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Chris Berman & Trey Wingo Thought The NFL Draft Would Fail In Primetime

“I was like this is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I can’t believe they are going to try to compete against primetime television.”

Ricky Keeler

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Over the years at ESPN, Chris Berman has had the opportunity to cover numerous events in many different sports. So, which event for him was the toughest to cover?

He recently revealed on the Trey Wingo Presents: Half-Forgotten History podcast with that the toughest event to cover was the NFL Draft, which he hosted for ESPN from 1985-2016. However, it’s not the actual event itself that was the toughest, but the prep for the event.

“It’s the 3 weeks leading up to it where I don’t follow college football,” Boomer said. “Saturday is a prep day for us. I am aware of who won and lost games. I couldn’t tell you this guy is the best or second-best center.”

Berman gave a lot of credit to the GMs who would help him in his prep by giving some insight as to what they were thinking. He knew that despite not having a lot of prep time, that wasn’t an excuse to ace covering the event: 

“It reminded me of why I never went to grad school. It’s a course you have to ace and you are doing it the last 3 weeks. If you talk to these GMs in March, their grades are completely different on April 15. I didn’t do that knowing I wasted everyone’s time. I got to ace this test and I’ve done none of the work, but I can’t get a B on it. That sounds like grad school to me.”

Both Berman and Wingo reflected on when the NFL Draft first moved to primetime in 2010 and they were not sure it was going to work, but the NFL proved them both wrong: 

“I’ll give the NFL credit on this. I thought it was a dumb idea,” said Wingo. “I was like this is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. I can’t believe they are going to try to compete against primetime television. This is going to be a disaster. It turned out to be the exact opposite and a massive home run.” 

“I don’t know if I thought it would be a massive disaster, but I went oh, really pushing the envelope. I still wondered if we are just going to make the first round and just do that and celebrate it like it’s the coronation of Queen Elizabeth III,” said Berman. “But, it worked.” 

This podcast is a good trip down memory lane of past NFL Drafts from two men who were hosts of the event. Berman knew in his early years of hosting the NFL Draft that there was major potential for it to grow into the spectacle it is now.

“This was an oasis from Groundhog Day until the beginning of August. All football fans gathered with us and I felt an obligation, as did all of our folks behind the scenes, we are sponsoring/hosting a gathering place for football fans in America in April and it’s pretty cool.”

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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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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