Shaq Life, WrestleMania Week, XFL, PLL & Much More During the COVID-19 Shut Down

April 11, 2020

Shaquille O'Neal jokingly questions Stevie Wonders' blindness ...
Photo: Revolt TV

Executives at Fox Sports have in recent days held videoconferences with some of the advertising industry’s most influential executives in hopes of starting conversations about placing ad dollars in live sports broadcasts scheduled for the third and fourth quarters. It’s one of the first signals that Madison Avenue, which has been plunged into chaos by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on TV production, sees signs of normalcy approaching in months to come.

The new TNT Shaquille O’Neal docuseries Shaq Life will debut as part of the network’s first Thursday ShaqNight! The ShaqNight! programming is scheduled for every Thursday, with O’Neal and a revolving cast of his famous friends, from their homes, joining viewers to watch some of the basketball great’s favorite films. O’Neal and his guests will provide commentary, compete against each other in “boredom buster” games, and dance along to a DJ session by Shaq.

Rui Hachimura, a Washington Wizards forward, has found comfort and meaning in the hit Japanese reality show “Terrace House.” Long before he began feeding his obsession and even found himself sitting next to its hosts, Rui Hachimura didn’t understand all the fuss about the Japanese reality television show “Terrace House.” His high school teammates in Japan had tried hard to get him on board.

‘Will From Home’ will feature appearances by Smith’s family, celebrity friends and everyday people who are isolating indoors. Will Smith is bringing his self-isolation to the public with a new original series for Snapchat, Will From Home.

The XFL laid off nearly all of its staff, effective immediately, on Friday morning as it suspended operations without even concluding its inaugural season due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. It is unknown if the league will resume or be permanently disbanded.

The upstart league’s first season was interrupted last month as the virus swept throughout the United States and forced sports leagues nationwide to put their seasons on hiatus. The XFL had played just five games before it canceled the remainder of its 10-game regular season on March 20.

The eight-team league initially announced plans to return in 2021, but no mention of next season was made in Friday’s call informing employees of the decision.

“The decision has been made to immediately suspend day-to-day operations of the XFL in Stamford and each of our eight markets.” Jeffrey Pollack, the league’s president and chief operating officer, said on a conference call to XFL employees that was obtained by Front Office Sports.

The media and entertainment company WWE’s annual flagship event went ahead despite sport around the world being on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. Originally slated to take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, it was held behind closed doors at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, with fights pre-filmed on 25th and 26th March and aired over two nights on 4th and 5th April.

As a result, ‘WrestleMania Week’ saw WWE achieve a whopping 967 million video views across its digital and social platforms, representing an increase of 20 per cent year-over-year.

Following the lead of all other major professional sports leagues, the Premier Lacrosse League has postponed the start of its second season indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The PLL’s 2020 season was scheduled to begin on May 29 at Gillette Stadium.

Working with their venues, board of directors, advisors, sponsors, media rights partner NBC, and the PLL’s internal team tracking the novel coronavirus, the league made the strategic decision to postpone before the planned start of play in hopes that the season will happen whenever safe.

The league has also pushed back its college draft from the original April 21 date.

“We believe that we will have a season,” PLL chief strategy officer and co-founder Paul Rabil told Front Office Sports. “It could take a number of different shapes in 2020. There’s certainly a scenario where that’s not possible for any sport. But we chose to postpone the start of our season versus call it a cancellation indefinitely I think in good faith as our team [is] putting together some scenarios that would either have a season that starts later with a full slate of games, a season that starts later and it’s compressed or exploring several offsite strategies that would represent a version of our season and postseason that would be fanless and measured up against appropriate CDC protocol and medical safety protocol.”

The 2022 World Athletics Championships, which have already been pushed back by a year after the postponement of Tokyo 2020 to 2021, has been moved forward by three weeks to avoid clashing with the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

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