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Todd McShay Takes Temporary Leave From ESPN

“A number of fans noticed that McShay did not look or sound right on Saturday as he handled sideline duties for ABC’s coverage of Alabama’s win over Miami.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay is taking some time away from the network. McShay announced the news on Twitter and is now off of ESPN’s college football coverage for the time being.

“I am going to take some time away to focus on my health and my family,” McShay tweeted. “Thank you ESPN for being so supportive and for all the well wishes – I can’t wait to be back on the sidelines soon.”

A number of fans noticed that McShay did not look or sound right on Saturday as he handled sideline duties for ABC’s coverage of Alabama’s win over Miami. This is the second time in two years that McShay’s sideline work has drawn concern. Last year, he was pulled off a game in the middle of the broadcast.

ESPN tweeted support for McShay from their PR account.

It is worth noting that McShay missed the 2020 NFL Draft after contracting the coronavirus. Many speculated when he exited last year’s game that he was dealing with longhaul Covid symptoms, but that has never been confirmed or denied.

McShay and Mel Kiper define NFL Draft coverage at the company. The former joined ESPN in 2006 and is ESPN’s director of college scouting for their Scouts Inc. service. The draft analyst signed a multi-year deal to stay with ESPN in 2016.

“This was the right decision for a number of reasons,” McShay said five years ago. “ESPN has always been the driving force behind the NFL Draft, and it’s the home of the College Football Playoff. Plus, working at ESPN is like being part of the ultimate team, and I’ve been fortunate to develop many strong friendships here. I’m excited about the draft and my future at ESPN.”

There is no timetable for McShay’s return as he deals with personal duties away from the sidelines.

Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

Jordan Bondurant

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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