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Stephen A. Smith Tells Dan Le Batard He Has No Problem With ESPN Aversion To Politics

“When you’re tuning into a sports network, it is not beyond the pale for the consumer to say ‘I expect to hear about sports,’ okay?”

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Dan Le Batard welcomed Stephen A. Smith to his show on Wednesday. While Smith has been at the root of several of Le Batard’s bits over the years, the two have talked openly many times about how much they like and respect each other.

As is often the case when a current or former ESPN employee joins the show, Le Batard asked Smith about working for the Worldwide Leader. The two debated the merits of ESPN telling its hosts to stop talking about politics a few years ago.

While Le Batard has always valued the freedom to talk about whatever he wanted, Smith didn’t find the rule objectionable. He said as long as it was applied fairly, it was good for the viewers.

“The rules have to be for everybody if it is truly a rule,” he said. “But my biggest issue is this: When you’re tuning into a sports network, it is not beyond the pale for the consumer to say ‘I expect to hear about sports,’ okay?”

Dan Le Batard countered by saying that capitalism can make the idea of what topics are and are not third rail issues “blurry”. He pointed to the number of companies that broadcast entities do business with that are owned by the governments of China or Saudi Arabia.

Morality is not the measuring stick for ESPN according to Stephen A. Smith.

“The lines are unquestionably blurry, and you’re totally right about that,” he said. “But I think it’s important to understand Dan, it might be blurry for me and you but as a business, it may not be blurry for them. In other words, the line for them is ‘What’s gonna compromise our bottom line? If something is gonna compromise our bottom line, we have the right to take the position we take as a company.’ As an individual, we might disagree with that, but we also chose to work for them.”

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Peyton Manning Rejected ESPN Proposal To Add To ManningCast Schedule

“ESPN has certainly mentioned going up to 12 games or more, and Eli and I held strong.“

Jordan Bondurant

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There’s no secret based on the last two seasons that NFL fans really do enjoy tuning in to watch Peyton and Eli Manning on Monday nights.

Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, affectionately known as the ManningCast, has proven to be a ratings success for ESPN. Monday night’s wild card playoff edition drew in an audience of 1.7 million. That’s an increase of 17% compared to last year.

The Mannings spoke to Jeff Beer of Fast Company and Peyton said as much as the fans love watching, the two brothers and legendary quarterbacks love doing the show.

“One thing I think comes through is just how much Eli and I enjoy this,” Peyton said.

But Peyton added that they do care about oversaturating the space, which is why he said they turned down the idea of increasing the number of shows this season from 10 to 12.

“We laugh a lot. If you maybe go to 17 games, maybe we’re not laughing as much, and it starts to get repetitive,” he said. “ESPN has certainly mentioned going up to 12 games or more, and Eli and I held strong. We just feel the show is better if we keep it to the 10.”

“I don’t want to see him every week and get his voice memos of breaking down (game) film,” Eli joked. “There’s something to people wanting more, and if we’re on too much, they might not want more. It keeps me motivated.”

One of the things that people love so much about the show is just how organic the exchanges between Peyton and Eli and Peyton, Eli and their guests can be. Peyton gets the appeal from fans and knows viewers think of it as meeting up with them at a bar to watch the game.

“Football is always more fun when you watch it with friends,” Peyton said. “Eli and I get to sit on our couches and watch it together, and the viewers are all of our friends, and the guest is just right there with us. We’re on the couch, we’re at a bar, let’s have a conversation.”

Eli said they do try to make sure things stay focused on football and the game they’re watching when the time calls for it. But he also admitted that he and his older brother are always going to find ways to have fun with each other when they can as well.

“If there’s great football happening, and it’s a tight game, you want to keep it about football,” he said. “But if it’s a blowout, you have to do something else, maybe tell a story, take a shot at Peyton, you don’t know where that’s going to go. It’s authentic. That’s what would happen if we were sitting on the couch watching the game and it’s a bit boring; I might take a pillow and throw it at my brother’s head.”

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Sports TV News

Expanded NFL Season And Playoffs Could Cost NBC Golden Globes

“The 2023 edition of the show was on NBC after the two sides struck a one-year deal back in September.”

Jordan Bondurant

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There’s no hiding the fact that the NFL reigns supreme in TV ratings. Unfortunately for the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which puts on the Golden Globe Awards, the NFL is too strong to compete against.

Since the NFL expanded the regular season to 17 games over 18 weeks, and added a seventh playoff team in each conference, in 2021-22, NBC’s obligation to football has taken precedent over its obligation to airing the Golden Globes.

The award show this year aired on Tuesday, January 10. On January 8, NBC aired the final regular season game of the year on Sunday Night Football between the Lions and Packers. The game drew an audience of 23.9 million, which NBC said was the highest rating a SNF finale has gotten in six years. NBC carried an AFC wild card playoff game this past Sunday night with the Bengals and Ravens. That game averaged 21.2 million.

Meanwhile the Golden Globes drew in 6.3 million. That number was down 9% compared to the 2021 ceremony. NBC didn’t air the Golden Globes in 2022 amid a Los Angeles Times expose into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

With the HFPA mired in scandal and waning interest in their award show, NBC could be done with the Golden Globes. The 2023 edition of the show was on NBC after the two sides struck a one-year deal back in September. So there are questions abound about if NBC will continue to air it. However knowing that even with the expanded season and playoffs, the option to shift the award show to later in January on a Sunday night after NBC has fulfilled its obligation to the league is on the table. But that could throw a wrench in the award season schedule as well.

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Sports TV News

LIV Golf Nearing TV Deal With The CW Network

“LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.”

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LIV Golf

According to a report from Front Office Sports, LIV Golf has laid out a deal with The CW Network for television carriage in the United States.

The deal is a multi-year agreement that will see the tour own real estate in lesser-viewed time slots on the network. A revenue-sharing relationship between the tour and the television network is expected to be struck.

LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.

After a standup comedy show in West Palm Beach last week, Feherty reportedly told the crowd “Have you heard of CW? I might get fired for this, but…,” according to report from Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand had previously reported a deal between the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and the network was likely.

Nexstar Media Group — the nation’s largest television owner — is the majority owner of The CW Network. There are around 220 affiliates of the network on over-the-air television stations. Rumors of an acquisition of LIV Golf’s rights come on the heels of The CW Network being linked to the potential launch of a college football bowl game that would air exclusively on the network.

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