In N.Y., Steve Eder in a front-page piece reports ESPN has received about $260M "in state tax breaks and credits over the past 12 years" from Connecticut. That figure includes $84.7M in "development tax credits because of a film and digital media program, as well as savings of about" $15M a year since the network "successfully lobbied the state for a tax code change" in '00. This is despite "nearly 100 million households paying about $5.54 a month for ESPN, regardless of whether they watch it," and the network taking in more than $6B a year "in subscriber fees alone." For Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy and other state public officials, the "conventional wisdom is that any business with ESPN is good business." After all, ESPN is Connecticut’s "most celebrated brand and a homegrown success story, employing more than 4,000 workers in the state" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/27).
BIG CITY BOG DOWN: On Long Island, Neil Best notes the overall ratings for the NBA's Christmas Day games "were especially impressive -- led by the two prime-time games -- given how the festivities on ESPN and ABC tipped off: With duds in which New York's two teams played at home and lost by a combined 46 points." The "stakes have been raised" as the Knicks and Nets are scheduled to appear in national broadcasts this season another 24 and 18 times, respectively. It would be "easy to make fun of the league and network honchos for so spectacularly misreading the situation, but their schedules were released Aug. 6." And "who knows, it might pay off in the end" (NEWSDAY, 12/27).
TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL? In L.A., Mike DiGiovanna reported Angels-owned KLAA-AM hired former MLBer Jim Leyritz to "co-host a new sports talk show, a peculiar move for a club that lost promising young pitcher Nick Adenhart to a drunk-driving accident" in '09. Leyritz was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol when he struck and killed a woman in a '07 automobile accident. A Ft. Lauderdale jury in '10 "acquitted Leyritz of DUI manslaughter." Leyritz previously "co-hosted a show on MLB Network Radio and was a regular contributor" to the "Michael Kay Show" on ESPN Radio N.Y. (LATIMES.com, 12/23).
GOTTA HAVE FAITH: VARIETY's Stuart Oldham noted ESPN analyst Chris Broussard "took to Twitter last week and told people of faith to 'stand 4 what you believe!' less than 24 hours after the 'Duck Dynasty' suspension of star Phil Robertson." Broussard, a "devout Christian, didn’t specifically mention Robertson in his tweet." An ESPN spokesperson on Monday said that Broussard "wasn’t referring to the 'Duck Dynasty' patriarch." This was the first time Broussard "specifically addressed his religious followers" since the incident involving NBA free agent C Jason Collins (VARIETY.com, 12/23).