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Volume 25 No. 151

Media

Satruday's fight will mark Alvarez' 13th appearance on HBO programming since leaving Showtime in '14
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Canelo Alvarez' contract with HBO expires following Saturday's bout with Gennady Golovkin, and while Golden Boy Promotions maintains that Alvarez is "free to pursue other options, HBO sees the situation differently," according to Mike Coppinger of THE RING. HBO "holds first right of contract negotiations and last right of refusal" with Alvarez and Golovkin, whose contract with the net reportedly also will expire, but Alvarez' status is a "bit murkier." HBO believes that Alvarez "owes the network a fight that would be available to subscribers (and not PPV) dating back" to '16. Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya said, "I'm sure (HBO) is going to hold strong, but my lawyers are saying it's our last fight; very confident." But he added, "I'm not saying that HBO is out of the picture, because HBO will never be out of the picture. HBO is like my family. But there's different platforms that we have to take into consideration and do what's best for the kid." Coppinger notes Alvarez "jettisoned Showtime for HBO" in '14, and Saturday's fight "will mark his 13th appearance on the network's programming" (RINGTV.com, 9/14). In L.A., Lance Pugmire writes if Alvarez does leave HBO, his suitors "will be plenty." In addition to ESPN "investing deeply" in a seven-year deal with Top Rank to stage bouts on cable, PPV and to stream them on ESPN+, Fox has a new deal with Premier Boxing Champions to place bouts on network and PPV television while streaming service DAZN "will launch next week with heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua's title fight" against Alexander Povetkin (L.A. TIMES, 9/13).

Boxing reporter Elie Seckbach has more than 327,000 subscribers on his ESNEWS YouTube channel, and he could be the "most influential reporter in boxing today," according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TIMES. Seckbach has "uploaded more than 71,000 videos that have collectively amassed more than 614 million views, generating enough income for him to work as a full-time reporter for the last five years" on the boxing-centric YouTube channel. As traditional media outlets "continue to scale back their coverage of boxing," the sport has "turned to new media for exposure." Seckbach was a "pioneer of the medium." And however many others have followed his lead, he "remains a distinct voice." Seckbach spends "considerable time at the gym, allowing him to capture the carefree banter between fighters and trainers." He asks "lighthearted questions that occasionally elicit insightful answers." Seckbach "changed his career trajectory" in '08 via an interview with Manny Pacquiao. The video "collected more than 300,000 views," and he then "shifted his focus" from basketball to boxing (L.A. TIMES, 9/14).

NBC Sports Washington's "Redskins Talk" podcast has averaged a 20% month-over-month "increase in downloads over the past year," and show hosts J.P. Finlay and Rich Tandler "can feel the momentum building," according to Scott Allen of the WASHINGTON POST. The show "debuted as a two-man operation" before the first game of the '16 NFL season and is "fast approaching 300 episodes." Finlay said, "There weren’t that many people listening for a while. It kind of stayed off the radar and we got to build it our own way." Allen noted Finlay "handled everything related to the podcast that first season, in addition to his on-air responsibilities." Listeners "regularly knocked the podcast’s audio quality, which Finlay admits was terrible." While many episodes are "still recorded in the bowels of NFL stadiums, there’s now a podcast studio" at NBC Sports Washington’s Bethesda HQ. The network’s Capitals and Wizards podcasts, hosted by Rob Carlin and Chris Miller, respectively, "relaunched this week and will feature new episodes the morning after every game." “Capitals Talk” and “Wizards Talk” will look to "build off the success of 'Redskins Talk,' which over the last year was the most-downloaded podcast in the NBC Sports Regional Networks’ portfolio of more than 40 shows" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/13).

NEW ENDEAVORS: In N.Y., Brooks Barnes notes Endeavor "introduced a new division on Thursday dedicated to developing, financing, producing, distributing and marketing podcasts." Endeavor Audio, as the entity is called, will also "sell podcast ads and sponsorships" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/14). 

