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James Miller: Jimmy Pitaro Doesn’t Have The Flexibility For Kenny Mayne

Deitsch and Miller discussed future prospects for the latest personality to leave ESPN.

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Source: Getty Images

Kenny Mayne’s abrupt departure from ESPN has dominated headlines this week. The longtime “SportsCenter” anchor was offered a 61 % pay cut to essentially do the same amount of work as his previous contract. It’s a mystery where Mayne, 61, will end up, but The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch discussed the exit and the state of the industry with James Andrew Miller on his podcast. The author has written books on ESPN, Saturday Night Live, and the talent agency CAA.

“ESPN used to be this gigantic buffet, and they had enough money coming in,” Miller said on the podcast. “It was fantastic. Steve Bornstein, George Bodenheimer, and John Skipper were able to sign all these people. Even though you didn’t have them doing the lion’s share of the work, it was all these different kinds of personalities, and Kenny [Mayne] was one of them. Jimmy Pitaro doesn’t have that kind of flexibility, those days are gone.”

The pandemic has hurt live sports television ratings across the board, and it’s unfortunately led to plenty of media companies implementing layoffs, including ESPN. In Mayne’s case, he is betting on himself in a world where ESPN voices like Dan Le Batard and Jemele Hill have carved out space.

“At the same time, we see a lot of networks cutting back and reducing salary; the salaries are not the same as they used to be. There is as you say, more opportunity,” Miller said. “Kenny obviously has the freedom to be able to do that, and I think that’s going to serve him well. He is going to be very entrepreneurial in the marketplace, and this is a guy that has a lot of ideas and can execute on them.”

Mayne has confirmed he will not go quietly into retirement as he starts searching for a new venture after working at ESPN since 1994. Check out the full podcast from Richard Deitsch right here.

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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.

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Courtesy: ESPN

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.

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Report: Neil Everett Could Be Next To Leave ESPN

Everett has been working at ESPN since 2000.

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Courtesy: Geoff Turner

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.

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Peacock Carrying All Remaining Stanley Cup Semifinal Games

This is the final year of NBC’s rights deal with the NHL.

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Courtesy: Peacock

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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