Connect with us
Jim Cutler Demos

Sports TV News

Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth ‘Already Comfortable’ Together

“I understand there’s going to be a transition period of time, but we’ve already spent a lot of time together, obviously, getting ready for this season,” Collinsworth said.

Derek Futterman

Published

on

NBC’s primetime Sunday Night Football booth is bringing a new look to both its booth and its broadcast as it seeks to become primetime television’s number one show for the 12th straight year. With the regular season quickly approaching, the broadcast team of Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth, and Melissa Stark has worked throughout the summer to build a working chemistry with one another.

Mike Tirico enters this role after previously serving as the voice of Monday Night Football on ABC from 2006 to 2015, a role he entered replacing Al Michaels when NBC acquired the Sunday-night rights . Since that time, he has been the host of NBC’s Football Night in America and also continues to be the host of primetime coverage of the Olympic Games.

Now, as Michaels joins his producer Fred Gaudelli at Amazon Prime Video, Tirico will once again take his seat in the booth. While he knows Michaels set a high standard, he is confident that he and his colleagues can continue to reach it, especially following their call of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game from Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio in early August.

“If I learned anything in Canton, it’s that my instincts are to be trusted,” Tirico said. “We’re going to be fine. Everybody communicates; everybody connects, gets along [and we are] similar-minded folks. Sometimes when you look at sports television, I think the most valuable thing is putting together a group that fits and works well together.”

Being just the fourth full-time play-by-play announcer on Sunday Night Football is certainly something Tirico does not take lightly; however, at this stage in his career, it does not profoundly influence his mindset, if at all. With the start of the regular season on the precipice, Tirico is excited to get started and become a weekly fixture during primetime football on Sunday nights.

“It’s an assignment that I’ve worked for,” Tirico said. “I feel like I’ve completely prepared for [it] and I am surrounded by the best people. For me, there’s no angst about being the next person in that chair.”

Cris Collinsworth remains the constant in the broadcast booth as he enters his 14th season as an analyst in the booth. Now as he famously slides in the broadcast open each week, it will be Tirico instead of Michaels on his right. The change is not entirely distressing to Collinsworth, considering he and Tirico have previously called 21 NFL games together since 2016: more than a full season’s worth. With a new host of colleagues joining the team, he understands the importance of developing synergy among team members, but entering this season, he does not feel the previous flow has abated significantly.

“I understand there’s going to be a transition period of time, but we’ve already spent a lot of time together, obviously, getting ready for this season,” Collinsworth said. “There’s a real comfort already to just being a part of the group and being friends and being able to tell jokes about each other and on each other that typically don’t come until you’ve known somebody a couple years at least, and it’s just like a group I’m used to hanging out with already. I hope that’s what comes across on the air.”

Joining Tirico and Collinsworth on the broadcast team from the sidelines is Melissa Stark, a longtime reporter in both sports and news media. Stark had been an NFL Network host for the past 11 seasons following a stint at NBC News and MSNBC. She is set to return to the sidelines for the first time in nearly 20 years, as she previously worked in the role for Monday Night Football on ABC but left it in order to start a family.

“Sports was always my passion, so now here I am coming back four teenagers later,” Stark said. “[I’m] so excited to work with the very best in the business… and excited about all the new resources that we have on the sidelines.” Season 17 of Sunday Night Football on NBC will commence with the kickoff game between the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills on NBC and streaming on Peacock.

Three days later, the first Sunday night matchup of the year takes place when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys, which will include the premiere of a new show open for the broadcast featuring 8-time Grammy Award winning singer Carrie Underwood. Both matchups are set to kick off at 8:20 EST/7:20 CST.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Sports TV News

Charles Barkley Announces He Will Retire From TV After Next Season

“Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

Screenbrad from NBA TV with Charles Barkley
Screengrab: NBA TV

Charles Barkley is not waiting. After voicing his frustration several times with the way the media rights negotiations have been handled by his current employer, Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT, Barkley is no longer waiting for them to make a decision, he has announced his own decision.

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals concluded between the Dallas Mavericks and the Boston Celtics, Barkley took time on the postgame show on NBA TV to announce no matter what happens, he will retire as an NBA commentator after next season, which will be his 25th with TNT.

“I’ve been thinking guys,” Barkley said “I want to say this, because you guys are my family. I really love TNT, all the people who work here, NBA Television. You guys have been great to me for 24 years and I just want to say thank you to my entire NBA family. I love you guys.

