It’s not uncommon to see a retired athlete launch their second career as a sports broadcaster. What’s rare is to see that athlete become a play-by-play voice instead of an analyst, even more unprecedented is doing it for a sport other than the one they played.
Earlier this week the Portland Trail Blazers announced Jordan Kent as their TV play-by-play voice on NBC Sports Northwest for the rapidly approaching 2020-21 NBA season. It will mark the fifth season Kent has spent with the Trail Blazers, previously hosting their pregame, halftime and postgame shows. Despite his five years with the Blazers, northwest sports fans might also remember Kent from his time as a wide receiver with the Seahawks and in the Pac-10 with the Ducks. In addition to football, Kent also lettered in basketball for the University of Oregon.
Kent stepped in as the Blazers play-by-play voice during the NBA restart, taking over for Kevin Calabro, who announced he was stepping down in July. Calabro had a more than two-decade long tenure as the voice of the Supersonics, before joining the Blazers in 2016. Now Kent will get the opportunity to be the Blazers TV voice on a more permanent basis.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to step into the Television Play-by-Play role,” Kent said in the press release. “I have some pretty big shoes to fill, following in the footsteps of the great Kevin Calabro, but I’m up for the challenge and feel great support from the entire broadcast team and all of Rip City.”
Retired athletes working as play-by-play announcers or covering different sports isn’t completely without precedent. For sports fans my age, Ahmad Rashad is synonymous with basketball thanks to his long tenure hosting NBA Inside Stuff despite having a very successful career as an NFL running back. Pat Summerall was one of the best play-by-play voices in the history of football after he retired as a player. Steve Nash has covered soccer and former NBA center Brad Daugherty has long been a NASCAR analyst. But Kent is doing both, he’s a retired athlete turned play-by-play voice, in a different sport than the one he played professionally.
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.