Last week, it was reported that Chris Webber likely would not be back with TNT at the start of the next NBA season. Thursday night, we found out the two sides were parting ways much sooner than anticipated. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that Webber is no longer part of Turner Sports.
Webber’s contract was due to end after the season. TNT had not approached him about a new deal. Now, he is out before the playoffs even begin.
Marv Albert, Webber’s now-former on-air partner, is also the source of speculation. He was on TNT Thursday for the network’s regular season finale featuring Philadelphia and Miami. Reggie Miller served as the game’s analyst. Whether that will remain the pairing for the playoffs remains unclear, although Miller has worked with Albert and Webber for past conference finals series.
Andrew Marchand reports that some in the industry have speculated whether or not Chris Webber was interested in staying with Turner at all. He did turn down the opportunity to work NCAA March Madness at the last minute, leaving the network in a bind. That was reportedly a major source of his bosses’ frustrations.
Chris Webber is only 48 years old. That leaves plenty of time to figure out what is next if he wants to stay in the media.
Derek Rae: I Don’t Want To Rewatch Christian Eriksen’s Collapse
Rae is part of the expansive ESPN broadcast coverage handling every game at Euro 2020.
The sports world stopped on Sunday when Denmark’s Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field during their opening game in the 2020 European Championship. One person couldn’t be overwhelmed by the scary moment on Sunday, and that was ESPN’s Derek Rae.
The broadcaster called the match between Finland and Denmark from a sequestered studio in Bristol with his partner Efan Ekoku. Rae described the whole afternoon to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.
“I feel as though I lived it, as everyone did,” Rae said to Deitsch in the piece. “I just don’t want to have to relive it. I don’t know if that’s strange or normal. I feel like I was there, and maybe it’s part of the processing and moving on and knowing that I’ve got other games to think about. That’s where I am on it. I don’t plan to watch back, and I usually do watch parts of my matches back.”
Eriksen collapsed in the 42nd minute just before halftime, and Ekoku immediately recognized the unusual fall to the turf by the Dane.
“I remember specific things that happened during the 15 minutes, but I really spent that chunk of time telling myself, stay composed, find the right tone, be empathetic, don’t speculate, concentrate fiercely, and certainly don’t overtalk,” Derek Rae said about the halted stretch. “Whether I succeeded on that would be for others to judge. The main thing was, here was a footballer who clearly was in distress, and it was flashing through my mind that a lot of people would be watching and feeling the pain and the anxiety.”
Officials ultimately decided to resume the game less than two hours after Eriksen went down and got rushed to the hospital. Finland pulled off the big upset over Denmark 1-0. Rae and Deitsch discussed resuming the match and more in the article.
Report: Neil Everett Could Be Next To Leave ESPN
Everett has been working at ESPN since 2000.
The talent exodus at ESPN could thicken soon. Sources have told Front Office Sports that Neil Everett may not return to the network when his contract expires this summer.
The 59-year-old SportsCenter anchor has manned the late-night edition of ESPN’s flagship program with Stan Verrett since the duo moved to Los Angeles in 2009. The Spokane, Wa. native cut his teeth in Hawaii television news before signing with ESPN in 2000. Now, Everett is caught in the yin and yang of their pandemic hiring practices.
The network has retained talents like Chris Berman, Rece Davis, Michael Eaves, Charly Arnolt, and Tony Reali in recent months, but they’ve lost some big names as well.
Kenny Mayne said directly to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch that he was a “salary cap casualty” after leaving ESPN following a 27-year run. Ariel Helwani joined Mayne as the latest powerful name offered less than expected, prompting the MMA journalist to bet on himself and leave the company on June 15 after starting there in 2018.
Those two joined the likes of Dan Le Batard and Mike Golic Sr. as staple ESPN characters that have exited the company since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sources told FOS that ESPN believes some salaries spun out of control, and the financial strain is reeling them in.
These rumors are swirling amidst a new deal for Everett’s partner Stan Verrett. The SportsCenter co-anchor has a fresh multi-year contract with ESPN. Ironically the last time the pair was up for new deals ESPN announced they’re re-signing in the same press release.
Verrett and Everett are arguably the most popular SportsCenter duo since the 2000s. The pair have built a seamless rapport and even hosted afternoon drive on ESPN Radio together while ESPN was preparing their new lineup last summer. Time will tell if Everett and Verrett can stay together on the late-night SportsCenter for another decade to come.
Peacock Carrying All Remaining Stanley Cup Semifinal Games
This is the final year of NBC’s rights deal with the NHL.
Cord-cutters rejoice! NBC has announced they are expanding viewing options for the rest of the NHL Stanley Cup Semifinal round. Peacock will now stream all remaining games in this round. NBC is showing the terrestrial TV broadcasts on NBCSN and USA. The changes go into effect immediately with the first streaming telecast airing on Monday at 9 p.m. ET when the Vegas Golden Knights clash with the Montreal Canadiens.
NHL Live is dropping the puck on pregame coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. ET, with Kathryn Tappen hosting studio coverage alongside analysts Anson Carter and Dominic Moore. Play-by-play voice John Forslund is on the call for the souped-up broadcast with analyst Joe Micheletti and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ reporter Pierre McGuire.
The Knights, famous for their elaborate pregame shows, have been a popular draw on cable throughout the 2021 Playoffs. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported that their series-clinching Game 6 win over the Colorado Avalanche averaged 1.27 million viewers on NBCSN. That mark is a 53% improvement from last season but down 3% from Sharks-Avalanche Game 4 in 2019. The Knights triumph was the most-watched Western Conference cable game in these playoffs.
NBC has not announced the same additional streaming options for this year’s Stanley Cup final but they are seemingly trying to maximize every ounce of viewership out of the NHL while they have it. Fans won’t see any players carrying the cup through NBC cameras after these playoffs.
The league is entering a new partnership with Turner and ESPN where one side is more adamant about streaming sports than the other. ESPN is planning on a massive package of streaming games to be available on ESPN+ throughout the deal. Meanwhile, WarnerMedia executive Jeff Zucker was reticent to put NHL games on HBO Max during a press call announcing the new media rights deal.
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