Richard Deitsch has used his latest “Media Circus” column over at The Athletic to prepare football fans for the upcoming NFL season. The two part column was posted yesterday and today.
One of the most interesting pieces of information Deitsch revealed was how the NFL’s four broadcast partners prioritized individual teams and games. He asked the network programmers what they specifically told the NFL that they wanted. Some were more forthcoming than others.
CBS: CBS Sports president Sean McManus passed along the following games that his network really wanted: Patriots at Steelers (Dec. 16); Patriots at Jaguars (Sept. 16); Steelers at Broncos (Nov. 25); Cowboys at Redskins (Oct. 21); Jaguars at Cowboys (Oct. 14); and Steelers at Saints (Dec. 23). “We got most of our top games we requested knowing some of the marquee AFC games are going to go to the primetime package,” McManus said. “We understood that.”
FOX: The network’s president, Eric Shanks, was hesitant to give up his network’s strategy or a specific game ask (his network, of course, once aired The X-Files, which had the slogan “Trust No One”) but Fox specifically asked the league to take some of their quality Sunday afternoon games that aired in the 4:25 p.m. ET window and put them on its new Thursday Night Football package. The major goal for Fox was to improve the Thursday Night schedule (which they did) and to make sure they could protect the 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday window as the most-watched window on television.
ESPN: Burke Magnus, the network’s executive vice president of programming and scheduling and point person with the NFL on schedules, said he was overjoyed when he learned that his network had landed the season opener for the Oakland Raiders. ESPN made the specific request to have the Raiders home opener in the late game Week 1. Magnus said no specific opponent was specified. “The Raiders were a pretty good team two seasons ago. We believe they have the core of a very competitive team, and Jon Gruden obviously was a big part of our family for a long time,” Magnus said. “The game had several angles to it. There is a curiosity factor to Jon’s return to football after so many years, it’s a good team, it’s a really good opponent. There are many reasons to watch.”
NBC: Given the primetime game on Sunday night is the league’s marquee night game, NBC knows it is going to get the league’s best schedule, but network officials really wanted Green Bay at New England on Nov. 4. “This is a fantastic and rare matchup of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and the Packers and Patriots,” said NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. “That was a game we requested and lobbied for. We make requests around a variety of games. (NFL vice president and scheduling czar) Howard Katz does a great job of taking care of us and letting us all down gently.”
What stands out the most here is how important ESPN thought it was that they air Jon Gruden’s first regular season game back on the Oakland sidelines. It ends up that the NFL gave Oakland a pretty good opponent for week 1, but given the respective trajectories of the Raiders and Rams, it is hard to believe ESPN is going to get a very good game for the second part of its Monday Night double header.
Also interesting is Fox’s insistence that the NFL beef up the Thursday Night Football slate. Since it’s debut as a full season package, the Thursday night games have been routinely mocked for terrible matchups bolstered by cheap gimmicks like the Color Rush series.
You can read Deitsch’s full NFL season primer here.
ESPN Decides Not To Send Reporters To Beijing For 2022 Winter Olympics
ESPN originally planned to send four reporters to Beijing to provide coverage.
One day after NBC announced that none of its 2022 Winter Olympics broadcast teams will work on-site from Beijing and instead work remotely, ESPN has made a similar decision.
On Thursday, the network announced that it won’t send any news personnel to China to cover the Winter Games. According to its official release on the matter, ESPN originally planned to send four reporters to Beijing to provide coverage. But those four will now work remotely with the numerous television and digital personnel assigned to the Olympics.
ESPN.com already has a section dedicated to its Olympics coverage and plans will continue to provide the site with feature content along with scoreboards, medal counts, and additional information and statistics that will be updated in real-time. That Olympics content will also be available on the ESPN app.
Though video restrictions for Olympics highlights will be in place, SportsCenter will also report on results from Beijing and run reports and features on the Beijing games. (NBC holds exclusive rights in the U.S. for Olympics video footage.)
“The safety of our employees is of utmost importance to us,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN’s executive VP, event and studio production, in the network’s announcement. “With the pandemic continuing to be a global threat, and with the COVID-related on-site restrictions in place for the Olympics that would make coverage very challenging, we felt that keeping our people home was the best decision for us.”
