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ESPN Considering Enhanced Advertising Ideas

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Brian Steinberg of Variety explored what various networks will be doing this fall to combat viewers using DVRs to fast forward through traditional commercials. His article, titled “The Death of the Commercial Break: Why Marketers Need to Get More Creative Than Ever”, features an interesting tidbit about ESPN’s plans.

ESPN has an offer that is akin to real-time product placement. Producers at the sports-media outlet have their hands on constantly changing brews of statistics about players and teams, notes Ed Erhardt, ESPN’s president of global sales and marketing, “and we can literally tweak those in real time as we find out what’s going on and use them with ad messages from someone who is buying a college football game.”

Steinberg notes that traditional product placement usually requires weeks of planning and previous knowledge of plot lines and blocking. ESPN doesn’t have the same luxury for live sports, so targeting ads featuring prominent athletes for some kind of enhanced content makes sense. The inability to know the outcome ahead of time also makes ad placement on in-game graphics the most valuable “product placement” ESPN can offer.

Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing has another unique idea that could benefit ESPN.

A lot of the ads during sports events involve athletes, which makes some sense. The whole idea of athlete endorsements is that they’re perceived to have value in promoting a brand to fans, and showcasing that connection during a game is logical. But it’s not necessarily great when those ads come on when the particular athlete (or to a lesser extent, their team) is struggling; if, say, an Aaron Rodgers State Farm ad comes on in a game where he’s thrown several interceptions, that’s presumably not as effective an endorsement, and it’s certainly going to lead to a lot of jokes. If a brand takes a stance that all conversation about an ad is good conversation, maybe that’s okay, but for obvious reasons, brands want to be associated with successful athletes. So what if this kind of “tweak in real time” was about choosing which commercial to show based on how the game’s going? (And if it’s too expensive to shoot multiple commercials with athletes, maybe have a generic one without an athlete that can be subbed in if your athlete spokeperson is performing poorly.)

Advertisers have done this in the past for big events like the Super Bowl or other championships. It would be interesting to see what concessions both advertisers and the networks covering live events would have to make both financially and in terms of content to make that kind of advertising on a more regular basis feasible.

Sports TV News

Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

Jordan Bondurant

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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Sports TV News

Lisa Salters Makes Monday Night Football History Completing 11th Season on Sideline

“Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Monday night’s Cowboys/Bucs wild card playoff game set a new milestone for ESPN sideline reporter Lisa Salters.

The network tweeted that Salters completed her 11th season in that role. That makes her the longest tenured reporter in Monday Night Football history.

Salters has been with ESPN for almost 23 years. She started as a general assignment reporter before moving to sideline reporting in 2006.

“When I first got the call to do Monday Night Football, I would have never thought that 10 years later I would still be doing it,” Salters said last year in a video reminiscing on ten years on Monday Night Football. “I was at home and I got a phone call from my boss Vince Doria and he said, ‘Hey, I was wondering if you would be interested in being a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football‘, and I couldn’t believe what he just asked me.”

Salters is also featured on network coverage of the NBA, something she’s been doing since 2005.

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Sports TV News

No Conspiracy Behind ESPN Monday Night Playoff Game Selection

“The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN has only carried NFL playoff games on Monday night for two seasons but has been a part of wild card weekends dating back to the 2014-15 campaign.

With the exception of one season, a 4-seed versus 5-seed matchup has always been covered by the Monday Night Football broadcast team in that stretch of nine seasons. That continued with Cowboys/Bucs this year.

In 2021-22, with the NFL expanding the playoff field to seven teams, the first Monday night playoff game was played. The Rams cruised past the Cardinals 34-11.

Last week, the decision was the source of much speculation. TV executives shared a number of theories about why ESPN landed the game that had the most star power in the Super Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Andrew Marchand of the New York Post wrote that no speculation was necessary. The decision to continue with 4/5 games in the Monday night window came down to convenience. The new format, the games that have a likelihood of altering seeding for the divisional rounds have already been played.

The 4/5 games this weekend proved to be pretty entertaining. The Jaguars rallied from down 27 to beat the Chargers. Al Michaels and Tony Dungy were ripped on social media for how they called a particularly exhilarating game for NBC. So it turns out Joe Buck and Troy Aikman would’ve called either one of the weekend’s best games.

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