Add another name to ESPN’s list of on-air talent facing contract renewals in the weeks and months to come.
Outkick’s Bobby Burack reports that Dan Orlovsky’s contract is set to expire in the next few months. And apparently, the NFL and college football analyst’s possible availability was a popular topic among media, agents, and executives in Los Angeles during Super Bowl week.
ESPN presumably wants to re-sign Orlovsky and keep the crew for what’s become a popular NFL Live show together. The network’s reboot of the show with Laura Rutledge, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Orlovsky not only resonates with TV viewers, but also engages with fans on social media with clips of behind-the-scenes and off-air frivolity in addition to highlights from the show.
In addition to NFL Live, Orlovsky appears regularly on Get Up, First Take, and calls college football games. He’s regarded highly by network executives as well as powerful on-air figures like Stephen A. Smith.
But if ESPN lets Orlovsky go to free agency, other networks — notably Amazon — have interest in hiring him. He could fill either a top game analyst role or a prominent studio analyst position at another network. Though it’s difficult to imagine he would be as valuable across so many platforms as he is with ESPN.
Two years ago, there were also reports that Orlovsky had attracted interest from NFL teams about joining their coaching staffs. That outcome seems unlikely here, considering that Orlovsky moved his family (with four children) to Connecticut when he was hired by ESPN (after contributing to NFL Network’s Good Morning Football based on analysis he was posting online).
Part of the reason Orlovsky wanted to go to ESPN was because he had the opportunity to call college football games in addition to his NFL studio analysis. That’s not an option he would have at other networks. Of course, a generous offer could compel him to look past that.
The report of Orlovsky’s contract expiring soon follows up on news (via the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand) that ESPN has several other deals running out, including those for Randy Moss, Tim Hasselbeck, Booger McFarland, and Brian Griese. (Sunday NFL Countdown host Samantha Ponder is also nearing free agency.)
Yet of all the names mentioned here, it seems most likely that Orlovsky would be the one ESPN brings back, if it comes to 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.