Homepage / Technology / After a big week, ESPN is becoming cool again
Facebook takes another shot at grabbing social media stars from YouTube UK says it is happy with Rupert Murdoch's Sky News commitments related to bid for parent company Apple CEO Tim Cook says separating immigrant children at US border is 'inhumane' In the short history of Trump trade conflicts, it has paid to buy the market dip Danny Meyer stands by cashless push: 'We're unaware of any federal law' that requires accepting cash Express Scripts boots another online pharmacy — CareZone — from its network Home Depot and two other Dow stocks look ripe for a buy, says technician Snap shares plunge after analyst says users are less engaged White House's Navarro on China trade talks: No knowledge of Apple iPhone exemption Merkel, Macron agree on euro zone budget Walgreens and Humana are partnering to create senior health hubs Sarepta Therapeutics shares soar 50% on positive preliminary results for muscular dystrophy gene therapy Verizon pledges to stop some selling of phone-location data There's one Dow stock having a great day: Verizon Europe's IPO market heats up, and unicorns are getting in line Amazon wants a hand in all your deliveries, unveils last-step option for FedEx, UPS and private mail Soybean prices drop to two-year low on US-China trade war fears Cramer: US-China trade fight 'is not serious' right now; Trump has upper hand China has a limited number of weapons to use in a trade war with the US Laws governing medical marijuana could soon be relaxed in the UK The flip phone is about to make a big comeback as foldable screen nears reality Here is what a student could have made if they invested their 2014 summer earnings in FANG stocks VW names interim Audi boss, seeking to steady brand after its CEO's arrest Here’s the fundamental error in Trump’s trade strategy Chip stocks dive on trade war fears as industry gets a majority of its revenue from China New home construction booms to a near 11-year high in May A dangerous dot-com era phenomenon is back and it's going to inflict pain, Jim Paulsen warns Netflix gets a $500 price target, the highest on Wall Street Apple is the big tech firm most at risk from a US-China trade war AT&T promises fewer ads, tailored programming after merger with Time Warner Stocks making the biggest moves premarket: VZ, TSLA, AAPL, WFC, T, SIRI & more Billionaire Howard Marks: Computers won't put the best human investors out of business CVS introduces prescription drug delivery as it braces for Amazon's possible entry Former turnaround exec Bozoma Saint John: Uber was 'the poster child for everything gone wrong' Trump told Tim Cook that US would not place tariffs on iPhones, but Apple's still worried Amazon's Alexa will now be your butler at Marriott hotels Billionaire investor Jim Mellon: Sharp sell-off in US stocks is the start of a 'very major correction' South Africa will avoid a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to currency weakness, central bank deputy says Dow futures tumble as China responds to latest Trump threat North Korea's Kim visits Beijing as South Korea and the US halt military drills 'Belligerent' US trade stance could hurt America's iconic companies the most, Jim O'Neill says Irish central banker says it's too early for the ECB to discuss future rate hikes All global currencies will become cryptocurrencies, Circle CEO says Abu Dhabi Financial Group unit offers to buy Abraaj's investment management arm Beijing subways could get facial recognition and palm scanning tech, Chinese media reports Roche agrees to pay $2.4 billion to buy the rest of Foundation Medicine Japanese e-commerce company Mercari surges more than 70% in Tokyo debut European markets seen sharply lower as Trump threatens new tariffs China's central bank delivers surprise stimulus as trade spat with US worsens Shares of China's ZTE sink 23% after US Senate targets company in new bill Has a US-China trade war begun? Experts weigh in North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in China on a two-day visit: Chinese state media China pledges it will fight back firmly if Trump goes ahead and publishes list of additional tariffs Trump reportedly told Apple's Tim Cook that iPhones will be spared from China tariffs Smartphone maker Xiaomi to postpone mainland China listing until after Hong Kong IPO Asian shares poised to edge higher despite trade jitters; oil prices rise Senate passes military funding bill that would reimpose sanctions on Chinese telecom ZTE Cramer Remix: Tariff headlines have investors flocking to these stocks Cramer's warning on recent tech IPOs: Be careful with their sky-high valuations Elon Musk sends company email about 'extensive and damaging sabotage' by employee Elon Musk sent an email to Tesla employees about another fire in its factory on Sunday Microsoft condemns 'forcible separation' of children from families after criticism of work with ICE Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says even his wife, Miranda Kerr, hated the app’s redesign UBS CEO: Blockchain technology almost a must have for business Bitcoin jumps after New York approves Square's Cash app for crypto trading Apple is worried about Chinese tariff retaliation that could hamstring its supply chain Elon Musk tells shorts on Twitter they have 3 weeks to cover Watch these drones string power lines along poles high above the ground SurveyMonkey confidentially files for IPO President Trump signs space junk directive aimed at cleaning up the cosmos Dropbox rises more than 8% adding to last week's gains President Trump directs Defense Department to 'immediately begin the process' of establishing 'Space Force' as sixth military branch Elon Musk hung out in the Netscape lobby in the '90s hoping to get a job Square gets regulatory green light for cryptocurrency trading in New York Domo drops below billion-dollar valuation in lead-up to IPO Russia cuts Treasury holdings in half as foreigners start losing appetite for US debt With Twitch, Amazon tightens its grip on live streams of video games This fitness app wants you to have a personal trainer in your pocket Intel shares fall after small Wall Street firm downgrades chipmaker, predicting slower growth Rent-A-Center shares surge 22% in single day on buyout Snap CEO Evan Spiegel on Facebook imitations: 'The innovators win in the long run' Amazon to add over 1,000 jobs in Ireland in country's biggest staff boost this year Supreme Court mulls Apple's App Store commissions in antitrust case JP Morgan says buy Micron into earnings due to ‘robust’ cloud computing spending Germany's Merkel given two weeks to reach EU deal on migrants Disney is expected to add cash to its bid for Twenty-First Century Fox assets: Sources How to play rising interest rates based on your age Microsoft acquires education start-up Flipgrid in latest challenge to Google BJ's Wholesale expects its IPO to price at $15 to $17 a share Don't even think about investing without a diversification strategy: Advisor Boeing sell-off looks like the beginning of a correction, technical analyst says Mass facial recognition boom led by the Chinese government will mean big money for Nvidia, UBS says Goldman Sachs still sees oil rallying over $80 despite market concerns over key OPEC meeting Disney shares downgraded to sell on concern the battle for Fox has placed company in an unwinnable situation Chipmaker Mellanox nears truce with activist investor Starboard over board seats Rates are on the rise, but don’t fear for the stock market — yet We’re seeing the greatest asset inflation bubble in 20 years, fund manager warns Apple will automatically share a user's location with emergency services when they call 911 Investors still love equities but ‘market fragility’ could be ahead in the second half of 2018 Munich prosecutors say Audi CEO arrested on risk he may suppress evidence

