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Chris Berman: NFL Primetime ‘High On My Professional Tombstone’

“I talked to Jimmy Pitaro 3-4 years ago. I said if you could convince the league to bring it back, I’ll come back.”

Ricky Keeler

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From 1987-2005, football fans had to run to their television sets every Sunday night during the season to catch Chris Berman host NFL Primetime on ESPN to find out what the results were of the other games that Sunday and in its early stages, it was an important show to the football community.

Berman was a guest on The Adam Schein Podcast this week and he said that he learned very quickly how important NFL Primetime was to people in the game including the late legendary head coach Don Shula.

“We realized that we had a connection to the football community…I very quickly learned that the highest ups in the community, meaning an owners meeting in 1988, Don Shula came over and he said Chris, I use your show sometimes to get a look at some other teams…I’m learning this as we are going on and I realize not I’m important, it’s important.”

Even though NFL Primetime can’t exist on cable TV anymore due to NBC having the rights to Sunday Night Football and having the Football Night In America pregame show, Berman did say he told ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro that if NFL Primetime could come back in some way, he would come back.

“I am thrilled we are still doing it today. We can’t do it on regular TV. NBC owns the rights back when they got the rights to Sunday Night Football. The fact that on ESPN+ is the only place it could live.

“I talked to Jimmy Pitaro 3-4 years ago. I said if you could convince the league to bring it back, I’ll come back. We got Tommy [Tom Jackson] to come back the first year and Booger [Booger McFarland] is Tommy 2.0. Booger’s great. We have fun.

“Back then, if we needed 7 minutes for Seattle-Arizona, we could. The rules — I don’t know why — we can’t go over 3 minutes. I love doing it every Sunday, I’m glad people like watching it.” 

At the same time, Berman did say he was “pissed” when he found out at the time that NFL Primetime was over.

“Pissed. It’s the favorite thing that I do. I’ve had some other moments, but if you asked me what’s the most fun I’ve had on a consistent basis…As far as going to work on a regular basis, NFL Primetime, that would be high on my professional tombstone I would think.”

In addition to NFL Primetime, Berman is also well-known for making predictions on Friday nights on SportsCenter as the Swami before the days where sports gambling was legal like it is now in some states. He told Schein that nobody told him he couldn’t do something with that segment, but he would never tell somebody to take the points.

“I never said even ’til I got done in 2016 doing it, take the points. We never put the point spread up. Every score was always at least a field goal off of the spread. I left no doubt. I would use words like much closer than expected or an upset or this could be ugly. I would never put 50-10, but 30-13, just so the teams wouldn’t get completely pissed at me if I picked them to lose in a blowout. It was subtle, it was quietly accepted because I never crossed those lines.

“Nobody said ‘Can’t do this’. It was fun. If it was two defensive teams, I’d put up 3-2 sometimes. We aren’t over-undering this. We are just having a good time.” 

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YouTube TV Having ‘Incredible Growth’ From NFL Sunday Ticket

“We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future.”

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NFL Sunday Ticket YouTube
Courtesy: Google

NFL Sunday Ticket is in the midst of its first season being accessed through YouTube and YouTube TV as part of a 7-year deal worth a reported $14 billion. In being available on an over-the-top (OTT) streaming service, fans have had to adjust to new ways to sign up and find the content to watch on each Sunday. While feedback for the platform has been stellar across the board as it pertains to the user interface, latency levels and viewing options, one area that endured levels of sustained criticism was multiview functionality.

In the past, NFL Sunday Ticket users had the capability to fully customize their screen, placing the games they want to watch in different windows and customizing the order thereof. With the new iteration of the service though, users are subject to preset layouts of games compiled for viewing, essentially losing a sense of jurisdiction over the totality of their experience. In a recent interview with Deadline, YouTube Chief Business Officer Mary Ellen Coe commented on how the service plans to adapt going forward.

“That is a very hard thing to do technically,” Coe said. “Put it this way – the feedback is [that] we hear you loud and clear. We have a seven-year relationship and will be looking to innovate in the future, and one thing that we’re doing to address that is [in having] a lot of insights on the game combinations and what matchups fans are interested in. So, we can use those insights.”

Coe believes that an interminable number of combinations is superfluous for fans and that the company is instead basing their decisions from bonafide, quantifiable data. Through these metrics, NFL Sunday Ticket is able to appeal to the largest faction of viewers interested in engaging with a multiview combination.

