Stephen A. Smith could potentially form his own superteam for pregame NBA coverage like so many of the league’s champions have done in recent years. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Smith wants to link up with Magic Johnson and Pardon the Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon potentially on NBA Countdown.
ESPN didn’t provide comment to Marchand for the piece, but other candidates to take over the pregame void left by Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols include, Richard Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins, and Chiney Ogwumike. The network also has an interest in Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, but he obviously would be tough to insert as a regular panelist.
Marchand’s sources described a potential Smith pregame show as a tough sell for the league office. In the past, they have felt he is too opinionated to lead into their premier NBA games, especially the Finals.
All of these shakeups come following Dave Roberts’ ascension to the head of NBA programming at ESPN. Roberts took over for Stephanie Druley following the Nichols-Taylor fallout. Smith has acknowledged in past interviews that he and Roberts are close. Time will tell if that relationship is strong enough for Smith to get what he wants.
Johnson has worked with ESPN in the past as a member of their Finals studio programs, but he has not worked in TV since and has been out of basketball since stepping down from his role as Lakers’ president of basketball operations in 2019.
Wilbon, on the other hand, is a TV veteran that often appears with Smith for his ESPN TV duties when he is not on Pardon The Interruption. A lot of things hang in the balance for the network on both First Take and their NBA coverage, with a little less than two months left until the 2021 season gets rolling across the league.
Michelle Beadle: I’ve Been Giving Opinions To Walls For 800 Days
“After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”
Former ESPN personality Michelle Beadle is back and she wants everyone to know it on her new podcast, What Did I Miss? with Michelle Beadle. The first episode dropped this week, and Beadle talked about what she was up to while she was away.
“I have missed a lot, I have kinda been sitting back for 800 days giving my opinions to walls because my friends don’t care about sports and neither does my family. Nobody really cared what I had to say so in between knitting and buying toilet paper I was just mumbling a lot of opinions to the ether,” said Beadle on her time away from sports media.
Michelle Beadle talked about her move to The Athletic, saying “I ended up at The Athletic because when I think of serious journalism I think of The Athletic and myself. To me it was just a match made in heaven. After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”
One of the many things that Beadle discussed had started since she has been away is the alternate Manningcast Monday Night Football telecast, which she had some high praise for.
She also went on to talk about her unread text messages that she has on her phone, and one of them was from her former colleague at ESPN Bob Ley.
“People from the outside think that Bob Ley is someone who is super serious because he is one of the pillars of SportsCenter. While we worked together on SportsNation I would just tell stories and crack jokes to everyone in the newsroom and all of the sudden Bob Ley who I also thought was super serious joined in on the jokes. I just loved Bob so much.”
NBC Will Air Winter Olympics After Super Bowl 56
“We want to be able to maximize the the coverage of the Olympics while it’s going on and especially when we’re in full live events.”
For the past 46 years, the Super Bowl has been followed by a series lead-out. NBC has some different plans for this year’s event, however. Super Bowl 56 will be followed by the Winter Olympics.
The Super Bowl takes place on February 13th, right in the middle of the Winter Olympics which run from the 4th to the 20th. This year will be the first time that a network has aired both at the same time, and it gives NBC a prime opportunity to cash in on the Super Bowl audience for their coverage of the Olympic games.
“We have the benefit and the luxury of being right in the middle of the Olympics and we have a commitment to air live Olympics,” said Frances Berwick, chairman, entertainment networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.
“I think the fortunate position that we’re in is to have the benefit of those 18 days of the Olympics plus the Super Bowl as these immense promotional platforms to promote our new shows, too,” said Berwick “So we’re in a really unique situation in that regard.” he added.
Networks usually use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to market a new show, and it has worked to varying degrees of success over the years. The last time NBC has had a Super Bowl was in 2018, where the show This Is Us averaged a whopping 27 million viewers.
The last time a network followed the Super Bowl with another sporting event was in 1976, when CBS aired the Phoenix Open golf tournament after Super Bowl X.
“We want to be able to maximize the coverage of the Olympics while it’s going on and especially when we’re in full live events,” Berwick added.
John Canzano: ESPN Did Not Like My Criticism
“Canzano closes his Monday column by encouraging George Kliavkoff, the new commissioner of the PAC-12, to hire TV producers to advise the league’s next television contracts.”
John Canzano wrote a second piece in the Oregonian on Monday about ESPN. This one was addressing the network’s reaction to his Sunday column about the poor visual quality of the network’s coverage of PAC-12 football.
In Sunday’s piece, Canzano cited sources that told him the network is cutting costs in its PAC-12 coverage. It is using fewer cameras and an outdated broadcast truck. He referred to the network’s coverage of Oregon’s win over Washington State as “a fuzzy, low-budget disappointment.”
“An ESPN spokesperson read my column and wrote in bold to tell me, ‘The notion that we are doing Pac-12 games on the cheap is patently false,'” he wrote on Monday.
According to John Canzano, ESPN says it had seven cameras at the game, not six as he had previously reported. The network also acknowledges that there have been technical issues on some PAC-12 games this season, but characterized them as “some isolated technical issues…that we are actively working to fix.”
Bill Rice also spoke with Canzano. He was a camera operator at the game. He is clear in his diagnosis of the problem. ESPN is using outdated equipment.
“All of that gear that we were using is old and wore out. It’s their ‘E’ show. That truck is a long way from home. That’s ESPN’s ‘E-level’ show.
“You know… A.. B… C… D… E.”
Rice also said that the broadcast truck ESPN uses for games on the West Coast is a relic. He says it is from the 20th century, which would mean that the network is relying on technology that is more than two decades old to broadcast games in HD.
John Canzano did some digging and did find some answers regarding the truck and the equipment inside the stadium.
“The Oregonian/OregonLive obtained the information sheet that was distributed to crew working for ESPN in front of the Oregon-WSU game. The truck itself was built in 2012, but the key equipment inside was manufactured 10-25 years years ago. The document verifies there were, in fact, six “hard” cameras at the game and a seventh handheld camera present. It also lists the names of crew working the game. I researched them and they’re all highly qualified and experienced television production experts.”
Canzano closes his Monday column by encouraging George Kliavkoff, the new commissioner of the PAC-12, to hire TV producers to advise the league’s next television contracts.
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