It is a good time to be a fan of the NHL. What was once part of the quadrant that made up the “big four” in sports, hockey found itself waning after the 2004-2005 lockout. Now, with ESPN regaining broadcast rights for the first time since then, along with TNT, ahead of the 2021-2022 season, the sport is seeing a robust push in coverage. ESPN added to that on Thursday as it announced the addition of six-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Messier to its upcoming coverage.
“Mark has been one of the NHL’s biggest and most iconic stars, and we are ecstatic to have him be a large part of our upcoming hockey coverage,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, production. “As a six-time Stanley Cup Champion, he will bring incredible insight, knowledge and analysis to ESPN and The Walt Disney Company that will both resonate with fans, and connect more and more of them to the game and to the league.”
Messier joins Brian Boucher, Leah Hextall, and Ray Ferraro as key additions to its coverage. Given ESPN’s place in sports culture as a broadcaster of games, bastion of sports journalism, and hub for sports talk entertainment, regaining hockey coverage figures to spell a big shift in the amount of hockey talk that will occupy its airwaves. The Worldwide Leader tends to favor adding former athletes that saw success for a team off of I-95, and Messier is no different after helping the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup title in over a half-century.
“The game of hockey, and the NHL, have afforded me enormous opportunity, success and experiences on the ice and in my life,” said Messier. “My passion for the game is as strong as it has ever been and I am looking forward to sharing that passion, plus my insights and analysis with the sport’s incredible fans. The NHL is beginning a new era with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company — with an exciting, evolving game and phenomenally talented players — and I am thrilled to be a part of the team.”
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.