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How Will Production Layoffs Effect ESPN’s On Air Talent?

“Deitsch says he has heard from a number of ESPN talents that they are worried the days of ESPN hiring opinionists are mostly over. Miller isn’t buying it.”

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There aren’t a whole lot of people outside of the Walt Disney Company that know as much about ESPN as James Andrew Miller does. He is the author of Those Guys Have All the Fun, the book that documents the history of the network. On Monday, he was featured in Richard Deitch’s column for The Athletic talking about the recent layoffs at ESPN.

The duo discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and the changes it brought to broadcasting as the ultimate motivation for so many layoffs in Bristol behind the scenes. About midway through the conversation, Deitsch posed an interesting question: how will the layoffs of so many behind the scenes manifest itself with the on air staff?

Miller said he has heard from a number of ESPN talents that they see the writing on the wall and their messages to agents are clear. Forget the raise, give me a longer deal.

“Apart from the Stephen A. (Smith) and probably less than two dozen individuals at ESPN who really have bargaining power and were able to extract significant increases during times like these, it’s not a great time,” he told Deitsch. “(Former CAA Sports head) Nick Khan picked a great era when (former ESPN president) John Skipper decided to be the George Steinbrenner for on-air personnel. There were big contracts and long contracts — and the economics of the time and the threat by FS1 justified it. But now that’s all gone.”

Deitsch says he has heard from a number of ESPN talents that they are worried the days of ESPN hiring opinionists are mostly over. Miller isn’t buying it. In fact, he believes the opposite may be true.

“I think sports talk is going to maybe have a whole new renaissance because at the end of the day it’s far less expensive,” he said. “How many sports is ESPN or other competitors really going to be able to afford now, or spend the money on in the future? If you decide that you’re not going to bid on X Sport, you’re still going to have to program that time on your network. So I think that you’re going to start to look at programming and content that is cheaper to produce.”

If that is indeed the case, it obviously would be good news for many in the industry. Miller’s thinking isn’t hard to understand. Yes, the broadcast business has changed because of networks being willing to use tools like Zoom. That means there are fewer production jobs, but he uses other television shows to prove that no one is seeing hosts go away.

“Look, one of the things that started to happen when the pandemic became part of the fabric of our lives is all of a sudden you started to see Jimmy Fallon was in his basement. There was Savannah Guthrie in her home upstairs. This is happening all across all different networks. There was a bunch of us who said this could be the toothpaste out of the tube.”

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Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys

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The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.

Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.

But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.

Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.

Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:

Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.

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Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”

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USA Today

Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.

The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.

Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.

“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”

Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.

“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”

He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.

Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.

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NFL Likely To Launch NFL+ Streaming Service This Summer

“A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+.”

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According to the Sports Business Journal, consumers could be downloading NFL+ by July. Now, just what NFL+ will be is still yet to be finalized.

Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal reported in the site’s newsletter that live games will certainly be at the center of the league-owned streaming service. It is likely to only be available on phones and tablets with no option to stream to a larger monitor.

The viewing options would be limited. No out of market games would be available on the app. It is meant to replace the deals that recently expired with Yahoo and mobile phone carriers that recently expired.

The app could also include other content. Radio calls, team-created digital content, and league-owned podcasts are all options. 

NFL+ would make NFL Media more valuable. The league is trying to sell an equity stake in its linear TV and digital media properties. Amazon and Apple are considered the most likely to make a deal. 

A source tells Fischer that a $5 per month price has been discussed for NFL+. The pricing structure can and likely will change before the app hits the market.

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