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Jimmy Pitaro: ESPN Comfortable With Both Linear & Digital Strategy

“Linear television is shrinking every year but still commands a large part of ESPN’s business model.”

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Courtesy: Steve Fenn / ESPN Images

Jimmy Pitaro joined The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast this week and shed some light on ESPN’s digital and traditional media strategy. 

ESPN+ continues to garner big properties and an increasing subscriber base. ESPN’s president noted that they are thrilled with their digital growth since launching ESPN+ in 2018 — but aren’t looking to bundle the whole network.

“Today, we are absolutely running these parallel paths,” Pitaro said when asked how long until ESPN offers their TV schedule on ESPN+. “We’ve closed deals over the past year and a half that give us the right to protect the linear televisional television model, and at the same time move content over to direct-to-consumer ESPN+.”

Linear television is shrinking every year but still commands a large part of ESPN’s business model. The network is perennially among the most expensive channels for cable subscribers.

“So, that flexibility means we have exclusive games,” Jimmy Pitaro continued. “Like on the NHL side, we have 75 exclusive games for ESPN+ and Hulu. You both know on the NFL side; we secured one game per year, an international game, a Sunday morning game, for ESPN+ exclusively.

“Beyond exclusive games, we have the ability to simulcast. We have the ability to do alternative broadcasts. We have the ability to just move more content to plus. As I sit here today, I will tell you; we like this idea of being multiple things at the same time.”

It makes plenty of sense for ESPN to slow play a complete shift to the digital space. Ratings are much harder to gauge on digital content — and the power of terrestrial TV is still great enough that league affiliates want all of the exposure options available to them.

“Everyday,” Pitaro said. “We’re pretty good at this. Figuring out what content should sit where and as we do our deals, that’s a large part of the focus.”

Jimmy Pitaro used the NHL as an example where the network researched how to best reach fans in that league and landed on a dual model (TV & Digital) to attack rights negotiations. ESPN is juggling many different mediums as they continue navigating the ever-changing media landscape.

Sports Online

New York Sports Media Reacts To Mets’ Gigantic Max Scherzer Deal

Many notable names in New York Sports Radio have taken to social media to let the world know their feelings on the move by the Mets.

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The New York Mets have agreed with pitcher Max Scherzer on a three-year deal that is worth an obscene amount of money. The excitement around the team feels to be at a new high in the city of New York.

Many notable names in New York sports radio have taken to social media to let the world know their feelings on the move by the Mets.

There is no understating the significance of this move by the New York Mets. Max Scherzer is a three-time Cy Young winner and one of the most prolific pitchers in the sport for the last decade, winning 190 games over his 13-year career.

It is worth noting however that the Mets have had a notorious history of giving out bad contracts to veteran players, with players like Pedro Martinez, Bobby Bonilla, and Mo Vaughn just to name a few as examples.

This is just one of many big signings that the Mets have already made this offseason. They have already added Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar, and Mark Canha to the team as well.

Max Scherzer will be making $130 million over the duration of the three-year contract. The $43.33 million average annual salary sets a record, surpassing the $36 million New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole is averaging after signing a nine-year, $324 million contract in 2019.

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Dan Le Batard Trolls Skip Bayless After Cowboys Loss

“It is hard to understand why such a video exists. It isn’t hard to understand why it ended up on Le Batard’s Twitter feed.”

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When the Cowboys lose or when LeBron James wins, social media comes for sports media’s most notorious hater. After the Dallas Cowboys fell in overtime on Thanksgiving night, Dan Le Batard was among those with Skip Bayless squarely in their crosshairs.

Le Batard posted a video of Bayless dancing in an Ezekiel Elliot jersey with no comment.

It is hard to understand why such a video exists. It isn’t hard to understand why it ended up on Le Batard’s Twitter feed. No one loves poking fun at the industry or his colleagues more than Dan Le Batard and Skip Bayless is ripe for parody.

Whether or not Bayless takes it personally remains to be seen. There have been stories in the past of the FS1 host wanting those that make fun of him disciplined. We have even seen evidence of him being thin-skinned show up on television. Still, it is hard to imagine that he doesn’t know this comes with the territory of the place in sports media he has chosen to occupy.

The loss drops the Cowboys to 7-4, which is still good enough to keep Dallas in first place in the NFC East by a healthy margin. Skip Bayless may be a dyed-in-the-wool Cowboys fan, but surely a regular season loss didn’t ruin his holiday.

For Le Batard though, content will always be king and that video certainly is content.

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Sports Online

Judge Puts Stop To Sports Betting Agreement In Florida

“Dabney Friedrich, the judge in the case, ruled that the deal and the app violate the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.”

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Never say never as the saying goes, but there have to be plenty of disappointed people and companies in Florida. Late Monday night, a federal judge dealt a major blow to the Seminole Compact, an agreement between the State and the Seminole Tribe, which allowed gamblers to place bets in Florida on games.

The Seminole Compact gave the tribe control over sports gambling in the state. In return, its leaders agreed to pay the state $2.6 billion for the monopoly. Through the use of a mobile app, bettors could make their wagers from anywhere in the state.

Dabney Friedrich, the judge in the case, ruled that the deal and the app violate the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It requires that any state-sanctioned gambling must take place on tribal land.

Servers receiving the bets are on Seminole tribal land, which the tribe argues satisfies the requirements of the IGRA. Friedrich dismissed that argument.

As of Tuesday, the Seminole Tribe had not shut down its app and was still taking bets. The tribe and its attorneys have filed an appeal, but it obviously has not been heard or ruled on yet. That puts any bets placed on the app between Tuesday and when it comes down on some seriously shaky legal ground.

It is likely that the Seminoles will have plenty of advocates. Local media groups had already enacted plans to take in gambling money, and certainly Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who signed the Seminole Compact, supports it. Time will tell what an appeals court will decide and how the state will deal with the mobile app remaining in operation after Judge Friedrich’s initial ruling.

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