Posts Tagged ‘TV Deal’

The XFL, the spring pro football league fronted by Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia, took a big step toward finalizing its plans Sunday with a press conference that revealed the cities, venues and head coaches for its upcoming 2023 season.

The regular season is set to kick off February 18, 2023 with eight teams. Those include in newly announced cities — Las Vegas, Orlando and San Antonio — which are replacing existing teams in Los Angeles, New York and Tampa, FL. ESPN says those were the three cities with the lowest turnout in 2020, the league’s most recent season, which was halted midway through because of the Covid pandemic.

Two other XFL teams on the 2023 slate reside in Texas (Arlington and Houston), with other franchises in Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

All 43 XFL games will air on Disney platforms in a carriage deal announced in May by Garcia, the league’s chairwoman and owner, and her movie and TV producing partner Johnson, after the duo with RedBird Capitol Partners acquired the league for $15 million from Vince McMahon in 2020 after it had started bankruptcy proceedings.

McMahon originally bankrolled the return of the league, which he resurrected after a 20-year absence. It had played just one season previously, in 2001, as joint venture between McMahon’s WWF (now the WWE) and NBC.

This year’s games will air on Disney platforms ABC, ESPN and FX.

“We’ve had a clear vision for the XFL – the values to instill, the diversity of our leaders, the innovation of the game and how we want to deeply engage with our communities so they can help bring this vision to life. Today, our league takes another step closer to 2023 kickoff as we officially announce where our teams will play,” Garcia said today during a press conference livestreamed on the XFL’s YouTube channel. “What brings a league to life is the passion of the fandom behind it. In each of these cities we will co-create with our fans and build these teams from the ground up so that they represent the unique fabric of our communities. We welcome all football fans to join us as we get ready for kickoff in February.”

Along with the cities, the league revealed its head coaching assignments with most names familiar to football fans: former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops (Arlington), Wade Phillips (Houston), Terrell Buckley (Orlando), Rod Woodson (Las Vegas), Hines Ward (San Antonio), Jim Haslett (Seattle), Anthony Becht (St. Louis) and Reggie Barlow (Washington, DC).

Said Johnson, who was coming off his appearance at Warner Bros’ Black Adam panel at Comic-Con in San Diego, added: “I’m psyched to reveal the cities that our players will have the chance to represent and compete in. This is another massive moment for the XFL, and I’m ready to feel the electricity our dedicated fans will bring to these iconic venues.

“There is great energy building within our league and there is still much more to come… and I can promise it’s going to be worth the wait. We have been working on fresh, new logos and uniforms – even working with some of the team names you already know – that will match the dynamic and innovative vision of our league. We see you, we hear you and your excitement fuels us to continue to bring you the absolute best. We have just under seven months until kickoff and the countdown is officially on.”

The USFL will be back for its second season in 2023, Fox Sports CEO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks confirmed to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal.

All eight teams in the league played their games in Birmingham, Alabama, this season but will play out of two-to-four markets next year, according to Shanks.

The goal is for each team to eventually play out of its home city, Shanks adds.

The number of teams will remain at eight for 2023, though there is a possibility of expansion in the following years.

“We’ve always had an expansion plan that could potentially come into play in Year 3 and beyond,” Shanks said.

Previous spring football leagues, including the Alliance of American Football and two incarnations of the XFL, failed to make it to a second season.

The USFL announced its intention to relaunch in 2021. The league is nearing the finish of its 2022 campaign, its first season since 1986. The Philadelphia Stars are set to take on the Birmingham Stallions in the championship game Sunday, July 3.

For Ring of Honor fans anxiously awaiting what’s next for the promotion, a new report suggests that you may not have to wait much longer.

An announcement regarding the next big Ring of Honor event “should” be coming in the next few days, according to “PWInsider“. The seeds for a potential main event for the show were planted on this past Friday’s AEW “Rampage” when Tully Blanchard teased that his faction, Tully Blanchard Enterprises, is gunning for ROH World Champion Jonathan Gresham. It appears that Jonathan Gresham defending against Brian Cage will slowly be built up for a match.

The report also notes that the announcers for ROH will likely remain the same with Caprice Coleman and Ian Riccaboni staying in the commentator’s booth for the foreseeable future.

