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Burke Magnus: ESPN+ Has Placed A Bid For Premier League Rights

“He and his staff likely face some stiff competition as all four major networks and Amazon at one point expressed intention to bid on the Premier League.”

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Bids for the American television rights to England’s Premier League were due on Monday. ESPN is amongst the bidders and Burke Magnus says there is no reason anyone should be surprised. Soccer is something that has been important to the growth of ESPN+.

“Soccer has been, really, a tentpole for ESPN+ from the very first day,” he told John Ourand in a conversation at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators Conference. “That and UFC have really been the two categories we sunk our teeth into from the very beginning.”

ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said last month that the network would indeed be bidding for the US rights. He and his staff likely face some stiff competition as all four major networks and Amazon at one point expressed intention to bid on the Premier League.

The process is not like bidding for American sports rights. “No wining and dining over in London,” as Ourand put it. Magnus countered that it has been a long time since he has even been to England. The best that ESPN and other bidders can do is hope they present the best combination of compensation and coverage that then is selected.

ESPN+ is a major player in international soccer rights. Magnus pointed out that it is a product that has helped the platform grow tremendously during its short life.

“That’s been our experience, obviously. We invested in Serie A, which is now at Paramount Plus. But we now have an exclusive deal with Bundesliga, an exclusive deal with La Liga, which just rolled out in August, a tremendous FA Cup English football championship. Thousands upon thousands of games. We think that the Premier League can be an incredible component at the high end of the quality scale obviously, if we can add it to that offering.”

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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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.

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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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