In recent months, Maria Taylor’s move to NBC Sports has proven to be a significantly beneficial decision for her career. Since leaving ESPN in July, Taylor has hosted coverage of the 2021 Summer Olympics, Football Night in America during the NFL season, the 2022 Winter Olympics, and Super Bowl LVI.
Regardless of the circumstances under which she left ESPN and the role tensions with Rachel Nichols over hosting NBA Countdown, in addition to her contract negotiations, it’s difficult to imagine Taylor could receive a better showcase than she has in her short time with NBC.
Another aspect of Taylor’s career growth at NBC was revealed during Super Bowl pregame coverage with the announcement of an upcoming project that she’ll be working on with legendary producer Lorne Michaels for Peacock. The eight-part documentary series will chronicle the history of Black quarterbacks and is scheduled to air during Super Bowl week next year.
“Now, if you turn on your TV, it is not unusual to see a Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson — you know, insert whoever — they dominate the NFL,” Taylor told Vanity Fair‘s Joy Press. “But it wasn’t long ago that not only was it rare, but it didn’t happen… It was believed that maybe they weren’t intelligent enough or they lacked the leadership skills.”
The Peacock docuseries fulfills one of Taylor’s ambitions, to tell untold stories. Could she have had an opportunity to produce such a project at ESPN under the ESPN Films or E60 banners? For ESPN+, if not the network’s linear channels? We’ll never know. The Vanity Fair piece also mentions that Taylor is developing scripted series with the same goal in mind.
Naturally, Press also asked Taylor about the end of her time at ESPN and the circumstances that led to her departure. Those looking for Taylor to say something juicy about Nichols, perhaps clapping back against Nichols’ assertion that Taylor was named host of NBA Countdown during the NBA Finals because she’s Black, will be disappointed, however.
“I don’t want to talk about her,” Taylor said to Press when asked if she’s talked to Nichols since her comments were made public by the New York Times.
Yet Taylor didn’t criticize ESPN, instead expressing gratitude for what she learned there and the opportunities she received.
“Everything that I’ve learned since I graduated college, everything that I learned was there,” she said. “I was promoted, given my first opportunities; so many great things happened. So I could never say that.”
The entire Vanity Fair feature is worth reading, which includes Taylor’s thoughts on a key reason she wanted to work at NBC, how she’s enjoyed Olympics coverage because it places female athletes at the forefront, and the importance of being a role model.
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.