Before the NFL can set the official salary cap heading into the 2021 season and free agency, one of the things they need to know is what their TV rights deals are going to look like in the future. The last thing the NFL needs to clear up before those deals are officially announced is what network will get Thursday Night Football.
According to Jabari Young of CNBC, the Sunday deals are expected to remain the same in terms of who has the rights. However, does FOX still want to keep Thursday Night Football, especially if it is not helping their bottom line?
“Networks are not showing any interest in it [Thursday Night Football]. They had it. It’s not exclusive. They are not making a profit off of it and at that price point, it is not really worth it,” said Young on CNBC’s Closing Bell.
Back in 2018, FOX paid $650 million a year for a 5-year deal to be the network that had Thursday Night Football, which is also currently streamed on Amazon. The question is if FOX does not want the broadcast, could it shift over to ESPN?
Young reported that there might be interest for ESPN to take on the TNF package and pair it with ESPN+, even though it could potentially help out another streaming service in the process.
“There’s speculation a streaming service such as Amazon could bid on the package. But with Fox, CBS and NBC no longer interested in simulcasting the game on a third-party streaming service, Amazon would have to find another partner to produce the game.
“There is a possibility that ESPN could take on the Thursday Night Football game and air the game on ABC. But that would mean helping a rival streaming service as it tries to grow its own ESPN+ offering.”
However, how skeptical is Disney about paying the lucrative rights fee? In an article written by Cynthia Littleton over at Variety, Disney CEO Bob Chapek talked about how far the company would be willing to go to keep football on ESPN.
“We’ve had a long relationship with the NFL. If there’s a deal that will be accretive to shareholder value will certainly entertain that and look at that,” Chapek said during Disney’s quarterly earnings call. “Our first (priority) will be to look and say ‘Does it make sense for shareholder value going forward?’”
In short order, there will be more clarity on the situation as the NFL shifts to a 17-game schedule in 2021. Young writes that the NFL wants the rights situation taken care of before March, so teams know exactly what the salary cap is going to be.
As Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported in December, the combined rights fees from CBS, FOX, NBC ABC/ESPN, and Amazon could reach over $100 billion. The contract for Monday Night Football runs out after next season and the other networks have their deals run out after 2022-2023.
While most of the new rights fees are ready to go, Thursday Night Football is reportedly holding everything back. Which network will get that package once everything is done? We will soon find out.
Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts
“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”
In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage.
Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.
“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.
“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”
Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion.
“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.”
When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone:
“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.”
AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive
“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”
Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.
While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.
A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.
After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.
The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.
“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”
You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket.
Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.
While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.
Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII
“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”
The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.
Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.
Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.
Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.
Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.