Yahoo Sports AM: Cable for sports

In today's edition: A new sports streamer, the world's most expensive billboard, AFCON's unexpected final four, "Behind the Lens" with Getty Images, and more.

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🚨 Headlines

🏒 Streak snapped: The Oilers lost 3-1 to the Golden Knights, ending their winning streak at 16 games, one shy of tying the NHL record set by the 1992-93 Penguins.

⚾️ Dodger/Astro for life: Clayton Kershaw will return to the Dodgers for a 17th season, and José Altuve has signed a five-year, $125 million extension that all but guarantees he ends his career in Houston.

🏀 All-Star replacements: Hawks guard Trae Young and Raptors forward Scottie Barnes have been named All-Star injury replacements for Joel Embiid (knee) and Julius Randle (shoulder).

🏒 Hockey at Wrigley: The 2025 NHL Winter Classic will be at Wrigley Field, with the Blackhawks hosting the Blues. The iconic ballpark last hosted in 2009.

🏀 Down goes UNC: Clemson upset No. 3 UNC, 80-76, to improve to 2-60 all-time in Chapel Hill. Their other win came in 2020.

📺 Coming soon: Cable for sports

(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)
(Amber Matsumoto/Yahoo Sports)

Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery announced plans on Tuesday to launch a joint streaming service this fall that will combine their considerable sports offerings.

What's included: The still-to-be-named product will bundle all the sports content that appears on their linear and streaming properties, providing a one-stop shop for fans to watch the vast majority of live sports.

  • 15 networks: ESPN, ESPN+, ESPN2, ESPNU, SEC Network, ACC Network, ESPNEWS, ABC, Fox, FS1, FS2, Big Ten Network, TNT, TBS, truTV.

  • Lots of sports: NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, College Football Playoff, NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments, 40 NCAA Championship Events (and thousands of college games), PGA Tour, FIFA World Cup, Grand Slam Tennis, UFC, WNBA, NWSL, F1, NASCAR, and more.

What this means: This is basically "cable for sports fans," though it's not a perfect solution since NBC/Peacock and CBS/Paramount+ aren't involved. (WBD is in talks to merge with Paramount Global, so that could ultimately leave NBC/Peacock as the odd man out.)

  • "My sense is knowing the cast of characters, they're looking at the original Hulu concept and thinking, 'Well, that worked out really well for us.' So let's do that again. But for live sports streaming," Kevin Krim, the president and CEO of ad measurement firm EDO, told AP.

  • In a note to investors, research firm MoffettNathanson called this move by Disney, Fox and WBD "the ultimate play to take ownership of their own sports destinies, forgoing their reliance on the current distribution system."

On the business side: The fees each company will receive are based on what they earn in their cable deals. That means ESPN, the most expensive cable channel at roughly $10 per customer, will get a higher percentage from each subscriber to this new venture, per The Athletic ($).

The big question: Will Disney, Fox and WBD now bid as a combined entity for sports rights? That would help them compete with tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Netflix as they continue to add sports. It would also fundamentally change negotiations for sports leagues like the NBA, whose media rights expire after the 2024-25 season.

My take…

Everybody is making the same "they invented cable!" joke, which I get. But for sports fans, this service could be better than cable ever was because you'll only be paying for what you want.

I'll use myself as an example: I pay $73 per month for YouTube TV (which is basically cable), but I really only use it for sports. So I'm paying for a lot of channels I never watch. This new service will be cheaper than that ($40-50/month range?), so it sounds like it will be an easy switch for me.

I'll still need separate streaming services like Peacock (for "Sunday Night Football" and Premier League), Prime Video (for "Thursday Night Football") and Paramount+ (for CBS broadcasts), but I already needed those anyway.

Complicating things is local sports, which are typically part of the cable bundle via Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). But that model is fading, and my view is that all local sports will soon be available via streaming or sold direct-to-consumer by teams.

The bottom line: Cable was convenient but the business is dying. Streaming is the future but not very convenient (too many apps!). Finally, it appears we've arrived at a happy medium — for sports fans, at least.

🔮 The world's most expensive billboard


As the sports world descends upon Las Vegas, Sin City's newest attraction takes center stage, Jeff writes.

All eyes on the Sphere: It typically costs ~$450,000 per day to advertise on the Exosphere, the Sphere's LED exterior. But this week, brands are paying a reported $1-2 million.

  • Super Bowl week inventory is sold out, and multiple ad takeovers have already begun, including a Patrick Mahomes spot for Adidas and campaigns for Bud Light, Pepsi and Verizon.

  • The NFL has also collaborated with the Sphere on content, like the helmets pictured above and a Super Bowl countdown clock.

Vegas is ready for its close-up: Sin City is playing a starring role in the lead-up to the Super Bowl, with the Sphere and other landmarks getting major airtime this week.

Further reading: Las Vegas' journey to becoming a sports town

🎟️ Speaking of expensive...

(Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)
(Taylar Sievert/Yahoo Sports)

As of last night, the get-in price for Sunday's game was hovering around $7,790, per TicketIQ. That's the highest price ever recorded five days before kickoff.

Global demand: There have been buyers from 16 countries outside the U.S., per StubHub. Some you might expect (Mexico, Canada, Great Britain); others you might not (Ecuador, South Korea, Cyprus).

⚽️ The maddest soccer tournament in the world

Host nation Ivory Coast celebrate their quarterfinal victory. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images)
Host nation Ivory Coast celebrate their quarterfinal victory. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images)

Nigeria, South Africa, DR Congo and the Ivory Coast have advanced to the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations — a final four befitting an event that Yahoo Sports' Henry Bushnell calls "the maddest soccer tournament in the world," Jeff writes.

