Disney-Fox Deal Gets OK From Brazilian Regulators After Sports Divestiture

Read on: Deadline.

Brazilian regulators have approved Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox after Disney agreed to sell off Fox Sports and related sports rights in the territory.
The approval is one of the last steps in the regulatory revie…

Disney-Fox Deal Nears Final Approval After Progress In Brazil And Mexico

Read on: Deadline.

In one of the last steps in the regulatory review of Disney’s $71.3 billion deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox, regulators in Brazil appear to be poised to approve the transaction on Wednesday.
Officials at CADE (whose translated full name is T…

Fox Sports Goes Inside Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon Rivalry in New Doc (Exclusive Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The infamous rivalry between NASCAR legends Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon will be examined in a new Fox Sports documentary that premieres on Feb. 14.

“Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon” goes under the hood of racing stars’ relationship both on and off the track, TheWrap has exclusively learned.

Seven-time champion Earnhardt and four-time champion Gordon were polar opposites in everything, from their racing style and personal backgrounds to car paint jobs and their fanbases. While they were bitter enemies behind the wheel, the two were actually close friends.

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The Fox Sports film, in collaboration with NASCAR Productions and DLP Media Group, is executive produced by Gordon, who is now a NASCAR analyst for Fox, and will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame later this month.

Earnhardt died in February 2001 during the final lap of the Daytona 500. His racing legacy continued through his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who retired from the sport in 2017.

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“Working on this project brought back so many memorable moments,” Gordon said of the film. “Dale was such a fierce competitor, and he used his bumper plenty of times to teach me lessons on the track. Off the track — and I don’t know exactly why — he took me under his wing to teach me so much about the business side of our sport,” he added, remembering his late rival and mentor.

“The Dale Earnhardt/Jeff Gordon rivalry was one for the ages,” Charlie Dixon, EVP, content at FOX Sports said in a statement. “Race fan or not, everyone was familiar with these two and was captivated when they crossed paths on the track. Fox Sports Films is thrilled to highlight those encounters and the unexpected friendship they shared off the race track.”

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Those interviewed in the film include Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., Rick Hendrick, Ray Evernham, Richard Childress, Marty Smith and Kyle Busch.

“Unrivaled: Earnhardt vs. Gordon” premieres Thursday, Feb. 14 on FS1 at 10 p.m. ET immediately following the network’s coverage of “The Duel at Daytona.”

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Fox Nets Highest MLS Cup Viewership in Over 20 Years

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Fox netted a strong showing for its coverage of the 2018 MLS Cup, which saw Atlanta United defeat the Portland Timbers on Saturday.

The match, which was played in front of a record Major League Soccer crowd of 73,019 at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, drew 1.56 million viewers, the most to watch any prior MLS Cup since 1997, according to Nielsen media research.

That’s viewership increase of 91 percent over last year’s match, which didn’t even crack 1 million viewers (819,000). On Fox Sports streaming sources, the match pulled in an average minute audience of 23,212, ranking as Fox Sports’ most streamed MLS event ever.

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Fox has made a big bet on soccer in recent years, having aired its first Men’s World Cup this past summer from Russia, which struggled in the ratings without the United States’ failure to qualify for the tournament.

Fox drew 11.3 million TV viewers for its coverage of the championship, which saw France defeat Croatia 4-2. But that was down 20 percent from the 14.1 million that watched ABC’s coverage in 2014 of Germany’s 1-0 win over Argentina. Those numbers include the pre- and post-match coverage, which can deflate the overall viewership. Leading up to the title match, Fox had been trending nearly 40 percent lower than 2014’s average viewership, so the final closed the gap a bit.

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Big Ten Network Taps Fox Sports Ohio Exec Francois McGillicuddy As Its New President

Read on: Deadline.

Fox Sports and the Big Ten Conference have appointed Francois McGillicuddy, GM of Fox’s Ohio regional sports networks, as president of the Big Ten Network.
The announcement was made today by Eric Shanks, CEO & Executive Producer of Fox Sports…

‘Thursday Night Football’ Just Scored an All-Time High – on Any Network – in Early Ratings

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Thursday Night Football” just scored a new record-high in early TV ratings. Though Fox is the beneficiary of that fact now, the claim holds true for any year on any network. Yeah, it’s pretty great when the Dallas Cowboys win a close, important game.

