a presence as he helps smooth the transition as president of sports programming. Eric Spitz, takes more responsibility. Cohen will also host, which has always been the case since his time at WFAN.
More importantly, Cohen and his wife, Eileen, will dedicate even more time to their foundation, “Shaina’s Wish.” The Cohens were nominated for their daughter, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 22, two years ago by “Shaina’s Wish.” In 2022, it helped pay for 10 young people to receive help for mental health and/or addiction issues.
SiriusXM faced layoffs last week, but Cohen chose his own fate, feeling that Spitz was the right person to replace him, knowing that he would be able to consult and host, and spend more time helping the family’s mission to honor their daughter.
“We look forward to continuing to help young people now and in the future with ‘Shaina’s Wish,'” Cohen said.