Placing bets on Monday Night Football while watching SportsCenter at an ESPN sportsbook? that could all soon be a reality according to Front Office Sports. Sources have told FOS that ESPN is “all-in” on sports betting. “Everything’s now on the table at ESPN,” one source said to FOS. “They’re exploring everything.”
Connecticut, home to ESPN headquarters, recently legalized sports gambling, and the states’ casinos could start to offer legal wagers in time for football season. Pair that with ESPN’s big investments into sports gambling programming, and bettors could soon be able to place wagers on an ESPN sportsbook.
In the last year alone, ESPN has signed advertising deals with DraftKings and Caesar’s Entertainment. They have bulked up the talent pool on their flagship gambling program, “Daily Wager,” and promoted executive Mike Morrison to the new title of vice president, sports betting & fantasy to lead the company’s charge in sports betting. Morrison previously served as VP of business development and innovation.
FOS picked the brain of former Fox executive Patrick Crakes on what all of these moves could spell out.
“Right now, we don’t even have legalized gambling in all 50 states, and while the sponsorship value is clearly incremental, it’s far from clear just how big this can get despite the optimism,” Crakes said. “Remember, it’s not like the equity of casino companies have been sure-fire winners over the past couple decades. There’s also the question of just how large gaming will get with the general market sports viewing/fan.”
Crakes said slow growth in this space is the key to a potential sportsbook landing on the ESPN2 success meter and not flub out like their foray into restaurants and cell phones.
“Not hurrying would seem to be the right call and in the future you can enter into larger deals where you don’t have to take as much risk to get the benefit of ownership without the headache of operations and assumptions about future market segment size, there’s precedent here on the radio side of the business, for example, with FOX Sports Radio. It’s a licensing deal with Premier Radio Networks but is also a revenue share above a certain level of defined net operating income.”
PFTCommenter Makes It On Manningcast Again
“This week, PFT tweeted what seemed like a compliment to Eli Manning.”
Either PFTCommenter’s tweets really do get under Peyton Manning’s skin and someone in the ESPN control room knows it, or someone in the ESPN control room is a big fan of Pardon My Take.
For the second week in a row, ESPN2 put a tweet from Barstool’s PFTCommenter on the screen during the Manningcast of Monday Night Football. And, for the second week in a row, the older Manning brother complained about his spelling.
It started last week when the podcaster tweeted Peyton Manning needed a prescription helmet, because the one he was using on set clearly did not fit.
Peyton countered by pointing out that PFT does not know how to spell the word prescription.
This week, PFT tweeted what seemed like a compliment to Eli Manning.
“Oh this guy’s back,” Peyton said when the Tweet appeared on screen.
Eli joked that it was his burner account, but his older brother, likely still sore from the way PFTCommenter fired back at him on last week’s Pardon My Take, pointed out another spelling error.
“He spelled wonderful wrong again. He couldn’t spell prescription last week.”
Will PFTCommenter respond on this week’s Pardon My Take? If so, how? We will find that out on Monday.
In the moment, PFTCommenter seemed happy to have the recognition. He noted that he has now made more appearances on the Manningcast than he and Big Cat ever did on Barstool Van Talk, which ESPN2 cancelled after one week.
Mike Greenberg A Candidate To Host NBA Finals
“If the network chooses Greenberg, it may solidify him as the face of ESPN.”
ESPN is in need of a new host for its coverage of the NBA Finals. Last week, Outkick reported that Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan have emerged as candidates to be the new host of NBA Countdown. It sounds like that may not mean they would automatically host the league’s biggest games.
Andrew Marchand reports in his SportsClicker Newsletter that Mike Greenberg has emerged as a candidate to lead studio coverage of the NBA Finals. Duncan is a potential host as well. So is Cassidy Hubbarth.
If the network chooses Greenberg, it may solidify him as the face of ESPN. Sure, Stephen A. Smith makes more money and is at the center of a bigger show, but making Mike Greenberg the host of the NBA Finals in addition to the NFL Draft would make it clear that he is the one the network wants at the center of its most-watched events.
Jay Rigdon of Awful Announcing doesn’t believe that Greenberg will end up with the job. The optics aren’t great after the way Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols left their roles at ESPN.
“After the PR disaster this past summer, with one Taylor leaving the network after it was revealed Nichols had accused ESPN of giving Taylor hosting duties because Taylor is Black and Nichols is not, handing that gig to a white dude would set ESPN up for a massive (and, to be honest, fairly justified) backlash,” he writes.
Al Michaels Move To Amazon Seems More Likely
“All of this means 2021 could be the final season for the Michaels-Chris Collinsworth booth.”
The rumors swirling around Al Michaels and Amazon are more and more likely to be true.
Reports surfaced earlier this year that Amazon may tab Michaels as the lead play-by-play voice on Thursday Night Football when it takes over the property next season. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand posted a piece today that makes it all but certain.
“Amazon will hire Al Michaels as its lead play-by-player,” Marchand wrote. “On the official Clicker Probability Scale, we have this at 90 percent, so we expect it to happen. One of our sources put it at 95 percent. No one we spoke to was pessimistic about Amazon Al becoming a reality. It’s not a done deal, but I’d put money on it.”
Those same rumors still tied Michaels and NBC together for their playoff game, and Marchand is convinced that’s the route each side is taking. He previously reported in June that Amazon would pursue Michaels.
The plan is for Michaels to call Amazon’s 15 regular-season games and then jump over to NBC for their Wild Card Game broadcast. With the move, Mike Tirico slots into Michaels’s role as NBC’s lead NFL play-by-play voice. Tirico joined NBC under the notion he’d eventually succeed Michaels.
All of this means 2021 could be the final season for the Michaels-Cris Collinsworth booth. Michaels started at NBC in 2006 after he was traded from ESPN to NBC for the “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit” character. A trade NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol was glad to make.
“We earn nothing from those rights,” Ebersol said at the time. “They’ve had no value in the United States.”
Michaels worked with the legendary John Madden for his first few seasons before his pairing with Collinsworth in 2009. Michaels goes down as just the third broadcaster ever to do Super Bowl play-by-play for NBC, joining Dick Enberg and Curt Gowdy.
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