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Broadcasters Express Reservations About Travel

“Joining 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore on Wednesday, NFL Network host Rich Eisen expressed concerns over attending the NFL Draft next month, saying he would prefer to work the event from a TV studio.”

Brandon Contes

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Coronavirus concerns are causing games to be canceled or played in front of empty arenas, but what about the ability of broadcasters to continue attending events?

Joining 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore on Wednesday, NFL Network host Rich Eisen expressed concerns over attending the NFL Draft next month, saying he would prefer to work the event from a TV studio. Last year’s three-day NFL Draft event drew 600,000 people, with Las Vegas expecting to welcome even more fans. Many cities have already banned gatherings of move than 1,000 people. 

Even being more than a month away, it’s hard to imagine the NFL Draft taking place surrounded by hundreds of thousands of fans as league’s attempt to limit the coronavirus from spreading. The NBA, MLB, MLS and NHL began the week by banning reporters from locker rooms and those cautionary steps progressed to the NBA suspending its league for the foreseeable future Wednesday night.

Prior to the NBA’s decision, longtime Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher and Rich he preferred the idea of broadcasting games from a remote location, rather than travel to populated arenas amid the coronavirus epidemic. 

Remote broadcasting is an idea that is not without precedence. Last month, NBC Sports Bay Area announced a “SplitKast” for the San Francisco Giants, which will allow color analyst Mike Krukow to call a select schedule of road games from a remote studio for reasons unrelated to coronavirus. 

If the Major League Baseball season starts on time, Red Sox TV play-by-play voice Jerry Remy told The Boston Globe he’ll miss his first scheduled road trip of the season, although he won’t work the games remotely. Remy has beaten six cancer relapses since 2008 and doctors don’t want to risk him contracting coronavirus and being quarantined somewhere other than Mass General. 

Keeping people safe needs to be prioritized, which means if games are not safe for fans, then they shouldn’t be deemed safe for broadcasters of players. But if some sports do decide to play in front of empty arenas, what happens if announcers call the games remotely and those broadcasts are considered a success? 

There are likely baseball announcers who wouldn’t mind skipping a cross-country road trip in the middle of July or an NBA broadcaster that prefers not to travel for a meaningless game in February. Could it pave the way for more remote broadcasts even when the coronavirus is no longer a concern? 

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Ian Rapoport: I Have Never Thought It is Me vs Adam Schefter

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows.”

Jordan Bondurant

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In terms of NFL insiders, Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are the two biggest names out there. And sometimes it can be a race between the two to get the biggest scoops first. Especially now with the NFL coaching carousel in full swing.

This week two teams hired new head coaches – the Broncos traded two first round picks to the Saints to acquire the rights to Sean Payton and the Texans signed DeMeco Ryans.

Rapoport tweeted that Denver had pursued Ryans up until the day they announced the trade for Payton.

Not even 15 minutes later, Schefter appeared to clarify the information out there with the two teams.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Pat McAfee referred to the conflicting information as a “source off.”

Ian said he stood behind what he put out there.

“I know it’s fun to call it a source off or whatever, but for me I reported what I had based on the best information I can get – based on talking to many, many people throughout the course of the last month,” Rapoport said from the Senior Bowl. “And then whatever happens as a result of this I don’t really mind.”

In terms of any sort of rivalry between him and Schefter, Rapoport doesn’t view it as a head-to-head matchup.

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows,” he said. “And everyone can sort of judge for themselves whichever way to go.”

McAfee gave kudos to Rapoport for his reporting on the Ryans situation. He also said it’s a good thing Rapoport doesn’t worry himself too much about what other insiders are doing.

“I think you should feel good about it, but I do like a good source off,” McAfee said. “And I appreciate the fact that you don’t view it as you versus Schefter. But you two are at the top of the game. So that’s a compliment more so than anything.”

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Sports TV News

AEW Considers Launching Streaming Service

“It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.”

Jordan Bondurant

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All Elite Wrestling is looking into launching its own streaming service.

According to reporting from Bloomberg, a source “familiar with management’s thinking” said AEW is looking to strike a deal with broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery.

Since launching in 2019, AEW now puts on two weekly shows on Warner channels TBS and TNT and airs two shows on YouTube.

Last year AEW acquired Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group. As part of that deal, AEW took ownership of RoH’s extensive content library Honor Club. So much like WWE did with WWE Network when it launched in 2014, AEW could launch its streaming service and have all of Ring of Honor’s content in a one-stop shop.

It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.

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Sports TV News

NBC Officially Unveils Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge as New Big Ten Booth

“With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

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It’s officially official: Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge, and Kathryn Tappen will join the Big Ten on NBC booth when the network begins airing the conference’s football package in 2023.

NBC made the announcement Thursday, after weeks of speculation about the moves.

“We are excited to showcase Big Ten Saturday Night on the NBC Sports’ primetime marquee,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood. “When you hear Todd’s voice, you know it’s a big college football game. It has been that way for decades.

“Noah is one of the industry’s rising young play-by-play commentators, who has excelled calling numerous sports across multiple platforms for a wide range of audiences. We are thrilled to pair him in the booth with Todd.

“Kathryn has told the stories of so many memorable Notre Dame Football moments over the last decade in her on-field reporting and interviews,” Flood continued. “With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

Blackledge joins NBC after working as a college football analyst for the network for the past 17 seasons. Previously, he was the an analyst for CBS and ABC, making 2023 his 30th consecutive season covering college football as an analyst.

Eagle is the son of broadcasting legend Ian Eagle, and currently serves as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers. He comes to NBC after calling college football games for FOX Sports in 2022.

Tappen has spent the past nine seasons working NBC’s college football coverage with Notre Dame. Eight of those nine seasons were spent as the network’s sideline reporter before anchoring the studio coverage from South Bend in 2022.

2023 will mark the beginning of a seven-year contract for NBC to air Big Ten football games in primetime. The move is one of the biggest notable expansions in the college football arena for the network since its partnership with Notre Dame began in 1991.

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