Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points - Tuesday, January 4th, 2022
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Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, January 4th, 2022. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities, where AllYourScreens HQ is anticipating yet another round of snow this evening. But luckily nothing at the scale that is pounding away on parts of the East Coast.
THE SPORTS WORLD HAS NOT BEEN KIND TO MICHAEL EISNER
Michael Eisner was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company from September 1984 to September 2005 and in many ways defined the post-Walt Disney vision of the company. After he left Disney in 2005, he founded the investment firm The Tornante Company, which invests in, acquires, and operates media and entertainment companies.
Like all investment companies - particularly in the media/entertainment sphere - the company has had mixed results over the years. But one of Eisner's biggest gambles was set to pay off late last year - to the tune of as much as $600 million. Until it didn't.
In 2007, the Tornante Company and the private equity firm Madison Dearborn Partners bought the Topps Company Inc. for $385 million. While it's best known for its trading card business, Topps has been making nearly $250 million per year in revenue from its non-physical businesses. In fact, 35% of its total revenue in 2020 came from its confections business, which owns iconic names such as Bazooka gum and PushPop. But still, trading cards are the biggest part of its business, headed up by the company's 70-year relationship with Major League Baseball.
In the past couple of years, total revenue at Topps had soared, thanks to an increased interest in trading cards. Revenue in 2019 was $460 million and the ultimate 2021 revenue was estimated to top $850 million. The company was doing so well that Eisner had helped engineered a deal which would take the company public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that valued the business at $1.3 billion. If successful, the deal would have personally made Eisner nearly $600 million.
But that all ended in August, when MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred called Eisner to let him know that the league and its players’ association had decided to end its relationship with Topps and go with rival Fanatics instead, beginning in 2026. Fanatics didn't have any experience in the card business, but it did have about $330 million in fresh capital, as well as the backing of Jay-Z and the iconic venture capital firms Silver Lake and SoftBank. Topps was given the opportunity to beat the offer from Fanatics, but the company doesn't have the resources to get into a bidding war with a rival that has a market capitalization 14 times bigger.
Within 24 hours, the deal to take Topps public was dead and so was Eisner's chance to end 2021 with $600 million or so more in the bank.
And things have not gotten any better for Topps in the months since then.
Fanatics created a division to handle its sports card business called Fanatics Trading Cards and along with its MLB deal, the company was able to score deals with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) by offering the unions and leagues a piece of the company. That gave Fanatics an 80 percent share of the trading cards market, which made Topps' future in the business problematical at best. It was also bad news for the company's bottom line, since about 60% of its revenue had come from the trading card business.
Now CNBC is reporting that Topps is selling off what remains of its trading card business to Fanatics, in a deal reported to be worth about $500 million:
Fanatics’ trading card entity is valued at $10 billion after a $350 million round of funding last September. Rubin called Topps an iconic brand in a statement announcing the move.
“With trading cards and collectibles being a significant pillar of our long-term plans to become the leading digital sports platform, we are excited to add a leading trading cards company to build out our business,” said Rubin.
Former Disney chairman Michael Eisner owned Topps, which operated under private investment firm Tornante.
Eisner called the Topps brand a “jewel in the Fanatics portfolio,” adding Rubin is the “perfect entrepreneur” to move the sports division forward. Tornante will retain Topps’ gift card and candy lines, including Bazooka bubble gum.
While Eisner is putting a brave face on the situation, this resolution is about as far away from his initial plan as is possible to conceive. But while Eisner's bottom line was beat like a pinata, things are looking up for Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, who personally owns 80 percent of a $10 billion business that has yet to ship a single product.
'9-1-1' IS HEADED TO USA NETWORK
For years NCIS has been a staple at the USA Network, with reruns of the show airing multiple times a day for extended periods. It was an overall ratings success for the cable network, enough so that USA paid a reported $2 million per episode for reruns of NCIS: Los Angeles in 2008. But both shows are also available on various streaming services and with the current deal set to expire soon, the network needed to find a fresh broadcast procedural to air in its primetime programming block.
That wasn't an easy task, given the small number of possibilities. But the network has found a replacement, the Fox procedural cop/rescue drama 9-1-1.
Created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear, reruns of the series will air in a block on Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. beginning tomorrow. The agreement covers all four previous seasons, including an exclusive cable window that runs through mid-September 2022. The deal also includes future seasons and the current fifth run, which will come to USA Network later this year.
ODDS AND SODS
* The auction every Don Rickles fan (or lover of Vegas memorabilia) will want to check out.
* Keanu Reeves is in talks to star in the Hulu series adaptation of The Devil In The White City.
* Microsoft has announced the titles coming to its XBox Game Pass in January, including "Mass Effect: Legendary Edition."
TWEET OF THE DAY
WHAT'S NEW FOR TUESDAY
Here's a quick rundown of all the new stuff premiering today on TV and streaming:
Abbott Elementary Series Premiere (ABC)
Action Pack (Netflix)
American Auto Series Premiere (NBC)
Black-ish Season Premiere (ABC)
Eggs Over Easy (OWN)
FBI Spring Premiere (CBS)
FBI International Spring Premiere (CBS)
FBI Most Wanted Spring Premiere (CBS)
Finding Your Roots Season Eight Premiere (PBS)
Frontline: American Resurrection (PBS)
Gordon Ramsay's Road Trip: Greek Vacation (Fox)
Grand Crew Series Premiere (NBC)
Judge Steve Harvey Series Premiere (ABC)
New Amsterdam Spring Premiere (Fox)
Queens Spring Premiere (ABC)
Speak Sis: Physical Health (OWN)
This Is Us Spring Premiere (NBC)
Click Here to see the list of all of the upcoming premiere dates for the next few months.
SEE YOU WEDNESDAY!
If you have any feedback, send it along to Rick@AllYourScreens.com and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.