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ESPN Plans Cowboys Special

Jason Barrett

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Largely boxed out from prime-time regular-season Cowboys games by NBC, which has an annual three-to-one advantage, and outside the lines when it comes to training camp sagas as brought to you by HBO’s Hard Knocks, ESPN has come up with a way to add Cowboys content to its programming lineup.

Coming to a TV set near you on Aug. 4, a Tuesday, will be a live 90-minute special from the Cowboys’ Oxnard, Calif., training camp.

The idea is to take viewers through an afternoon practice with Kenny Mayne, Jon Gruden and Darren Woodson as tour guides.

This will be ESPN’s second such foray into training camp. Last summer the concept debuted with the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. If you think the New England Patriots, the Seahawks’ successors as kings of the hill, would be the logical choice for this summer, you haven’t been paying attention.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick would rather have outside cameras at his anesthesia-less root canal than invite them into his training camp laboratory. The Patriots, history has shown, prefer to be on the other side of the lens.

So when ESPN producer Jay Rothman decided on an encore performance of his inside training camp experiment, he went directly to a team with “meat on the bone” that doesn’t mind offering a taste. The Cowboys provide the perfect ingredients, including an owner who likes cameras and a magnet that draws eyeballs.

In an interview this week, Rothman said he approached the receptive Cowboys at the Super Bowl and got the final approval last month.

“Jerry Jones is terrific, he gets it,” said Rothman, whose main role is producing Monday Night Football. “And there’s no secret that with the Cowboys, the ratings are big.”

(Note: The Cowboys-Redskins appearance on Monday Night Football in October was easily the highest-rated and most-watched game on ESPN last season.)

The idea for the training camp series popped into Rothman’s head while he watched an ESPN special that focused on Boston Red Sox batting practice soon after the start of the 2014 season.

(Added note: The other team taking batting practice that day at Fenway Park was the Rangers.)

Rothman thought the idea would easily translate to the NFL.

Unlike Hard Knocks, which lingers at training camps and depends on character development, Rothman’s production will rely on Xs and Os. Already he has met with Gruden and Woodson for six hours of Cowboys film study.

You might expect ESPN to “mike up” several players, coaches and a certain general manager. But that won’t be the case.

Rothman explained he tried that approach with the Seahawks and didn’t like the results. Besides, it’s always dangerous to have hot microphones in a live athletic setting.

Toward the end of our conversation, Rothman noted that although his show, scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m., was booked for 90 minutes, it could go longer.

(Final note: Last season Gruden sat down with Jones for what was to be a four-minute feature. They talked much longer. Rothman deemed it worthy for more. There was “enough meat on the bone” for a 30-minute special, which drew surprisingly strong ratings.)

Most assuredly there will be replays of the Cowboys training camp show on a variety of ESPN networks. Who knows? This could translate into an annual event. Maybe even a series. When it comes to the Cowboys, the networks’ appetites are insatiable.

Credit to the Dallas News who originally published this article

Sports TV News

FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches

FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.

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The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.

USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.

While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.

Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.

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Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz Announcing World Cup, NFL Thanksgiving Games For 18 Straight Hours Thursday

With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

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With the World Cup happening at an unprecedented time, there were bound to be scheduling conflicts. The conflicts for Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz, however, might be the real unprecedented nature of the event being played in November.

Gurwitz works on Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup while calling matches as the secondary play-by-play announcer. Beginning at 11:00 AM in Doha, Gurwitz will work the network’s coverage of the event.

But as the soccer day turns to tonight, Gurwitz will call Telemundo’s broadcast of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings game from Qatar. With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

He will also do the feat again on Sunday, as he’ll broadcast World Cup matches for the network during the day and then announce the Packers and Eagles game for Sunday Night Football.

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Sports TV News

Kevin Burkhardt: ‘Honor To Be In People’s Homes’ During Thanksgiving Broadcast

“There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool.”

Ricky Keeler

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On Thanksgiving, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will call their first Thanksgiving Day game for FOX when the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET). It’s been a memorable year for Burkhardt and Olsen in their first year as the A broadcast team for FOX that will end in the duo calling the Super Bowl in February.

Burkhardt was a guest on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast this week and talked about the honor of getting the chance to be on the call for a Thanksgiving Day game.

“The whole job is big and we are doing big games every week. There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool. One of them was Dallas-Green Bay, which turned out to be epic a couple of weeks ago.

“The playoffs and the Super Bowl will be great, but Thanksgiving Day. Growing up in a football family, it was kind of eating around both games. Catch the early game, halftime, go throw the football in the street, eat the meal between games, then the Cowboys game comes on, you watch that. Maybe halftime you watch or maybe you throw the football again. Watch the rest of the game, you have dessert after the game. That was the day.

“It is an honor because you are in a lot of people’s homes every week. I feel like you really are in people’s homes…. You are kind of like hugging everybody. I think it’s beyond awesome, I really do.”

Burkhardt mentioned to Schrager that he and Olsen knew they had big shoes to fill after taking over for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (both now at ESPN) and it felt like walking in to a new job, but the A crew at FOX helped them and he liked that he and Olsen got to do it together.

“It’s been awesome. It really has. When you go into a situation like this, Joe and Troy were there for 2 decades, that’s a long time. People have long-standing relationships. Even though I’ve been at FOX for 9 years and Greg was there last year, we are the new guys essentially.

“You walk in, you don’t know how they are going to react to you, what they are going to think of you, if they think you are any good and all that stuff. From Day 1, it was like welcome to the family, we love you. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s been awesome. It felt like we’ve just fit right in. I think there’s been some cool symmetry, the fact that Greg and I got to do it together because we have such a bond.

“The fact that we got to jump in together I think has kind of been fun and helped us both because he knows me really well and I know him really well. Then, it was just getting everyone else to know us and vice versa.”

The one thing that Burkhardt did have to adjust to was a different style of show and that each production team has different viewpoint and creativity.

“The crew I’ve been on my whole life with Pete Macheska and Artie Kempner, they do a different show than Z (Richie Zyontz) and Russo (Rich Russo) do it. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone has different viewpoints and creativity. I think it was just getting used to each other in terms of that, but it’s felt like I’ve worked with them for 25 years. It’s felt seamless. It’s felt fun.”

Even though Burkhardt is now the lead NFL play-by-play voice for FOX, that doesn’t mean he is going to change how he does a game.

“I’m not going to change my style or who I am. I’m not saying I’m not open to critiques and wanting to get better and to get coached. The basis of what I do and how I do it, I’m not going to change that now because I’m on the A crew. They liked me enough to put me here, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe tweaks here and there, but if I radically changed now, I’d be a moron.” 

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