“Torts” is on his way back to the analyst desk.
Longtime NHL head coach John Tortorella is trading his whistle for a microphone. The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline reports that ESPN has hired Tortorella as part of their new and improved NHL coverage team.
Tortorella was most recently the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, leading them to their first-ever playoff series victory over the Lightning in 2019. The 63-year-old parted ways with Columbus this past May after the team failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Tortorella has also coached the Canucks, Rangers, and Lightning, leading the bolts to their first Stanley Cup title in 2004. In 22 seasons of head coaching experience, Tortorella holds a 673-541-37-132 record. His 673 regular-season wins are tied for 12th in NHL history.
The fiery coach is well-known for his antics with reporters. He regularly complained about the media and held combative exchanges at press conferences. Now, he’s on the other side of the coin for the first time since 2008-09 when he was a hockey analyst for TSN.
ESPN surely hopes a dash of that bravado makes its way to the studio desk when they take on a large role in NHL coverage for the first time since they held the TV rights from 1992-2004.
Tortorella joins a growing list of hockey talent added by ESPN, featuring a mix of Americans and Canadians. Chris Chelios, Rick DiPietro, Ryan Callahan, Brian Boucher, Hilary Knight, and A.J. Mleczko, among others, make up the American contingent. While, the Canadian side includes Mark Messier, Ray Ferraro, Kevin Weekes, and Cassie Campbell-Pascall.
ESPN’s NHL coverage begins in full this fall as they dive headfirst into puck action. The NHL is broadcasting 25 national, exclusive regular season games per season on ABC or ESPN, along with 75 ESPN-produced national regular-season games streamed on ESPN+ and Hulu.
Russ Heltman is a daily news writer for BSM. He is the morning host and producer for 89.3 WMKV in Cincinnati, OH. He also works in gameday communications for FC Cincinnati and additionally contributes to the AllBengals blog for Sports Illustrated. Russ can be found on Twitter @RussHeltman11 or you can reach him by email at Heltmandm@yahoo.com.
PGA Tour Expects Mic’d Players To Be Common For 2023 TV Broadcasts
“This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”
Following the success with Max Homa last weekend, the PGA Tour is planning to mic a player up this weekend at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
According to Sports Business Journal, the Tour is considering micing up a player on either the 14th or 18th hole at Pebble Beach.
“The point of this is that if you want it to just be, they have an air pod on your caddie and they ask him one question, he could elaborate on something,” Homa said in an interview on the podcast No Laying Up. “That would be an improvement. This doesn’t need to be a walk and talk like I did. But we can make it what you want it to be.”
Homa added that he appreciated that the questions he was asked while taking part in the segment were solely on the task at hand and tackling the hole he was on.
“It wasn’t about how it is being a dad, how it is being in contention, it’s about golf,” he said. “This hole. That’s what we wanted it to be.”
CBS received positive reviews for debuting the new segment in their season debut at Torrey Pines last week.
It will be interesting to see if having players mic’d up for a segment will carry into NBC coverage or if it remains exclusively CBS. Have to think that in April at The Masters, if CBS keeps with it, the segment has the potential to be pretty compelling especially if the interview is with a player in contention or even leading.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years
“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”
The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.
The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.
Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.
NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.
That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.
NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.
Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.
ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.
The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.
At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.