The first sign of spring for me every year: the blooming azaleas in Augusta. I can’t wait for Thursday.
I learned that Curt Menefee and Joel Klatt will be Fox Sports’ top USFL announcer team this season. Menefee and Klatt will be on the stand in 12 days when the league kicks off with an opener that will air simulcast on Fox and NBC.
Fox Sports is expected to make an announcement on Menefee and Klatt within the next two weeks, along with the other play-by-play, analyst and sideline reporter teams for the new league. The league officially begins April 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Generals and Stallions face off from Birmingham.
Two years ago, Fox Sports paired Menefee and Klatt on its XFL TV shows. Menefee is best known as the host of Fox’s NFL pregame show, “Fox NFL Sunday.” Klatt has been Fox Sports’ top college football analyst for the past eight seasons.
Sinclair and Charter have hammered out another short-term extension to their negotiations for Bally Sports’ RSNs, with multiple sources expressing optimism the two sides will agree a deal in the coming weeks.
Charter, which operates Spectrum cable systems, and Sinclair first worked out a March 31 trading extension. Sources have described the extension as a short-term extension, with both sides willing to accept a series of short extensions to get this deal over the finish line.
If the two parties can agree on a deal, which would also include Sinclair’s local broadcast stations, it would give Sinclair some stability in RSN’s volatile market, which is facing a double whammy from rising costs. combined with a drop in the number of subscribers.
Sinclair has announced plans to launch a direct-to-consumer local sports app around its RSNs by this summer and is set to strike a deal with Charter to ensure it has the rights to broadcast professional games live on the markets where Charter offers Sinclair’s RSNs. . In the summer of 2020, Comcast entered into a deal with Sinclair that included Bally Sports’ RSNs. Last year, Sinclair failed to convince Dish Network to agree to air its RSNs.
The next big negotiation over Sinclair’s schedule will take place towards the end of next year, when he will have to renew his deal with DirecTV.
Longtime industry vet Eric Conrad is leaving Univision later this month after 11 years with the network. The former ESPN and NBA executive was most recently executive vice president/sports programming and acquisitions at Univision.
Conrad, who says he’s pursuing other opportunities in the sports industry, helped spearhead the launch of Univision’s Deportes Network (now TUDN) and was chief negotiator for dozens of media rights deals. sports media including UEFA Champions League, CONCACAF Gold Cup, Copa America, MLS and various Liga MX club rights.
Conrad was an SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree in 2014. Prior to Univision, he was Senior Director of Acquisitions at ESPN and also held positions in the NBA and MLB.
- Greg Maffei, boss of Liberty Media, owner of F1, on rights negotiations“This year we’re on ESPN, and next year we’re looking for a broadcast partner. We have a lot of interest. … Our hope is that we will find a great partner in the future, which could be ESPN or someone else and which will probably be at a much better price for us.
- North Carolina-Duke drew big numbers for Turner Sports on Saturday night — the best of any Final Four game since 2017, my colleague Austin Karp notes.
- Expect MLB to increase the number of betting-related commercials available during game shows on RSN and the national network, reports my colleague Bill King.
- Octagon has signed football broadcaster Aly Wagner for representation, SBJ’s Liz Mullen reports. Jeremy Aisenberg and Alex Singer will represent Wagner.