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NBC Won’t Trade Al Michaels To ESPN

“ESPN could still land Manning, although they won’t have Michaels as his broadcast partner, they still have a lot of money to offer.”

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The idea of ESPN trading for NBC’s lead football announcer Al Michaels seemed farfetched from the start, which is why it was categorized as a “dream” scenario. After initially reporting ESPN’s interest in landing Michaels, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post now says it won’t happen.

“We look forward to Al completing his contract and calling Sunday Night Football games on NBC,” Greg Hughes, an NBC Sports spokesman, told Marchand.

As ESPN looks to revamp their Monday Night Football booth, acquiring Al Michaels was viewed as a way to lure Peyton Manning to the broadcast. Since CBS plucked Tony Romo off the football field and moved him into its top broadcast booth, ESPN has continued its attempts at acquiring Manning. But NBC declining to trade Al Michaels will subsequently end ESPN’s dream scenario.

Yes, NBC has former ESPN MNF announcer Mike Tirico waiting to step in as their play-by-play voice for NFL broadcasts. But NBC has little reason to move on from Michaels right now, who remains under contract for two years, including Super Bowl LVI during his final season. 

In addition to landing on trade compensation, Michaels would also have to agree to a deal with ESPN. That final Super Bowl with NBC is likely a game Michaels won’t want to give up, as it could be his last. While ESPN/ABC has reportedly shown interest in re-entering the network rotation for Super Bowl coverage, there’s no guarantee it happens before the 75-year old Michaels retires. 

ESPN could still land Manning, although they won’t have Michaels as his broadcast partner, they still have a lot of money to offer. Last week, Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reported ESPN was preparing to offer Manning between $18 and $20 million per year. $20 million per year to call Monday Night Football games has to at least be intriguing, even for a two-time Super Bowl champ that earned $250 million as a player. 

ESPN’s current Monday Night Football crew featuring Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland is considered to be the least appealing lead broadcast team in the NFL. Marchand also reports ESPN has considered a replacement booth featuring play-by-play voice Steve Levy alongside analysts Louis Riddick and Brian Griese.

Sports TV News

Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live

“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

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Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.

“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.

Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.

“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.

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