Sports TV News
ESPN Names New Executive Team
“On Monday, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro announced plans for a new management structure at the network.”
After learning that ESPN’s Executive Vice President of Content Connor Schell would be exiting the company in January to start his own production company, more executive changes are taking place at the worldwide leader.
In addition to Schell, Jodi Markley will also be leaving. Markley who serves as the network’s Executive Vice President of Content Operations and Creative Services will retire in April after 32 years in Bristol.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to be a part of ESPN over the past 32 years, Markley said in a press release. “I am proud of the industry-leading innovation and creativity of our team, and feel blessed to have worked alongside such incredibly talented people who love what they do. I am confident in the direction we are headed under Jimmy Pitaro and will enjoy my next chapter as a fan.”
“ESPN is an incredible place and it has been a true privilege to be a part of this team for the past 16+ years,” added Schell. “I am so thankful to Jimmy Pitaro and Bob Iger for their creative leadership and to my remarkable colleagues across ESPN whose work inspires and entertains sports fans every single day. As I launch this new production company, I am excited to transition back to a role where I can more directly tell stories and I couldn’t think of a better way to get started than continuing to work on 30 for 30 with Jimmy and ESPN.”
On Monday, ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro announced plans for a new management structure at the network. The full list can be found here. Below are some of the key names involved and the key responsibilities they’ll be assuming as part of the network’s leadership team.
Burke Magnus, will become the Executive Vice President, Programming & Original Content taking over for Schell. In addition to continuing to acquire and schedule programming, Mangus will also oversee original content creation for ESPN and ESPN+.
Kevin Merida continues as Senior Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of The Undefeated. Merida will manage all aspects of the brand and partner with the Disney General Entertainment and Hulu teams to explore future growth opportunities.
Laura Gentile becomes Senior Vice President, Marketing & Social Media, handling creative marketing for the ESPN brand, including all shows, special events, and platforms. She will also assume responsibility for the network’s social media content. Ryan Spoon previously handled those duties before exiting for BetGM.
Norby Williamson will be involved as Executive Vice President and Executive Editor. Williamson will co-lead ESPN’s production area, including its flagship SportsCenter, Get Up and First Take studio shows and event production, as well as cross-platform journalism and storytelling.
Rob King will be responsible for the company’s overall journalistic direction as the network’s Senior Vice President, Editor-At-Large. King’s role includes working closely with leaders across ESPN Films and original content, digital content, social media, multi-platform journalism and storytelling and global content. He will also advise ESPN and its senior leadership team on editorial issues.
Stephanie Druley will serve as Executive Vice President, Event and Studio Production, co-leading ESPN’s production area, including Monday Night Football, college football, NBA, studio and event production.
Tina Thornton will be upped to Vice President of Content Operations. She will assume many of Marklay’s duties including overseeing ESPN’s remote operations and events, Creative Works and Creative Services, ESPN Synergy, and the ESPN Next program.
“Going forward, our newly-formed senior leadership group is poised to drive future success,” Pitaro said in a press release. “The talented team is comprised of gifted and respected leaders. They are diverse thinkers who bring a collaborative spirit and a necessary focus on future strategy. I’m thrilled to have them as colleagues.”
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.