Tom Brady to Become Lead Fox Sports NFL Analyst Upon Retirement

Ten-time Super Bowl QB Tom Brady (with seven wins) is set to join Fox Sports as the network’s lead NFL analyst when his playing career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ends.

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch made the surprise announcement during the media company’s May 10 fiscal call. Brady reportedly agreed to a 10-year deal worth $375 million.

Murdoch said Brady would call the network’s “biggest NFL games” with Kevin Burkhart and serve as a Fox Sports ambassador with ad clients and promotional initiatives.

“We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the Fox team, and we wish him all the best during this upcoming season,” Murdoch said. “I am sure everyone joins me in warmly welcoming Tom Brady on board.”

Brady, who retired at the end of the 2021 season, reversed his decision shortly thereafter and rejoined the Buccaneers for the upcoming 2022 season.

Amazon CEO: Prime Video to Reinvent the NFL Viewing Experience

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy lauded the e-commerce behemoth’s Prime Video platform in his annual shareholder letter covering the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2021. The executive called out the streamer’s ongoing forays into live sports, including the September launch of “Thursday Night Football,” the NFL’s first weekly, prime time, streaming-only broadcast. Amazon paid $11 billion for exclusive rights to the signature NFL event for the next 11 years.

CEO Andy Jassy

“We will work relentlessly over the next several years to reinvent the NFL viewing experience for football fans,” Jassy wrote.

Indeed, Amazon upped its bid in order to secure the Thursday night rights a year early from Fox Sports. The streamer was originally set to assume the rights beginning in 2023.

“NFL games are the most watched live programming in the United States, and this unprecedented Thursday Night Football package gives tens of millions of new and existing Prime members exclusive access to must-watch live football on Prime Video,” Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, said in a statement last year.

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Jassy said Amazon’s approach to Thursday Night Football, which includes adding interactive features so streamers’ can personalize their experience, has resulted in other sports entities looking to work with Amazon.

“It’s also why so many large entertainment companies have become Prime Video Channels partners — enabling entertainment companies to leverage the [SVOD’s] technology and viewing experience,” Jassy wrote.

The executive said media companies such as Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global, Starz, Corus Entertainment and Globo are driving “substantial incremental membership” and better customer experience by marketing their streaming services on Prime Video Channels.

“While there is so much progress in Prime Video from where we started [in 2006 as Amazon Unbox], we have more invention in front of us in the next 15 years than the last 15 — and our team is passionately committed to providing customers with the most expansive collection of compelling content anywhere in the world,” Jassy wrote.

Report: Netflix Negotiating With NFL for Possible Reality Series

Netflix may not have any interest in live sports, but streaming episodic sports-themed content is apparently in the SVOD behemoth’s wheelhouse.

Media reports say Netflix and “Formula One: Drive to Survive” producer Box to Box have been in discussions with the National Football League regarding a possible series that would emulate the streamer’s successful auto racing reality show, as well as Michael Jordan miniseries, “The Last Dance,” which originally aired on ESPN.

“Drive to Survive” reportedly helped drive viewership interest in F1 up 13% to more than 70 million in 2021. The sport’s social media platform grew 40% to more than 49 million.

While details about any possible partnership have not been disclosed, the streamer is also working on reality-based series about the PGA Tour, professional tennis and Tour de France bicycle race. Netflix, which ended 2021 with almost 222 million subscribers worldwide, will report first-quarter fiscal results (ended March31) on April 19.

Detroit Lions to Star in 17th Season of HBO/HBO Max’s NFL Training Camp Series ‘Hard Knocks’

HBO Sports and NFL Films are partnering with the Detroit Lions for an unfiltered look at what it takes to make it in the National Football League with “Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Detroit Lions,” which debuts Aug. 9 on HBO and HBO Max, with additional hour-long episodes bowing subsequent Tuesdays at the same time, culminating in the Sept. 6 season finale.

This season marks the 17th edition of the 18-time Sports Emmy-winning series. HBO has aired 82 episodes and one anniversary special in its first 16 seasons.

