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John Buccigross: Calling NHL Games Has Me ‘Pumped’ For ESPN Again

“It’s been a moment that he has been preparing for over the last 15 years since he went to his bosses and asked to call hockey games at the collegiate level.”



For the first time since 2004, ESPN will be back broadcasting NHL games. Starting on October 12, fans will hear the iconic theme song once again. One of the main voices you will hear as either a play-by-play broadcaster or in the studio is John Buccigross, who hosted NHL 2Nite on ESPN2 from 1998 to 2004. 

It was announced on Thursday that Buccigross will be hosting a show called The Pointwhich will air every Thursdays on ESPN2 and daily during the first week of the season. 

This week, John Buccigross was a guest on The Athletic Hockey Show with Craig Custance and Sean Gentille to talk about the return of the NHL to the Worldwide Leader and he thinks it couldn’t have happened at a better time in his career.

“I’ve been in the biz for 32 years, ESPN for 25. I’m 55 years old and to be this pumped about going to work again, that’s kind of rare, I think for any occupation. For me, my battery is full, so I don’t mind taking those flights and going to games and a chance to do a bunch of play-by-play here at least in the early part of the season. I’m so excited. I can’t believe it is actually happening,” said Buccigross. 

It’s been a moment that he has been preparing for over the last 15 years since he went to his bosses and asked to call hockey games at the collegiate level.

With ESPN now one of the rights holders for the NHL, John Buccigross believes that the excitement won’t just be felt in promos and game coverage. He thinks it will translate to the play on the ice as well.

 “I knew ESPN would give the entire league a little bit of an infusion. I know the players wanted to be on the network. That was part of the optimism…I think you can see some really fun, inspired play once the season starts and they see that TNT/ESPN banner and I think it’s going to translate at least early into some really spirited play.”

When ESPN had the rights, they were the only ones broadcasting NHL games. Now with TNT in the picture, Buccigross believes having a rival will be a good thing for both networks and can push people, especially analysts to be on their A game.

“We haven’t had a rival to compete with in hockey. It’s been a cheap enough product where one network can buy the whole thing. That’s a cool part of it and I think will push both sides and I hope push the analysts in-studio because that’s a tough job and you have to be good in short bits and entertaining and funny and serious.”

As for possible broadcast options during the season, John Buccigross believes that ESPN or even TNT could do something similar to the ManningCast that we’ve seen for Monday Night Football games: 

“I can see TNT maybe one night offering counter-programming showing Charles Barkley watching a game with maybe a writer or someone else (Wayne Gretzky) or a player on an off-night and you can have those three watch a game somewhere else or tape it and show the greatest hits. That can be something ESPN or TNT decides to do. We can do it at ESPN because we have so many outlets. There’s limitless inventory and space for us to do it.” 

The ESPN NHL regular season schedule begins with a doubleheader on October 12 as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the two-time defending champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m ET, ESPN) followed by the new expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, against the Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m). 

Sports TV News

ACC Network Set To Debut On Comcast Xfinity

“No official date has been set for the network’s debut on Xfinity.”



There is always a mad scramble to work out carriage deals before a company launches a new cable network. Before the ACC Network debuted in 2019, Disney and ESPN secured deals with AT&T, Charter, DirecTV, DISH, Google Fiber and Verizon Fios. It was missing Comcast. That company’s Xfinity cable system is the largest in the country.

Xfinity subscribers will get to see the ACC Network for the first time in the coming weeks thanks to a deal between Disney and Comcast. As part of an agreement to renew the carriage of ESPN networks, the Disney branded channels, Freeform, the FX networks, and the National Geographic channels, Comcast has agreed to pick up the conference network and pair it with the SEC Network, which was already a part of Xfinity packages.

“We are very pleased to have reached this comprehensive agreement with Disney to continue providing Xfinity customers access to their content across our industry-leading platforms,” Rebecca Heap, Senior Vice President of Consumer Products & Propositions for Comcast Cable, said in a press release.

