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Howie Schwab Goes on Tweet Storm Over ESPN Exit

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Former ESPN researcher and game show host Howie Schwab was caught up in a round of ESPN layoffs back in June of 2013. Earlier this week, as the fifth anniversary of that unfortunate event loomed, Schwab took to Twitter to get a few thoughts off his chest.

Schwab alludes to difficulty finding work since being laid off in Bristol. He has had short stints at both Fox Sports and Dan Patrick’s Sports Jeopardy, but nothing full time. His frustrations in that aspect are understandable, and certainly relatable writes Andrew Bucholtz at Awful Announcing.

As per the estimated numbers in our reports linked above, ESPN has laid off at least 700 people since 2013. Many of those jobs haven’t been replaced elsewhere in the industry, and countless other companies (from Bleacher Report to Sports Illustrated to Fox to Yahoo to Vocativ to Vice) made major cuts of their own in 2017 alone. Even new sites like The Athletic, which has brought in a lot of people cut elsewhere, haven’t completely replaced those jobs, and that adds challenges for anyone like Schwab looking for sports work.

It’s also notable that sports media is still an industry a ton of people want to work in, and many of those are young people willing to work relatively cheap, at least for a while. That further adds to the challenges in finding new work. And it’s unfortunate to hear that Schwab is one of the many people not getting the opportunities they’d like. His complaints here are understandable, and worth discussing, especially as they relate to the larger sports media environment.

 

Sports TV News

Drew Brees, Mike Tirico To Call First NFL Game Next Week

“Brees is on the game call with Mike Tirico when the Saints battle the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving.”

The New Orleans Saints are honoring Drew Brees on Thanksgiving all while he calls the game for NBC.

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Courtesy: NBC

Drew Brees is preparing for a special Thanksgiving this year, although he’ll still be working. The Saints organization is honoring their former quarterback at halftime in his first time back at the Superdome since retiring at the end of the 2020 season.

Brees is on the game call with Mike Tirico when the Saints battle the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving. The two have been working together all Notre Dame Football season, broadcasting Fighting Irish games for NBC.

“My family and I are forever grateful for all the incredible moments we shared together with the city of New Orleans and Who Dat Nation,” Brees said in a press release. “What an incredible moment it will be, back in the Dome with the greatest fans in the world.”

Amazon is entering the NFL broadcast space starting next year and has rumored interest in bringing on Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. The two have been calling games together on NBC for over a decade, but all good things must come to an end.

NBC hired Mike Tirico to eventually take over Sunday Night Football from Michaels. There was no clear date set for passing the baton but that time is coming and NBC executives get their first taste of Tirico and Brees together on an NFL call this coming Thursday. 

Many assumed Brees and Tirico would groom their chemistry on the college circuit before taking over the reins of NBC’s top property. Thanksgiving is the next step in that process, and it will be interesting to see how Brees handles all of the firsts on Thanksgiving. 

“Drew Brees will always be considered one of the greatest Saints in the history of the organization,” said Saints owner Gayle Benson. “While we look forward to one day welcoming Drew back as a Hall of Famer and a member of our Ring of Honor, Thanksgiving night is the perfect opportunity for us to say thank you to Drew and his family the right way- on the field and in front of 70,000 of the best fans in football.”

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Sports TV News

Tom Rinaldi: I Tell As Many Positive Stories As Sad Ones

“Even though by volume there’s an equality, there is a disproportion of meaning and memorability to those stories.”

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Sports Illustrated

Tom Rinaldi is one of the better, more captivating storytellers in sports media. One of the many roles that Rinaldi had at ESPN for 19 years was the main voice for features on College GameDay. 

Now, in addition to working the sidelines on big games for FOX, Rinaldi is telling feature stories on their college football pregame show, Big Noon Kickoff, a show that is rising in popularity. This week, Rinaldi was a guest on The Ryen Russillo Podcast to discuss his time at ESPN. 

During the interview, Russillo threw out a theory about College GameDay since he used to host the radio version of the show on ESPN Radio. He said he felt the show has been pushing for longer-form storytelling and that it “veers towards sadness” a lot. He wondered if there was research by programmers that showed people wanted to see more redemption in stories.

“It’s a fascinating theory,” Rinaldi answered. “That was never brought up. Features were brought up. If you actually took a season’s worth of storytelling content, whether it’s Big Noon Kickoff or on Gameday, you would see that there’s a balance of he’s good, she’s good, the lighter story, and the heavier story.

“I would submit that what people perhaps fail to recognize is that it is the heavier story that is more memorable. Even though by volume there’s an equality, there is a disproportion of meaning and memorability to those stories.”

While Rinaldi isn’t on any form of social media, but he does hear what some critics think of the amount of stories that air on a two or three-hour show. That doesn’t mean he is fazed by the criticism.

“I think there is at times a thought that these stories are wrong to tell or there are too many of them or I hear terrible terms suggested to me like tragedy porn or things of that nature. I would just suggest you always have the right not to watch. You always have the right to look away.” 

As for how Big Noon Kickoff is doing, Rinaldi feels that while GameDay is set in stone for what it is, the FOX college football pregame show is still establishing its identity.

When asked to compare the two networks, Rinaldi had nothing but good things to say about both. He said the decision to move on from ESPN was not an easy one to make.

“It’s difficult to leave a place that you love and you’ve been for 19 years. I’ll always love ESPN. I’m grateful for the next. There is so many wonderful things I got to do during my time at ESPN. Now, the chance to do not only Saturdays, but Sundays, the chance to do the World Cup, some features for the World Series, I’m just so grateful and I’ll always love ESPN, but so far, things have been tremendous on FOX.”

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Sports TV News

NBC Cites Ted Lasso Among Reasons For Keeping Premier League Rights

NBC has reportedly said that the success of the show has been a major reason why they had such high interest in retaining the leagues rights going forward.

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NBC agreed yesterday on a six year extension to retain the rights to the Premier League, but it may not be for the reason that you might think. Back in 2013 NBC debuted a commercial for the Premier League with a fictional coach for the Tottenham Spurs named Ted Lasso.

This character has come a long way since its creation for the promotion. It has turned into its own TV series and gained some pretty notable traction on Apple TV.

The show’s second season just concluded. According to the network, Ted Lasso has really increase the level of interest that the actual product of the Premier League has received in the United States.

NBC has reportedly said that the success of the show has been a major reason why they had such high interest in retaining the Premier League rights going forward.

There were many other potential suitors for the rights of the Premier League. ESPN and CBS were very serious in their interest and drove up the asking price for the rights to over $2 Billion when the projected price tag only sat at $1.5 Billion.

Overall it made sense for NBC to continue their deal with the soccer league, they have done a great job with promoting and growing the sport in the United States where soccer is certainly not as big as it is overseas. Part of this is due to the marketing team and products like Ted Lasso that were created for the deal.

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