November 24, 2022

DirecTV close to ‘Thursday Night Football’ deal

I’m disappointed to see the Orioles trade Trey Mancini, whose recovery from a 2020 battle with cancer has been the best wellness story at Camden Yards in the past two seasons.

DirecTV will air “Thursday Night Football” in commercial establishments, including bars and restaurants, this NFL season, sources tell me.

Amazon has exclusive broadcast rights to the NFL package, but has agreed to DirecTV showing it to bars and restaurants. Nothing has been signed and specific terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. I contacted both companies; both declined to comment.

News of the pending agreement will bring a sense of relief to restaurant and bar owners who were faced with the prospect of having to upgrade their video systems to handle streaming video. Some of the nation’s largest restaurant chains, like Buffalo Wild Wings, sources tell me, aren’t fully equipped to handle streaming video.

Other bars that have upgraded their video systems have encountered latency issues, where it’s difficult to sync video across different TVs.

As DirecTV moves away from the out-of-market NFL Sunday Ticket package, look for the satellite company to focus more on supporting its business operations over the next few years as bars and restaurants continue to upgrade their video to handle streaming services and Big Tech scoop up more exclusive sports rights.


It’s hard to give a definitive verdict on LIV Golf’s video numbers from last weekend. For one thing, the numbers are tiny compared to linear TV — streaming numbers for sports still are.

The question is whether they compare favorably to other live-streamed sports, and that answer is much murkier. If only MLB made its AppleTV+ and Peacock numbers available, we’d have a much more useful comparison.

I’m still of the opinion that an American television network will eventually air LIV golf events, probably as early as next year, no matter how those Bedminster streaming numbers look.

The numbers we’ve seen are, predictably, low. “Less than 1,000 people were simultaneously watching the Facebook Live stream for much of the first two rounds this weekend, while LIV Golf’s YouTube channel was at or above 60,000 viewers for much of Saturday’s second round. “, according to a story written by Rick Maese of WaPo. .

On Sunday, the number of viewers on the YouTube channel reached 115,000 viewers, according to SI. Yes, that’s a peak of 115,000. TV executives were canceling any show that had viewership that low. But we don’t have enough data to determine whether these low numbers represent a lack of interest or not.

We know that linear television always produces much higher audiences. Take the final round of the PGA Tour’s Barracuda Championship, for example. The tournament was held opposite the British Open and featured none of the best players in the world. The July 17 final round averaged 214,000 viewers on the Golf Channel. Its peak was undoubtedly much higher. Compare that to Bedminster’s LIV Golf Sunday YouTube peak of 115,000.

LIV’s average viewership on YouTube on Sunday is likely closer to GC’s average for the first round of the Scottish Women’s Open last Thursday (98,000 viewers from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET).


When Bill Russell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame last year – for the second time – he stayed at the Connecticut home of legendary broadcast executive Dick Ebersol, a friend of his for over 50 years. “We would sit on the porch and talk for hours and hours,” Ebersol recalled. “We were telling stories and just laughing about the things we had seen or done together.”

I called Ebersol shortly after learning of Russell’s death. The two had known each other for over five decades, meeting when Russell was a player-coach for the Celtics and Ebersol was a production assistant for ABC. I thought Ebersol would have a unique perspective on an American sports icon.

Like many others, Ebersol recognized Russell as a tireless champion of civil rights. “Wherever he went, he was a strong advocate for equal rights,” Ebersol said. “That’s how I always remember him.”

But Ebersol also remembered Russell’s more personal side, including his “cackle.” “When he laughed, it was the deepest laugh in the room.”

I asked Ebersol for his best Russell story, and he recalled an encounter the two had on a California highway in the late 1970s, shortly after Ebersol quit his job at NBCEntertainment. Ebersol was speeding in his black Porsche on I-5 North toward San Francisco, when he was overtaken by a Volkswagen Beetle.

“I slowed down a bit, the car stops and I don’t see anyone in what should have been the driver’s seat,” he said. Russell then leaned forward and waved at Ebersol with a huge smile on his face. Russell had the front seats removed from the compact car. It was customized with a driver’s seat in the back. “We stopped on the side of the road and had to talk for half an hour, catching up with each other like we always did,” Ebersol recalls.

I’ve read a lot of great articles about Russell over the past two days. If you only read one, make this one by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

My first thought when I saw that Amazon had hired Dude Perfect for an alternative TV show was that this is how media companies should see alternative television broadcasting.

Most alternative TV broadcasts seem to be geared towards die-hard fans, with coaching shows appealing to viewers who would normally watch the regular broadcast. They don’t seem to be designed to grow viewership as much as move viewership from one stream to another.

Dude Perfect is different, however. They have 58 million YouTube subscribers and produce viral sports videos. Like my homie Austin Karp tweetedDude Perfect has the type of content that will make his 10 year old watch.

“TNF with Dude Perfect” will be available as an alternate broadcast for Prime Video and Twitch alongside an unspecified number of games. Amazon promises guests, challenges, world record attempts, dunk tanks and pudding cannons.


  • Comcast is taking $25,000 equity stakes in each startup selected to participate in its SportsTech accelerator program, which is soon entering its third year, notes SBJ’s Chris Smith. The program has also facilitated dozens of relationships between startups and major properties like NASCAR, the PGA Tour, US Ski & Snowboard and WWE.
  • CBS did not say if he would return for a third season of Superstar Racing Experience, and league investor Sandy Montag said SRX executives will speak to CBS over the next month about what the future holds for us. reserve, reports my colleague Adam Stern.
  • From the first morning it started broadcasting games in August 2013, NBC has broadcast every Premier League game through any of its platforms. That relationship continues into the 10th season of the partnership this weekend, as NBC begins its new six-year, $2.7 billion rights deal with football’s most prominent football league.
  • Acceptance is growing for biometrics-infused broadcasts, which can be particularly compelling for viewers of high-participation sports like cycling and golf, writes SportTechie’s Joe Lemire.
  • MGM is developing a new film about former Rocky Balboa foe Ivan Drago, which has “rekindled” Sylvester Stallone’s “ire over his stance with the boxing franchise,” notes The Hollywood Reporter.