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FiveThirtyEight Moves from ESPN to ABC News

Brandon Contes

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In January, Ryan Glasspiegel, of The Big Lead reported ESPN began exploring the sale of FiveThirtyEight.  Finding a financially sensible suitor for the website, which was reportedly losing $6 million annually may have been difficult, but FiveThirtyEight will remain a Disney owned platform, moving from ESPN to ABC News.

“Some personal news… FiveThirtyEight is leaving ESPN… but not going very far. Our new home is ABC News! We’re super excited to work with [ABC] and combine our strengths with theirs as we tackle the 2018 and 2020 elections and other news stories,” said FiveThirtyEight founder, Nate Silver, via Twitter.

ESPN acquired FiveThirtyEight in 2013 following their successful coverage of the 2012 election. With political coverage becoming more polarizing and divisive, ESPN has prioritized a focus on sports since new president James Pitaro took over. ESPN did however state they began exploring a move for FiveThirtyEight while John Skipper, who led the 2013 purchase of the platform, was still at the helm.

“This is an exciting move for FiveThirtyEight and our staff,” Silver said in a statement. “With ABC we’ll be able to expand our political coverage at a crucial time, while maintaining a relationship with ESPN for our sports coverage.”

FiveThirtyEight will reportedly need to conduct layoffs with the transition to ABC News, but will ultimately expand their roster as they hire more journalists to cover politics.

“As storytelling around data and analytics remain an important way that ESPN serves sports fans every day, our team will continue to utilize Nate and the FiveThirtyEight experts to allow fans to benefit from their sports content,” said Connor Schell, executive vice president of content at ESPN.

With FiveThirtyEight staying within the Walt Disney family, ESPN will still be able to utilize their statistical expertise to provide sports content. With election polls around the corner, partnering with ABC News should allow FiveThirtyEight to focus on its strengths with better branded political coverage.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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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Sports TV News

AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.

CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.

With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.

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Sports TV News

Michael Cole to Pat McAfee: I Didn’t Know If We’d See You In WWE Again

“If you noticed I haven’t said much to anyone publicly about when you were coming because no one knew.”

Jordan Bondurant

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WWE over the weekend held its annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view show, and in typical Rumble fashion the event didn’t go off without its fair share of surprise returns.

Among those returns was that of Pat McAfee to commentary. McAfee had last been seen on WWE television back in the summer. He took a leave of absence from his SmackDown responsibilities on Friday nights to go be an analyst on College GameDay.

McAfee’s SmackDown broadcast partner Michael Cole appeared on The Pat McAfee Show on Monday and said he honestly didn’t think Pat would go back to WWE.

“I legit did not know if you were ever gonna be back,” Cole said, alluding to the fact that McAfee is now a father-to-be as a couple of big changes in his life. “And if you noticed I haven’t said much to anyone publicly about when you were coming because no one knew.”

Cole said he had prepared to call the Royal Rumble alongside broadcast partner Corey Graves, and it wasn’t until McAfee’s name flashed on the screen in the Alamodome that Cole realized what was happening.

“Paul Levesque was in my ear and he said, ‘Are you gonna sell it?’ And I mouthed to him in the spy cam, ‘Sell what?'” Cole said. “Then I looked up and saw your video board and I’m like oh my God you’re ribbing me.”

“I didn’t even know what to say and then when I saw you were in your blazer I was legit like so excited,” he added.

Cole said even his wife, who doesn’t typically watch WWE programming, tuned in and was excited to watch Pat make his return.

“She thought I was texting her to tell her that you were coming back. I knew nothing about it,” Cole said. “She texted me and said, ‘PAT!’ right in the middle of your entrance. It was craziness dude.”

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