Since Tony Khan purchased Ring of Honor back in March, only one event under the banner has occurred in that time, which comes as little surprise seeing as the Founder and CEO of AEW has eyes on his roster and a big partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling hitting a climax at Forbidden Door this weekend. Since SuperCard of Honor in April, ROH fans have been anticipating what the next big move is for the promotion. A recent report echoed what “PWInsider” mentioned, stating that another Ring of Honor PPV, Death Before Dishonor, may be running on the weekend of July 23.

Death Before Dishonor would take place in Lowell, Massachusetts, where several ROH shows have taken place in the past. This would line up with AEW’s schedule too, as “AEW Dynamite” is scheduled to take place in Worcester, Massachusetts on July 27.

For the time being, there is still no update on ROH’s return to TV.  Khan has emphasized in recent interviews that he wants ROH to find its own identity and ‘stand on its own feet’, apart from AEW.

“I’m not saying Ring of Honor is a subsidiary of AEW or secondary in any way. And I think that’s one of the things that made [Supercard of Honor] a really compelling event [is] you didn’t feel like it was a developmental show or a secondary show. You got great matches on the card, it was a very well-received card and one of the best-reviewed shows of the year, critically. And commercially, it was a massive success. Is Ring of Honor as big as AEW right now? No. Is it selling as many PPVs? No. But that was incredible growth for Ring of Honor, a company that has over 20 years of history now.”

Apple’s foray into live sports took a big step forward Tuesday.

Apple and Major League Soccer have announced a 10-year partnership on a streaming service that will allow fans to watch every game without local blackouts or restrictions. The service will be available exclusively through the Apple TV app beginning next year.

The deal is Apple’s second venture into streaming professional sports. In April, it began airing “Friday Night Baseball,” an exclusive weekly doubleheader of Major League Baseball games.

“The opportunity to partner with a sports league, and truly build the product together with them is very, very unique,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services. “We can bring the things that we do really well with the things that they do really well and really make the product, which I think will be significantly better for the fans. We want to create a great experience for fans to be able to watch and experience MLS like they’ve never had before.”

The details of the streaming service will be announced in the coming months. The package will be included for fans who have full-season ticket packages for their club.

Some MLS and Leagues Cup matches will be available at no additional cost to Apple TV+ subscribers, with a limited number of matches also available for free.

“We really couldn’t have found a better partner to embark on this new journey together to capitalize on the momentum that exists in MLS today,” league Commissioner Don Garber said. “We can use this deal as rocket fuel as we build towards the World Cup in the US, Canada and Mexico in 2026 and thinking about what the sport of soccer, what Major League Soccer could look like, in the years beyond.”

Currently, most MLS games are streamed on ESPN+, but there are blackout restrictions due to some local rights agreements. The league’s deals with Fox Sports and ESPN expire at the end of the year, but Garber is hoping the league can reach a deal with a broadcast partner.

Even with the Apple deal, MLS does have the opportunity to simulcast some games nationally.

Streaming is already built into soccer fans’ DNA. The league said it has found in various studies that 83% of MLS fans watch sports on streaming devices or recorded TV in a typical week, much higher than the general average of 52% for all TV viewers.

What also makes the deal intriguing for Apple is that MLS has the youngest and most diverse audience compared to the other four major professional North American sports leagues.

Besides all regular-season and postseason matches, the package includes all Leagues Cup matches — the competition between MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX — as well as select MLS NEXT Pro and MLS NEXT matches.

Apple will also partner with MLS on presentation of the matches as the league takes over production. This is another step forward for the league, but is similar to the way European soccer leagues do business. All matches will be called in English and Spanish while those involving Canadian clubs will also be available in French.

All matches will also be available in Full HD (1080p) for the first time. Previously, matches were broadcast in 1080i or 720p.

Garber said the league will have a more streamlined schedule beginning next season, with most matches taking place on Saturday evenings and some on Wednesdays. The only time that might change is for a national broadcast or stadium conflict. The league will expand to 29 teams in 2023 with the debut of St. Louis CITY SC.

The deal comes as Apple is also exploring opportunities with other sports. The company has been pursuing streaming NFL games when the league’s “Sunday Ticket” expires at the end of the upcoming season.

It was announced on Tuesday at Disney Upfront, that the XFL has reached a multi-year agreement with The Walt Disney Company and ESPN.

The multi-year agreement is from 2023 to 2027. Each season’s 43 games will air on ABC, ESPN networks, and FX.

The 2023 season will kick off on Saturday, February 18, 2023.

