The Premier League is in a great position to see its US audience grow. England’s top soccer league beat the NBA, NHL and MLS back to the field. That means sports-starved Americans are more likely than ever before to flip over to NBC Sports Network to watch a game.
Roger Bennett of the popular Men in Blazers podcast was on The Rich Eisen Show on Monday and said that those Americans may be more inclined to watch a Premier League match now that the biggest soccer star the US has to offer is back on the pitch. Christian Pulisic has been injured since the beginning of the year. The young American rejoined his Chelsea teammates on Sunday and made an immediate impact.
“What’s remarkable is he didn’t start and (he) came into the game when his team was one down…in the 55th minute. Within four minutes, he made a run to the far post, jabbed the ball home — his seventh (goal) of the season,” Bennett told Eisen. “From an American football perspective, he’s our lord and savior. From a world football perspective, he’s just another good player fighting for minutes.”
Bennett is right to point out that Pulisic’s star power doesn’t shine as brightly around the world as it does in the United States. Even domestically, there are plenty of sports fans that might recognize the name, but not know who exactly Christian Pulisic is. That undoubtedly has a lot to do with the US Men’s National Team failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
In addition to patriotism, Bennett expects Americans will follow Pulisic because there is something familiar about the way he plays soccer.
“When you watch him play, he plays a little bit like a point guard in the NBA. Just finding slivers of space, changing pace, incredible bursts of speed, and really hurt opponents.”
Certainly no one at NBC or the Premier League is going to bat their eyes at a little more star power, but it may be fair to wonder just how much Pulisic really matters. The lack of options has already made international soccer more popular with American gamblers than ever before, and in terms of popularity, Pulisic didn’t even crack the top 20 in a recent survey of Premier League fans. The Premiership’s real star power rests in Liverpool’s Mo Salah and Pulisic’s Chelsea teammate N’Golo Kante.
Still, NBC has multiple billions invested in the Premier League. The company owns Great Britain’s cable sports network Sky, so while some of those costs can be deferred, anything that brings more American eyeballs to NBCSN’s broadcasts and creates better numbers to show potential advertisers is likely welcome.
ESPN, TNT Unveil NHL Schedules
“All of this year’s outdoor games are on TNT.”
The NHL has two new TV partners for next season and on Thursday, those partners unveiled their plans for the league. ESPN is showing games on cable and streaming exclusive games on both ESPN+ and Hulu. All of Turner’s games will be on TNT.
ESPN will have control of Tuesday nights. The network will carry games that will also be streamed on ESPN+ and Hulu. The season will open with a doubleheader on October 12 featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins visiting the Tampa Bay Lightning in the early game followed by the Seattle Kraken making their debut against the Vegas Golden Nights.
ESPN and Hulu will also simulcast a second game each week. When the season starts, that game will be on Fridays. In January, that game will move to Thursday.
There will also be a full schedule of games for ESPN+. The streaming platform will have an exclusive game every Tuesday.
ESPN’s first NHL schedule in 17 years can be seen here.
Wednesdays belong to TNT. The network will carry 15 weeks of doubleheaders. Starting in March, the network will add a Sunday game as well.
All of this year’s outdoor games are on TNT. Those include the Winter Classic at Target Field in Minneapolis on New Year’s Day, which will feature the St. Louis Blues and the Minnesota Wild, the NHL Stadium Series game at Nissan Stadium between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Nashville Predators, and the NHL Heritage Classic featuring the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres at Hamilton’s Tim Horton Field.
The full schedule for TNT can be seen here.
Trump Gamble Doesn’t Pay Off For Triller
“In all fairness to the Trump family, they likely had little to do with the event’s failure to draw fans.”
Any pay-per-view event is only as good as the number of people that fork over their money to see it. If that is true, than the small number of people that shelled out $49.99 to watch over-the-hill and past-their-prime boxers fight proves just how bad Triller’s latest stunt card was.
Triller’s paid audience is estimated to be around 150,000, which would make the total revenue generated by the card less than $7.5 million. According to boxing journalist Dan Rafael, that is not even enough cover the card’s promised purses to the fighters.
Fans that bought the fight could choose between an audio feed that was a more traditional call of the fight or one that featured former President Donald Trump and his son Don Jr. commenting on the matches and the sport in general. The Trump option was a desperate attempt to boost buys. Triller promoted it heavily on social media and even gave the former president a press conference ahead of the night to say all of the things that the company hoped would whip his supporters into a frenzy. It clearly was not enough.
While the first card of this nature presented by Triller drew more than 1.6 million buys, it was also headlined by Mike Tyson, who is still a pop culture icon. In all fairness to the Trump family, they likely had little to do with the event’s failure to draw fans. That likely had more to do with a lack of interest in watching 50-somethings box.
Dan Orlovsky Offers Film Breakdown Of Stephen A. Smith
“Orlovsky pulled zero punches in the segment, poking fun at his colleague.”
Stephen A. Smith is front and center as the star of First Take’s new era, and he received highlight treatment on Thursday. ESPN NFL analyst Dan Orlovsky surprised the media icon with a detailed critique of his debate style.
Orlovsky is known for his enthusiastic film breakdowns of NFL teams and players, but he decided to tweak his signature skill to throw Smith off his game when they debated on Thursday.
“Alright Stephen A.,” Orlovsky began. “I’m always coming on your show, and you’re saying, ‘I’m watching you, I’m paying attention to everything you say,’ because you’re trying to jump on me and my takes. So I wanted to let you know that I’m also watching you.”
The first thing in Orlovsky’s sights was Smith’s happy feet during his debate with Michael Irvin.
“There’s some things I wanna share with you when it comes to the way you go about your business,” Orlovsky declared. “First of all, as we watch this tape, watch your feet and all the movement that it has. Stephen A. put your feet in the ground and be where you are. This is not dance class lessons with Stephen A. and Michael Irvin.”
Dan Orlovsky pulled zero punches in the segment, poking fun at his colleague. He even called out Smith’s style choices at one point.
“Number two Stephen A.,” Orlovsky said. “Keep your hands out of your pockets; also, can I get a bone-in filet? What is this outfit? Get some better color coordination. Get your hands out of your pockets Stephen A., this is television!”
Stephen A. rolled with the jabs as he, Molly Qerim-Rose, and Orlovsky discussed the film breakdown.
“Oh all of y’all done started something now!” Smith said behind a smile. “They talked about my outfit?! That was low, him [Orlovsky] with some of his damn suits he be wearing talking about my outfit?”
Qerim-Rose pointed out that she knows her co-hosts security blanket now: Left hand in the pocket. Time will tell how Smith claps back at Dan Orlovsky as First Take continues their rotating cast of debaters going to head-to-head with Smith.