Technology

After a big week, ESPN is becoming cool again

Disclosure: Affiliates controlled by the writer of this column have long positions in Disney.

It was a pretty good day for Disney‘s ESPN — a dinosaur, according to its critics — even though it’s the leading and most profitable sports cable channel.

On Wednesday, it:

In addition, various reports, including this one from Bryan Curtis, said that the Pardon My Take guys (Big Cat and PFT Commenter) from Barstool Sports were close to signing a deal with ESPN to do a late-night show on ESPN2.

And don’t forget ESPN re-upped its deal with Altice on Sunday.

Rich Greenfield of BTIG had been counting down to the expiration of the deal, expecting ESPN, Disney, and ABC to go dark across major parts of New York.

Except it didn’t. The deal increased affiliate fees and brought carriage of the SEC Network to New York, according to The New York Times. This was the first of many new distribution deals that need to be worked out this year and now gives a good template for those to follow.

Here’s a deeper look at each of these bits of news:

Nolan is seen as one of the biggest up-and-coming on-air sports stars. She could have stayed at Fox for big money or joined Bill Simmons’ “The Ringer.” (He’s said for many years that he’s a fan.) She chose to go to ESPN.

Why? There’s likely comparable money for her at any digital or linear outlet.

In my view, what likely makes ESPN most attractive for Nolan is that it’s still the biggest sports network with the biggest audience with the most “platforms” (i.e., TV and digital). And she likely got assurances that she will get lots of chances to shine, which wasn’t always the case at Fox.

Simmons has constantly criticized ESPN for not “getting” digital, despite the fact that its digital numbers are better than anyone else in the sports vertical. To try to make his point, Simmons has repeatedly called out Bleacher Report’s House of Highlights Instagram account. It has 7 million followers. It is a new way of watching highlights versus the SportsCenter way. It’s easily shareable. Simmons has also complimented Bleacher’s Game of Zones as an example of a new type of digital content that ESPN doesn’t have.

Yet, with this Cycle Media partnership for branded original content and programming, ESPN has leap-frogged House of Highlights and Game of Zones. More than just creating shareable content, Cycle has connections to all the big ad agencies.

I’ve known Cycle’s founder and CEO, Jason Stein, for over 5 years, so I’m biased, but he and his team are brilliant at finding the sweet spot of content that engages fans, athletes and advertisers. ESPN is lucky to have Cycle in its stable. And don’t just take my word for it. Simmons had Stein on his “smart-guy” Friday podcast a few weeks ago, getting the former’s blessing of truly “getting” digital.

The deal is notable in that critics have been complaining that ESPN has too many rights for which it overspent.

Yet, it’s getting these mostly Sunday morning rights for Formula 1 from NBC Sports. The calculus for new rights seems to be: Can I make more money from this versus our existing Sunday morning programming? The answer appears to be yes.

Finally, the PMT news is interesting from a couple of angles.

In late August, I wrote this piece for CNBC about how — in my view — the Pardon My Take show was the most valuable part of Barstool Sports. Many of the 191 Barstool commenters (before comments were shut off) to this post from the Barstool president seemed to agree that Big Cat and PFT are big-time stars.

I indicated how that’s both a huge strength for Barstool but also a potential risk. The risk is that they “pull a Crooked” (as in the Crooked Media co-founders who left “The Ringer” at the start of the year to start their own firm and successful business/podcast) and leave Barstool to do their own thing or join someone like ESPN.

No deal has yet been formally announced, but — in reading the tea leaves in the Curtis article and other reports this week — it appears that this is more of a pact between ESPN and PMT specifically for a show produced by Embassy Row, rather than a general partnership with Barstool.

If it happens, it should be good for ESPN, the PMT guys, as well as Barstool. Start-ups are cool, but reach is really cool and profitable.

If ESPN is the dinosaur of the sports world, it’s now using its strength of reach to attract two of the coolest up-and-comers in the world of sports.

With Nolan and the PMT guys bringing their pixie dust of coolness to ESPN, as well as the cool snackable video content from Cycle Media, suddenly ESPN is starting to “get it” — whatever “it” is — overnight.

Disclosure: NBC Sports and CNBC are owned by NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast.

Commentary by Eric Jackson. Sign up for Eric’s monthly Tech & Media Email. You can follow Eric on Twitter @ericjackson .

Source: Tech CNBC
After a big week, ESPN is becoming cool again

Comments are closed.