One year ago on Thursday, the whole sports world changed and our new normal occurred due to COVID-19. During this week, some sports shows will look back on what they were doing on their shows at night when the news broke that the NBA season was suspended.
Here is a clip from that night’s SportsCenter broadcast:
For Scott Van Pelt, SportsCenter with SVP was going to be a lot different than a normal Wednesday night. This week, Van Pelt and Stanford Steve were joined on the SVPod by NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, reporters Malika Andrews and Royce White (White was in Oklahoma City for Jazz-Thunder), producer Marco Alfandary and director Joe Iuliano to reflect on the events from that night.
The show began with Alfandary talking about what was going on as the news started to break that the season was going to be suspended and that the night wasn’t going to be the same as Van Pelt was set to due a cut-in with Wojnarowski at halftime of the Nuggets-Mavericks game.
“I can remember walking into the control room maybe a little bit early. There were some early rumblings that maybe something unusual was afoot at the Thunder game. We were watching Woj’s timeline very closely. I remember being in the control room and the rest of it was an out-of-body experience as things started to cascade.”
For Andrews, at the time she thought she was missing out on covering a game without fans, but she thought back to how she feels now compared to a year ago when she got the call to get off the road.
“To think about that now versus what ended up happening. It is amazing to think back at how quick the dominoes were falling.”
Woj admits that before the night that the NBA halted play, the virus was on his mind and even predicted he would be writing more about health and safety than assists and rebounds.
“The NBA was preparing its teams in a way that the United States government wasn’t preparing its citizens to be quite honest,” he said on the podcast. “I remember saying to Cristina Daglas at some point in that week before, we are getting to a point where I think all I should be doing is writing about this virus. I don’t think there is any basketball stuff I should be worried about now. To the extent it did, I don’t think anyone else was prepared for that.”
Van Pelt mentioned that he thinks about that night, which he called the most memorable night of his career and how the control room helped him in a big way.
“That night, I remember that there was a permanence. We were the ones that got to document it. It wasn’t because we were good, we were on the air. What you guys did in that control room allowed me to be the anchor that hopefully didn’t throw the ball out of bounds. I always knew you were not going to put me in harm’s way. I just remember being so grateful we had a great room that we can trust. It’s what I think of now.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at [email protected].
YouTube TV Having ‘Incredible Growth’ From NFL Sunday Ticket
“We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future.”
NFL Sunday Ticket is in the midst of its first season being accessed through YouTube and YouTube TV as part of a 7-year deal worth a reported $14 billion. In being available on an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, fans have had to adjust to new ways to sign up and find the content to watch on each Sunday. While feedback for the platform has been stellar across the board as it pertains to the user interface, latency levels and viewing options, one area that endured levels of sustained criticism was multiview functionality.
In the past, NFL Sunday Ticket users had the capability to fully customize their screen, placing the games they want to watch in different windows and customizing the order thereof. With the new iteration of the service though, users are subject to preset layouts of games compiled for viewing, essentially losing a sense of jurisdiction over the totality of their experience. In a recent interview with Deadline, YouTube Chief Business Officer Mary Ellen Coe commented on how the service plans to adapt going forward.
“That is a very hard thing to do technically,” Coe said. “Put it this way – the feedback is [that] we hear you loud and clear. We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future, and one thing that we’re doing to address that is [in having] a lot of insights on the game combinations and what matchups fans are interested in. So, we can use those insights.”
Coe believes that an interminable number of combinations is superfluous for fans and that the company is instead basing their decisions from bonafide, quantifiable data. Through these metrics, NFL Sunday Ticket is able to appeal to the largest faction of viewers interested in engaging with a multiview combination.
“We actually will have insight into what are the games that are must-watches, and then we can preload those combinations,” Coe explained. “I think as you see the season goes on, the demand [for customization] will become less because people will see the combinations they want will be up.”
