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Morris Leaves Grantland For Times

Jason Barrett

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The first big post-Simmons exit has taken place at Grantland.  Renowned critic Wesley Morris is moving from the ESPN vertical to the New York Times.

ESPN posted this short statement on their public relations site:

“Wesley spoke to us about this opportunity at the New York Times and his desire to pursue it. This is a unique opportunity, and is a testament to the level of success that Grantland has achieved and the extraordinarily talented team we have. Wesley is an outstanding writer and colleague and we wish him all the best.”

Morris was one of the biggest hires Bill Simmons made at Grantland that went a long way towards legitimizing the space as a place for top writers from all over the spectrum.  Morris left the Boston Globe in early 2013 to join Grantland after winning the Pulitzer Prize for criticism.

Ever since ESPN parted ways with Bill Simmons, the future of Grantland has been somewhat murky.  Many of the site’s top writers were fiercely loyal to Simmons and reports have indicated that the staff’s response to interim editor-in-chief Chris Connolly’s tenure has been mixed at best.  There’s been a widespread belief that a serious exodus of Grantland talent could take place once Simmons was given the axe.  Morris is the first of Grantland’s big names to depart.

It’s hard to understate how important Morris was to Grantland as he immediately gave the site credibility on its pop culture flank.  Here was not just a talented writer, but a Pulitzer Prize winning critic, going to ESPN to write about the cultural arts.  That was a huge, huge deal for Grantland.  Now without Morris (and without Simmons), is Grantland a big enough draw to be able to attract those A-level writers?

Will others follow Morris out the door, either to a new Simmons venture or other places of employment?  Will Morris’ exit be the beginning of the floodgates opening or just one leak that can be plugged?  The answers to those questions may be the biggest factor in deciding the long-term future of Grantland.

Credit to Awful Announcing who originally published this article

Sports TV News

PGA Tour Expects Mic’d Players To Be Common For 2023 TV Broadcasts

“This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Following the success with Max Homa last weekend, the PGA Tour is planning to mic a player up this weekend at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

According to Sports Business Journal, the Tour is considering micing up a player on either the 14th or 18th hole at Pebble Beach.

“The point of this is that if you want it to just be, they have an air pod on your caddie and they ask him one question, he could elaborate on something,” Homa said in an interview on the podcast No Laying Up. “That would be an improvement. This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”

Homa added that he appreciated that the questions he was asked while taking part in the segment were solely on the task at hand and tackling the hole he was on.

“It wasn’t about how it is being a dad, how it is being in contention, it’s about golf,” he said. “This hole. That’s what we wanted it to be.”

CBS received positive reviews for debuting the new segment in their season debut at Torrey Pines last week.

It will be interesting to see if having players mic’d up for a segment will carry into NBC coverage or if it remains exclusively CBS. Have to think that in April at The Masters, if CBS keeps with it, the segment has the potential to be pretty compelling especially if the interview is with a player in contention or even leading.

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Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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