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ESPN Extends Skipper Thru 2018

Jason Barrett

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ESPN president John Skipper has overseen a tumultuous year for the network. He’s made several high-profile personnel changes, with Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd among the high-profile names leaving.

All of that work has been done underneath pressure from Disney to reduce costs in the face of losing millions of subscribers who have cut the cord from cable and satellite. The money Skipper has been asked to slice from the ESPN budget is significant, reportedly $100 million from next year’s expenses and $250 million from the overall budget by 2017.

But the corporate overlords at Disney are apparently happy with the job Skipper has done thus far. Either that, or they know he’ll need the proper time to make these changes with the security of his contract situation not being a question. ESPN oracle Jim Miller tweeted out the news Wednesday morning that Skipper has indeed been rewarded with those assurances.

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Skipper has held his current position as ESPN’s president since Jan. 1, 2012. He’s been with the network since 1997, first serving as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. In 2000, Skipper was given the same title with ESPN.com. Three years later, he was promoted to executive vice president.

To say Skipper has overseen a vast change in what the network offers in terms of content on television and online would be both an obvious and major understatement.

How viewers consume their media has changed significantly, and ESPN has had to adapt with the times. Fans don’t just get scores and highlights from SportsCenter, nor do they even always watch live events on their televisions anymore. ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app have essentially become new channels to provide consumers with the wide variety of programming available. Obviously, ESPN.com has had to change with the times as well, not just in terms of content, but also distribution with mobile devices becoming a significant part of the average person’s media diet.

ESPN takes a lot of criticism from fans and media — obviously, some of it from this very website — and much of it is valid. But the network and company has undergone a sea change during Skipper’s time with the network, even during his tenure as president, and he’s kept this enormous ship steered in the right direction. The bosses at Disney clearly feel the same way and believe Skipper is the man to oversee the numerous changes ESPN will have to undergo in the years to come.

Credit to Awful Announcing who originally published this article

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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