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Monday Night Football Director: Covering Rams Makes Me Uncomfortable

“You have to be really diligent when you are doing replays, how many replays you are doing, and trying to get out of those replays and not miss a snap.”

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Monday night’s NFL Wild Card playoff game between the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams is a big one for ESPN.

It’s the first time a playoff game has been broadcast on Monday night, providing a showcase for the network’s Monday Night Football crew of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick. Additionally, ESPN’s alternate “ManningCast” with Peyton and Eli Manning will also cover the Cardinals-Rams game, putting arguably the biggest sports media story of the 2021 NFL season under the spotlight.

But Monday Night Football director Jimmy Platt is uncomfortable about covering the Rams for reasons other than the increased national spotlight. As he explained to Sport Video Group’s Brandon Costa, the varying styles and tempos of head coach Sean McVay’s offense is what has Platt unsettled going into the game.

“[The Rams] mix tempo well and do a lot of interesting things,” Platt told Costa. “Sometimes, when they break the huddle, they sprint to the line and snap it; [other times,] they’ll sprint to the line and check into another play. With them, you have to be really diligent when you are doing replays, how many replays you are doing, and trying to get out of those replays and not miss a snap. The Rams make me very uncomfortable.”

So Platt, who’s been the MNF director since 2019, and his production team might have an idea of how opposing defenses feel when they face the Rams.

As Platt puts it, the crew has to emphasize being smart and doing less while keeping up with the Rams’ offense. Most of the time, the production might try to get another replay in before the next play starts. But if they’re back to live coverage by the time quarterback Matthew Stafford breaks the huddle, that’s considered a victory.

Costa has more on the MNF production’s plans for the telecast, including how many cameras will be used and which players will get isolated coverage throughout the game. It’s something to keep in mind while watching the broadcast.

ESPN’s Monday Night Football coverage of the Cardinals-Rams NFL Wild Card playoff game begins at 6 p.m. ET with Monday Night Countdown. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET. The ManningCast will be on ESPN2 and ESPN+.

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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