For the first time in a while, ESPN will feature the same Monday Night Football booth in consecutive years. The crew of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick will be back to call the action on Monday Nights. The trio debuted last season and got mainly good reviews, but the bar was set pretty low after the Tessitore/McFarland era.
I didn’t have a major problem with the booth as constructed. I thought the addition of Riddick was a great move. Levy is a pretty solid play-by-play guy and Griese has been around for a while, so I’m used to him as an analyst. Probably not a glowing review on my part, because I grew up in an era of Monday Night Football being a spectacle, and an event. Howard Cosell was the star, “Dandy” Don Meredith was the jokester, and Frank Gifford was a former player turned pretty darn good play-by-play man. I’m spoiled, what can I say?
Over the years as things evolved on the broadcast, television executives tried to fix what wasn’t broken. Wanting to do things differently. Like the failed experiment of Dennis Miller. I’m not sure what the attraction was. I mean Miller was hilarious on Saturday Night Live, but come on, why was he in the football booth? Tony Kornheiser had a crack at it to, but it wasn’t the right fit. My point being, if you’re going to change it up, change it for the better while keeping the integrity of the game and booth in mind.
I bring this up because of Dan Le Batard. Last week he tweeted about having only 17 percent battery life on his phone and he’d been drinking tequila. He opened up his Twitter account to anyone that wanted to ask him anything. One of the first questions he received was from Mina Kimes, the ESPN NFL analyst.
She asked: Do you think Rico Dawdle cemented his position as RB3 on the Cowboys depth chart with his explosive performance tonight?
Le Batard responded: Yes. And I think they need to be smart and put you in the Monday Night Football booth because your analysis is better than anyone’s and no one cares more about football or is better on football than you are.
Le Batard later tweeted he doesn’t want to see Kimes as a sideline reporter on an alternate simulcast. He wants her in the booth each week. To which Kimes tweeted back, “Please drop me off a block away from school; you’re embarrassing me in front of the other kids.”
The former ESPN’er said he didn’t want to see Kimes in a sideline reporting role or on an “alternate broadcast”. He says she belongs in the booth.
Could this be a legitimate option for ESPN, say if Riddick gets a front office position in the league? What if Griese decides he wants to coach? I’m not sure that’s even an option, but you get my point, what if there is an opening as an analyst in the MNF booth? Would Kimes be considered?
First off, if Kimes gets offered a role to host on the MNF Alternative broadcast, she should take it. That would be a great way to get some broadcasting “reps” and better prepare her for a possible role in the main booth.
After watching a recent Los Angeles Rams preseason broadcast, I think Kimes would be a hit on the regular broadcast. She worked the Rams/Chargers game for a local LA television station, which was also carried on the NFL Network. Kimes was seated alongside Aqib Talib as the analysts, working with play-by-play man Andrew Siciliano. He is the perfect broadcaster for Kimes to learn from. First off, he does a great job calling the action, but an even better job of setting up his analysts.
As I watched on my iPad, while getting my car serviced in suburban Chicago, one thing struck me immediately. Kimes knows her stuff. It was clear to me that she spent time preparing for this game. Her information was excellent. Kimes had in-depth knowledge of the camp battles for both teams and was very informed on what the teams did last season and needed to improve upon. She spoke confidently.
What also struck me, was that Kimes was not afraid of the moment that’s for sure. Although I would say early in the game, she did defer a lot to Talib. He wasn’t seizing the opportunity to “analyze” right after a play. Kimes though showed respect for a guy that played the game, allowing him to gather his thoughts. But you could tell that Talib respected her. He deferred to her a few times. In kind, Kimes would bring Talib back into the conversation, with on point questions, especially about the DB’s. His area of expertise. It was fun to hear the two work together. I did feel that most of the time, her information was better.
For example, in the second quarter Kimes began talking about the Rams running game. With Cam Akers out for the season, she said fans should keep an eye on who will be running the ball. She asked the question out loud about whether the Akers’ injury would cause a philosophy change in the Rams run game. She wondered if the style would be drastically different without Akers.
Kimes showed an ability to have a lot of fun in the booth. She joked in the 2nd quarter, after a replay showing a DB grabbing some of the receiver’s jersey. Talib and Kimes laughed about it, with Kimes stating, “I work with a lot of DB’s and I know better than to call that pass interference or holding.”
She told a few great stories too. One was about Chargers quarterback Chase Daniel and his bank account. Kimes mentioned that Daniel, after this season would have made 38.9-million dollars in his career. She added that he’s only started 5 games in the NFL. She capped it by saying, “Wow, his average (dollars) per throw is more than I make in a year.”
