ESPN wants Peyton Manning and is open to making wholesale changes in the Monday Night Football booth according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.
After losing high profile color analyst Jon Gruden to the Oakland Raiders, the network is seeking star power in the analyst role. Peyton Manning would provide that and more which is why he’s said to be the network’s preferred choice. FOX Sports has also expressed an interest in Manning, but he has yet to commit to making a move into the booth. Insiders say the former quarterback would like to gain an ownership stake in a team, and run a franchise’s football operations like John Elway has with the Denver Broncos.
Although Manning hasn’t shown a burning desire to move into sports television, that isn’t stopping ESPN from making an aggressive play to try and change his mind. The network is said to be willing to make a huge investment to make a splash in the Monday Night booth as it attempts to replace Gruden, the network’s previously highest-paid employee at over $6.5 million per year.
The other situation that ESPN has to resolve is who will call the action going forward. Sean McDonough has spent the past two seasons calling Monday Night Football games, but sources say network executives felt he lacked chemistry with Gruden, and his remarks about NFL officiating have not been well received.
Should ESPN elect to change play by play announcers, three internal options are considered high atop the list – Joe Tessitore, Steve Levy and Dave Pasch. Bob Wischusen is another internal candidate who could receive consideration. External options include CBS’ Ian Eagle and Fox’s Kevin Burkhardt, although both men recently signed new deals with their respective networks.
If Manning chooses to stay away from the bright lights of Monday Night, ESPN will consider holding auditions for internal candidates. Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss and Charles Woodson are all expected to receive a look under that scenario, although none reportedly have the inside track on landing the position. The one external option listed in Marchand’s report is Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner who works for the NFL Network and Westwood One.
One interesting issue could be whether Manning views FOX’s new Thursday Night package more favorable than ESPN’s Monday Night deal. Although both games air on weeknights, the Monday Night game would likely require Manning’s time on weekends for preparation. That said, Monday Night is still considered the bigger attraction than Thursday Night.
Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+
“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”
Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.
Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.
“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”
Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.
Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+
“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”
As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.
Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.
Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.
“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”
The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.
“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”
Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live
“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”
Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.
“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”
The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.
Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.
“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.