“There’s been a lot of noise the last few months and I just want to say, I’ve talked to all of the other networks, but I ain’t going nowhere other than TNT, but I have made the decision myself, no matter what happens, next year is going to be my last year on television. And I just want to say thank you to my NBA family, you guys have been great to me, my heart is full with joy and gratitude.

“But I am going to pass the baton at the end of next year. I hope the NBA stays with TNT, but for me personally, I wanted you guys to hear it from me, because I am not doing any more interviews, don’t y’all be calling me, nobody calling me, I am not talking about this again. But I wanted to tell my NBA TV and TNT family that I am not going to another network, but I am going to pass the baton to either Jamal Crawford, Vince Carter or you Steve [Smith]. Next year, I am just going to retire after 25 years, and I just wanted to say thank you and I wanted y’all to hear it from me first.”

The NBA’s current media rights agreements with Disney/ESPN and WBD/TNT expire after next season. Many reports have said the NBA will soon sign agreements with Disney, NBCUniversal and Amazon to be the league’s new broadcasting partners beginning with the 2025-26 season. The Wall Street Journal has reported the total value of the new media rights packages is expected to be $76 billion over 11 years.

Rumors of a possible fourth media package being made in order for the NBA to keep its 40-year relationship with Turner Sports going have surfaced, but it looks like either way there will be changes coming to Inside the NBA, the award-winning show Barkley is a part of along with Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Moving UFL Games to Friday Nights in 2025

“The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year.”

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

The United Football League logo

FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks recently confirmed a report from Deadline last month that said United Football League games would move to Friday nights in 2025. The Deadline report had said FOX planned to replace WWE Smackdown with sports coverage from college football and basketball as well as games from the UFL.

Shanks’ comments were made during a Zoom with reporters about the news of their new agreement with the NTT IndyCar Series. SI’s Mike Mitchell reported that the UFL worked with FOX to move the games so they could complete their auto racing deal.

Shanks said many of FOX’s UFL games would be moved to Friday night when asked about the change but did not provide more detail.

The UFL was split between FOX and ABC/ESPN this season. The regular season average television audience of 816,000 was more than 30% higher than the pace from the previous year and the recent conference championship games were up 57% over the averages from the USFL and XFL last season. According to Mitchell, the league saw a large increase in the 18-49 demographic on FOX compared to USFL programming in 2023.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading

Sports TV News

Report: WNBA Could Quadruple Media Rights Fees

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion.

Barrett Sports Media

Published

on

WNBA Logo
(Illustration) | Courtesy: Women's National Basketball Association

The NBA is reportedly in the process of formalizing new media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon’s Prime Video expected to be worth a collective $76 billion over the course of the deal. At the same time, the NBA is also negotiating media rights for the WNBA in which it has an ownership stake of approximately 60%. The WNBA could quadruple its annual media rights fee within these negotiations, according to a new report from Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports.

Under the current structure, the WNBA makes a reported $60 million annually from its media rights deals with The Walt Disney Company, Amazon’s Prime Video, CBS and Ion. Throughout the season thus far, the WNBA has seen its ratings increase, drawing more than 1 million viewers across several matchups throughout the regular season. Moreover, discussion surrounding the league is further assimilating into the sports vernacular surrounding stars such as Caitlin Clark, A’ja Wilson, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart.

Ben Strauss of The Washington Post outlined how the NBA is in the process of considering one total bid from media companies that combines the value of media rights for the NBA and WNBA. With the league itself determining the value of media rights for the WNBA, he argues that it could either be “rocket fuel” for the league or that its augmented popularity “is more of an afterthought.” The possibility exists that it could be a combination of both extremes as well, but by having the league negotiate its media rights deal, quantifying the true value could be a more difficult task.

In a report from earlier in the year, McCarthy stated that the WNBA is likely to negotiate its own separate media rights deal if it is not receiving the remuneration that it wants. The WNBA attained its most-watched opening month in league history, averaging 1.32 million viewers for games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS, Ion and NBA TV. Moreover, the league had its most-attended opening month in its 26-year history with 400,000 fans at games through the end of May and a rise in sales of WNBA-branded merchandise by 236% year-over-year.

Sign up for the BSM 8@8

The Top 8 Sports Media Stories of the Day, sent directly to your inbox, every morning at 8am ET.

Invalid email address
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Upcoming Events

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2024 Barrett Media.