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Alexi Lalas: Chad Johnson Has ‘Immersed Himself’ In Preparation For FOX Role at World Cup

“When he was talking to us about the opportunity that he was getting to go to the World Cup, it was as if he had won the Super Bowl.”

Ricky Keeler

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The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar begins Sunday morning on FS1 and FOX. Both will have full coverage of the event from the opening kickoff until the final on December 18. The lead play-by-play announcer John Strong and studio analyst/former USA Men’s National player Alexi Lalas have been doing a lot of prep leading up to the event, but as Strong told Jason Wormser on The Wormcast: How Sports Media Happens podcast last week, not all of the prep might get used as the tournament goes on such as the following anecdote.

“Wonderful anecdote about Australia. One of their long-time center backs dropped from the team knowing he was going to be a backup in favor of some younger players. One of the things that makes that extra-surprising is the fact that he is the son-in-law of the head coach. The odds that that anecdote makes air is very, very slim.

“I have Australia-France. The odds that we are talking much in-depth about Australia’s defensive depth chart is probably slim, but you have it there just in case. As the tournament goes on, that type of prep that you have done becomes even less relevant because it is not about big-picture storytelling anymore as much as just what’s happened in the tournament so far.”

It will be a busy event for Strong and color commentator/former US Men’s National Team player Stu Holden because of how many games there are each day in the group stage, so Strong has had to prepare for a lot of teams

“Of those first 17 days of the tournament, our expectation (Stu Holden and I) is we will be calling games on 15 of those days….I’m preparing for 18 different teams that I will be calling in the group stage.”

While FOX and FS1 will have plenty of coverage of Team USA, Lalas said that there is a responsibility to talk about the other countries in the event as well.

“This is as big as it gets and this is international and we want to do it justice. Obviously, we have the US Men’s National Team back. That makes a huge difference. We will focus on that as we should, but we also have a responsibility to everybody and making sure that people come into that tent, even if it’s their first time or if they are coming in from other teams that we give them the steady diet. It’s day in and day out and we are just churning it out in the best possible way.”

Joining the World Cup crew for FOX this year as a studio analyst is former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson — formerly known as Chad Ochocinco — and Lalas said that Johnson had an extreme level of excitement when talking about being part of the coverage.

“Someone like Chad Ochocinco who is coming to join us too. When he was talking to us about the opportunity that he was getting to go to the World Cup, it was as if he had won the Super Bowl. This guy loves the game and he has immersed himself in the game.”

With the uniqueness of this World Cup, Lalas said that just as there is a good chance a star could emerge on-the-field during the World Cup, it can happen to a media personality off-the-field as well.

“I think you will see some really interesting personalities that maybe you have seen before, but see them maybe in a different light working for FOX in the way that we do things and you will see some new faces and new voices that will be introduced to you that inevitably stars are created in the World Cup on the field and stars are created in the World Cup off the field.” 

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Sports TV News

FOX Doubles Ad Price For Premiere US World Cup Matches

FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of USA/England.

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The 2022 World Cup is underway and the opener received a gigantic ratings increase for FOX Sports. Now, according to a report from Front Office Sports, the network has doubled its ad price for the USA match versus England.

USA/England will air in a lucrative window, at 2:00 PM ET on Black Friday, and FOX has capitalized by charging $600,000 per 30-second commercial during its coverage of the match. That price, according to Front Office Sports reporters Michael McCarthy and Doug Greenberg, is double what the network had asked for from advertisers for other matches.

While the event opener saw a sharp increase, the first match featuring the United States saw a decline from previous World Cup openers for the country. 11.71 million watched the match in the US between FOX Sports and Telemundo. In 2014, 11.1 million watched on ESPN and in 2010 13 million watched the first US match on ABC.

Analysists have predicted FOX Sports could garner nearly $125 million in ad revenue for the duration of the tournament.

