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New USFL’s Inaugural Game To Be Broadcast On Both NBC And Fox

“The first game played in any new league is itself historical and having the USFL’s inaugural game simulcast by NBC and FOX makes it even more so.”

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The inaugural game for the new USFL will air on not one, but two networks when the spring football league kicks off on Saturday, April 16.

NBC Sports announced on Tuesday that the USFL’s season opener between the New Jersey Generals and Birmingham Stallions will broadcast in primetime at 7:30 p.m. ET. The telecast will air on NBC and Fox, marking the first time one event has aired on two competing broadcast networks since Super Bowl I was shown on NBC and CBS in 1967.

“Having two broadcast networks combine and start something like the USFL is not only unique but represents our commitment to making spring football succeed,” said NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua in the network’s official announcement. “We’re excited about the opportunity, and we appreciate the partnership and cooperation that we’ve had with Eric and his team at FOX Sports.”

NBC’s involvement in the USFL was already unusual with Fox investing in the upstart league (taking a minority share) and becoming its flagship TV network. Fox will air 12 games for the 2022 season, 10 of them on FS1. But the more TV partners, the better, especially from a risk standpoint. NBC will split the season slate with Fox, televising on the broadcast network, USA Network, and streaming service Peacock.

The new USFL isn’t a “revival,” per se, with no connection to the 1980s version of the spring football league. But all of the original team names will be part of the new venture. Though each of the eight clubs is connected to a particular market, all of the USFL’s games will be played in Birmingham, Alabama.

“The first game played in any new league is itself historical and having the USFL’s inaugural game simulcast by NBC and FOX makes it even more so,” said Eric Shanks, Fox Sports CEO and executive producer. “It’s rare when two competitors can come together and see how cooperation can lead to long-term benefit, and it wouldn’t be possible without having terrific relationships with Pete, Jon Miller, and so many others at NBC Sports.”

In total, 42 regular-season and postseason USFL games will air between Fox and NBC networks. NBC Sports will air 22 contests, dividing among the main broadcast network (nine), USA Network (nine), and Peacock (four). Fox will broadcast another 22, with 14 games on its main network and eight being televised on FS1.

The USFL’s inaugural season will launch with eight teams split into North and South divisions. The Generals will be joined in the North by the Michigan Panthers, Pittsburgh Maulers, and Philadelphia Stars. The South will be made up of the Stallions, the Houston Gamblers, New Orleans Breakers, and Tampa Bay Bandits.

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Chris Fallica Leaving ESPN for FOX

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

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A prominent sports betting voice featured on ESPN’s College GameDay will be heading to rival FOX and their Big Noon Kickoff show starting in 2023. According to Awful Announcing, Chris Fallica, affectionately known as “The Bear”, will make his last appearance on GameDay will be this weekend.

Fallica has been with ESPN since 1995. Since 2013, Fallica had been featured on GameDay making betting picks with his patented “Bear’s Board”.

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Fallica joins Tom Rinaldi as the second former GameDay voice to jump over to FOX and be featured on Big Noon Kickoff.

Both shows have experienced incredible viewership growth this season. For GameDay, there have been several weeks this season that have seen some of the largest audiences in the show’s history.

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Tim Brando Believes Executives Look For Familiarity, Not Great Voices For Announcers

“Executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio. As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

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Tim Brando has seen the broadcasting industry has evolved in a lot of ways through the years, but one thing that’s remained constant is how infrequently some of the announcing gigs with major networks open up to younger voices.

That’s mainly because you have veteran talent already occupying those positions with no plans for the immediate future to step aside.

On a recent edition of The Sports Talkers Podcast, FOX Sports broadcaster and host Tim Brando spoke to Stephen Strom about the reality that many broadcasters face.

“Yeah there are a lot more jobs, but there are fewer great jobs,” Brando said. “A lot of guys are getting jobs, but it’s like a dead end.”

But in terms of hiring younger talent for network jobs, he thinks it’s become more about adding faces to broadcast booths rather than voices.

“There’s a tendency I think now in our business to hire more visible and perhaps more popular talent because they’ve been in the studio,” he said. “But they’re not ready to be in the booth. Not everybody can do both well.”

Tim added that there’s a nuance to calling play-by-play versus working studio coverage. Brando said that perhaps it has a lot more to do with young broadcasters bypassing getting their start in radio and going right into TV.

“It seems to me that in some circles anyway in our business, executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio,” he said. “As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Brando did mention some of the younger voices at FOX who have risen to the bigger opportunities in the booth, and how they ultimately worked their way up. He said he’s had the chance to offer advice to a few of them and act as a mentor in a way, because that’s how it was for him breaking into the industry.

“I believe in pouring into the young broadcasters out there, I really do,” he said. “Because Curt Gowdy poured into me. I think there’s a responsibility and a level of accountability for the generation before to help those that are coming up that you really respect.”

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MLB Network Airing 38 Hours of Winter Meetings Coverage

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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The annual winter meetings for MLB are set to take place in-person for the first time since 2019 next week, and MLB Network is ready to bring viewers all the coverage possible from San Diego.

The network is devoting 38 hours of live programming on-site, with shows like MLB Tonight, Hot Stove, High Heat, MLB Now and Intentional Talk emanating from the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fans tuning in to MLB Network can expect to see Greg Amsinger, Fran Charles, Brian Kenny, Stephen Nelson, Alanna Rizzo, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Lauren Shehadi and Matt Vasgersian hosting their respective shows throughout the week. Sean Casey, Mark DeRosa, Al Leiter, Cameron Maybin, Kevin Millar, Dan O’Dowd, Steve Phillips and Harold Reynolds will contribute coverage as analysts.

MLB Network will also carry coverage of the inaugural draft lottery from the winter meetings on Tuesday, December 6 at 8:30 p.m.

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