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Kenny Mayne Inks New Deal With ESPN

Jason Barrett

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Kenny Mayne, an iconic face and voice of ESPN for two decades, has reached a new, multi-year agreement to remain with the company in the role he’s most closely associated with:SportsCenter anchor.

“I did what?” Mayne asked.

Mayne, who returned to the SportsCenter anchor desk in 2013 after a five-year absence and is well known for his offbeat style, dry humor and unique sayings, will continue as a guest anchor of the 1 a.m. ET edition of the program, which airs from ESPN’s Los Angeles studio and is hosted by Neil Everett and Stan Verrett. He also will continue to be part of SportsCenter on the Road at select events and will produce features for SportsCenter.

“Happy to be back for more. It beats real work,” Mayne said. “I fly to LA for a week, watch sports and make up words. Sometimes I literally make up the words. Pure gibberish. But Stan and Neil seem to get me.”

In his new deal, he will expand his presence on SportsCenter as a featured contributor to the midnight ET edition of the program hosted by Scott Van Pelt from ESPN’s Bristol, Ct., studios.

“For 20 years, Kenny Mayne has placed his own indelible, if somewhat askew, stamp onSportsCenter,” said Rob King, ESPN senior vice president, SportsCenter and News. “We are truly delighted that he’ll continue entertaining fans, both from the SportsCenter set and from all corners of the sporting world.”

Mayne joined ESPN in May, 1994, as an anchor on ESPN2, providing five-minute score and news reports, and as a feature reporter. He also served as the original host of ESPN2’s former auto racing programs rpm2day and rpm2night. He occasionally anchored SportsCenter until assuming that role fulltime in August 1997, and he remained in the position until 2008.

From 2008–2011, he produced and starred in an original scripted series on ESPN.com titledMayne Street, then in 2011, he shifted gears and debuted Kenny Mayne’s Wider World of Sports on ESPN.com. He also previously hosted ESPN’s horse racing coverage.

Mayne has been a staple of ESPN’s “This is SportsCenter” commercials during the campaign’s 20-year run, appearing in more than 50 spots. He also was a contestant on the second season of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars in 2006 and since then has occasionally appeared on the show with NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in “DanceCenter,” a SportsCenter-themed segment.

Prior to joining ESPN, Mayne had served as a freelance reporter and field producer for the network from 1990-1994.

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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YES Network

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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