Just a few months ago, ESPN’s Paul Finebaum was reported to have outside suitors, most notably the OTT streaming service DAZN.
During a recent interview with Front Office Sports, Finebaum was asked specifically about the possibility of leaving ESPN for DAZN and the college football analyst said, “I love working at ESPN and have no interest in doing anything else.”
Finebaum was again asked if he wants to remain with ESPN during the interview, and he offered a more detailed response.
“Let me think about this question for a second because I’ve asked this question to many, many people I always hate when they give me some political answer. But I will give you something that isn’t political. It’s the honest truth,” Finebaum told Front Office Sports. “I’ve never enjoyed working for this company more. I’ve never been more honored and felt more of a responsibility than over the last (couple of months). What may have appeared in the media in November or December or January and February is fine. I can’t undo whatever reporting went into those things or whatever people were thinking about, But right now, I don’t want to go anywhere.”
It was current DAZN Group chairman John Skipper who brought Finebaum to ESPN. Finebaum’s agent Nick Kahn of CAA previously negotiated huge deals in the $6 million per year range for Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd to leave ESPN for FS1. FS1’s president at the time, Jamie Horowitz, is now DAZN’s current EVP of content. There were absolutely factors which led to connecting Finebaum and DAZN just a few months ago, but a global pandemic has significantly altered the sports media landscape.
DAZN, like many sports media companies, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Last month, DAZN was reportedly attempting to secure financial investments or possibly even an outright sale. Whether or not they still have funds to invest in high-profile talent remains to be seen.
Finebaum still has time left on his contract with ESPN which runs through 2021. A lot can change in the next 18 months, but for now, staying with ESPN seems to be the priority.
Sunday Night Baseball Viewership Up On ESPN
“Telecasts are averaging 1.73 million viewers.”
The first month of the 2022 MLB regular season has concluded and ESPN is celebrating an uptick in viewership for Sunday Night Baseball.
The network announced on Tuesday that viewership for Sunday Night Baseball is up 4% compared to this time last year. In addition to that, compared to the 2020 full season average, ratings are up 40%.
Telecasts are averaging 1.73 million viewers. The Dodgers/Cubs game on May 8 averaged 1.781 million and peaked at over 2.1 million viewers during the 8-8:15 p.m. window.
Karl Ravech, Eduardo Perez and David Cone comprise the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast booth, with Buster Olney contributing reports.
Nickelodeon Gets Christmas Day NFL Game
“This will be the network’s first regular season game.”
The NFL’s Christmas triple header will include a little slime this year. The afternoon game between the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos will be simulcast on CBS and Nickelodeon.
Nickelodeon has ramped up its NFL presence each year since 2020. The network has aired a kid-friendly broadcast of a Wild Card Round playoff game each of the last two seasons. Last year’s tile between the 49ers and Cowboys drew an audience of 41 million.
Before the start of last season, the studio show NFL Slimetime debuted. This will be the network’s first regular season game.
Kickoff is set for 4:30 pm Eastern on Christmas Day. No details of what Nickelodeon’s coverage may include are available yet. Nate Burleson, Noah Eagle and Nickelodeon star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green have been on the call of the network’s previous NFL broadcasts.
Kentucky Derby Rebounds With 16 Million Viewers
“The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.”
The Kentucky Derby has now eclipsed 15 million viewers in each of the last eight years that the event was not effected by the Covid-19 Pandemic. An average audience of 16 million tuned in Saturday to see longshot Rich Strike win the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
The Derby saw its best numbers since 2019 on Saturday. The audience peaked at 19 million.
During the weekend, the event kept finding new life on social media. According to an NBC Sports press release, the overhead shot of the final call drew big audiences across a number of the network’s digital platforms, having been viewed in total more than 36 million times.
Peacock also cashed in on the event’s success. The streaming platform posted an average minute audience of over 247,000 viewers during the Kentucky Derby.