There is nothing quite like it, this summit of a soccer-crazed continent, this meeting of countless different religions, races and cultures, all connected by a silly little ball and a beautiful game.

24 teams came to the Ivory Coast in January. Dozens of European-based stars traveled south to take part. And just about none of them performed as expected. … "The Africa Cup of Nations has its own logic," as the saying goes. But still, the 2024 edition has felt consistently illogical.

The unexpected final four: Nigeria (world No. 42), Ivory Coast (49), South Africa (66) and DR Congo (67) were the sixth, eighth, 12th and 13th highest-ranked teams in the AFCON field — and they emerged from a quarterfinal round that was even more surprising.

  • Not a single team from the previous AFCON quarterfinals made this year's final eight, which had never happened before in a major soccer tournament.

  • Africa had its best-ever showing at the 2022 World Cup, with its five teams (Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia) combining for nine wins. Yet none of those countries made the AFCON quarterfinals.

Consider this: Host nation Ivory Coast fired its coach after a disappointing group stage, only to still reach the knockout rounds, where it has won back-to-back comeback thrillers. It's a perfect microcosm of the chaos that has come to define this event.

What's next: The semifinals kick off today, with Nigeria taking on South Africa and Ivory Coast facing DR Congo.

📸 Behind the lens

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Each week, we go "Behind the Lens" with Getty Images to get the backstory on the best photographs in sports.

This week's photo: Dinmukhammed Raimkulov of Kazakhstan takes a run during aerials training ahead of the Freestyle International Ski World Cup at Deer Valley.

  • Photographer: Sarah Stier

  • Location: Park City, Utah

Behind the lens: Here's Sarah…

I captured this photo by standing underneath one of two kickers used in an aerial ski jumping event. I was standing right beneath a kicker, and Dinmukhammed jumped off of the kicker next to me, so I was looking at him almost diagonally, instead of directly above me.

Because of this, I was able to include some of the mountainside in the frame rather than having the background be completely sky blue. I was using two Canon R3 camera bodies with a combination of long, medium, and wide lenses.

There are a lot of things that make capturing skiing unique, exciting, and challenging. The weather throws curveballs, you often have to hike or ski into your position, and the athletes that you're photographing are performing some dangerous yet exciting feats.

This event has the steepest mogul course on the World Cup circuit, so during the first day of moguls competition, it was really exciting to witness the athleticism of the competitors.

📆 Feb. 7, 1976: Sittler's 10-point night

Sittler during his historic night. (Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Sittler during his historic night. (Ron Bull/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

48 years ago today, Maple Leafs center Darryl Sittler recorded an NHL-record 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists) in an 11-4 win over the Bruins, Jeff writes.

By the numbers: The closest anyone has come to Sittler's single-game record is eight points. 13 players hit that mark, most recently Sam Gagner in 2012.

More on this day:

*Longest PGA Tour winning streaks: Byron Nelson in 1945 (11 straight), Woods in 2006-07 (seven straight), Ben Hogan in 1948 (six straight), Woods in 1999-2000 (six straight).

📺 Watchlist: The Iron (Basket) Bowl

Alabama beat Auburn, 79-75, last month in Tuscaloosa. Now they meet again as ranked opponents. (Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images)
Alabama beat Auburn, 79-75, last month in Tuscaloosa. Now they meet again as ranked opponents. (Brandon Sumrall/Getty Images)

No. 12 Auburn hosts No. 16 Alabama tonight (7pm ET, ESPN2), marking just the fifth time in their 170-game history that the two rival schools are ranked, Jeff writes.

The other four ranked meetings: No. 4 Auburn beat No. 24 Alabama in 2022, No. 13 Alabama beat No. 17 Auburn in 1987, No. 9 Alabama beat No. 14 Auburn in 1975 and No. 16 Alabama beat No. 20 Auburn in 1955.

More to watch:

  • 🏀 NBA: Warriors at 76ers (7:30pm, ESPN); Pelicans at Clippers* (10pm, ESPN)

  • 🏒 NHL: Lightning at Rangers (7pm, TNT/Max); Wild at Blackhawks (9:30pm, TNT/Max)

  • ⚽️ AFCON: Nigeria vs. South Africa (12pm, ESPN+); Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo (3pm, ESPN+)

  • ⚾️ Caribbean Series: Curaçao vs. Puerto Rico (10:30am, ESPN+); Dominican Republic vs. Panama, (3:30pm, ESPN+); Nicaragua vs. Venezuela (8:30pm, ESPN+)

*Scorching hot: The Clippers (34-15) have gone 26-5 since their 8-10 start, with wins in 17 of their last 20 games. They're now in first place in the West.

🏀 Vegas NBA trivia

(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Which NBA team played 11 "home games" in Las Vegas during the 1983-84 season?

  • Denver Nuggets

  • Los Angeles Clippers

  • Utah Jazz

  • Phoenix Suns

Answer at the bottom.

🐦 Racing pigeon beats the allegations

(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
(Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

A racing pigeon from Taiwan has been freed in Mumbai after being held for eight months on suspicion of spying for China.

Wait, what? Yup, this is a real thing that happened! From AP:

The pigeon's ordeal began in May when it was captured near a port in Mumbai with two rings tied to its legs, carrying words that looked like Chinese. Police suspected it was involved in espionage and took it in.

Eventually, it turned out the pigeon was an open-water racing bird from Taiwan that had escaped and made its way to India.

Trivia answer: Utah Jazz

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