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics begin with the opening ceremony Friday, Feb. 4.
2022 Baseball Hall of Fame Election Results Exclusively Revealed On MLB Network Jan. 25
Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny, and Lauren Shehadi will host MLB Network’s extensive Hall of Fame election coverage.
This Tuesday, Jan. 25, the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame election results will be announced exclusively on MLB Network at 6:00 p.m. ET in a four-hour announcement show.
Beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET, National Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch will reveal the results live from the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery in Cooperstown, as voted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). MLB Network’s Hall of Fame program on Tuesday will be simulcast on MLB.com and in the MLB app on connected devices.
Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny, and Lauren Shehadi will host MLB Network’s extensive Hall of Fame election coverage. This will include analysis from 2018 Ford C. Frick Award winner Bob Costas, MLB Network analyst Harold Reynolds, and MLB Network insiders and Hall of Fame voters Jon Morosi, Joel Sherman and Tom Verducci.
During the program, there will be clips from a players-only roundtable discussion on the 2022 BBWAA ballot hosted by Reynolds and featuring MLB Network analyst Yonder Alonso, three-time Gold Glove Award winner Mike Cameron and 2007 Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy.
More of baseball’s elite will also join the programming, including Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona, 2022 BBWAA Career Excellence Award winner Tim Kurkjian, three-time Manager of the Year Award winner Jim Leyland, and longtime baseball journalist and Hall of Fame voter Rob Parker. MLB Network will cover the ballot results across its studio programming, including Hot Stove (9:00 a.m. ET), High Heat (1:00 p.m. ET) and MLB Now (2:00 p.m. ET).
According to MLB Network’s official release, the live pre-announcement show will also feature the following content:
- A Tom Verducci essay on 2022 being the final year on the ballot for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
- A feature by customized piece by hip-hop legend and baseball diehard Chuck D on which questions fans and voters face as this year’s announcement approaches.
- Brian Kenny looks at each of the eight first-year candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot.
- Short videos on the atmosphere surrounding Hall of Fame Weekend in Cooperstown, the Plaque Gallery, and candidates anticipating getting “the call.”
Prior to the Tuesday announcement, Brian Kenny will host MLB Now live from the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday, Jan. 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET. And following the election results on Wednesday, Jan. 26, MLB Network will cover the announcement across its daily studio programming.
MLB Network will also exclusively air the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Sunday, July 24.
ESPN, FS1 Morning Studio Shows Drew Big Ratings Monday After Cowboys’ Playoff Loss
Dallas losing a playoff game in embarrassing fashion compelled plenty of viewers to tune in for sports debate shows.
Monday morning following the Dallas Cowboys’ 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in their NFL Wild Card playoff game was very good for sports daytime TV. Both ESPN and FS1 boasted big, record-setting ratings for their studio debate shows, with viewers obviously wanting to know what on-air personalities and analysts thought of the Cowboys’ bumbling last-second failure.
On ESPN, Get Up drew 658,045 viewers, a six percent increase from the show’s previous season-high, set a week earlier. First Take attracted 918,386 viewers, the largest audience for that program. That total seven percent higher than the show’s prior best number, set on Dec. 28, 2019.
Fans clearly wanted to see Stephen A. Smith take delight in the Cowboys’ demise, also perhaps knowing that Hall of Fame Dallas receiver Michael Irvin was sitting across the desk from him Monday.
As mentioned, FS1 benefited from the Cowboys losing as well. Skip and Shannon: Undisputed brought in 442,000 viewers, the highest audience that show has ever attracted. Fans surely tuned in to see the reaction from Cowboys fan Skip Bayless and the taunts he’d receive from Shannon Sharpe.
The Herd with Colin Cowherd also earned its best ratings on FS1, drawing 290,000 viewers for Monday’s show. The network would also like you to know that the audience for both programs has gotten a boost year-over-year, with Undisputed enjoying an 89 percent increase and The Herd up 20 percent.
The Cowboys have always been a big ratings draw for the NFL’s television partners. Apparently, Dallas losing a playoff game in embarrassing fashion provides a significant benefit for the shows responding to the weekend’s major sporting events.
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