I enjoyed her information and the way she relayed it. Kimes certainly has a working knowledge of the schemes on defense and on offense, but the information was presented in a very digestible way. The info was very relatable and she wasn’t trying to overdo it. Meaning, she wasn’t saying, “look at me, I know my stuff and I am proving it to you by saying this.” Kudos to her for realizing that and sticking to her style and understanding of the situation.
If I had a criticism, it would be her ‘feel’ for the booth. It’s probably unfair because nobody ‘gets’ that dynamic right away. Plus, she’s only recently made the transition from writing to hosting and now to analyzing during a game. My biggest gripe is a small one in the grand scheme of things. Every once in a while, she would talk over referee Tony Corrente’s penalty calls, which shouldn’t happen. There were a few awkward moments and a few times where maybe things sounded a little forced. But that was early in the game and it got better as time went by.
The most awkward moment though was handled beautifully by Siciliano and Kimes. She went viral when she was trying to get into position for a booth shot. Kimes wasn’t completely seated when the director took the shot. When Siciliano said, “Hey look, we’re on camera.”, Kimes responded with “So are my pants.” The ability to laugh at herself is something to respect as well.
Kimes is a good story teller. I want to hear more stories, especially during a preseason game. Why? Because the casual fan probably doesn’t care that the Rams are in “Cover Zero” with a blitzing strong side linebacker. But I’ll bet they’d love to hear the “SAM” linebacker was an undrafted rookie free agent from a small school in the Midwest. Those are the stories that the NFL is built on.
I’ve said it before, you don’t have to be a former player to analyze a sport. It’s a bit tougher because you don’t have playing experiences to draw on. But remember, just because you played at a high level doesn’t mean you’ll be a good analyst. If you study the game, if you immerse yourself in it, if you continue to learn from coaches and players, you can analyze the NFL or any sport for that matter. Gaining respect from teams means you’ll get information that others may not.
Kimes was named to the NFL 40 Under 40: by the Athletic. According to the site, “she’s a skilled interviewer and a masterful writer who in the past year crossed over into a full-time analyst role on “NFL Live.” It’s still exceptionally rare for a woman to sit in the analyst chair, yet Kimes already has become one of the most respected voices in football.”
The site interviewed her co-analyst on NFL Live, Dan Orlovsky, the former NFL QB. He added, “Mina is so great because she never wants to live on the surface of a conversation about football. It’s always going down into the weeds, understanding it and then making it surface-level understandable,” said Orlovsky. “Being her teammate is fantastic because you know she’s locked in and forces you to be on top of your game.”
Should Kimes be a candidate if/when a spot opens up in a broadcast booth? Yup. She’s good, oh and she’s qualified too. Her enthusiasm, passion, and knowledge of the game have earned her respect from colleagues and the adoration of many fans. Le Batard is on to something here, hopefully the bosses at his former network are listening.
She’s already ten times better than Dennis Miller.
Keeping Premier League Games Shouldn’t Be A Hard Call For NBC
“Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans.”
NBC Sports is facing some tough, costly decisions that will define its sports brand for the rest of this decade. A chance to connect with viewers in a changing climate and grow Peacock’s audience as well. However, making the right choice is paramount to not losing to apps like Paramount+ (pun intended).
NBC is currently in the business of negotiating to continue airing the Premier League as their current deal ends after this 2021-2022 season. NASCAR is contracted to NBC (and FOX) through the 2024 season.
NBC’s tentpole sports are the NFL and the Olympics.
Negotiations for the EPL are expected to go down to the wire. Rather than re-up with NBC, the league is meeting with other networks to drive up the price. NBC has to then make a decision if the rights go north of $2 billion.
Should NBC spend that much on a sport that is not played in the United States? It’s not my money, but that sport continues to grow in the US.
If NBC re-ups with the Premier League, will that leave any coins in the cupboard to re-up with NASCAR? Comcast CEO Brian Roberts hinted that there might be some penny pinching as the prices continue to soar. This may have been one of the reasons that NBC did not fight to keep the National Hockey League, whose rights will be with Disney and WarnerMedia through ESPN and TNT, respectively.
“These are really hard calls,” Roberts said. “You don’t always want to prevail, and sometimes you’re right and sometimes you’re wrong, but I think the sustainability of sports is a critical part of what our company does well.”
Roberts was speaking virtually at the recent Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference. He told the audience that between NBC and European network Sky, that Comcast has allocated approximately $20 billion towards these sports properties.
Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh spoke virtually at the Bank of America Securities 2021 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference and echoed that the company is in a good position to make some strong choices in the sports realm.
“The bar is really high for us to pursue outright acquisitions of any material size,” Cavanagh added. “We got a great hand to play with what we have.”
While the European investments involve a partnership with American rival Viacom, the US market seems to have apparent limits.
Last Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway was seen by around 2.19 million people. It was the most-watched motorsports event of the weekend. That same week eight different Premier League matches saw over 1 million viewers. More than half of those matches were on subscription-based Peacock.
