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How Does Wimbledon Actually Hurt ESPN?

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Tennis is the kind of sport where you’re either a hardcore fan or you can name the four Grand Slam events and that’s about it. There’s very little in between. If the people that fall into the “I can name four tournaments and only four tournaments” category watch any tennis at all, it is usually Wimbledon.

You would think then that it is a no-brainer that ESPN would be thrilled to have the broadcast rights to that tournament. It’s a chance to get not only hardcore tennis fans, but a few casual, wandering eyeballs to flip to the network and stay a while. But Billy Burack of The Big Lead says the timing of Wimbledon could not be worse for the folks in Bristol.

Burack says that ESPN could be drawing bigger ratings by letting its most recognizable talent talk about NBA free agency. While that is still happening, it isn’t happening on the main network, and that’s a problem.

Imagine if the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones … had its last episode was moved to an alternative HBO channel. That is what will take place next week on ESPN when Wimbledon is airing.

Several of ESPN’s shows that would undoubtedly be centered around free agency talk next week – Get Up, First Take, The Jump, SportsNation – will be airing on ESPN2, while Highly Questionable, Around the Horn, PTI, and High Noon will be off completely.

Much has been made of the struggles of ESPN’s daytime talk shows, but with a story like free agency, which is dominating sports coverage and Twitter, this should be a period where those shows see a significant ratings bump. With Wimbledon occupying The Mothership, that bump probably won’t exist in 2018, and between the launch of Get Up! and High Noon (9AM Pacific) and the expansion of First Take, this is a year where that bump isn’t just nice to have. It’s a necessity.

This will negatively impact Get Up the most significantly. Michael McCarthy of Sporting News is reporting that the disappointing, expensive morning show has until football season to get ratings up, or changes will be made. With Brian Windhorst saying the belief is most of the free agency drama will be finished by July 4, Get Up is missing out on what may have ended up as their highest-rated week until the aforementioned football season.

In recent years, several of the NBA’s biggest stories have broken late at night. Get Up is going to miss out on hundreds of thousands of viewers turning on the late editions of SportsCenter and leaving the channel on for the morning.

While Wimbledon annually does preempt ESPN’s morning lineup, they have not had a morning show with the stakes of the New York-based project. ESPN has also built the show, at least to this point, to be NBA-centric with Jalen Rose and Michelle Beadle.

Burack says that management in Bristol already has numbers they can look at as evidence of what will happen to those shows’ ratings.

Being preempted to ESPN2 is not just an easy “push the arrow up on the remote.” ESPN2 has essentially become a ghost channel since First Take was moved off of it. When First Take was last preempted to ESPN2 on April 5 and 6 for The Masters, it averaged 201,000 viewers, significantly lower than the numbers it regularly draws on the main ESPN channel.

 

 

Sports TV News

Louis Riddick Explains How MNF Production Meetings Work

“Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.”

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

The Monday Night Football campaign is in full swing, and The Athletic’s Robert Mays had MNF analyst Louis Riddick on The Athletic Football Show to discuss his weekly routine for putting on a top-notch broadcast.

Riddick dove into the process each week and discussed which coach has impressed him the most during his time in the booth. Tuesdays are a rest and recovery day after traveling home — then the process starts on Wednesday.

“We kinda have a, from a booth perspective, between Steve Levy, Brian Griese, myself, and then Phil Dean the producer and Jimmy Platt, the director. Us five get together and just discuss the previous week’s game and whatever we want to bring up that is positive or negative,” Riddick described to Mays on the show.

The brain trust discusses play breakdowns, production, and situations that popped up during the game. Next up is choosing the important voices for the next game that they want to speak to.

“We give Phil the list of coaches and players that we think are important to talk to,” Riddick said. “He sends that into that team’s PR department, and then usually they say yay or no. Most teams are very, very good with giving us the players that we want because it’s better for them. They know the more we highlight them, the better it is for them.”

Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.

“I would say our meeting with [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle Shanahan,” Riddick answered. “Before we did the Bills game down in Arizona because they had to move from Santa Clara because of what was happening was some of the best football conversations I’ve ever had in my life, quite honestly. From team building, coach-player relationships, X’s and O’s, the opponent, what he learned from his father, what he feels specifically that running backs need to have and why… It was fricken incredible, incredible.”

Riddick can be seen on Monday Night Football breaking down all the action throughout the 2021 NFL season. Listen to the full episode here.

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Sports TV News

Women in Sports Media Celebrate Kate Scott Joining 76ers

“The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from the women throughout sports media this week.”

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Courtesy: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Kate Scott is breaking new ground, and the sports broadcasting community took notice.

Scott joined Lisa Byington as the only full-time female voices of NBA franchises when the Philadelphia 76ers announced her addition this week. She replaces longtime TV play-by-play voice Marc Zumoff.

“Being the voice of the 76ers is a dream come true,” Scott said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “As a kid playing hoops alone in my driveway, I actually used to imagine I was Allen Iverson; the clock would wind down in my head, people would scream, ‘You’re too small! You don’t belong!’ But I’d fade away, hit the shot, and the crowd in my mind would go wild.

“To now get the opportunity to be the voice of that team is incredible, and I look forward to earning the respect and trust of the phenomenal city of Philadelphia, and 76ers fans everywhere, one call and one game at a time.”

Scott seemingly busts down barriers every year. She recently became the first woman to call Olympic men’s basketball as part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Tokyo 2020, where she covered both men’s and women’s games.

“Kate’s energy, passion, and tremendous knowledge of the game of basketball made her the ideal candidate to usher in a new era of 76ers basketball on NBC Sports Philadelphia,” Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations Chris Heck said. “We’re thrilled that she’ll call our city home and look forward to the lasting connections and memories she’ll make with the best fans in sports. Kate and Alaa [Abdelnaby] are a dynamic broadcast pairing that 76ers fans will enjoy watching on the call this season and beyond.”

The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from women throughout sports media this week.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Taking Sunday NFL Countdown To Foxboro

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.

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Via Boston Globe

Tom Brady going against his former team the New England Patriots is something that every NFL fan will be front and center next Sunday. It seems that ESPN is no exception, as they have announced that Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.

Will ESPN bring in some Boston-centric guests? It is possible, although the Sunday NFL Countdown crew already features two former Patriots in Randy Moss and Tedy Bruschi and a former Boston College quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck. Even Rex Ryan is tangentially connected to the Patriots, having coached two of the team’s division rivals.

The dynamic between these charismatic former players and coach in a live show setting should be one that the fans should be very excited for.

For the live show, ESPN is encouraging all fans to come out to watch free of charge starting at 10 a.m EST. For those who come an hour early to the show, there will be a giveaway starting at 9 a.m.

Kickoff for the actual game will be at 8:20 p.m EST on NBC. In that way, this won’t feel entirely different from College GameDay at ESPN, with the show in the morning before all of the kickoffs and the big game not until primetime.

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