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Jeff Passan Bolts Yahoo for ESPN

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Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that ESPN has poached Jeff Passan from Yahoo with the intention of turning him into their “Schefter of baseball.” Marchand writes that ESPN wants to position itself as having the most inside information from all three major American sports leagues.

Passan, 38, will be asked to be as prolific as Schefter and Wojnarowski, who are generally regarded as the top insiders in their respective sports. Passan is expected to be on TV a good amount, though ESPN greatly favors the NFL and the NBA on its studio programming.

Passan will not officially join the ESPN roster until the new year. He isn’t expected to appear on game broadcasts initially. He may not even be a part of the Baseball Tonight crew right away. Like Schefter and Woj, Passan’s primary responsibilities will be Tweets and SportsCenter hits.

According to Marchand, ESPN is not unhappy with the work its current baseball staff has done. It is just looking for a bump in its ability to break major stories in Major League Baseball.

The network has baseball information guys already in Buster Olney, Tim Kurkjian and Pedro Gomez. While the trio, especially Olney, do break some news, they haven’t gone tidbit-for-tidbit with the prolific trio of MLB Network insiders, Ken Rosenthal, Jon Heyman and The Post’s Joel Sherman, in a while.

Passan will continue to write for Yahoo until the new year. After that, it may be an opening that could be filled by Jerry Crasnick, who was let go by ESPN last week.

Sports TV News

Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.

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NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.

Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.

Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.

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ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.

Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.

The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.

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Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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