Sports TV News
Talent Divided As WWE Sets Return To Live Shows
“WWE had initially planned to pre-tape all shows scheduled to air through early May.”
There will be new WWE programming on television in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the wrestlers themselves aren’t happy about it. Florida is still under a safer-at-home order, but that won’t stop Vince McMahon. Ryan Satin of Pro Wrestling Sheet reports that Raw and Smackdown will resume live shows at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando this week, while NXT will resume action at its regular home, Full Sail University just outside of Orlando.
Robert De Felice at Fightful reported that McMahon has been aggressive about airing new shows. He even gave his staff letters indicating that they were essential media in the event they were stopped by police.
WWE had initially planned to pre-tape all shows scheduled to air through early May. There is no concrete reporting on why the company reversed course, but it could have something to do with the contracts the company has with its broadcast partners, FOX and NBC Universal. Those contracts specify a certain number of shows that must be broadcast live.
“While nobody will say so publicly, the fear was that by violating the contract, it would give the networks the legal ability to withhold money or find a way to change the deals,” Dave Meltzer wrote for The Wrestling Observer.
It isn’t immediately clear how WWE talent is showing their displeasure or what orders they might be under from the company. Roman Reigns, a cancer survivor, had already removed himself from the WWE’s active roster during the pandemic. Paige also pulled herself from some shows. She told the company she would not be attending a series of tapings in Orlando earlier this month.
Other wrestlers, including Drew McIntyre and The Big Show, have expressed support for the WWE’s decision to continue with live tapings during the pandemic.
Sports TV News
Inside the NFL Headed To The CW For 2023
“We are excited to partner with NFL Films and welcome “Inside the NFL” to The CW Sports family.
After being cut loose by Paramount+ earlier in the year, Inside the NFL has found a new home on The CW, premiering on September 5 at 8 p.m. EST/5 p.m. PST. The transition will mean the show is set to air on a broadcast network for the first time. It previously was carried by HBO and then Showtime. It will also be available to stream on The CW app and on cwtv.com.
The Emmy Award-winning series, which has been on the air since 1977, is centered around highlights and interviews from the previous week, with distinctive footage and audio supplied by NFL Films. It gives football fans an outlet to catch up on the action they might have missed, even though the scope of highlight shows is diminishing because of the advent of social media in an immersive content landscape.
“We are excited to partner with NFL Films and welcome Inside the NFL to The CW Sports family,” Dennis Miller, president of The CW, said in a statement. “For almost five decades, Inside the NFL has been an industry leader in showcasing can’t-miss weekly highlights, unprecedented behind-the-scenes content, exclusive access to players and lively discussion. By combining this premiere NFL content with our robust broadcast audience, we look forward to bringing this legendary sports series to more fans than ever before and to advertisers for the first time.”
Producers and hosts for the latest iteration of the show will be announced at a later date, and it will also have an impact on the fall programming schedule for the network itself. Recent editions of the show were hosted by James Brown and featured various former players, such as Brandon Marshall, Phil Simms and Julian Edelman.
“Generations of football fans have grown up watching Inside the NFL,” Ross Ketover, senior executive of NFL Films, added in a statement. “It is a show we cherish at NFL Films and we are thrilled to bring it to a great new partner in The CW. This is a special opportunity to reimagine and reboot Inside the NFL for a wider audience and a new generation of fans. We can’t wait to get started.”
Sports TV News
Frank Thomas Joins Friday Night Baseball on Apple TV+
“He will make his debut on June 9.”
It didn’t take long for Frank Thomas to find a new gig. He is joining Apple TV+. He will make his Friday Night Baseball debut this week according to Front Office Sports.
Thomas’s role will involve multiple duties. He will conduct interviews with some of the game’s biggest stars. Those will take place on the field and in clubhouses before the games. He will also be in the booth for select games.
After FOX hired Derek Jeter to join its studio coverage of Major League Baseball, the network let Thomas go. He had been part of MLB on FOX since 2014. Royce Dickerson, who worked with “The Big Hurt” at FOX is now Apple’s executive producer for live sports.
Frank Thomas will not be available for Apple every week. He will be used on marquee matchups.
He will make his debut on June 9. Thomas will interview Mike Trout ahead of the Angels’ visit to Seattle to take on their division rivals, the Mariners.
Sports TV News
Darren Pang to Replace Colby Cohen On Blackhawks TV Crew
“At this time, we have decided it’s important for my family to be back close to our family and our home in Philadelphia.”
Changes in media coverage for hockey are continuing amid the Stanley Cup Final with the announcement of Colby Cohen walking away from Chicago Blackhawks broadcasts. The team is reportedly hiring Darren Pang, who has been featured as a reporter on NHL on TNT national broadcasts throughout the postseason, as their lead television color commentator. He will work alongside the sophomore play-by-play voice of the team, Chris Vasters, on NBC Sports Chicago. News of the decision was first reported by Jeff Agrest of the Chicago Sun-Times.
The Blackhawks television crew utilized a hybrid approach last season, rotating between Cohen, Patrick Sharp and Troy Murray. The change comes one offseason after the team revamped its television booth following the retirement of Pat Foley, which resulted in Eddie Olczyk joining the Seattle Kraken television booth. Cohen confirmed news of his exit Wednesday morning on Twitter in a statement where he expressed his gratitude for his two seasons on Blackhawks broadcasts.
“My family and I want to thank the Wirtz family and the entire Chicago Blackhawks organization for… two great years working for one of the greatest organizations in sports,” Cohen said in a tweet. “We will miss the thunderous noise of the United Center and the great city of Chicago where our daughter was born. At this time, we have decided it’s important for my family to be back close to our family and our home in Philadelphia.”
Cohen spent just over three years with NBC Sports Philadelphia as a broadcaster for the Philadelphia Flyers, and has also worked on ESPN’s NHL coverage since 2016. It is unknown if Cohen will pursue another regional broadcasting role before the start of next season. He was originally hired by the team in 2021 to serve as a content analyst, creating digital features for the Blackhawks and working on studio coverage.
Pang has worked on Bally Sports Midwest with the St. Louis Blues for the last 14 years, but is now presumably set to move on and work with the team he played for as a goaltender over parts of three seasons. Additionally, he is expected to remain with Warner Bros. Discovery, recently telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he is on the verge of inking a three-year contract extension with the company. Pang is expected to be the primary color analyst, with the team either finding new roles for Sharp and Murray or using them in a backup capacity. Most hockey insiders expect the Blackhawks to open next season with rookie sensation and consensus first-overall draft selection Connor Bedard on the roster.