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ESPN Plans Cowboys Special

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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

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Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX

“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”

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FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.

A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.

The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.

Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.

That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.

Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.

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FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”

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The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.

Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.

Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.

“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”

Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.

“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.

FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.

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NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC

“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”

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ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.

ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.

This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.

Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.

“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”

ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.

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