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ESPN2, ESPN+ Ready Marvel-Themed Broadcast Of Warriors vs Pelicans

NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson are on the call from a Marvel-themed studio at ESPN.

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ESPN and Marvel have forged a decade-long super tandem. The two companies announced a new content collaboration deal that starts with an alternate presentation of the Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans game on Monday, May 3.

NBA Special Edition Presented by State Farm: Marvel’s Arena of Heroes starts at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson are on the call from a Marvel-themed studio at ESPN.

“We are thrilled to work alongside ESPN and Marvel to present fans with the first-ever Marvel-inspired alternate NBA telecast,” said David Denenberg, NBA senior vice president, global media distribution & business affairs. “This fun and innovative game presentation builds upon our goal of providing personalized and compelling viewing options for our fans.”

This is the second NBA game to broadcast on ESPN+ and continues the relationship between the two Disney-owned companies. The broadcast centers around a storyline involving various Marvel properties. The production feeds all of this into the broadcast with graphics, interactive features, and 3D virtual characters. 

Three players from each team are rewarded with “Marvel Hero Points” throughout the game. The trio with the highest score is crowned Marvel’s first champion.

“Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and Super Heroes together for years through comics, documentaries, and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities,” said Mike Pasciullo, vice president, marketing and communications, Marvel Entertainment. “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”

Fans can find the traditional broadcast of the game on ESPN. Dave Pasch, analyst Mark Jackson, and reporter Cassidy Hubbarth will be on the ESPN call.

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Cari Champion To Host Nightly Olympics Show For Peacock

While Champion continues to be coy about who her co-host is, sources told FOS senior writer Michael McCarthy that Kenny Mayne will be alongside Champion.

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Black Enterprise

With the Tokyo Olympics just over a month away, NBC Sports is gearing up for their coverage, which, according to Front Office Sports, will include a new, nightly series hosted by Cari Champion.

The former ESPN anchor will host the show alongside another ESPN alum whose name is still being kept under wraps, Champion told FOS.

“The person I’m going to be working with has a really great personality, he’s funny, and we have a good time together,” Champion said. “While we both worked at ESPN for as long as we worked, I never once had the opportunity to host a show with him.” 

While Champion continues to be coy about who her co-host is, sources told FOS senior writer Michael McCarthy that Kenny Mayne will be alongside Champion.

Mayne, who left the network in May after being a household name on SportsCenter, wouldn’t confirm or deny when reached by FOS.

“I would prefer to be coy and petulant,” Mayne said on Monday. “Aaron Rodgers has rubbed off on me.” 

Cari Champion told FOS, “We will be doing interviews, we will be doing highlights, and we’re going to make it our own.” 

The two – assuming Mayne is indeed her co-host – will film the show at NBC Sports’ Stamford, Conn.-based studios, sources familiar with the production told FOS.

Some of Champion’s work since leaving the World Wide Leader in Sports includes her recent work on NBC’s “The Titan Games,” TNT’s “The Arena,” and “Won’t Stick to Sports” with Jemele Hill on Vice. 

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12 Team College Football Playoff Could Triple Payout To Schools

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the College Football Playoff expansionfrom four to 12 teams could triple conference take-homes.

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According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, colleges in major football conferences could see their take-home from the College Football Playoff triple, should the format change from four to 12 as is expected.

“Pac-12 schools, which currently receive approximately $9 million annually from the playoff, could see that amount soar to $27 million per school per year,” the Mercury News reported.

The estimates center around the CFP’s existing contract with ESPN, increase in revenue for sports media rights, and assumptions about viewership increases. The proposal will reportedly include six automatic qualifiers and six at-large bids, with the top four teams receiving byes and the remaining eight playing in the first round at the higher-seed’s home site.

Currently, the four spots in the College Football Playoff are all at-large selections. Given the fact the sport is largely shaped by the Power Five conferences, four teams has long been a point of contention. Add in the fact that no non-Power Five team has made the playoff since its inception in 2014, and the problem is only exacerbated. The money that now exists in “amateur athletics” makes the approval from university officials all but a formality.

The first six College Football Playoff National Championship Games averaged 27.6 million viewers per contest. Last year’s blowout by Alabama of Ohio State saw a 27 percent drop to 18.65 million.

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Steve Smith Joins Panthers Preseason TV Crew

The Carolina Panthers announced their 2021 preseason broadcast team will be ex-Panther Steve Smith Sr., Taylor Zarzour, and Kristen Balboni.

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The Carolina Panthers have announced their TV broadcast team for the 2021 preseason, which will now consist of three games in lieu of four. Second-year Panthers sideline reporter Kristen Balboni will be joined by longtime North Carolinian broadcaster Taylor Zarzour and former Panthers legend Steve Smith Sr.

“Steve’s one of the greatest Panthers ever, he’s in our Hall of Honor, and this year, he’s up for the Hall of Fame. So we’re obviously thrilled to have him back in the building,” Panthers Owner David Tepper said. “He’s an important part of this team’s history, and of course, a big presence in the community. So connecting him closer to both areas is very exciting.”

Now an analyst on NFL Network, Smith played 13 seasons in Carolina earning four Pro Bowl nods before being released in March 2014 and playing his final three years for the Baltimore Ravens. A fan favorite in the Queen City, Smith made it known his displeasure with the unceremonious exit, though there has since been a change in both ownership and general managers.

“I’m looking forward to talking about these games from a former player’s perspective and why these games are significant,” Smith Sr. said. “For these young men, this is their chance to make the roster. Breaking that down and giving some substance and texture to why that is important, I think sometimes that lacks in game broadcasts. I feel like this is my opportunity to break that down and explain why this is important, and I’ll try to bring that to the table with my unique spin as an analyst.”

Zarzour has lived in North Carolina since 2004, and Charlotte since 2011. He currently serves as a commentator for ESPN’s college football and college baseball games, as well as a radio voice for golf’s majors. Before that, he spent time with various sports radio stations, including 610 WFNZ in Charlotte.

Balboni has worked for both ESPN and FOX Sports, and is entering her second year as the team reporter, covering the team for the Panthers’ website and other digital properties and hosting a variety of Panthers’ programming, according to a release. The broadcasts can be seen on the team’s flagship station WSOC-TV in Charlotte and across the Carolinas on the team’s network of syndicated affiliates.

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