ACC Network will now be available in nearly 20 million more homes as a result of the deal. No official date has been set for the network’s debut on Xfinity.

“We’re very happy to extend our longstanding relationship with Comcast and continue to provide their Xfinity customers with Disney’s best-in-class programming,” Sean Breen, Executive Vice President of Platform Distribution at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, added. “In addition to our news, sports and general entertainment offerings, the launch of the ACC Network in the coming weeks, paired with the renewal of the SEC Network, will give Xfinity’s college sports fans long-awaited access to their favorite games.”

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Sports TV News

SEC Network Devotes 72 Hours To Georgia vs Bama

“On Monday, ESPN announced its full slate of shows that will lead up to the game on Saturday afternoon.”



Just like that, the college football regular season has come to a close, and the focus for FBS fans now shifts to the penultimate point of the overall season: conference championship weekend.

While all of the Power 5 conferences will be crowning champions, the eyes of the college football world will be on Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta as Georgia meets Alabama in the SEC title game. SEC Network recognizes that and has dedicated the 72 hours prior to kickoff, and immediately after the game also, to programming focused on the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide colliding for a berth in the 2021 College Football Playoff.

On Monday, ESPN announced its full slate of shows that will lead up to the game on Saturday afternoon. As expected, all the SEC Network staples will be live and on-location in Atlanta.

It all begins on Thursday, Dec. 2 at 1:30 p.m. with the SEC championship press conference hosted by Dari Nowkhah. Viewers will hear from Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey. Paul Finebaum will go on the air with The Paul Finebaum Show starting at 3 p.m.

Check out the full weekend schedule below:

Thursday, Dec. 2

  • SEC Now: SEC Championship Coaches Press Conferences, 1:30 p.m.
  • The Paul Finebaum Show, 3 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 3

  • SEC This Morning, 8 a.m., on location at the Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC)
  • The Paul Finebaum Show, 3 p.m., on location at the GWCC
  • SEC Now: The Championship Coaches, 7 p.m., on location at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS)
  • SEC Now, 7:30 p.m., on location at MBS

Saturday, Dec. 4

  • Thinking Out of Pocket, noon, on location at the GWCC
  • Marty & McGee, 1 p.m., on location at the GWCC
  • SEC Nation, 2 p.m., on location at the GWCC and MBS
  • SEC Football Final, 7:30 p.m., on location at MBS

In addition to the usual lineup of hosts for these shows, fans tuning in can expect special guest appearances as well from country music star Chris Young, to comedian Jeff Foxworthy and Tony Barnhart.

The 2021 SEC championship game will kick off at 4 p.m. on Saturday. You can watch the game on CBS.

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Sports TV News

ESPN In 8 Million Fewer Homes Than In 2020

“Rumors of Disney looking to divest from ESPN have persisted.”




Some people in the media watch ESPN’s subscriber numbers like a hawk and report them without real context. In 2021, the people that cheer whenever there is news about ESPN having fewer subscribers than it used to will tell you that the network is in 8 million fewer homes at the end of the last fiscal year than it was in at the end of fiscal 2020. There is some context that is missing though.

Linear cable isn’t an a la cart service. So, if ESPN is in 8 million fewer homes at the end of 2021, then that means FOX News, Bravo, Nickelodeon and every other cable network is in 8 million fewer homes too. Also missing is the fact that while linear ESPN is losing subscribers, plenty of people are signing up for ESPN+ subscriptions.

At the end of fiscal 2021, ESPN Plus had more than 17 million subscribers. That is significant growth over fiscal 2020. ESPN Plus had 10.3 million subscribers at the end of the prior year.

ESPN’s traditional cable network and its sister channels net around $10 per subscriber for Disney each month through packages on cable, satellite and digital TV. At $6.99 per month, ESPN Plus is not a perfect replacement, but that is a direct payment to the company.

Rumors of Disney looking to divest from ESPN have persisted. A drop in linear cable distribution will do nothing to end that speculation. We may be in for an extended session of number watching though. If cable subscriptions keep dropping off at such a high rate, it could motivate Disney to make a move.

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