The Nets and Clippers are both in play for Jefferson to move into a broadcasting role
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

NBA veteran Richard Jefferson has "major TV interest" in from the likes ESPN, YES Network and the Clippers for broadcasting jobs, but the free agent "still wants to play" his 18th season, according to Andrew Marchand of the N.Y. POST. Jefferson could "potentially join the Nets' TV crew on YES as a part-time game and studio analyst," and the Clippers are "also in play for Jefferson as a game analyst." Jefferson's camp has "had talks with ESPN to become a studio analyst." One ESPN official described it as a "similar spot" to analyst Tim Legler. Meanwhile, for YES, longtime analyst Mike Fratello will "not be back in studio." Analyst Jim Spanarkel's studio assignments also "likely will go up, while his games go down." Also, Marchand reports former Clippers game analyst Bruce Bowen is "returning to ESPN," and will "go back to his old role" as a studio analyst. On ESPN game broadcasts, longtime analyst Hubie Brown is "expected to remain near the top" of the ABC/ESPN pecking order, though he may do "less regular season games." Chauncey Billups will "remain a member of the ABC/ESPN top studio set" on "NBA Countdown," but he is "expected to add more games as a color commentator" this season. Meanwhile, sideline reporter David Aldridge is "done with Turner," leaving this week to become the top editor of The Athletic's DC site (N.Y. POST, 9/14).

NBC Sports Regional Networks President David Preschlack said he suspects the SCOTUS decision on sports gambling will "alter the consumption of live sports on multiple platforms," according to Chuck Barney of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. Preschlack said network executives will "explore integrating sports-betting discussions into their broadcasts and launch gambling-related programming." He also noted legalized sports betting will "likely roll out more slowly than people expect, but it will have a massive impact on the regional sports network business" (MERCURYNEWS.com, 9/13). Preschlack's comments come as Fox Sports on Monday debuted the sports gambling-themed daily show "Lock It In," which airs on FS1 (THE DAILY).

GOING ALL IN: Barstool Sports has launched a new gambling show, "The Barstool Sports Advisors," and Barstool Founder & President Dave Portnoy said, "What we do is we talk about things that people like and are interested in." Portnoy noted Barstool was not "focused on gambling, but the Supreme Court legalized it." Portnoy: "Guess what? Let's launch a gambling show." Portnoy said of the new show, "We try to be entertaining. We combine real picks and real knowledge, and I enjoy it. We actually mimicked a show from the early '90s, 'The Sports Advisers,' with Stu Feiner, who I grew up watching. Once they legalized gambling, we brought it back, so it's retro, it looks like you just stepped into the '80s, it's entertaining, it's different than what every other show is doing. When you turn this on, you know you are watching something else and that's what we pride ourselves in" ("Mad Money," CNBC, 9/14).

The first big project from Bonnie Bernstein’s production company Walk Swiftly Productions premieres Saturday morning at 9:00am ET/PT on CMT. Walk Swiftly Productions co-produced a series of vignettes called “Country on Campus” that will appear during CMT’s “Hot 20 Countdown” show. The vignettes will have country music stars talk about their favorite college teams. Dustin Lynch -- a Univ. of Florida fan -- stars on the debut episode, during which UF legends Steve Spurrier, Tim Tebow and Cris Collinsworth make appearances. The series is a co-production between Walk Swiftly Productions and WhaleRock Industries. Bernstein, CMT’s Quinn Brown and WhaleRock’s Laura Sweet are exec producers.

In Baltimore, David Zurawik writes NFL Network gave Thursday night's Ravens-Bengals game "everything any broadcaster could: a high-energy pregame show, a strong telecast with a veteran team in the booth and two solid sideline reporters, plus enough cameras to capture every play that mattered." There also was a postgame show that "replayed the moments that mattered." NFL Net "goes all-out to make its telecast worthy of prime time, both as a sporting event and entertainment." Fox' Joe Buck and Troy Aikman are as "smooth, informed and easy to take as any team in professional football." Zurawik: "I liked all the energy, talent and first-rate production skills that the NFL Network brought to the game" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/14).

GLASS HOUSES: AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Andrew Bucholtz noted NHL Network's "Behind The Glass" show with the Devils is "certainly a notable project, and it's focused on an interesting team." The Devils open the season with a pair of games in Sweden, and the trip "might help this stand out." The show "might be worth keeping an eye on for Devils' fans in particular, but also for hockey fans in general." And if it goes well, maybe there will be "future training camp-focused 'Behind The Glass' installments for other teams" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 9/13).

GET UP, STAND UPSPORTING NEWS' Mike McCarthy reported ESPN has confirmed that veteran morning show producer Pete McConville is "joining struggling morning show 'Get Up.'" But an ESPN spokesperson said that McConville will "not replace" VP/Studio Production Bill Wolff as lead producer on the weekday morning show. Instead, McConville "will report to Wolff" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 9/10).