Sports TV News
ESPN Tops Cable Ratings For January
“ESPN was the top cable option in total audience during prime time with an average of nearly 2.6 million viewers tuning in nightly.”
According to numbers released by the Worldwide Leader, ESPN destroyed it’s cable competition in January.
Thanks to marquee events like Clemson’s 44-16 win over Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, ESPN was the top cable option in total audience during prime time with an average of nearly 2.6 million viewers tuning in nightly. They were also the top full time cable network for males aged 12-17, 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54.
Thanks to the performance of studio shows like First Take, High Noon, Highly Questionable, Pardon the Interruption and Around the Horn, ESPN also the top choice during the day for males 18-34. Those numbers allowed the 6pm SportCenter to increase it’s numbers for the 11th consecutive month.
Jack Ferris writes feature stories for BSM and serves as an update anchor for iHeart Radio in San Francisco and as a freelance contributor for the PAC-12 Network. Previously he has worked as a sports anchor for KXLY-TV in Spokane and as the co-host of the Don West Show on KPQ in Central Washington. You can find him on Twitter @JFerris714 or reach him by email at FerrisJack54@gmail.com.
Sports TV News
FOX Reportedly Considering Replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff
“Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.”
It looks like changes are coming to FOX’s college football coverage. Andrew Marchand reports that the network is considering replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff.
Bush and the network reportedly argued over money before the 2022 season. FOX kicked the tires on multiple options, including Desmond Howard and Robert Griffin III of ESPN. Eventually, it decided to bring Bush back on a one year deal. With that deal set to expire and the two sides again at an impasse, FOX is eyeing other options.
Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.
If Ingram does join the show, he would be the first analyst from outside of the conferences FOX carries. Ingram played his college football at Alabama. He has since amassed more than 8000 yards over 13 seasons in the NFL.
FOX declined to comment on the report. Marchand reports that with no deal finalized, there is an outside shot that Ingram returns to the NFL, Bush returns to FOX and there is no change at all. That, however, is considered a long shot.
Sports TV News
ESPN, Omaha Productions Launching Alternate Formula 1 Broadcast
“The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will air on ESPN2 while the traditional telecast of the race airs on ABC.”
ESPN and Omaha Productions are following the ManningCast playbook once again. They are launching an alternate broadcast for ESPN’s coverage of Formula 1 racing.
Titled The Grandstand, the coverage will feature F1 racer Daniel Ricciardo and celebrity fan Will Arnett, star of Arrested Development and The Lego Movie. ESPN will rollout the telecast for three races, starting with the Formula 1 Pirelli Canadian Grand Prix on June 18.
“This is going to be a hoot!” Ricciardo said in a press release. “As you’d expect Will and I are going to have some fun with the show, but we’re hoping it just feels like you’re watching F1 with your mates. We will have some amazing guests, plenty of laughs and with some luck, bring fans another step closer to the sport I love so much. Buckle up America!”
Formula 1 has gained plenty of new fans thanks to the Netflix series Drive to Survive. Arnett admits that he is one of them. He has gone all in with the sport, even hosting a podcast with legendary F1 driver Mika Häkkinen.
The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will air on ESPN2 while the traditional telecast of the race airs on ABC. Following the Canadian Grand Prix, Ricciardo and Arnett are scheduled to return in October for the United States Grand Prix and in November for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
“It’s great to be partnering with ESPN to expand the ‘megacast’ format into F1,” NFL legend and founder of Omaha Productions, Peyton Manning said. “We are excited to do this project with Daniel and Will. They are good friends who will bring expertise and fun to the broadcast.”
Sports TV News
Pete Bevacqua Leaving NBC Sports
“I didn’t have a burning desire, necessarily, to be an athletic director. I had a burning desire to be the athletic director at Notre Dame.”
NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua will be departing the company at the end of June to join the University of Notre Dame as its director of athletics. NBCUniversal Television and Streaming Chairman Mark Lazarus sent an internal memo to staff members Thursday morning announcing the move, and stated that Bevacqua’s direct reports will answer to him for the time being.
“We want to thank Pete for his many contributions to NBC Sports and NBCUniversal since he joined us in 2018,” Lazarus said in the memo. “….Please join me in congratulating Pete and wishing him great success.”
Bevacqua is a University of Notre Dame alumnus and receiving his dream job in being named the successor to Jack Swarbrick. He joined NBCUniversal in 2018 as the president of the NBC Sports Group, and was subsequently elevated to chairman in 2020. As the third person to hold the chairman position, he has overseen the network’s presentation of the Olympics, Sunday Night Football and the Golf Channel, along with additional assets. He and his team completed a new media rights agreement with the National Football League to ensure NBC would remain the home of Sunday Night Football – and helped usher in the new television broadcast booth of Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth.
Bevacqua also assisted in reacquiring media rights for the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open golf championships, along with Premier League soccer. Furthermore, the company completed a seven-year media rights agreement with the Big Ten Conference, enhancing its college sports portfolio. Bevacqua also helped secure a partnership with PointsBet, making it the official sports betting partner of the company’s sports division.
“This is a dream come true,” Bevacqua said to Sports Illustrated. “With the exception of my family, nothing means more to me than Notre Dame. I don’t have a memory in my lifetime, quite literally, where Notre Dame wasn’t a part of it. At this stage of my life, I feel like everything I’ve done has prepared me for this.”
Bevacqua will begin working on the university’s campus on July 1 as a special assistant for athletics under Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins. Swarbick’s final day on the job has not yet been determined, but he and Bevacqua will work in tandem to ensure a smooth transition. Some media pundits may question Bevacqua’s decision, and he realizes the irregularity of the move; however, it represents the realization of a lifelong dream.
“I didn’t have a burning desire, necessarily, to be an athletic director,” Bevacqua stated. “I had a burning desire to be the athletic director at Notre Dame.”
Notre Dame Fighting Irish football games are exclusively broadcast on NBC, and could perhaps improve the school’s relationship with the entity. Its independent media rights deal with NBC concludes in 2025, and a previous report by Sports Business Journal suggested it could receive $60 million annually in its next deal, although the negotiating landscape has presumably changed since then. Bevacqua played for the school football team as a walk-on punter, and previously served as the CEO of the PGA of America. While in that role, he negotiated a 15-year media rights extension with NBC for various landmark events, including the PGA Professional Championship, Ryder Cup and Senior PGA Championship. He believes having firsthand knowledge about the dynamic state of the media industry could be advantageous to him as he positions the school for the future.
“Such a large part of college athletics now, and the success of any athletic program, is baked into the media landscape,” Bevacqua said. “Obviously, having a very direct knowledge of where the media landscape is in the U.S., the power of linear television and where that’s heading, the paradigm shift of the direct-to-consumer streaming environment—you kind of add up those elements and I feel like I have the background and the professional experiences to come into this at a good pace.”