Last night’s “TNF” earned a 14.6 rating/25 share in the 56 markets metered by Nielsen. That’s 36 percent better than 2017’s Washington Redskins-Cowboys game (a 10.7/18) on NBC.

Those numbers, which are the best primetime stats for the network thus far this season, project to be Fox’s top broadcast in the all-important evening day part since January’s NFC Championship Game. So yeah, Fox won Thursday in ratings.

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For the past few NFL seasons, NBC and CBS split the “Thursday Night Football” rights. And then Fox opened up its wallet. The package, which allows for simulcasts on NFL Network, launched in 2014.

Fox and “Thursday Night Football” do not carry the primetime Thanksgiving game nor the opening Thursday of the season, both of which were technically a “Sunday Night Football” telecasts on NBC. Doesn’t matter, last night’s contest beat both of those anyway.

The Thanksgiving night New Orleans Saints’ win — something they couldn’t do on Thursday, when the NFC South squad saw its 10-game win streak end — posted an 11.4/24 overnight rating. Find the weather-delayed 2018 Kickoff Game’s early ratings here.

Season-to-date, Fox’s “Thursday Night Football” is averaging a 10.3/19 among the metered markets, which is 4 percent better than last year’s 9.9/17 through Week 13 on CBS and NBC.

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Fox And Major League Baseball Extend Rights Deal Through 2028

Read on: Deadline.

Reinforcing one of its live-sports tentpoles, Fox Sports has reached a 10-year, multi-platform extension with Major League Baseball.
The deal keeps the World Series on Fox, which has broadcast it every year since 1996, and will step up the number of re…

Watch the Exact Moment Katie Nolan Says She Decided to Quit Fox and Go to ESPN (Video)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Quite a number of ESPN personalities have left for Fox Sports in recent years, but at least one prominent member of the sportstalk media went the other way: Katie Nolan has told GQ why she did the exact opposite in October. In a way, it’s all Cris Carter’s fault, and we’ve got the video evidence.

Nolan was a young, rising star when Fox debuted “Garbage Time With Katie Nolan” in March 2015. By February 2017, Nolan was literally taking her show on the road for Super Bowl LI — those live versions in Houston, featuring co-worker Carter as a main-chair guest, are where it all went wrong.

We’re mostly kidding about Carter being the problem, but his appearance and the argument that ensued turned out to be the impetus. Bigger-picture-wise, it was others meddling in her unique comedy/sports-hybrid format that put “Garbage Time” on the trash heap, Nolan now says.

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Below is the relevant part of her GQ profile, which was written by Clay Skipper. He’s the son of ousted ESPN boss John Skipper, who stepped down in December, citing a “substance addiction.”

I think that I’m so worried that someone else that isn’t as invested in this as I am is going to touch it and f— it up and they’ll just go, Whoops, and go on to their next thing. So I am so protective of all my things. I could have moved [Garbage Time] out to LA, could have grown it to an hour daily show on FS1. Right before I left I went to the Super Bowl and we did my show live, an hour daily from the Super Bowl.

Before we got out there, I said, “Look, we’re booking a panel of people to be on this show with me. They need to be people that understand what this show is. I don’t want you to get me big name athletes that have no idea who I am or what I do. They’re just going to be confused and it’s not going to work on the show. I also don’t want you to get me a panel of people that all work at Fox. Those are my only two things. I will do whatever else.”

The night before the first show live from the Super Bowl they were like, “Such and such missed his flight. So the first show is going to be you, Nick Wright, Cris Carter, two FS1 personalities”–and then a girl I had booked, Sarah Tiana, a very funny comedian. I was like, “Okay, this is going to be a disaster.” They were like, “It’s gonna be fine.”

Cris Carter brings up Deflategate. I’m like, okay so now I either have to, out of respect for him, let him talk about this on my show or be like, “It’s my show. Shut up Cris.” So I chose the second option. We got into it. It was a mess. It wasn’t good TV.

I wasn’t mad at him, I was mad at the network. Like, “I told you. I know this show better than anyone else. Cris Carter is incredible, but he will not work on this show. It’s not going to work for him.” They didn’t listen. So that was the moment that I was like, I’m not coming back to Fox.

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It all made for a re-watchable 10 minutes of TV, at least — and thank goodness for YouTube.

Watch the video above. Read Nolan’s full interview here.

TheWrap gave Fox Sports the opportunity to respond to Nolan’s remarks in GQ profile (and thus, this piece), but we did not immediately har back.

“Always Late With Katie Nolan” streams on ESPN+.