Camera crews will head to the Lions’ training camp in Allen Park, Mich., in the next few months to begin shooting more than 1,750 hours of footage over the course of the series. In August, the cinema verité show will focus on the daily lives and routines of players and coaches. The series, which will be narrated by Liev Schreiber, chronicles Lions head coach Dan Campbell entering his second season leading the team, which includes a mix of young emerging stars, established veterans and free agent additions.

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“As ‘Hard Knocks’ enters its third decade, we are both thrilled and thankful for the opportunity to feature a historic franchise like the Lions,” Ken Rodgers, NFL Films VP and senior coordinating producer, said in a statement. “The city, the culture and the coaching staff in Detroit all have an exciting energy that will make the show must-watch television this summer.”

The series launched with the Baltimore Ravens in 2001, followed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2002, and resumed in 2007 with the Kansas City Chiefs, subsequently spotlighting the Cowboys (2008), Cincinnati Bengals (2009), New York Jets (2010), Miami Dolphins (2012), Bengals (2013), Atlanta Falcons (2014), Houston Texans (2015) and Los Angeles Rams (2016).

The 2017 edition chronicled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and captured the Sports Emmy for Outstanding Serialized Documentary. The widely acclaimed 2018 series with the Cleveland Browns earned two Sports Emmy Awards for production excellence. The 2019 series spotlighted the Oakland Raiders as they played their final season in the Bay area before moving the franchise to Las Vegas. In an unprecedented programming move, the 2020 edition spotlighted both Los Angeles NFL teams: The Los Angeles Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams. Last year featured “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, marking their third appearance on the series.

Eleven of the last 13 teams featured on the series have equaled or improved their win-loss record in the regular season. The Cleveland Browns launched the transformation of their organization on HBO and went from a winless 2017 season to coming within half a game (7-8-1) of a .500 campaign.  The 2019 season saw the Raiders improve their record to 7-9 from the previous year’s 4-12 mark. Both Los Angeles’ teams, Rams and Chargers, improved their records in 2020 with two more wins from the previous year, with the Rams making the playoffs. Last year the Cowboys won their division going 12-5 from the previous year’s 6-10 mark.

American Underdog

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 2/22/22;
Lionsgate;
Drama;
Box Office $26.31 million;
$29.96 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG’ for some language and thematic elements.
Stars Zachary Levi, Anna Paquin, Ser’Darius Blain, Dennis Quaid, Chance Kelly, Cindy Hogan, Adam Baldwin, Bruce McGill, Hayden Zaller.

This biopic about NFL hall of famer Kurt Warner makes a fortuitous arrival on Blu-ray and DVD, landing on shelves with a prominent cover image of Warner in his bright blue and yellow Rams uniform just as the current version of the Rams are celebrating winning the Super Bowl.

The film tells the story of how one man’s relentless belief in himself paid off. After not being drafted by any NFL team, Warner takes a job stocking shelves at the supermarket, though he continues to keep his dream of playing in the NFL alive. make ends meet, he takes a job stocking shelves at the supermarket.

In the meantime, the film also explores how Kurt (Zachary Levi) met his future wife Brenda (Anna Paquin). Falling instantly in love with her after seeing her dancing at a cowboy bar, he learns she’s a former marine and single mom whose divorce left her raising two small kids with the help of her parents. One of the kids, Zack (Hayden Zaller) is blind and developmentally disabled after the being accidentally dropped on his head as a baby.

The story is so schmaltzy, complete with the precocious little kid, that if it hadn’t actually happened it would seem like a string of sports movie tropes.

But because it’s based on a true story, American Underdog is an effective, heart-driven look at how Kurt Warner emerged from seemingly nowhere to become the NFL MVP and lead the Rams to a Super Bowl title. After playing in the Arena League, Warner attracts the attention of the Rams and gets a boost from their head coach, Dick Vermeil (Dennis Quaid). The rest is history

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The American Underdog Blu-ray is absolutely stacked with bonus materials, offering an hour and a half of behind-the-scenes featurettes, 11 deleted scenes totaling nearly 18 minutes of excised footage, and an informative commentary track from directors Andrew and Jon Erwin with producer Kevin Downes.

Some of the real people depicted in the film, such as Kurt, Brenda and Vermeil, are heavily involved in the featurettes. Kurt, who executive produced the movie alongside Brenda, gets interviewed about the film in the 15-minute “Meet the Champion” featurette that also includes discussions with Vermeil and the filmmakers.