Beyond its massive global fanbase, the Premier League offers NBC/Peacock a unique modern 21st-century sport for the short attention span of fans. A game of typical soccer fan is used to a sport that is less than two hours long. The investment in a team is one or two games a week.
My connection to the Premier League began before the pandemic. When I cut the cord in late 2017, I purchase Apple TV. Setting it up, it asks you to name your favorite teams. After clicking on the Syracuse Orange and the New Jersey Devils, I recalled that my wife has family based in London, England. They are season ticket holders for Arsenal, and that family redefined the word “die-hard” fans.
I’ve long been a believer that sports allegiances are best when handed down by family. I love hearing stories of people loving the New York Giants because their parents liked them, and they pass it down to their children.
I’ve successfully given my allegiance to the Devils to my young daughters.
By telling Apple TV that I liked Arsenal, I get alerts from three different apps when the “Gunners” are playing. The $4.99 is totally worth it to see Arsenal.
Whenever I told this story, I was amazed to see how many other American sports fans had a Premier League team. Students of mine at Seton Hall University rooted for Tottenham Hotspurs, while an old colleague cheers on Chelsea.
This is not meant to say that NBC should sign the EPL on my account. The key for any US-based soccer fan is that between Bundesliga, Serie A, and other leagues, there will be no shortage of soccer available on both linear television and streaming services.
Besides, Dani Rojas did say that “Football is life.” NBC, originator of the Ted Lasso character, should make keeping its Premier League US connection a priority.
Media Noise – Episode 45
Today, Demetri is joined by Tyler McComas and Russ Heltman. Tyler pops on to talk about the big start to the college football season on TV. Russ talks about Barstool’s upfront presentation and how the business community may not see any problems in working with the brand. Plus, Demetri is optimistic about FOX Sports Radio’s new morning show.
6 Ad Categories Hotter Than Gambling For Sports Radio
“Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life.”
For years sports radio stations pushed sports gambling advertisers to early Saturday and Sunday morning. The 1-800 ads, shouting, and false claims were seedy, and some stations wouldn’t even accept the business at 5 am on Sunday.
Now, with all but ten states ready to go all in on sports gambling, sports radio stations can’t get enough of that green. Demetri Ravanos wrote about the money cannon that sports gambling has become for stations. Well, what if you are in one of those ten states where it isn’t likely to ever be legal like California or Texas? Where is your pot of gold?
Or, let’s face it, the more gambling ads you run, the more risk you take on that the ads will not all work as you cannibalize the audience and chase other listeners away who ARE NOT online gambling service users and never will be. So, what about you? Where is your pot of gold?
Well, let’s go Digging for Gold.
The RAB produces the MRI-Simmons Gold Digger PROSPECTING REPORT for several radio formats. In it, they index sports radio listeners’ habits against an average of 18+ Adult. The Gold Digger report looks at areas where the index is higher than the norm – meaning the sports radio audience is more likely to use the product or service than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. The report, generated in 2020, indicates that sports radio listeners are 106% more likely to have used an online gambling site in the last thirty days. That’s impressive because the report only lists 32 activities or purchases a sports radio listener indexes higher than an average adult. I looked at those 32 higher indexes, and I think we can start looking for some gold.
Using sports radio as a back page service for gambling will have a limited shelf life. The gambling companies who commit significant money to get results will continue advertising and chase the others away. So, the future of sports radio needs to include other cash cows.
If it is evident to online sports gambling services that sports radio stations are a must-buy, who else should feel that way? I looked at the Top 32 and eliminated the media companies. ESPN, MLB/NHL/NFL networks, and others aren’t spending cash on sports radio stations they don’t own in general. But Joseph A Bank clothing, Fidelity, and Hotwire should! Here’s your PICK-6 list I pulled together that’s hotter than sports gambling:
- Sportscard collectors, Dapper Labs, Open Sea- read about Sports NFT $.
- Online brokerage firms-Fidelity, Charles Schwab, Robinhood, Webull, TD Ameritrade
- Golf courses, resorts, equipment, etc.- we play golf at home and vacation
- Hotwire.com, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Airbnb, Carnival Corporation, and Priceline.com- we’ve used Hotwire in the last year.
- FedEx, UPS, U.S. Postal Service, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle-we wired or overnighted $
- Jos. A. Bank, shein.com, macys.com, nordstroms.com- we went to Jos. A. Bank in last three months
The sports card/NFT market is 32% hotter than the sports betting market for sports radio listeners. Everything on the PICK-6 is at least 100% more likely to purchase than an average 18+ Adult who doesn’t listen to sports radio. All listed are at or above indexing strength compared to sports betting. The individual companies I added are industry leaders. Bet on it! Email me for details.
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