Below is the full press release:

NEW YORK – May 17, 2022 – The XFL today announced a new, global multi-year agreement with The Walt Disney Company (“TWDC”) and ESPN, which includes exclusive broadcast rights for all gameday content, tentpole events and more, for its upcoming 2023 season through 2027. Each season, all 43 games (40 regular season games, two playoffs, one championship) will be featured on a combination of ABC, ESPN networks and FX. Additionally, the agreement includes exclusive content rights across TWDC and ESPN’s digital, social and direct-to-consumer outlets such as ESPN+. The XFL is excited to officially announce its 2023 season will kick off on Saturday, February 18, 2023.

The announcement was revealed today at the Disney Upfront, where XFL owners Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson were in attendance and presented the news.

“Without question, we have long admired Disney’s distinct ability to engage an expansive consumer fanbase across verticals, while also maintaining a deeply authentic, nuanced and heartfelt approach to storytelling much like our own,” said Dany Garcia, Chairwoman of the XFL. “To find a partner that honors our foundation and to be able to root our vision of unwavering passion, accessibility and the future of football with Disney as our home, is a dream come true. We are extraordinarily excited to explore the endless possibilities of this partnership – today is surely just the beginning.”

“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, ESPN and Sports Content. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”

Dwayne Johnson added, “This is a definitive moment for the XFL and the beginning of an incredible, long-term partnership for the league, building on my longstanding, very successful legacy relationship I’ve had with Disney throughout my career. We’re excited to be working with global visionaries that are aligned with the XFL’s values, are true team players and share our ambitious goals to grow the XFL as a global sports and entertainment business. Through the combined power of Disney, ESPN and the XFL, together we will create a new powerhouse on the sports calendar and bring a dynamic game of football to fans everywhere. Time to ball out.”

Gerry Cardinale said, “With today’s announcement, the XFL has launched a truly innovative partnership with The Walt Disney Company and its world-class platforms across media, culture, sports and entertainment.  It is a privilege to join forces with the incredibly talented team at Disney and ESPN and bring Dany and Dwayne’s vision for world-class football and live event entertainment to our fans and players.”

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As we’ve noted, the XFL went into bankruptcy after the COVID-19 pandemic brought an early end to their return season in the spring of 2020. WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon had sold the league to The Rock, along with business partners Dany Garcia and RedBird Capital in August of 2020, for $15 million.

Brandi Rhodes’ first big move since leaving All Elite Wrestling in February has just been confirmed.

Per Deadline, the former AEW Chief Brand Officer is partnering with DIGA Studios to bring her Shot of Brandi cooking series from YouTube to television. 30-minute episodes are to be expected, though the formula (Rhodes cooking and chatting with a variety of different guests) sounds like it’ll stay largely the same.

Shot of Brandi originally aired on AEW’s YouTube channel, though it understandably ceased when Brandi and husband Cody left the Tony Khan-helmed promotion last month. A typical episode would see an AEW wrestler or one of the promotion’s other personalities joining Rhodes in the kitchen. Now, Deadline states that the guests will be “celebrities in and out of the wrestling ring.”

DIGA Studios is helmed by former MTV producer Tony DiSanto, who has previously worked on truTV’s Hot Ones: The Game Show, which is similar in format to Shot of Brandi.

Rhodes commented:

“I started shooting this show in my kitchen four years ago with two iPhone cameras and a cocktail. I am excited to see the show evolve and thankful for the fans who have followed along. I assure you, now that I’m working with DIGA the best is yet to come.”

Although Cody is believed to have re-signed with WWE ahead of a WrestleMania 38 return, it was reported in February that Brandi would not be joining him in going back to the market leaders. She had previously worked for the promotion as Eden Styles briefly in 2011 then again between 2013 and 2016.

The Fox-backed USFL has landed another broadcast partner in advance of its spring 2022 relaunch, as NBC Sports has signed a deal to carry 21 of the league’s Saturday and Sunday games. The inaugural package will include 17 linear TV games, including eight airings on the flagship NBC broadcast network and nine outings on the revamped USA Network.

The four remaining matchups will stream on Peacock.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although insiders close to the action say NBC has committed to a three-year pact with the USFL. Unlike previous spring-football startups that made their way to the airwaves via time-buys (the AAF) and production/ad-revenue swaps (the XFL version 2.0), the revived USFL is said to have secured a rights fee from NBC, although the agreed-upon fee remains under wraps.

