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NHL Ratings Climb With Women

“Audiences across ESPN and TNT, according to Front Office Sports, are up 61%.”

Jordan Bondurant

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TV ratings for many North American sports have been on the rise over the course of 2021 and into 2022, and the NHL is among those sports enjoying the jump in viewership.

In the first year of a new rights deal in the United States, ESPN/ABC/TNT viewership for the regular season has been the best since 2016-17.

Among those numbers is a large jump in female viewership. Audiences across ESPN and TNT, according to Front Office Sports, are up 61%. ESPN’s female viewership was up 73%.

NBC started incorporating more women into its broadcast crews toward the end of its run as the league’s media partner. ESPN and Turner Sports both took that baton and ran with it. More women broadcasters have been featured on NHL telecasts this season than any other in the past.

Sports TV News

NBC To Shut Down Olympic Channel At the End of September

NBCUniversal has announced that the Olympic Channel, that launched in 2017, will go dark on September 30.

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Olympic Channel

NBCUniversal has announced that the Olympic Channel, that launched in 2017, will go dark on September 30.

The network, who only briefly had an opportunity to showcase live Olympic coverage in 2021 with the Tokyo Games, mainly aired older contests and shows about Olympic athletes.

“In order to best reach our target audiences, we are reevaluating our programming distribution strategy regarding the content that currently airs on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA with our partners at the IOC and USOPC,” an NBC Sports spokesperson said in a statement. “We will be announcing our exciting new plans for Olympic content in the fall.”

The Olympic Channel rebranded NBCU’s Universal HD channel. The channel was part of a deal between NBCUniversal and the international and U.S. Olympic committees. NBCU still owns the United States media rights of the Olympics through 2032.

The closure of the Olympic Channel follows a similar path as the shuttering of former channel-mate NBC Sports Network. That network went dark last year. NBCUniversal has been sending their NBCSN programming to USA Network and their streaming service Peacock. Just this week, NBCUniversal announced that Peacock had hit $1 billion in ad revenue.

NBCUniversal has not indicated where Olympic Channel programming will be found in the future.

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Sports TV News

Erin Andrews Cried When Troy Aikman Told Her He Was Leaving Fox

“I’m not gonna lie, I went out that night in Montana, and my husband and I went to our favorite bar and I consumed a lot of tequila,” Andrews said.

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Erin Andrews

Amidst a chaotic offseason for broadcasters, Fox made sure it showed Erin Andrews it wanted her to stay.

Andrews appeared on the latest Sports Illustrated Media Podcast and discussed how the frenzy effected her. She said that with the news about Joe Buck and Troy Aikman leaving for ESPN, she wanted to go ahead and commit to her bosses for three more years.

“I signed a contract. I quietly did that,” said Andrews. “I figured enough was enough with the headlines for a while. My deal was up in August. Fox came to me pretty much right away and just said, ‘We wanna keep you here.’ At that point I was unaware of who I was gonna be doing the games with.”

Andrews said in the podcast that even though she was kept in the dark about the new plans, Fox always communicated with her throughout the process.

“They were great about it. That’s one thing I do have to say regardless of what other opinions are out there. My bosses at Fox, Eric Shanks and Brad Zager, were very upfront with me. Even upfront with me when I would call and be like, ‘What’s going on? What’s happening? What’s the plan? I just want to know what the plan is.’ And they would just say, ‘Hang on, hang on. I promise you’re going to be happy, just hang on.’”

She was on vacation when she heard that Aikman was leaving the network to join ESPN.

“It was winter break. We were just done with the Super Bowl, done with everything. … I’m standing here, and my phone rang. And I just looked at [my husband] Jarret [Stoll] and I said, ‘This isn’t good.’ I’d said Troy’s going to Amazon, and he’s calling to tell me, so I put it on speaker,” Andrews said.

“We just started b.s.-ing, and I told him I was on my way to go work out and we were in Montana, we were going to go skiing later, blah, blah, blah,” she continued. “And he just got right into it and he’s like, ‘Hey, I’m going to ESPN.’ I just looked at Jarret and I didn’t speak for five minutes. I tried to talk, but I started to cry. I just couldn’t believe that was happening. I think all of us on our crew thought it was Amazon. I was just like, ‘Wait a second. What?’ My next reaction was, ‘Who are you doing the games with?’ I was just trying to put it all together.”

That night, Andrews, who admittedly drank “a lot” of tequila after her call with Aikman would suggest something that eventually did come to fruition.

“I’m not gonna lie, I went out that night in Montana, and my husband and I went to our favorite bar and I consumed a lot of tequila,” Andrews said. “I then apologized to my husband because this was supposed to be the vacation we didn’t talk on our phones, but everybody’s just calling each other from our crew, we’re calling our bosses at Fox, we’re just like, What the heck? 

At this point Tom was retired, I may or may not have put a text out there or a DM or whatever and just said, ‘Hey, what are you doing next year? You wanna be part of our crew?’ I just told him how fun it was and how great our crew was. I placed a call to one of my bosses at Fox and said, ‘Full disclosure, I’ve had a lot of tequila. Why not try to hit it out of the park here with Tom?’”

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Sports TV News

Apple Wants Back In For Big Ten Media Rights Negotiations

It was becoming possible that the Big Ten was in-line to receive the first billion-dollar annual media rights agreement. If that is the case, this almost certainly puts the number over that mark.

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Apple Big Ten

The college football world was shaken yet again on Thursday when news broke of USC and UCLA was exploring joining the Big Ten. Quickly the news went from exploration to an application for membership and almost just as quickly, a formal vote and invite was extended to the two institutions.

Most believe this is almost purely a reach for cash, specifically from media rights deals that currently the Big Ten is negotiating. Upon the news on Thursday, Apple reached out and wanted back in on the negotiations.

Sports Business Journal reported that the conference was nearing an end to it’s media rights negotiations and expecting to be finished by mid-July and Apple was not seen as a “credible bidder”.

The reporting believes that FOX Sports and CBS would grab the majority of the conference’s content with ESPN, NBC and Amazon remaining to potentially grab a third rights package. Clearly things have changed with the addition of the two West Coast powerhouses.

It was becoming possible that the Big Ten was in-line to receive the first billion-dollar annual media rights agreement. If that is the case, this almost certainly puts the number over that mark.

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