PHLY Sports launches, but Anthony Gargano’s role is in limbo due to dispute with 97.5 The Fanatic – The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Philly’s newest sports outlet will mix sports talkers with a slew of former reporters from The Athletic in one-hour YouTube shows.
The worst-kept secret in Philly sports media launched Tuesday.
PHLY Sports, a new digital media outlet focusing on the city’s sports teams, makes its debut in a crowded space that includes coverage from The Inquirer and so many other outlets and start-ups it’s hard to list them all. But the status of the company’s top new hire remains in limbo.
97.5 The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano, who helped assemble the talent and build the site, was set to join PHLY Sports for its launch. But a dispute over his role between the new digital start-up and The Fanatic’s parent company leaves his role uncertain.
Brandon Spano, the cofounder and CEO of ALLCITY Network, which PHLY Sports is part of, said Gargano was involved with the new site from its inception, and the launch would not have been possible without him.
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“At the moment, we are trying to determine exactly what that involvement looks like as we navigate his contractual situation with the Beasley Media Group,” Spano told The Inquirer. “What we can promise is that Anthony will be involved in many aspects of the network and at some point, fans will be able to watch him and listen to him on PHLY.”
After hosting Monday, Gargano was absent from his show Tuesday morning on The Fanatic, replaced by Andrew Salciunas and Connor Thomas. Neither mentioned Gargano’s absence during the show’s opening.
Philadelphia is the fourth city that ALLCITY has expanded into, beginning in Denver in 2015 and followed by Phoenix and Chicago. The sites mix highly produced daily YouTube shows that stream live with reporting from journalists covering Philly’s teams.
“We’re going to deliver an hour show that starts live in studio every day for every team,” Spano said. “That’s the core product.”
The site features a roster of recognizable sports media personalities and reporters that includes former The Fanatic hosts Devon Givens and Jamie Lynch and former 94.1 WIP host Bill Matz. However, Givens has a non-compete clause with The Fanatic that will keep him off PHLY until November, Spano said.
Spano also pulled a playbook from The Athletic and raided the one-time start-up for talent, hiring Charlie O’Connor, Bo Wulf, and former Inquirer reporter Zach Berman, as well as former Athletic writers Derek Bodner and Rich Hofmann. Spano said shows will also feature guest fill-ins from former players, such as ex-NFL lineman Brian Baldinger, who works for the NFL Network.
Beginning Tuesday, PHLY will offer four daily one-hour shows live on YouTube focused on the big four of Philly sports — the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers. There will also be a weekly show focused on the Union.
Spano said each show will ultimately go live at a specific time each day, though that could shift around based on when teams are playing — “fixed but flexible,” as Spano put it. After they’re recorded, the live shows are then distributed as podcasts.
PHLY Sports won’t be starting from scratch, Spano said. The company purchased the feeds for Broad Street Hockey Radio, which Matz owned, and Sixers Beat, which was owned by Bodner, ensuring they’ll have some fans locked in at launch.
So where is the money coming from to launch a site like PHLY Sports? ALLCITY has received a total of $8.3 million in venture capital mixed with angel investors, Spano said, noting that it has raised $5.3 million since the launch of the Chicago site last year. Spano also said they’re launching with six sponsors in Philly, and that all 20 employees — including talent — are full-time.
Combined, ALLCITY’s three sites have about 107,000 YouTube subscribers, and Spano estimated they reach 7 million fans a month, including podcast listeners. ALLCITY also opened a sports bar in Denver in 2020 appropriately called DNVR Bar, but so far there are no plans to compete with Barstool Sansom Street in Philly.
“We just feel like our model can be successful in the places where sports matters the most,” Spano said. “And I don’t think any city can compete with Philly in that regard.”
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