Other featurettes focus on the film’s faith-based message, the discovery of child actor Zaller, and things like the editing of the film and re-creating some of Warner’s football game, at times inter-splicing between new footage and archive tape from the games.

The most intriguing extra is a half-hour sit-down discussion with Vermeil, who is interviewed by “Saturday Night Live” actress Heidi Gardner, who explains she’s a huge Chiefs fan and is appreciative of Vermeil’s time coaching the Kansas City NFL club.

The deleted scenes provide a lot of great character moments that give more insight to what everyone in the film is going through in their lives.

Samba TV: ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Streamed by 2.8 Million HBO Max Households

Following an 18-year break from 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions, the fourth film in the sci-fi franchise, The Matrix Resurrections, was simultaneously made available to stream on HBO Max.

About 2.8 million Max households in the United States did just that, according to new data from Samba TV, which tracks more than 46 million opted-in televisions globally, including 28 million in the United States.

That explains why the Warner Bros. Pictures release had such a quiet box office debut ($22 million in North American ticket sales) through the Christmas weekend.

The tally was less than Netflix’s disaster movie spoof Don’t Look Up (3.1 million homes), but ahead of Disney’s animated family musical Encanto (2 million) on Disney+.

Then again, the Christmas weekend offers a buffet of live sports. And the numbers don’t lie. Holiday family get-togethers often survive with an assist from of any game on the television.

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A whopping 13.8 million households watched the Green Bay Packers vs. Cleveland Browns (Fox/NFL Network), which was up 31% from the previous year period. Another 6.1 million homes watched the Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts (NFL Network).

More than 2.6 million basketball households watched the New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks (ESPN), which was down 3% year-over-year. Another 3.3 million watched Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics (ABC), down 5%. About 3.5 million watched the Phoenix Suns vs. Golden State Warriors (ABC), up 11%; 3.9 million watched the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets (ESPN/ABC), down 15%; and 1.3 million watched the Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks (ESPN), down 22% YoY.

Samba TV: Viewers Love Football, ‘Black Widow’ — Less So ‘Fauci’

In a streaming world, the National Football League on pay-TV still resonates over Hollywood. New data from Samba TV found that 2.1 U.S. households watched the “NFL London Game” on Oct. 10 featuring the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets on NBC, NFL Network and Sky Sports Action. Another 291,000 British households watched the game won by the Falcons.

Samba, which tracks more than 46 million opted-in TVs globally, of which 28 million are in the U.S. across 210 designated market areas (DMAs), found that U.S. viewership skewed affluent ($100K+), slightly male (+2%), white (+7%) and black (+19%). Of the top 25 largest DMAs, Atlanta over-indexed the most (+462%), followed by New York (+254%) and Philadelphia (+41%).

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Meanwhile, 1.1 million U.S. households; 190,000 British households, 96,000 German households and 8,000 Austrian households streamed Black Widow on Disney+, starting Oct 6. The U.S. audience skewed younger (44 and below), slightly white (+3%), slightly Asian (+2%). Of the top 25 largest DMAs, Raleigh, NC over-indexed the most (+46%), followed by Seattle (+38%) and Portland, Ore., (+35%).

Finally, 14,000 U.S. households streamed “Fauci,” the documentary on infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci on Disney+, beginning Oct. 6. All countries’ audiences were too small for geographic or demo breakouts.

Amazon Prime Video Eyeing NFL’s ‘Sunday Ticket’ Rights

With week one of the 2021-22 NFL season almost in the books, Amazon reportedly is in the hunt to expand upon its “Thursday Night Football” exclusive rights. After wresting the mid-week game rights from Fox, Amazon now wants “Sunday Ticket,” the out-of-market game package DirecTV has sold to subscribers for the past 27 years.

With AT&T spinning off DirecTV to a private equity group, and the satellite TV operator’s latest NFL agreement set to expire in 2022, the league is shopping the rights to interested parties for a reported $2.5 billion annual fee. DirecTV currently pays $1.5 billion a year.

