Sports TV News
Oregonian Story Paints Grim Picture For Pac-12 Network
“The majority of the PAC-12 Network’s 170 employees have been either laid off or furloughed as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.”
Not only is the future bleak for the PAC-12 Network uncertain, it is possible that the public has never gotten a clear picture of its past according to John Canzano. The syndicated radio host and columnist for The Oregonian wrote a story about the network last week that indicated the media world never had much interest in the network.
“No media company wanted to partner with the Pac-12,” a conference official told Canzano. “ESPN declined. FOX, CBS, even the Discovery Channel declined. Nobody knows this.”
The story paints a picture of a network that is now reaping the consequences of painting a rosier picture of its viability than was ever true.
The majority of the PAC-12 Network’s 170 employees have been either laid off or furloughed as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. According to Canzano, those that have been furloughed have not heard a word from network or conference leadership in weeks. It has left the network with little ability to cover the abbreviated college football season the PAC-12 will launch next month.
The first six weeks of the season will be split amongst the networks of ESPN and FOX. Those weeks will include games that will kick off at 9 am local time in order to be included in FOX’s Big Noon Saturday programming block, a phenomenon that Canzano reports some within the conference have begun calling “Bloody Larrys,” in honor of PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott, whose leadership has lead to this debacle.
The championship weekend, where six games will be created based on divisional standings, is the only place there is an opening.
“That would leave the Pac-12 Network with a game or two, maybe, if it still wants to be in the football-broadcast business,” Canzano writes.
With basketball season set to begin in November, the PAC-12 Network will have some programming. It is contractually obligated to carry both men’s and women’s games. Outside of that though, it remains to be seen what is left for the PAC-12 Network. Canzano writes that it currently does not have writers, producers, or a social media staff in house.
The next media rights deal for the PAC-12 Conference begins in 2024. It has previously been reported that Apple might has shown interest in acquiring the primary TV rights for the league. That might be the only leverage the PAC-12 has in any future negotiations.
Sports TV News
Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica To Make FOX TV Debut on Belmont Coverage
“Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
As the college football season was winding down, fans found out one of the foundational members of the College Gameday staff would be leaving ESPN. Chris “The Bear” Fallica left the network and has been working for FOX since the new year. This weekend during the network’s coverage of The Belmont Stakes, he will finally make his TV debut for his employers.
“It’s been great. This will be my first TV appearance, so I’m excited,” Fallica said in an interview with FOXSports.com. “But we’ve been cranking out content on the digital side since January, and I’m very happy with how the USFL picks have been going (4-0 last week for those of you counting at home). Everyone I’ve worked and interacted with at the company has been so helpful and open to someone who has spent his entire professional life elsewhere.”
Fallica, who worked for ESPN for nearly three decades, is going to be a major presence in FOX’s gambling content both on air and online. Making picks is nothing new. He had been doing it on College GameDay for years prior to his exit.
In addition to making football picks, horse racing is going to be a major part of what The Bear does for FOX. While this will be his TV debut on FOX, Fallica put the spotlight on one of his colleagues.
“It was a great decision to bring Tom [Durkin] back for this call. His voice is synonymous with the sport for a generation of racing fans, so it will be a treat to hear him call a race again.”
Durbin is coming out of retirement to call the race. This is the first year that the Belmont is airing on FOX as part of a rights deal with the New York Racing Association.
Sports TV News
FOX Reportedly Considering Replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff
“Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.”
It looks like changes are coming to FOX’s college football coverage. Andrew Marchand reports that the network is considering replacing Reggie Bush on Big Noon Kickoff.
Bush and the network reportedly argued over money before the 2022 season. FOX kicked the tires on multiple options, including Desmond Howard and Robert Griffin III of ESPN. Eventually, it decided to bring Bush back on a one year deal. With that deal set to expire and the two sides again at an impasse, FOX is eyeing other options.
Marchand writes that the favorite to replace the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner is the 2009 Heisman Trophy winner. Mark Ingram II is expected to retire from the NFL and join FOX.
If Ingram does join the show, he would be the first analyst from outside of the conferences FOX carries. Ingram played his college football at Alabama. He has since amassed more than 8000 yards over 13 seasons in the NFL.
FOX declined to comment on the report. Marchand reports that with no deal finalized, there is an outside shot that Ingram returns to the NFL, Bush returns to FOX and there is no change at all. That, however, is considered a long shot.
Sports TV News
ESPN, Omaha Productions Launching Alternate Formula 1 Broadcast
“The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will air on ESPN2 while the traditional telecast of the race airs on ABC.”
ESPN and Omaha Productions are following the ManningCast playbook once again. They are launching an alternate broadcast for ESPN’s coverage of Formula 1 racing.
Titled The Grandstand, the coverage will feature F1 racer Daniel Ricciardo and celebrity fan Will Arnett, star of Arrested Development and The Lego Movie. ESPN will rollout the telecast for three races, starting with the Formula 1 Pirelli Canadian Grand Prix on June 18.
“This is going to be a hoot!” Ricciardo said in a press release. “As you’d expect Will and I are going to have some fun with the show, but we’re hoping it just feels like you’re watching F1 with your mates. We will have some amazing guests, plenty of laughs and with some luck, bring fans another step closer to the sport I love so much. Buckle up America!”
Formula 1 has gained plenty of new fans thanks to the Netflix series Drive to Survive. Arnett admits that he is one of them. He has gone all in with the sport, even hosting a podcast with legendary F1 driver Mika Häkkinen.
The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will air on ESPN2 while the traditional telecast of the race airs on ABC. Following the Canadian Grand Prix, Ricciardo and Arnett are scheduled to return in October for the United States Grand Prix and in November for the Las Vegas Grand Prix.
“It’s great to be partnering with ESPN to expand the ‘megacast’ format into F1,” NFL legend and founder of Omaha Productions, Peyton Manning said. “We are excited to do this project with Daniel and Will. They are good friends who will bring expertise and fun to the broadcast.”