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September 3, 2015

Al Michaels traded to NBC for... Oswald the Lucky Rabbit?

by Joel Keller, posted Feb 9th 2006 3:10PM
Michaels traded to NBCWell, it wasn't the proverbial bucket of balls, but it was close. A day after ESPN announced a Monday Night Football team from which Al Michaels was consipcuously absent comes official word that NBC has signed Michaels to rejoin John Madden in the booth for their new Sunday night football package.

But NBC didn't get Michaels for nothing. According to the SI.com article, ESPN and its parent company, Disney, received the following items in exchange for Michaels, who was under contract with the cable network: the cable rights to the Friday broadcasts of the next four Ryder Cups, "increased usage of Olympic highlights" (whatever that means), and the rights to the cartoon character Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which appeared in silent Disney cartoon shorts in the late 1920s.

(More detailed information can be found in this USAToday.com article.)

Wow, Disney will go to any length to get the rights to those old characters, huh? Seriously, though, this move was almost inevitable; a big name like Michaels was not going to "slum it" over at ESPN, no matter what he told the press about the cache of the MNF name. In addition, he still gets to do postseason games and Super Bowls, something he was not going to do with ESPN. Yes, he sacrifices calling the NBA finals, but a) he just started doing that a couple of years ago, and b) he wasn't that good at basketball play-by-play anyway, so it was no big loss for him or the viewers.

It's a big win for me, though: I might finally get to see Oswald out on DVD. Maybe they can get Stephen A. Smith to do the commentary...

[via Deadspin]

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Hey! I know what the "Oswald the Rabbit" thing was all about. Walt Disney's silent Oswald cartoons were done under contract for Universal. Universal balked at the expense of talking cartoons so Disney went independent and created Mickey Mouse. Meanwhile, Uni gave the job of animating Oswald to Walter Lantz, who was much more successful working with a woodpecker.

This deal with what is now NBC/Universal just helps make sure everything made by Disney (the man) stays with Disney (the corporation). It was obviously a lot more valuable to the Mouse House than the Peacock House, but still it's strange that it got tacked onto a deal for a sportscaster's contract and some sports event rights. Maybe somebody at one of the studios used to work as a Congressional staffer.

February 09 2006 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

is this deal, with or without the piece (hair)!

February 09 2006 at 4:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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