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Mike Tirico: NBC ‘Didn’t Ignore’ Political Issues In China

“At the end of the day, I feel like it was something that was present in our coverage at the most appropriate times during the 17-18 days.”

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NBC New York

No one seems very happy with the way NBC handled the 2022 Winter Olympics. Even NBC admits it has work to do in order to get the audience it wants for Paris 2024.

The ratings were way down, but Mike Tirico says that doesn’t mean the network didn’t do good work in terms of bringing the games to fans. He was a guest this week on the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast.

Amongst the hardships he and his colleagues had to overcome was the fact that there were no spectators. If there was any excitement in China for the games, Tirico said he had no way to experience it.

“To put it in one sentence: I would say that I feel like I went to the Olympics; I don’t feel like I went to China,” he told Deitsch. “And it’s because of the closed-loop system that they put in place. They were very stringent for zero COVID and the procedures and protocols that we all had to live with mirrored that desire for the country.”

Many viewers and media pundits in the United States were critical of the way NBC handled (or failed to handle) issues of human rights abuse by the Chinese government. Whether it was suspicion regarding the origin of the Covid-19 virus, the treatment of Uyghur Muslims, or critics of the government being silenced, some had an expectation that NBC should devote more time to it than the network did.

Mike Tirico says that when it comes to primetime coverage of the games, the events and athletes take top priority and decisions have to be made in terms of time.

“We are there to cover the Olympics. You have to make choices at some point. So do you show the live Olympics, or do you spend another 10 minutes on political affairs? Somebody might say, ‘Well, I think you should spend 10 more minutes on political affairs.’ Well, that person is not a snowboarding fan who’s watching the biggest moment in that sport for four years at that point.”

He also pushed back on the idea that NBC did not do enough. Mike Tirico pointed out that when it was appropriate, NBC did address some of the controversies surrounding the country and its government.

“I feel like we didn’t just do it in the opening ceremony and check a box. We spent a lengthy time the night before covering it, and as it happened during the opening ceremony, covered the moment of a member of the Uyghur population being one of the two to light the torch.

“I don’t think we ignored it after just checking the box, quote-unquote, at the start. At the end of the day, I feel like it was something that was present in our coverage at the most appropriate times during the 17-18 days.”

Sports TV News

Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Sports TV News

Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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Sports TV News

Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live

“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

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Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.

“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.

Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.

“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.

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