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Sports TV News

Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz Announcing World Cup, NFL Thanksgiving Games For 18 Straight Hours Thursday

With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

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With the World Cup happening at an unprecedented time, there were bound to be scheduling conflicts. The conflicts for Telemundo’s Miguel Gurwitz, however, might be the real unprecedented nature of the event being played in November.

Gurwitz works on Telemundo’s coverage of the World Cup while calling matches as the secondary play-by-play announcer. Beginning at 11:00 AM in Doha, Gurwitz will work the network’s coverage of the event.

But as the soccer day turns to tonight, Gurwitz will call Telemundo’s broadcast of the New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings game from Qatar. With the game expected to end at 2:00 AM local time, that means Gurwitz will be announcing games for over 18 hours on Thursday.

He will also do the feat again on Sunday, as he’ll broadcast World Cup matches for the network during the day and then announce the Packers and Eagles game for Sunday Night Football.

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Kevin Burkhardt: ‘Honor To Be In People’s Homes’ During Thanksgiving Broadcast

“There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool.”

Ricky Keeler

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On Thanksgiving, Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen will call their first Thanksgiving Day game for FOX when the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys (4:30 PM ET). It’s been a memorable year for Burkhardt and Olsen in their first year as the A broadcast team for FOX that will end in the duo calling the Super Bowl in February.

Burkhardt was a guest on The Season with Peter Schrager podcast this week and talked about the honor of getting the chance to be on the call for a Thanksgiving Day game.

“The whole job is big and we are doing big games every week. There were a couple on the calendar that I thought that it might hit me and be very, very cool. One of them was Dallas-Green Bay, which turned out to be epic a couple of weeks ago.

“The playoffs and the Super Bowl will be great, but Thanksgiving Day. Growing up in a football family, it was kind of eating around both games. Catch the early game, halftime, go throw the football in the street, eat the meal between games, then the Cowboys game comes on, you watch that. Maybe halftime you watch or maybe you throw the football again. Watch the rest of the game, you have dessert after the game. That was the day.

“It is an honor because you are in a lot of people’s homes every week. I feel like you really are in people’s homes…. You are kind of like hugging everybody. I think it’s beyond awesome, I really do.”

Burkhardt mentioned to Schrager that he and Olsen knew they had big shoes to fill after taking over for Joe Buck and Troy Aikman (both now at ESPN) and it felt like walking in to a new job, but the A crew at FOX helped them and he liked that he and Olsen got to do it together.

“It’s been awesome. It really has. When you go into a situation like this, Joe and Troy were there for 2 decades, that’s a long time. People have long-standing relationships. Even though I’ve been at FOX for 9 years and Greg was there last year, we are the new guys essentially.

“You walk in, you don’t know how they are going to react to you, what they are going to think of you, if they think you are any good and all that stuff. From Day 1, it was like welcome to the family, we love you. I know that sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s been awesome. It felt like we’ve just fit right in. I think there’s been some cool symmetry, the fact that Greg and I got to do it together because we have such a bond.

“The fact that we got to jump in together I think has kind of been fun and helped us both because he knows me really well and I know him really well. Then, it was just getting everyone else to know us and vice versa.”

The one thing that Burkhardt did have to adjust to was a different style of show and that each production team has different viewpoint and creativity.

“The crew I’ve been on my whole life with Pete Macheska and Artie Kempner, they do a different show than Z (Richie Zyontz) and Russo (Rich Russo) do it. It’s not good, bad, or indifferent. Everyone has different viewpoints and creativity. I think it was just getting used to each other in terms of that, but it’s felt like I’ve worked with them for 25 years. It’s felt seamless. It’s felt fun.”

Even though Burkhardt is now the lead NFL play-by-play voice for FOX, that doesn’t mean he is going to change how he does a game.

“I’m not going to change my style or who I am. I’m not saying I’m not open to critiques and wanting to get better and to get coached. The basis of what I do and how I do it, I’m not going to change that now because I’m on the A crew. They liked me enough to put me here, so I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing. Maybe tweaks here and there, but if I radically changed now, I’d be a moron.” 

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