As announced on Friday, longtime ESPN reporter Mark Schwarz is retiring after 32 years with the network. His final day is Monday, Jan. 31.
On Sunday, ESPN’s Andy Hall shared Schwarz’s final report for SportsCenter, in which he detailed results from a network survey of 1,002 fans regarding how they felt about star athletes Kyrie Irving, Aaron Rodgers, and Novak Djokovic refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
As Schwarz explains in the report, fans participating in the study disapproved most strongly of how Rodgers handled being unvaccinated, in particular claiming that he was “immunized” when asked about it by media and misleading the public. Djovokic was also viewed unfavorably among those surveyed, though by less of a percentage than Rodgers. Contrast that with Irving, whom a majority of fans felt was up front about his vaccination status.
The report can be viewed below:
“The results of the ESPN study confirm one unmistakable truth about our country right now,” said Schwarz in the report. “When it comes to this virus and when it comes to the vaccine, America is a nation divided.”
As anyone who’s paid attention to the news, current events, and social media over the past couple of years, Schwarz’s final sentence applies beyond sports. (And it applies beyond COVID-19 and the vaccine for it.)
But the study and subsequent SportsCenter report do demonstrate why Irving, Rodgers, and Djovokic have dominated sports and mainstream news headlines in recent months and weeks. These are polarizing figures representing a divisive time in the country. Schwarz certainly took on a hot-button topic for his final ESPN report, not settling for a puff piece.
Kudos to Schwarz on an impressive, storied career for ESPN, with outstanding work for SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, and other network platforms. As he said in the official announcement of his retirement, Schwarz gave everything he had to his work and is ready to devote that time and energy to other aspects of his life. Here’s hoping he gets to enjoy that.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.