A source with inside knowledge of the deal characterized the dollar figure as “significant.”

In addition to the NBC Sports schedule, the USFL will have the luxury of 12 Fox broadcasts and another 10 appearances on the cable network FS1, which reaches 74 million U.S. households. All told, 20 USFL games will air on network TV this season, which is on par with what the XFL had planned before the pandemic scuttled its Lazarus act in early 2020. Per Nielsen, the 12 XFL games that aired on ABC and Fox that winter averaged 2.27 million viewers.

While the first wave of communications from the USFL characterized Fox as a minority stakeholder in the venture, the league is now wholly controlled by the media conglomerate. Fox owns the USFL outright, under the aegis of the recently formed USFL HoldCo. As such, the USFL is teeming with Fox higher-ups: Fox Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks will serve as the league’s chairman, while NFL analyst Daryl Johnston will suit up as executive VP of football operations, and rules expert Mike Pereira is to pull double duty as head of officiating.

NBC is buying into the USFL concept on the eve of its first spring in 16 years without having a slate of live NHL action in the hopper. If the new-look USFL can sidestep the sort of audience turnover that hampered the XFL in its waning days—by Week 5, the league’s broadcast deliveries had slumped to 1.53 million viewers per game, a decline of 54% versus its opening doubleheader—the subsequent ad dollars could well evolve into a solid ancillary revenue stream.

The USFL is set to debut in April, one week after the Masters wraps on CBS. The first season will run through the middle of June, with all 43 games scheduled to be played at Protective Stadium in Birmingham, Ala.

Arguably the most viable alternative to the NFL since the American Football League shook up the status quo in the 1960s, the original (1983-1985) USFL featured future Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Reggie White and Steve Young, as well as Heisman Trophy winners Herschel Walker and Doug Flutie. Two years into the league’s short run, the 37-year-old New York real estate tycoon Donald J. Trump snapped up the New Jersey Generals franchise and almost immediately began kvetching about the league’s spring schedule.

Real football is played in the fall, the future president said, because, “If God had wanted football in the spring, he wouldn’t have invented baseball.” Trump browbeat the USFL’s 13 other owners into agreeing to shift its 1986 games to compete directly with the NFL; it was his opinion that such a move would force a merger with Pete Rozelle’s dominant operation. This gambit set into motion a $1.7 billion antitrust lawsuit that netted the upstart league a grand total of $3.76, including interest. The USFL never played a single fall football game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had a strong message for NFL players and their union Thursday after learning the average value of NFL franchises increased by 14% over the past year despite a significant drop in the league’s salary cap.

“The salary cap dropped by 20% … and the new media deals were announced the day after (the) 2021 salary cap was set,” Brady wrote in an Instagram Story. “NFL players better wake up @NFLPA. NFL players are ignorant.”

The NFL announced on March 10 a salary cap of $182.5 million for the 2021 season, down from the 2020 ceiling of $198.2 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams cut numerous veteran players in anticipation of the lower figure.

The league then unveiled on March 18 a massive new television rights deal involving five broadcasters. The 11-year agreement begins in 2023 and is worth $10 billion annually.

The Dallas Cowboys topped Forbes’ list of most valuable NFL teams for the sixth straight year in 2021. The New England Patriots, New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams, and Washington Football Team rounded out the top five.

On the latest episode of Talk Is Jericho, Chris Jericho sat down with NWA President Billy Corgan. Corgan discussed NWA halting production during the pandemic.

“Wrestling has never been a great financial model. It works in the short term for a little while, but long term, it’s very very difficult to sustain,” Corgan admitted. “Talented people like yourself and Nick Aldis require the compensation that they’re due for being elite at their business and so suddenly, I’ve got all these people under contract and no way to run. We shut down for a while. I kept paying people.

“It didn’t buy me any loyalty, that’s for sure, but we held together, and I think I took the time to kind of think, okay, now if we are going to come back and there were certainly dark days where I thought, ah, this just isn’t worth it, even though I love the NWA and I love the history. But it really kind of steeled my mind. ‘Okay, if I am going to do this and I do get back, what is it going to be? How are we going to tweak it to go in the direction I really wanted to go.’ And so I think that’s been effective. And certainly the early indications are sort of stronger belief in the product and also now with a relationship with Fite, actual pay revenue model for the first time.

