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Layoffs Coming To ESPN

Jason Barrett

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Layoffs are coming to ESPN.

Multiple sources inside and outside of ESPN tell The Big Lead that the network will be laying off “200 to 300” employees in the coming months.

These are the first ESPN layoffs since 2013, and might not be the last, as Disney has notified ESPN to trim $100 million from the 2016 budget and $250 million in 2017.

An ESPN spokesman sent the following statement to The Big Lead about the impending layoffs: “ESPN has historically embraced evolving technology to smartly navigate our business. Any organizational changes will be announced directly to our employees if and when appropriate.”

The layoffs will come on the heels of a busy summer at ESPN. Once the cord cutting situation became very real (as detailed extensively here), ESPN began looking for ways to lower costs in anticipation of the enormous NBA TV deal that is on the horizon.

Mike & Mike’s radio move to a New York City studio was shelved. Permanently. The hefty salaries of opinion-makers Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann and Colin Cowherd came off the books (though ESPN made a competitive offer to Cowherd before he left for Fox Sports). And ESPN, like Fox Sports 1, will be calling some live sporting events from the studio instead of traveling.

In a move that is not related to the layoffs, ESPN will be making midday changes to SportsCenter next month, sources told The Big Lead. ESPN will be cutting the Monday-Friday 1-3 pm show in half, and eliminating the 3-6 pm live show with an anchor providing live updates on breaking news.

An ESPN spokesman sent the following statement to The Big Lead about the changes: “We have already begun a series of strategic enhancements, including SportsCenter on the Road, the launch of Scott Van Pelt’s show, additional live hours on weekend mornings and, starting in February, live shows from 7 to 9 am ET. SportsCenter will present regular live updates on TV from 1:30 to 6 p.m. each weekday, and will be in position to break into network coverage when news developments warrant. In addition, the afternoon SportsCenter group will produce unique new content for all digital and social platforms. Existing resources will be allocated among these and other initiatives.”

Credit to The Big Lead who originally published this article

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Dan Le Batard: I Thought Pat McAfee Would Grow College GameDay, But That Hasn’t Happened

Le Batard said McAfee is playing under a different set of rules than others at ESPN.

Jordan Bondurant

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Pat McAfee
(Photo: ESPN Images)

Pat McAfee has checked all the boxes Disney and ESPN leadership had when the former NFL punter brought his daily sports talk show into the fray, but one area where it seems like the waters aren’t so smooth for McAfee is in his reception as an analyst on College GameDay.

GameDay viewers have not shied away from making their feelings known that they don’t like seeing McAfee on the show, and Dan Le Batard has found the criticism quite interesting.

On The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz on Thursday, Le Batard said he thought having Pat McAfee on GameDay would continue taking the show to the next level, but it turns out he was wrong in some respects.

“And so they get McAfee and they give him a new set of rules,” Le Batard said. “But I thought that would result in College GameDay getting bigger and better. More popular. I underestimated the allegiance that the viewer has to David Pollack.”

“I’m reading him and everyone around him saying he’s a good teammate, they all love him, they’re all getting along with him,” Le Batard added. “He is effusive, he is such a positive person. He is effusive in his praise for the people on that sat. But now the numbers are coming back, and this is something that McAfee couldn’t have expected.”

Executive producer Mike Ruiz chimed in saying that a contributing factor in the changing conditions at GameDay is due to the mass layoffs and non-renewals of more expensive talent over the last couple years. He said there was going to be a natural need to switch things up after cutting ties with the likes of Pollack, Tom Rinaldi, and Chris “The Bear” Fallica.

“The format of the show when you take someone like that, you’re changing it,” Ruiz said. “You’re changing the emotional stories that made you cry in advance of a Purdue/Ohio State game. All that stuff starts going away. And now it’s not just going away, some of that stuff is going to FOX.”

Dan Le Batard responded saying he wasn’t trying to blame Pat McAfee for Big Noon Kickoff closing the gap on GameDay and negative fan feedback. But all of a sudden now that FOX can tout its pregame show continuing to grow and be a successful alternative to ESPN’s product, the narrative shifts.

“I always say perception is not reality, but when all you have is perception and fudged numbers, FOX is saying, ‘We’ve caught College GameDay. We’ve caught one of the most popular shows in the history of sports television,'” Le Batard said.

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The CW to Air 2023 Barstool Arizona Bowl

After going streaming-only last year, the 2023 Barstool Arizona Bowl will also air on the CW.

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The Barstool Arizona Bowl just secured an additional broadcast home — The CW.

The news broke earlier today on Twitter from the official Barstool Arizona Bowl account. The 2023 Barstool Arizona Bowl will stream once more on Barstool.TV but can also be found on your local CW affiliate.

Fear not, Stoolies — your favorite Barstool personalities won’t be replaced by The CW’s broadcast teams. Pardon My Take’s Jake Marsh confirmed that he will once again assume play-by-play duties, while his bosses Dan “Big Cat” Katz and Dave Portnoy will join him as color commentators. Caleb Pressley and Adam “Rone” Ferrone will act as sideline reporters.

Last year, Barstool ditched a traditional media platform to air their bowl game after reports surfaced that CBS wouldn’t work with Barstool to broadcast the game. Instead, the company streamed the game direct-to-consumer on Barstool.TV, the company’s streaming platform. Ratings were about on par with a streaming-only event, with 1 million total viewers, 500,000 unique viewers, and a high of 130,000 concurrent viewers according to Front Office Sports.

Last year, Ohio defeated Wyoming 30-27. We’ll find out which two teams will play in this year’s Barstool Arizona Bowl following this weekend’s college football slate.

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CFP National Championship Game Could Rotate Between Partners in New TV Deal

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN and FOX have already made presentations to the CFP.

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College Football Playoff Logo
Courtesy: College Football Playoff

Ahead of the College Football Playoff (CFP) expansion to 12 teams in the 2024 season, the playoff could look to have the National Championship Game rotate among its media partners every year.

The goal through the process would be to maximize the scope of the media rights fees and cross-promote the game once the existing 12-year, $5.64 billion rights deal with ESPN expires, sources have told Front Office Sports.

Various media outlets have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring rights to the CFP, including ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, and Warner Bros. Discovery, along with streaming providers Amazon Prime Video and Apple. Michael McCarthy and Amanda Christovich of Front Office Sports reported the news of the prospective structure, along with several media companies that could be involved in the bidding.

Within the report, it is stated that no structure of a deal has been agreed upon at the moment. Last year’s contest between Georgia and TCU averaged 17.2 million viewers on ABC, which made the contest the least-watched National Championship Game since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) came into existence in 1999. According to Front Office Sports, ESPN and FOX have already made presentations to the CFP, and ESPN could be reportedly willing to forgo part of the CFP to pay for other rights, such as the National Basketball Association.

The discussion surrounding the CFP comes at a time when NASCAR recently announced seven-year media rights deals with CBS, NBC, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Amazon Prime Video worth a combined $7.7 billion. Moreover, the Big Ten inked a seven-year, $8 billion deal with CBS, NBC, and FOX that began this season and is slated to run through 2029.

ESPN will broadcast the National Championship Game on Jan. 8, 2024 at 7:30 PM ET.

Last year, the network presented an alternate broadcast featuring Pat McAfee and members of his program, The Pat McAfee Show, broadcast on ESPN2 while Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe, and Molly McGrath were on the traditional presentation on ESPN.

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