Within the Deadline interview, author Dade Hayes made a shrewd observation in that when The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications were embroiled in a carriage dispute, both companies offered YouTube TV as potential viewing solutions. While a resolution was reached on the morning of the Week 1 broadcast of Monday Night Football and season debut of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, YouTube as an entity has not yet extrapolated and bifurcated the data to see if there was any substantial effect therein.
“We’re having incredible growth because of the Sunday Ticket relationship with YouTube TV,” Coe said. “It is interesting that both Charter and Disney referred to YouTube TV as a place to go when they couldn’t get content. I think that’s an endorsement for the user experience on YouTube TV, which we appreciate.”
Jomboy: We Won’t Get in a Bidding War With WFAN, ESPN New York for Aaron Boone
“Talkin’ Yanks had the best couple months ever while they sucked and I think that’s because we had access to Boone and we started being silly again.
In past years, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone would have guest appearances either on WFAN or on ESPN Radio in New York during the season. This year, the Boone guest spot went from traditional radio to Jomboy Media as Jomboy and Jake had Boone on Talkin’ Yanks every week.
Of course, it was a different year for the Yankees as they will fail to make the postseason. With that being said, the Boone effect did help the show in a big way.
On the latest edition of The Morning Meeting (Building Jomboy Media) podcast, Jomboy said that while sometimes the weekly guest spots got tough toward the end of the season, it was still a worthwhile endeavor.
“Talkin’ Yanks had the best couple months ever while they sucked and I think that’s because we had access to Boone and we started being silly again. Boone definitely had a big part of that and just people used the quotes kind of changed it.”
August was the most viewed month of episodes in terms of average views in the history of the show, which is when the Yankees were starting to fade away from playoff contention.
In fact, Jomboy felt the most recent Boone interview was the best episode they had this year because of the familiarity and looseness they all felt.
“We’ve been having fun. I thought that one felt like the best because there was also some good convos of learning as well as just goofiness.”
As for next year, nothing has been decided as to whether or not Talkin’ Yanks will have Boone on again. While Jomboy is interested in running that back, he knows that if the other radio stations want back in, it will be tough to compete with them.
“If ESPN Radio or WFAN all of sudden realize they want back in and we get into a bidding war, we are not going to really do that.”
Ryen Russillo Calls Out Dan Le Batard’s Attack on Adrian Wojnarowski
“Man, if you’re gonna pick a fight, pick a fight with somebody who gets shit wrong, not Woj.”
The will they/won’t they mystery surrounding Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers is over. Lillard is headed to Milwaukee as part of a three-team trade. Ryen Russillo talked about the deal and some of the narratives about potential moves on the most recent edition of his podcast.
Russillo took people to task for assuming doing a deal with Miami was Portland’s only option because it is where Lillard wanted to be. He specifically called out Dan Le Batard for what Le Batard had to say about Adrian Wojnarowski’s reporting that Portland was not impressed by what Miami could offer.
At the time, Le Batard said that Wojnarowski’s report was “embarrassing” for suggesting that a deal between the two sides was not imminent. He said the ESPN reporter was “agenda-based schilling” and “bought and paid for by Portland”.
“That was on July 17,” Russillo said reading Le Batard’s comments back and reiterating that all Wojnarowski said on his podcast was that Portland did not like Miami’s offer. “’Bought and paid for’? I’m like, ‘Man, if you’re gonna pick a fight, pick a fight with somebody who gets shit wrong, not Woj.’ And here we are, weeks, months later, and it wasn’t Miami.”
Dan Le Batard has never run from the fact that he is a Miami fan above all else. That was on display again this week as he and his colleagues reacted in real time to Stephen A. Smith putting the Dolphins atop his A-List of the best teams in the NFL.
He has also not been above lashing out at other members of the media when he perceives a lack of integrity.
Le Batard’s producer, Mike Ryan Ruiz, acknowledged on social media that Russillo called the show out by name. He also spent much of Wednesday swearing that the NBA and ESPN were conspiring against the city of Miami.