“I think it’s all there, and look, what you guys are doing with AEW, the business is moving in this completely new direction, you guys are opening up new vistas that wouldn’t have been there a few years ago. Before AEW I would go in and have meetings in Hollywood, and they’d be like, ‘No one cares about wrestling, no one’s gonna pay for it. If it’s not WWE, right, hit the bricks.. You’re on your own,’ and now suddenly, people are calling me. It’s wild. It’s like, it’s this new era of new eras. It’s fantastic.”

The NWA grew in popularity in large due to their YouTube series Powerrr. Corgan revealed similar plans he had back when he was in Impact Wrestling.

“We did the first show, and Rock, of all people, tweeted about it. I mean, talk about an endorsement just out of the gate, and we were trending number one, which doesn’t happen often, at least for our world,” Corgan noted. “Big deal but let me take that back a few years. So here I am back working at what was TNA, and I’m sitting there with Dixie Carter. I’m allegedly an employee of the company, and I’m begging her, begging her, ‘Please let me do studio wrestling, please’ because if you remember, TNA had a second show called Explosion, basically what you guys do with AEW Dark. It’s more content.

“I was like, ‘Please just give me that show. I’ll do it cheaper than you’re doing Explosion for. It’ll be more fun. We’ll get more social media.’ No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. No one will care. It’ll never work. So of course, when I got the NWA, the first thing, I was like, I’m going to do this show because now it’s my world, and it’s been great. The funny thing was, I never intended Powerrr to be the constant. I saw it almost like a mini series. We do it for a while, and we pivot to something else. So probably more traditional product and people have begged us, ‘Please don’t change the show. If you’re going to do additional content, great, do it, but do not lose Powerrr.’ People literally beg me on the street, ‘Do not lose Powerrr. I love that show so much.’ So it’s great fun.

“We certainly have a lot of fun. Of course, it doesn’t get to cover everything you’d like to cover in terms of what our skill set is as a roster and as a unit, and it certainly highlights great talkers like yourself who can go in and kind of, in five seconds, really engage you and make you care about a match. We’re in a studio setting. It’s not a flip and dive type of thing. It’s very much four minutes, tell your story, get it across, but it’s certainly a lot of fun to do, and of course, you’re always welcome. I’ve certainly got some messages from people behind the scenes saying, ‘Man, I’d love to come on that set and just let it go. A lot of people in the business don’t have the luxury of being able to get on a microphone, just say whatever is on your heart.”

Corgan talked about the challenge of reviving the NWA brand. He also recalled what people said when he bought it.

“I’m proud to carry the mantle of the business in this way. It’s a very specific thing, and of course, the business is far different than it was in the heyday of the NWA,” Corgan noted. “There’s no pretend there. When I bought the NWA and that was coming out of the whole situation with TNA and the debacle and lawsuits, and there was a lot of kind of public acrimony there.

“And then I purchased NWA. Crazily enough, it was owned by one person. It was so devalued. He tried to sell it to everybody. Nobody wanted it, as far as I know. He certainly offered it to WWE. They thought it was so worthless that they didn’t even just buy it just to take it off the market.

“Then when I bought it, Jim Cornette and other people, and I loved Jim. ‘What the hell did he buy? He might as well have bought air. He bought three worthless letters.’ A lot of that type of stuff and certainly I sat around at one point and thought, ‘Well, if I started, Billy Corgan Wrestling or SP Wrestling’, and I thought, no, I want the history. I’ll take that history. I’ll take that on. I like the challenge of that.”

The United States Football League is returning in 2022, the league announced Thursday.

The USFL will relaunch in the spring of 2022 with Fox Sports serving as its official broadcast partner. The league will target a minimum of eight teams and seeks to deliver “high-quality, innovative professional football.”

“I’m extremely passionate about football and the opportunity to work with FOX Sports and to bring back the USFL in 2022 was an endeavor worth pursuing,” co-founder Brian Woods said.

He added: “We look forward to providing players a new opportunity to compete in a professional football league and giving fans everywhere the best football viewing product possible during what is typically a period devoid of professional football.”

The USFL played three seasons during its first stint, beginning in 1983 before ceasing operations in 1986 due to financial struggles amid a push to compete with the NFL. Many notable players participated in the USFL during its first incarnation, including Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young and Jim Kelly.

The relaunched USFL will use the same logo from its first stint, according to Arnie Stapleton of The Associated Press. It also retains the rights to key original team names but the specifics are still unknown. The league plans to release more information on host cities, teams, head coaches, and schedules in the future.