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Romo Could Be Football’s Top Free Agent In 2020

“If Romo gets through the year without signing the dotted line for CBS, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports he’ll likely see offers eclipsing the $10M mark.”

Jack Ferris

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One of the largest looming free agency storylines in the NFL has nothing to do with a player.  The asset in question isn’t on any draft boards, and most casual football fans couldn’t care less where the talent ends up in 2020.  America’s top network executives, however, couldn’t be more dialed into the upcoming decision from Tony Romo.

Two years ago, Tony Romo had attention from NBC and FOX when he announced he was leaving the Cowboys and was interested in the booth.  NBC reportedly offered the charismatic quarterback part time work during their Thursday Night Football broadcasts with Mike Tirico.  FOX promised 17 weeks worth of games, but didn’t want to break up their top team of Buck and Aikman.  Against those offers, Romo’s decision to replace Phil Simms as the lead analyst for CBS was relatively easy.  Not only would he get the network’s top games week in and week out, he’d work alongside his golf buddy Jim Nantz.

Two years later, Romo has solidified himself as maybe the best television analysts in football – if not all of sports.  In his rookie season in the booth, Romo displayed an uncanny knowledge for today’s game and had a knack for predicting offensive plays at the line of scrimmage in real time.  In his sophomore year, he found a way to share information while deferring to his veteran partner allowing the broadcasts to sing.  

With 3 years under his belt next Spring, assuming CBS doesn’t extend their star analyst in the next 10 months, Romo will almost certainly become the highest paid analyst in the history of the NFL.  That honor currently belongs to John Madden, who made $8,000,000 during the 1993 football season.  If Romo gets through the year without signing the dotted line for CBS, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports he’ll likely see offers eclipsing the $10M mark.  

Marchand laid out several possible scenarios for Romo’s future in his Monday column. Fox, who many believed was Romo’s second choice two years ago, could put Romo opposite Joe Buck and relegate Troy Aikman to the studio show.  That move would make Fox younger in the booth and on their pregame show. Aikman could also jump ship to replace Romo at CBS in that scenario.  

ESPN/ABC would absolutely have to offer Romo a seat at the Monday Night Football table – a move they might hold out for if they don’t find a sustainable broadcast team in the next year.

NBC is maybe the least likely to land Romo, but if they decide to break up the iconic Michaels-Collinsworth duo they’ll have a shot.  It’s no secret Mike Tirico is standing in the wings waiting to take over for Michaels, and NBC decision makers might see the opportunity to make a transition to a younger booth sooner rather than later.

Romo has gone on record discussing how much he loves working with Jim Nantz.  It’ll be interesting to see how much that love is worth once the offers start rolling in.  

Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

Jordan Bondurant

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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