“We actually will have insight into what are the games that are must-watches, and then we can preload those combinations,” Coe explained. “I think as you see the season goes on, the demand [for customization] will become less because people will see the combinations they want will be up.”

Within the Deadline interview, author Dade Hayes made a shrewd observation in that when The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications were embroiled in a carriage dispute, both companies offered YouTube TV as potential viewing solutions. While a resolution was reached on the morning of the Week 1 broadcast of Monday Night Football and season debut of New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, YouTube as an entity has not yet extrapolated and bifurcated the data to see if there was any substantial effect therein.

“We’re having incredible growth because of the Sunday Ticket relationship with YouTube TV,” Coe said. “It is interesting that both Charter and Disney referred to YouTube TV as a place to go when they couldn’t get content. I think that’s an endorsement for the user experience on YouTube TV, which we appreciate.”

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Jomboy: We Won’t Get in a Bidding War With WFAN, ESPN New York for Aaron Boone

“Talkin’ Yanks had the best couple months ever while they sucked and I think that’s because we had access to Boone and we started being silly again.

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Jomboy Media

In past years, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone would have guest appearances either on WFAN or on ESPN Radio in New York during the season. This year, the Boone guest spot went from traditional radio to Jomboy Media as Jomboy and Jake had Boone on Talkin’ Yanks every week.

Of course, it was a different year for the Yankees as they will fail to make the postseason. With that being said, the Boone effect did help the show in a big way.

On the latest edition of The Morning Meeting (Building Jomboy Media) podcast, Jomboy said that while sometimes the weekly guest spots got tough toward the end of the season, it was still a worthwhile endeavor.

Talkin’ Yanks had the best couple months ever while they sucked and I think that’s because we had access to Boone and we started being silly again. Boone definitely had a big part of that and just people used the quotes kind of changed it.” 

August was the most viewed month of episodes in terms of average views in the history of the show, which is when the Yankees were starting to fade away from playoff contention.

In fact, Jomboy felt the most recent Boone interview was the best episode they had this year because of the familiarity and looseness they all felt.

“We’ve been having fun. I thought that one felt like the best because there was also some good convos of learning as well as just goofiness.”

As for next year, nothing has been decided as to whether or not Talkin’ Yanks will have Boone on again. While Jomboy is interested in running that back, he knows that if the other radio stations want back in, it will be tough to compete with them.

“If ESPN Radio or WFAN all of sudden realize they want back in and we get into a bidding war, we are not going to really do that.”

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Ryen Russillo Calls Out Dan Le Batard’s Attack on Adrian Wojnarowski

“Man, if you’re gonna pick a fight, pick a fight with somebody who gets shit wrong, not Woj.”

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ryen russillo
Courtesy: The Ringer

The will they/won’t they mystery surrounding Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers is over. Lillard is headed to Milwaukee as part of a three-team trade. Ryen Russillo talked about the deal and some of the narratives about potential moves on the most recent edition of his podcast.

Russillo took people to task for assuming doing a deal with Miami was Portland’s only option because it is where Lillard wanted to be. He specifically called out Dan Le Batard for what Le Batard had to say about Adrian Wojnarowski’s reporting that Portland was not impressed by what Miami could offer.

At the time, Le Batard said that Wojnarowski’s report was “embarrassing” for suggesting that a deal between the two sides was not imminent. He said the ESPN reporter was “agenda-based schilling” and “bought and paid for by Portland”.

“That was on July 17,” Russillo said reading Le Batard’s comments back and reiterating that all Wojnarowski said on his podcast was that Portland did not like Miami’s offer. “’Bought and paid for’? I’m like, ‘Man, if you’re gonna pick a fight, pick a fight with somebody who gets shit wrong, not Woj.’ And here we are, weeks, months later, and it wasn’t Miami.”

Dan Le Batard has never run from the fact that he is a Miami fan above all else. That was on display again this week as he and his colleagues reacted in real time to Stephen A. Smith putting the Dolphins atop his A-List of the best teams in the NFL.

He has also not been above lashing out at other members of the media when he perceives a lack of integrity.

Le Batard’s producer, Mike Ryan Ruiz, acknowledged on social media that Russillo called the show out by name. He also spent much of Wednesday swearing that the NBA and ESPN were conspiring against the city of Miami.

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