Sports TV News
Colin Cowherd Likely to Leave Speak For Yourself
As first reported by Michael McCarthy of the Sporting News, Colin Cowherd’s tenure on FS1’s “Speak For Yourself” could be coming to an end. The early evening program which includes Jason Whitlock, premiered in June 2016, and is reportedly being considered for expansion from one to two hours. With Colin having a full plate already with his daily TV/radio simulcast of “The Herd”, and regular involvement of “FOX NFL Kickoff,” an exit from the show might benefit all involved.
The 54-year old Cowherd signed a four year deal to leave ESPN and join FS1 in August 2015. Programming whiz Jamie Horowitz played a huge role in recruiting and convincing Cowherd to change networks, but Horowitz was let go in July 2017. With a little more than a year left on his original contract, might this be a way to ease Cowherd’s workload and keep one of the network’s most important stars happy and fresh? ESPN Radio Senior Vice President Traug Keller confirmed on the Barrett Sports Media Podcast that the door remains open for Cowherd to return to ESPN and FS1 can’t afford at this point to lose one of its most important assets.
If Cowherd does indeed exit Speak For Yourself later this year, the question for FS1 boss Charlie Dixon becomes whether to replace his spot or make Whitlock the star and add a supporting cast around him. FS1 does have access to a number of high profile personalities including Doug Gottlieb, Chris Broussard, Ray Lewis, Tony Gonzalez, Trent Dilfer, and Jason McIntyre, plus the company has shown it’s not afraid to open up their checkbook to lure quality talent from other places.
McCarthy points out in his piece that the show is likely to feature more news-making interviews with Whitlock in the future. Some of the largest attention to come FS1’s way has been due to interviews on its shows. Conversations which have stood out include Michael Vick talking to Whitlock about Colin Kaepernick needing to get a haircut if he’s allowed back in the NFL, and Terry Bradshaw stating that Mike Tomlin of the Steelers is not a great coach. LaVar Ball’s dust up with Cowherd and Kristine Leahy was another appearance that garnered mainstream media coverage.
While the situation with Cowherd remains in flux, there are other matters to solve too. One pressing issues is figuring out who to replace Leahy with on “The Herd”. Joy Taylor has been mentioned as a possible consideration, but her exit from “Undisputed” would need Skip Bayless’ blessing. If Skip gives the green light, Holly Sonders is seen as a possible replacement for Taylor alongside Bayless and Shannon Sharpe.
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Sports TV News
Charles Barkley ‘Was so Mad’ at ESPN Coverage of LeBron James
“We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, ESPN showed the team’s celebration for all of four seconds. It then quickly switched to a shot of LeBron James, stoic but obviously disappointed, walking through the tunnel back to the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.
Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take, JJ Redick criticized the network’s NBA coverage for highlighting larger markets and a small faction of players considered to be “superstars.” There’s no way to tell if Charles Barkley was watching, but Redick’s point is one he agreed with.
That night on Inside the NBA, Barkley said he was annoyed with the amount of attention put on LeBron James after the game. He wanted to see the reactions of Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and head coach Michael Malone to making the NBA Finals. Instead, he and other viewers were inundated with more content centered around the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said last night on Inside the NBA, “because the Denver Nuggets sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
James, for the record, did not even say that he was seriously considering retiring. In a post-game press conference following the Lakers’ elimination, he said he “had a lot to think about” in the offseason.
The Walt Disney Company has reported its most-watched NBA playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The games have averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers, a 9% increase from the year prior. Moreover, Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers peaked at around 11.5 million viewers from the 11 to 11:15 p.m. EST quarter hour window, and averaged 8.2 million over the duration of the contest.
Sports TV News
ESPN Layoffs Resume, NFL & NBA Talent Likely To See Biggest Cuts
“The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning.”
ESPN will look to slash $30 million in salary as The Walt Disney Company’s layoffs continue, with a majority of it coming from talent covering the NFL and NBA. The network’s goal is to have the layoffs completed by the end of June according to a report by Front Office Sports.
Through it all, Max Kellerman’s afternoon television show This Just In could be canceled in order to slot Pat McAfee’s show into the daily programming lineup. Kellerman’s show airs from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, meaning more moves could be on the way to hold McAfee’s statement that his show will air immediately following First Take, which concludes at noon.
Employee morale at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol is reportedly quite low, with people questioning why the company chose to pay McAfee and lay off a litany of its dedicated and longtime staffers.
The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning. More names are surely to follow as The Worldwide Leader looks to do its part to contribute to Disney cutting $5.5 billion in costs. The final round is expected to impact 2,500 employees in different areas of the company.
The company expects to report its own earnings for the first time this November, and sources have stated that the numbers will be impressive. Conducting the layoffs in separate rounds and saving on-air talent for last, however, has certainly played a role in public perception of the moves, and this week’s round will largely impact executives and other personnel behind the scenes.
Sports TV News
Eli Manning: ‘People Enjoy’ When ManningCast Has to Apologize for Language
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests.”
The ManningCast on ESPN has become appointment viewing for select Monday Night Football games. Eli Manning loves the fun, laid-back nature of the show he and brother Peyton put on for fans.
But with live TV, sometimes unpredictable things happen, and sometimes people use profanity. Eli, speaking on Tuesday at the 4se sports and entertainment event in New York City, said viewers get a kick out of when the two let occasional profanities slip and have to scramble to say sorry.
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests,” he said. “I feel like we’re apologizing for a lot of things on the show, but I guess people enjoy that part.”
Manning has said previously that the goal is for viewers to get the sense that Peyton and Eli are right there with them on their couch watching the game. Eli said it’s been fun getting to show some authenticity now that he’s retired.
“When I was playing, there was a conscious effort; I didn’t want either my fans or coaches to think I had a life outside of football,” he said. “Once I retired, I realized I didn’t have to hold back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.