ESPN has come to terms on contracts for two members of its roster. The first order of business involves award-winning play-by-play voice Sean McDonough, who has agreed to a new multi-year deal, extending the relationship between both parties for well beyond three decades.
McDonough is expected to continue calling a College Football Playoff Semifinal on ESPN and the CFP National Championship on ESPN Radio, as well as a weekly marquee regular season game on ESPN or ABC. He’ll be paired once again with analyst Todd Blackledge, and field analyst Todd McShay.
“For many viewers, Sean has been a signature voice for their entire fandom, shaping memories of historic sports moments,” said ESPN senior vice president of production, Lee Fitting. “His innate ability to rise to the occasion has been proven time and time again which, along with his broadcasting versatility across a multitude of sports, has defined his career. Having Sean continue to be a mainstay on our signature games enhances our entire production. We’re looking forward to the next chapter of an already remarkable career.”
“While I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to call many exciting games across a wide array of sports,” said McDonough, “It’s the lifelong friendships with my talented colleagues that mean the most. I’m fortunate to have a dream job that enables me to work with people who have become like family to me.”
The second member to be retained by the network is Chicago-based general assignment reporter, Michele Steele. Steele, who has been with ESPN since 2011, has inked a new multiyear contract to continue in her current role.
During her time with ESPN, Steele has been a versatile on-air contributor. She’s reported on stories and appeared on SportsCenter, NFL Live, Outside the Lines and ESPN’s digital platforms. She’s also been a studio host on SportsCenter and OTL, and delivered features for those shows, as well as SC Featured, E60 and NFL Countdown. The past year saw her add video and written projects too for ESPN’s ‘The Undefeated’.
“The core of what I do is original reporting, adding texture and depth to the games that we all love,” said Steele. “I pride myself in my ability to find and tell original stories that not only challenge us to think – but ask us to feel.
“In a time where we are physically apart from each other, sharing stories that speak to our connections as fans takes on an even greater role,” she said. “While we may live our lives very differently in 2020, the things that bind us never went away.”
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.