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Michael Irvin, Tim Tebow Among New First Take Panelists

“The new cast follows Max Kellerman’s exit from the show on Sept. 1.”

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Courtesy: ESPN

The next era of First Take begins Sept. 6, and ESPN revealed Stephen A. Smith’s new debate partners. The Michael Irvin fireworks are returning on a more regular basis as the Hall of Fame NFL receiver steps in as the Monday debate panelist. Fridays round out with former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow going head to head with Smith.

The rest of the week, a rotating cast of ESPN personalities join Smith and Qerim Rose, including Paul Finebaum, Keyshawn Johnson, Mina Kimes, Kimberley A. Martin, Monica McNutt, and more.

“This new format will pair Smith with new voices and perspectives every day of the week who will challenge him on their specific area of expertise in a completely new way,” First Take senior coordinating producer Antoine Lewis said in a press release. “Stephen A., Molly, and a lineup of A-list guests will definitely continue to provide fans with all they’ve come to expect from First Take and much more. We’re excited to get going!”

It’s a football focus for the two entrenched debate panelists. Irvin and Smith are debating all things NFL for the two-hour Monday shows this fall. While Tebow pops in on Fridays to prepare the audience for the college football weekend ahead.

The new cast follows Max Kellerman’s exit from the show on Sept. 1. Kellerman had been a main panelist since 2016 and now moves on to his own ESPN show and a key role on ESPN Radio’s new morning show, Keyshawn, JWill, and Max, debuting Sept. 7. There is no word yet on what the format of his new TV program is shaping up to be.

First Take has long been buoyed by the daily strength of two panelists. Now in 2021, Smith drives the conversation all over ESPN. We’ll find out if Irvin is any match for Smith in a regular setting on Sept. 7.

Sports TV News

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.”

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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.”

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Sports TV News

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.”

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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.

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Sports TV News

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.”

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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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