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NBC Expects Most Profitable Olympics Ever

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at a virtual Credit Suisse Investor Conference he believes the 2021 Olympics will be a hugely profitable.

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Concerns loom for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo regarding the surge in Covid cases in Japan, as well as how the lack of international fans will impact the atmosphere of the events. NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell seemed to share no such concerns when he said at a virtual Credit Suisse Investor Conference he believes the 2021 Olympics could fetch the biggest return yet.

“I think, depending on how ratings are, it could be our most profitable Olympics in the history of the company,” he said. “If you want reach, there’s nothing better than the Olympics. You have 17 days where you dominate every night.”

NBC is fresh off its most profitable olympics when it earned $250 million from the 2016 Rio Games. Some familiar advertisers such as McDonalds will not make an appearance on the NBC airwaves during the games, though others such as Proctor and Gamble will figure prominently. The company previously reported a record $1.25 billion in commitments for the games early last year.

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ESPN+ To Stream TSN’s NHL Free Agency Coverage

As part of its increased hockey coverage, ESPN-Plus will stream a seven-hour NHL free agency special on Wednesday.

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ESPN has dove head first into its resurgent coverage of the NHL. It began with a full special covering the Seattle Kraken expansion draft earlier this month, and will continue with some borrowing from the country’s neighbor to the north. ESPN announced it will stream TSN’s annual coverage of the start of NHL free agency on ESPN+.

The coverage will commence at 11 a.m. EST on July 28 and run seven hours, hosted by James Duthie. Signings will be covered by a flurry of analysts including Gord MillerBob McKenzieDarren Dreger, and Pierre LeBrun. TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button will also be on hand, as will almost two dozen other NHL and TSN personalities.

Teams are still clearing salary cap room ahead of the onslaught of deals, and the NHL looks to capitalize similarly to how the NBA and NFL have used ESPN to make their offseasons as full of coverage as the seasons of play.

ESPN+ will be a major factor in ESPN’s NHL coverage. The platform will be home to games each week. It will also carry exclusive programming, including the highlight show In the Crease, hosted by Linda Cohen.

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Adam Schefter Expected To Join Mannings On Monday Night Football

The NFL insider has been with ESPN since 2009.

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

ESPN executives have nailed down two members of the Manning Monday Night Football Megacast already; now they have to round out the trio. One familiar face has a leg up on one of the hottest jobs in the industry right now.

Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy reports that Adam Schefter is a leading candidate to join Peyton and Eli Manning for their Monday Night Football Megacast, airing ten times this season on ESPN2. Schefter has never been a TV host or play-by-play voice at the company, but sources told McCarthy this isn’t set up as a “down and distance” broadcast.

“It will be like watching ‘Monday Night Football’ with the Mannings and their friends. The win will be how funny and interesting the whole conversation is,” A source said to FOS. “If you want down and distance, that’s on the main broadcast. This should look and feel totally different.”

A source went on to say that the job is pictured “more like Ernie Johnson Jr. — and less like Al Michaels,” with Schefter (or whoever gets the gig) facilitating conversations around the game with the Mannings.

McCarthy confirmed that the brothers have the final say on who will join them in the booth as the hottest job in sports media opens up. Name a big name and they’ve likely already had their agent on the phone to pump them up in Bristol, Conn.

“Everyone wants in. Every agent in town is calling ESPN,” a source said to FOS.

The brothers won’t be on-site for these games. Instead, they’ll pull off all ten broadcasts this season in a looser, remote atmosphere. Schefter could be a strong fit for that type of hybrid role, and the professional timing couldn’t be much better for the NFL insider. 

Schefter has been with ESPN since 2009 and signed his current five-year deal back in 2016. He’s a routine news breaker and a valuable asset for ESPN. Dangling the carrot of ten games with the Mannings could spell a fresh deal between Schefter and ESPN. Who is reeling in the Manning Conversations this fall? We’ll find out soon enough.

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Liberty Extends ESPN Deal

Liberty and ESPN reached a deal that gives the flames exclusive rights to the Flames’ football games through 2025.

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In a state dominated by FBS programs Virginia and Virginia Tech, and FCS power James Madison, Liberty University has needed to be aggressive in order to stay relevant. They hired Scott Jackson, the longtime assistant to the legendary Mike Fox at UNC, to coach their baseball program. The Flames also hired Ritchie McKay, Tony Bennett’s top assistant at UVA, to lead their basketball program. Of course, they famously hired ex-Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze to be their head football coach. Now, they have extended their exclusive media rights deal with ESPN through 2025.

The deal will see all of Liberty’s football games available on an ESPN platform, with a guarantee of at least one game available on a linear station and ESPN has the right to choose a non-traditional gameday to air a second linear broadcast. Liberty’s 12-game schedule is highlighted by a pair of road games at Power Five schools: a September 24 date with Syracuse and a pseudo-homecoming of sorts for Freeze against Ole Miss November 6.

“We are pleased to continue to showcase Liberty home football games exclusively on ESPN platforms in the years ahead through this multi-year extension of our rights agreement which began in 2018. The recent success of the Flames has made them one of the more intriguing programs in college football the past few seasons.” said Dan Margulis, senior director of programming and acquisitions, ESPN.

The move comes during a tumultuous time in college football as Oklahoma and Texas are reportedly nearing a deal to join the SEC. Liberty is currently one of just six FBS independents, along with BYU, UMass, Army, Notre Dame, and New Mexico State. That list is a mixed bag of those who are independent by choice and those who are not.

The Flames will embark on just their fourth season in the FBS this fall, and the smoke surrounding the school’s desire to join the AAC is palpable. Gaining favor with the Worldwide Leader is a good first step for a program that’s always focused on putting one in front of the other as of late.

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