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Mandt Talks About Nassar Victims’ ESPYs Moment

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Richard Deitsch of The Athletic called the presentation of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award to the survivors of sexual assault at the hands of Michigan State and USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar “the most powerful moment in the 25-year history of the ESPY Awards”. Actress Jennifer Garner introduced and narrated a short film in which multiple survivors detailed their abuse and subsequent testimony before 141 of them came on stage to accept the award in person.

Deitsch doesn’t overestimate one bit how powerful the moment was. If you haven’t already seen it, you can watch it here.

In a new “Media Circus” column at The Athletic, Deitsch and ESPYs producer Maura Mandt talked about how the moment came together. It was not only an emotional one, but one that Deitsch speculates was quite expensive.

She would not say how much the segment cost, but industry sources told The Athletic that ESPN likely spent about $1 million all told. All of the Nassar survivors, including ones not on the stage, were given a custom bracelet from ESPN with the word “Courage” inscribed on the top and the date of the ESPYs.

Mandt said that ESPN’s willingness to work with her staff is what made the event possible, because there was so much to consider in the way of what these women’s needs would be once they got to Los Angeles for the ceremony.

When we had the number we tried to provide as much thought as we could to how to make this experience one that would be positive. We had everything from hair and makeup to crisis counselors to therapy dogs standing by to offer support. We had an entire operation for just this segment, with about 50-60 people just working on this. One thing I want to add is the support that ESPN gave to us in doing this. No matter what the ask was from us — and there were many —(executive vice president of content) Connor Schell, Allison Overholt (an ESPN vice president and editor of ESPN The Magazine and (ESPN President) Jimmy Pitaro never hesitated to put doing the right thing over cost.

How do you pull of a segment where 142 different people would be on stage? Mandt told Deitsch that there was a lot of practice.

We rehearsed with 141 stand-ins for three hours on Tuesday night, then we had all the survivors come and ran through it three times with them and (presenter) Jennifer Garner. We then showed them the piece. It was one of the most special moments in my career. I was so honored and humbled to speak to these survivors. They were incredibly gracious and kind. They are remarkable – each and every one. And to realize that they represent so many more.

The full interview can be found here.

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Pac-12 Networks Content Could Be Headed To ACC Network

“Dellenger and Forde report that talks to make the deal a reality are in the very early stages.”

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ESPN has been at the center of a lot of conversations about the future of college sports following the Big Ten plucking UCLA and USC out of the Pac-12. The network could be part of a broadcasting partnership that is meant to secure the futures of the Pac-12 and the ACC.

In a joint report for Sports Illustrated, Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde write that the two conferences would not merge, but that the ACC Network could get renamed and include content centered on both conferences.

A deal like this would pay dividends for all involved. The ACC would get more TV revenue and the Pac-12 would get broader distribution that it had with its proprietary Pac-12 Networks, which was reportedly struggling to even stay afloat. It could also secure the conference’s future as some members consider leaving for the Big 12. As for ESPN, this deal would put them back in business with the Pac-12.

A programming alliance between the two conferences could create some marquee non-conference matchups for football and basketball. That would give ESPN event programming to promote and sell.

Dellenger and Forde report that talks to make the deal a reality are in the very early stages. They write that “those briefed on the ACC–Pac-12 proposal believe it has plenty of hurdles to clear and details to be ironed out before becoming a reality.”

The obvious question all parties involved will want to be answered is would merging ACC Network and Pac-12 Networks content generate enough new revenue to make the move viable. Sources told Sports Illustrated that it is what they will be focused on if talks progress.

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Brian Windhorst Explains What Was Behind His Viral Rant

“To be honest with you, part of what I was doing was trying to do was avoid aggregation,” he said. “Because if I come out and go I think the Jazz are going to trade Rudy Gobert today, then everything on the internet is ‘Windhorst Report: Jazz trade Gobert.’ And then maybe they don’t trade him.”

Jordan Bondurant

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There wasn’t a ton of NBA free agency news leading into the long holiday weekend last week, but what news there was became wildly more interesting thanks to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Windhorst, appearing on First Take on Friday, went on an entertaining rant about the Utah Jazz trading Royce O’Neale to Brooklyn, throwing tidbits out there that insinuated more was to come.

The monologue went viral and became the subject of plenty of memes.

Talking on his podcast Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective, Windhorst explained that the ‘A’ block of First Take is 30 minutes long, much different than the other ESPN shows he appears on. He said he approached it from a podcasting perspective and added that First Take was really the only place he could’ve pulled something like that off given a multitude of factors.

“It had to have occurred on a show like that,” Windhorst said. “So I was able to kind of draw out and kind of have a conversation about the Utah Jazz.”

Windhorst said he knew the Jazz were going to trade Rudy Gobert, which happened not long after his rant started circulating the internet. But he said he needed to avoid tipping others in the media off or potentially even wrecking the trade before it became official.

“To be honest with you, part of what I was doing was trying to do was avoid aggregation,” he said. “Because if I come out and go I think the Jazz are going to trade Rudy Gobert today, then everything on the internet is ‘Windhorst Report: Jazz trade Gobert.’ And then maybe they don’t trade him.”

Windhorst said he knew he was becoming the subject of many a meme, but after being on the road so long and away from home covering the NBA playoffs, he didn’t really have a chance to relish in the moment.

“I came back home and had nonstop family stuff to do, and they didn’t care about any of that,” he said. “I was getting like 250 text messages and seeing all these memes, but I had to prepare for the people we had coming over for the 4th of July. I couldn’t really focus on it.”

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Sports TV News

UFC Draws Record Ratings for UFC 276 Prelims on ESPN and ABC

The ratings make it the second-most watched UFC telecast since the promotion began airing on ESPN in 2019. It was also the top telecast ever for a preliminary card.

Jordan Bondurant

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UFC, ESPN and ABC have plenty to celebrate following this weekend’s UFC 276 pay-per-view.

Ratings for the preliminary card show a combined audience of 1.8 million tuned in across ABC and ESPN. ABC drew 929,000 viewers for their portion of the card, which marked the first time UFC aired in primetime on the network.

ESPN drew 871,000 in the lead-up to the main card from Las Vegas.

The ratings make it the second-most watched UFC telecast since the promotion began airing on ESPN in 2019. It was also the top telecast ever for a preliminary card.

UFC will return to ABC on July 16 but won’t air in primetime. Coverage of UFC Fight Night from UBS Arena on Long Island will air in the afternoon.

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