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Few companies have the fiscal resources Amazon has entertain such as price tag. The e-commerce behemoth earlier this year agreed to pay the NFL $1 billion annually for 11 years for exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” on Prime Video. Other media giants expressing interest in “Sunday Ticket” include Apple and Disney-owned ESPN.

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service is not expected to make a bid, according to CNBC, which originally broke the story. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told the network last week that the league was looking for unified streaming partner that would also be willing to invest in the league-owned NFL Network and NFL RedZone, the latter switching to live action when any team on offense is close to scoring.

Amazon has not officially commented on the negotiations, which remain ongoing.

Verizon Drops Streaming NFL Games

Verizon, which once was the exclusive streaming provider of the Super Bowl, among other NFL games, is dropping over-the-top video distribution of the sport to focus on 5G and related wireless technology with the league.

Verizon Sept. 9 announced a 10-year pact with the NFL that will utilize 5G to support innovation and technology adoption throughout the league. The partnership builds on the more than 10-year relationship between the two companies that paved the way for the installation of Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband service in parts of 25 NFL stadiums. Over the next decade, Verizon and the NFL will utilize 5G to unlock advancements that could have the ability to impact management, scouting, training, health and safety, and game day operations.

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“For the past decade, Verizon has been one of our key technology partners, helping with everything from digital distribution of NFL content, engaging our fans at the NFL’s biggest events, enhancing communications throughout the NFL ecosystem and upgrading technology within stadiums across the League,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement.

Over the past two years, Verizon has expanded 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity within those venues and surrounding areas, and has partnered with the NFL on in-stadium fan experiences like Verizon 5G Multi-View, which enables fans to view up to seven simultaneous camera angles and AR overlays of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats on select 5G-enabled phones. Verizon 5G Multi-View will continue to be available during the 2021 season in select NFL Club phone apps for fans in-stadium on gameday.

Meanwhile, the NFL has expanded streaming rights with Amazon Prime Video, NBCUniversal’s Peacock, Disney-owned ESPN+, and ViacomCBS-owned Paramount+, among other channels.

FuboTV, New York Jets Form First Sportsbook Pact

The New York Jets Sept. 8 announced a multiyear partnership with Fubo Sportsbook, the online gambling platform owned by online TV platform FuboTV expected to launch in the fourth quarter (subject to all applicable regulatory approvals), to become an official sports betting partner of the NFL franchise.

This agreement marks Fubo Sportsbook’s first sponsorship of a professional sports team. The partnership centers on the creation of the Fubo Sportsbook Lounge at MetLife Stadium for Jets home games, set to debut during the 2021-22 NFL season, and will be the first authorized, mobile sports betting lounge in the stadium. In addition, Fubo Sportsbook will become the presenting partner of the Jets Mobile App and is the team’s first legal sports betting partner to leverage the Jets’ new advertising data partnership with Sportradar.

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Last December, FuboTV acquired Balto Sports, which owns contest automation software. The company said the acquisition marked the first step of its online wagering strategy, which will start with free to play games and then expand into wagering integrated with its live streaming video.

“This partnership with Fubo Sportsbook is another major step for the New York Jets in our journey to prioritize engagement with our fan base, including the enhancement of their overall stadium experience on game day,” Jeff Fernandez, Jets VP of business development and ventures, said in a statement.

At approximately 7,000 square feet, the Fubo Sportsbook Lounge will offer Jets fans 21 and older the opportunity to enjoy the look and feel of a casino-style sportsbook with betting odds integration, as well as incentives and special bonus offers provided by Fubo Sportsbook. Additionally, fans will be able to watch every game from around the NFL in the Lounge and conduct live mobile wagering via the Fubo Sportsbook app all while viewing the Jets action on the field from the Lounge’s outdoor patio.

“The Fubo Sportsbook is designed to meet the increased demand for interactivity by integrating real-time sports streaming with personalized wagering experiences,” said Scott Butera, president of Fubo Gaming. “The platform will also have the ability to leverage first-party data to understand viewing preferences and provide relevant bet recommendations.”

Jets Mobile App users will receive access to special Fubo Sportsbook offers as well as game day incentives tied to the Lounge. Fubo Sportsbook customers will also be rewarded with access to unique hospitality including VIP pregame sideline experiences.