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Mike Florio Tried to Scare NBC Away From Partnering With Pro Football Talk

“You just got to talk about whatever comes out, and you have to sound like you know what you are talking about.”

Ricky Keeler

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NBC Sports Group

Over the last 20 years, Mike Florio has gone from a lawyer in West Virginia to being the founder of Pro Football Talk and being one of the top NFL insiders in the business. Now, he is also an author, as his book Playmakers: How the NFL Really Works (And Doesn’t) was released recently.

Florio was a guest on The Adam Schein Podcast this week to talk about the book, his career, and some of the trades that happened in the NFL involving Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz. He mentioned that when he was doing radio spots in the early years of Pro Football Talk, it helped him become better as a lawyer as well:

“I started doing radio spots very early on,” said Florio. “I love doing radio spots because I looked at it this way. It was a way to market the business without it being an obvious advertisement. I didn’t have to pay for it. All I had to do was talk about football for 15 minutes and whoever happened to listen to it, here is the name of the website 4-5 times and maybe they go check it out.

“I was practicing law at the time and you have to talk on your feet on a regular basis when you do that. One thing I learned is that all the radio I was doing was actually making me better in court because you learn how to get comfortable operating with no net whatsoever, no notes, you just got to talk about whatever comes out, and you have to sound like you know what you are talking about.”

Once Dan Patrick left ESPN, Florio was a guest on his show. However in July 2010, he got an unexpected offer from the show. He thought he would just be a guest as the fill-in host when Patrick took a week off, but it ended up being a new opportunity for him.

“It was 2010. I was already with NBC, but I wasn’t a regular weekly member and didn’t know where this all was going to go,” Florio recalled. “Dan’s people called me in July 2010 and said Dan’s off next week, can you come on the show? I was like sure, whoever the replacement host is, just have him call me.

“They were like no, no, you’re the host. Time out. It’s one thing to talk for 10 minutes; for 3 hours, there’s no way, no how I can do that, but I did it. I was over-prepared for it. I had way too many notes and I was scared to death. I had no idea what a hard break was.”

Florio went on to explain that he ended up taking a hard break a minute earlier than he was supposed to. He ended up learning from it and is now one of the hosts of Pro Football Talk Live with Chris Simms and he’s part of the NBC Football Night In America crew every Sunday night during the season. 

Before Florio was on TV, NBC Sports tried to make a pitch for ProFootballTalk to be a part of NBCSports.com in 2009 and while Florio tried to scare them away in a parallel to a Seinfeld episode. However, it ended up becoming a key part of the website:

“When NBC, which was woefully behind its competitors on the dot com side, they didn’t have much of a presence on NBCSports.com. It was run by people who had Olympics background and didn’t care about football, baseball, basketball, etc. Rick Cordella, who is now the Chief Revenue Officer of Peacock, he was in charge of NBCSports.com and he called me in January 2009 and he made the pitch about how he wants to partner with PFT. I tried to scare him away. I didn’t want to do it.”

While Florio was afraid to do it, he said it was the best professional move that he ever made to join the NBC Sports family. 

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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