For as much as professional wrestling is already dramatized, the dramatization of pro wrestling is increasingly drawing interest at broadcast, cable, and streaming networks.
According to Deadline, NBCUniversal is developing a new drama set in the world of professional wrestling titled Pinned.
WWE chairman Vince McMahon is an executive producer on the project, along with Fox Sports reporter Tom Rinaldi. Craig O’Neill is writing the series. He’s been an executive producer on CSI: Vegas and MacGyver, and will have the same role on Pinned.
According to producers, Pinned will be an “adrenalized” drama that follows the behind-the-scenes workings of a fictional wrestling promotion and the “unforgettable” characters featured in the ring. Stories will also look at the culture of wrestling and the drama that takes place among the wrestlers outside of the ring along with the executives who run the promotion.
If that sounds a lot like Starz’s recent wrestling drama, Heels, starring Stephen Amell and featuring former NFL linebacker James Harrison, that’s the territory being covered. Although the wrestling promotion covered in Heels is a regional endeavor in the fictional small town of Duffy, Georgia.
Perhaps Pinned will follow a more national promotion that works in multiple territories throughout the country like WWE and AEW. And with NBCUniversal and big names like McMahon driving it, maybe the series will attract bigger names for the cast. However, Heels drew good reviews from critics and fans.
Other dramatized, scripted wrestling series that have aired or are currently in development include NBC’s Young Rock, which follows Dwayne Johnson’s life growing up as the son of pro wrestler Rocky Johnson with performers such as Andre the Giant, the Iron Sheik, and Randy “Macho Man” Savage hanging around regularly.
Blumhouse TV is also developing The United States vs. Vince McMahon, a dramatization of the 1994 WWF steroid trials in which McMahon was alleged to provide illegal steroids to his performers. WWE and McMahon are producers on that project. (The WWF steroid trials were also recently covered on VICE TV’s Dark Side of the Ring docuseries, which features dramatic re-enactments of certain events when necessary.)
As of yet, Pinned is not set up at any NBCUniversal network (NBC, USA Network, Bravo, etc.) or streaming platform. But it sure sounds like good content for Peacock, which already features WWE programming.
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.