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Sean Payton Also Drawing Interest From Amazon For ‘TNF’ Analyst Gig

Does this mean that talks with Fox hit a wall? Or are Payton and his representatives doing their due diligence in exploring all possible options?

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Just as reports circulated about Amazon showing interest in ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit for its Thursday Night Football analyst opening, news of the streaming platform meeting with another prospective broadcaster is making the rounds.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Amazon is meeting with former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton this week regarding the TNF gig. Perhaps this is the meeting that Amazon originally wanted with Sean McVay. Regardless, Florio reports this is the second time that Payton has met with Amazon executives, which would appear to indicate the sides are inching toward an agreement.

News of Payton meeting with Amazon comes just days after Fox reportedly entered negotiations with the coach. Does this mean that talks with Fox hit a wall? Or are Payton and his representatives doing their due diligence in exploring all possible options?

Previous reports indicated that Fox was more interested in Payton as a studio analyst, perhaps to eventually replace Jimmy Johnson for the coaching perspective on the Fox NFL Sunday studio crew. He could work on the Fox NFL Kickoff team before that or bounce between the two shows.

But with Troy Aikman reportedly leaving Fox’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team for ESPN and Monday Night Football, the network has an opening alongside Joe Buck and Payton would be a splashy name that attracts headlines (and, hopefully, viewers). And as Florio points out, Fox might not pay as much as Amazon but the over-the-air network has a greater reach and more established credibility with fans.

One concern with hiring Payton would be whether or not he intends to return to NFL coaching (notably the Dallas Cowboys) after taking a year off from the grind. Fox presumably would consider it less of an issue if they had to replace him on a studio crew after one season. But as the analyst on the No. 1 broadcast team, that seems more problematic in terms of developing on-screen chemistry and familiarity with viewers.

Putting play-by-play broadcaster Joe Buck in the position of working with two different analysts in consecutive seasons seems unfair to him. But maybe the subtext to such a move would be that this is an experiment.

There’s no guarantee Payton will be good as a broadcaster. And if he’s a flop, Fox could just move Greg Olsen up to that spot, which they could’ve done anyway. Any bad publicity from making changes so often might be offset by the big headlines attracted by putting a top NFL coach in the booth.

Of course, that’s making the presumption that Payton wants to return to coaching. Maybe he doesn’t, especially since the money in broadcasting is so much better for a far less demanding lifestyle.

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FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

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FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

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Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

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(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

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NBA Finals Game 3 Up 2% on ABC and ESPN

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Game 3 of the NBA Finals series which saw Boston take a three games to none lead in the series was up 2% from last year’s Game 3. The game averaged 11,426,000 viewers and peaked at 13,926,000 at 10:45 p.m. ET.

The game was the top draw in all of television for the night and took the top spot in all of the key demographics. So far through three games, the series is even with the television numbers from 2023.

NBA Countdown, the show which airs right before the game begins, was also up two percent compared to the same show a year ago. NBA Countdown averaged 4,330,000 viewers. Through three games, the show is up five percent from last season’s pregame shows.

The Celtics will look to secure their 18th NBA Championship when the two teams meet again for Game 4 tonight at 8:30 ET. If a Game 5 is necessary, it would be played on Monday, June 17.

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