It’s been an interesting few years for actor and comedian Michael Rapaport on the sports media front, as he directed the ESPN 30 for 30 “When The Garden Was Eden” back in 2014, got in a podcast feud with “Twinkie-eating f-boy” Dan Le Batard in March 2017, joined Fox’s Big 3 broadcast team as a sideline reporter that May, and took his podcast to Barstool Sports in June. That didn’t end well, though; Rapaport was fired in February after a Twitter meltdown and feud with Barstool personalities, which led to Barstool selling shirts of him with a clown nose and him sending a cease-and-desist.
During Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday, Fancred will pilot Fancred On-Air, a live broadcast section of its app where hosts give live commentary and users can video-call the hosts from their phones to join the conversation.
…The hosts for Thursday’s live NBA Finals broadcast are comedian Michael Rapaport and Buster Scher, a 17-year-old YouTube NBA vlogger. The two will go live at 9 pm EST and provide commentary through the entire game. NBA veteran Brian Scalabrine will also join as a guest.
…“As far as me and [Barstool], I’m just moving on,” Rapaport tells Yahoo Finance. “I’ve been in show business since 1991 and I’m not going anywhere. They can do their thing, I’ll move on.”
Rapaport is not joining Fancred full time, but it’s clear that more live broadcasts will come if the NBA Finals pilot gains traction.
“I think this is the wave of the future,” Rapaport says. “It’s the same as Instagram, Twitter, it gives you this up-close way to view sports. And everybody’s on their phones during the games. Now obviously I’m never going to be Marv Albert, I’m never going to have the experience and expertise of the great broadcasters. For me, with sports, I don’t try to act like I know it all. I’m a fan, and I try to keep it fan. It takes a genius to play a fool, and I don’t mind playing the fool.”
Will this Fancred move get any traction? Who knows. They’re competing with a lot of things, including the traditional game broadcast, ESPN’s own ESPN3 second-screen show (which will see Le Batard host for Game 3, so it could be fun to see if those two reignite their feud at all), the Twitter/Uninterrupted halftime streaming show (featuring Austin Rivers!), and not to mention regular #NBATwitter conversations about the game. And the history of Fancred isn’t exactly auspicious; as Roberts notes, they launched their app in 2013, picked up $4.5 million in funding and 100,000 users, but shut down in 2016.
Boston-based holding company Football Nation bought the app and the name after that, and Boston radio/TV host Mike Felger (of Roy Halladay hot take fame) is an investor. Felger said “This is like a sports talk show, except we get to see you” in a promotional spot for this new On-Air feature (he’ll also host a new series on the app with former NFL tight end Jermaine Wiggins), and maybe this will get some attention from his fans. Many have tried this sort of interaction on Periscope, though, and it’s notable that other companies have tried this kind of viewer participation thing too, especially with ESPN’s First Take Your Take contest.
But Rapaport, Scher, and (former FS1 analyst!) Scalabrine all have their fans, so maybe this works out. Or maybe it gets swamped by Barstool fans calling in to troll Rapaport. At any rate, it’s notable that Rapaport’s diving back into sports media again. We’ll see if this venture ends better for him than his time at Barstool did.