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Dodgers Going Back To World Series, Beat Brewers 5-1 In Game 7 Showdown

Read on: Deadline.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are going back to the World Series, knocking off the upstart Milwaukee Brewers tonight 5-1 in a sudden-death Game 7 in the National League Championship Series. That victory gives them the right to face the Boston Red Sox in the …

Fox Sports Detroit Anchors Involved in Physical Altercation Won’t Return in 2019 (Report)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Mario Impemba and Rod Allen, the play-by-play duo that covered the Detroit Tigers for Fox Sports Detroit, will not return for the 2019 season, weeks after the two were involved in a physical altercation with each other.

The Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday night that the two would not be coming back. Reps for Fox Sports and the Tigers did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

According to the Free Press, Impemba’s contact was up after this season anyway, while Allen’s had a network option for 2019, which is being settled with lawyers. Impemba and Allen had been calling Tigers games for the past 16 years, but tensions had been simmering between the two for quite a while.

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They had managed to form a productive on-air relationship, despite not seeing eye-to-eye for “a long time,” The Athletic reported, but everything came to a head on Sept. 4, the night of the fight between the two. The Free Press, speaking with multiple sources, reported a bit more on what happened that night.

During the game, there was a “43-second” blackout because Impemba, reported to have been annoyed but what he thought was Allen’s fixation on his phone rather than the game itself, “boycotted” speaking into the microphone in retaliation. It gets even more petty during the pre-game spat, and we’ll just let the Detroit Free Press tell it themselves:

There were three chairs in the tightly packed booth, only one of which was sturdy: one Impemba had mindlessly or, perhaps carelessly, decided to occupy when it rested in his broadcast spot. Allen has had back issues and rigid seats are important. When he arrived, he expected the more supportive chair to be his.

Impemba, according to a source, said nothing but was steamed as he turned it over. Impemba’s ire was obvious and now Allen was miffed: “Are you mad that I took this chair?” he asked, according to the source.

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The fight was apparently bad enough that, per The Athletic, the two had to be booked on separate flights back to Detroit following the Sept. 4 game in Chicago. The Free Press also added that three NBC Sports Chicago freelancers had to break up the fight, which didn’t last very long, after Allen placed his hands on the sides of Impemba’s neck.

The two had worked more than 2,000 Tigers games together.

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Fox’s First ‘Thursday Night Football’ Game Rises 8 Percent in Early Ratings From CBS’ Turn

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Fox’s first “Thursday Night Football” game was a success, drawing a 10.7 rating and 19 share in Nielsen’s overnight ratings. That number counts the NFL Network’s contribution.

Last night’s Minnesota Vikings-Los Angeles Rams game was up 8 percent from last year’s equivalent game on CBS, when the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers averaged a 9.9/18 on CBS on and NFL Network.

Jared Goff’s huge game in a shootout win for L.A. was up 11 percent when compared with 2017’s “Thursday Night Football” telecast average, a 9.6/18. Those rights were split between CBS and NBC last year.

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We do not yet have the ratings breakdown between Fox and NFL Network for their individual contributions last night. The vast majority of viewership happens on broadcast.

Final Nielsen numbers — including the game’s total viewers — will be available later on Friday.

Fox paid $3.3 billion for five-years’ worth of “Thursday Night Football” rights. That’s roughly $60 million per game.

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Fox Sports Detroit Anchors Involved in Physical Altercation

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

A pair of on-air personalities for Fox Sports Detroit, Mario Impemba and Rod Allen, were involved in a physical altercation with each other, according to multiple reports.

Impemba and Allen, who serve as the on-air broadcast team for the Detroit Tigers, were absent from Wednesday’s telecast due to a fight between the two on Tuesday, The Athletic, which was first to report, said citing multiple sources. The Detroit Free Press added that the altercation between the two was described by at least one person as “severe.”

A representative for both Fox Sports and Fox Sports Detroit did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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It wasn’t clear what caused the dispute, but apparently there has been “simmering tension” between the two, with the personality clash finally reaching a breaking point.

They had managed to form a productive on-air relationship, despite not seeing eye-to-eye for “a long time,” The Athletic reported. But the fight was apparently bad enough that, per The Athletic, the two had to be booked on separate flights back to Detroit following the game in Chicago.

Fill in replacements Matt Shepard and Kirk Gibson had to be brought in at the last-minute to call the game, The Athletic added. The Tigers next game is Friday.

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