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New ESPN Analyst CJ McCollum Seeks Balance In Player Criticism

Tensions are mounting between athletes and the media. ESPN’s CJ McCollum has his feet in both camps. He says balancing fairness with criticism is key.

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The current relationship between players and media members is complicated. Athletes are asked more questions from more outlets that sometimes carry varying agendas. We’ve seen it play out poorly in San Francisco recently when a media member got into a feud with Javon Kinlaw of the 49ers. In Arkansas, a player’s answer to a question prompted a thorny, personal tirade from a local radio host. Now CJ McCollum steps into the shoes of the media at a time that athletes have never been more wary of those covering them.

ESPN’s newest NBA analyst is in an interesting position. He is a current player (New Orleans Pelicans) and President of the National Basketball Players Association. He’s entering a world where the distrust between players and the media seems to be fraying. How will McCollum balance himself in those muddy waters?

McCollum participated in a media conference call and was asked about athletes pushing back on criticism by the media and when it goes further than an honest critique.

“… in terms of balancing, as you referenced shitting on players versus just being more quite frank in terms of evaluation, I think as a player, I understand it’s a gift and a curse to play this sport. It’s a gift because it’s our dream job, we get paid handsomely, we’re able to take care of our families, we’re able to do something a lot of us have done our entire lives. The sacrifices that come with it, the time; obviously you’ve got to be headstrong.

There’s a lot of things you have to go through that the normal world doesn’t in terms of not just scrutiny, but people can speak on your families. We’ve seen the Chris Paul situation. Fans during games. There’s a lot of things that are getting out of hand because of social media, so you have to balance that.”

McCollum understands media’s priority to generate interest and warns that the ways it is accomplished can be a treacherous path to maintaining good relationships between player/media.

“The headlines are clickbait, oftentimes not sharing the rest of the quote. Things of that nature I think can lead to trouble in paradise for us as athletes and for the networks as well. I don’t mind being critical of players at times because I think it’s necessary. I think there’s a way in which you can talk about it that’s more so you doing your job as opposed to attacking players. Like no one plays poorly on purpose. Tatum didn’t shoot 3 for 17 on purpose, right?”

McCollum speaks from some experience. He was a journalism major at Lehigh University before he mesmerized the globe in the NBA.

“I think as a player who has a background in journalism, I understand the importance of players having their own voice, but also understand the importance of being able to share someone’s message the right way, and I think sometimes messages are often misconstrued.”

CJ McCollum as an analyst will be a fascinating one to watch. He will contribute to NBA CountdownNBA TodaySportsCenterGet Up and First Take. He will also be a part of game analysis for ESPN’s coverage of NBA Summer League. And yes, he is developing a podcast with ESPN as well.

Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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Sports TV News

AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.

CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.

With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.

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