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ESPN, TNT Sees NHL Viewership Rising In Season’s 2nd Half

“The 2022-23 campaign is on pace to be the highest scoring season in 27 years.”

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After seeing a nearly 22% drop in television viewership in the first half of the NHL season, ESPN and TNT have seen gains as the race to the Stanley Cup Playoffs heats up.

Games airing on ABC are up 19% from a season ago, with last weekend’s game between the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins garnering an average of 1.1 million viewers. That number makes it the second-most viewed game on ABC this year, only behind the Stadium Series contest between the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes.

The second game in ABC’s doubleheader Saturday — featuring the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins — also eclipsed the 1 million viewer mark.

ESPN+ also saw it’s most-watched game last week, as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Boston Bruins in a streaming-only broadcast.

“We’re in the final quarter of our season and the Playoffs push is on. There are tight races in both Conferences, and the 2022-23 campaign is on pace to be the highest scoring season in 27 years,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Media & International Strategy David Proper.

“It’s an exciting time of the year, and our outstanding product on the ice combined with the tremendous job that our valued partners ESPN and TNT are doing to engage and entertain fans, is demonstrated in strong viewership numbers.”

TNT’s audience for Sunday broadcasts has also grown a reported 42% from last season.

The deal between the NHL, TNT, and ESPN is in the closing stages of its second of a seven-year deal.

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Sports TV News

Sean McManus: LIV Golfers Won’t Get Different Treatment During The Masters

“We’re not gonna put our heads in the sand.”

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CBS Sports is preparing for coverage of its 68th consecutive year of The Masters, but the 2023 event could prove to be unlike any before it, and CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus is cognizant of the situation.

After several former Masters champions departed the PGA Tour for the upstart LIV Golf, many pondered what that meant for the sport’s major championships. The Masters decided to continue to allow the golfers who are now playing exclusively with the Saudi-backed league to compete for the green jacket. McManus shared that CBS will continue the showcase the golfers as it always has.

“We’re not gonna cover up or hide anything,” McManus said, as reported by Golf Digest. “As I’ve said so often, our job is to cover the golf tournament. We’re not gonna show any different treatment for the golfers who have played on the LIV tour than we do the other golfers. And if there’s a pertinent point or something that we need to, or we feel that we should bring up in our coverage on Saturday and Sunday, or on our other coverage throughout the week, you know, we’re not gonna put our heads in the sand.

“Having said that, unless it really affects the story that’s taking place on the golf course, we’re not gonna go out of our way to cover it. I’m not sure there’s anything that we could add to the story as it already exists. We’ll cover it as, as is suitable.”

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NFL Owners Not Voting on Flex Scheduling For Thursday Night Football

“The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.”

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Thursday Night Football

Amazon will have to wait for flex scheduling. NFL owners decided to table a proposal that would allow the league to create more compelling matchups for Thursday Night Football later in the season.

That doesn’t mean flex scheduling won’t be a reality on Thursday nights this season. The owners have simply decided to wait until May to make their decision.

Earlier this week, Peter King of NBC Sports reported that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is pushing the idea. Coaches have been outspoken about how much they dislike it, complaining about managing injuries and the competitive disadvantage that would come with finding out you suddenly have a shorter week of preparation than expected. According to King, Goodell is trying to make Amazon happy after the first season of Thursday Night Football failed to deliver projected audience numbers for Prime Video.

League owners did take a step they hope will lead to fewer games between losing teams. Last season, teams could only be scheduled once for a Thursday night game. The owners decided to bump that limit up to twice per season.

Goodell defended the proposal against accusations that the league is prioritizing revenue over player safety. 

“We always look at the data with respect to injuries,” he told the media gathered at the league meetings. “That is what drove our decisions throughout the first 12 or so years of Thursday Night Football and how it’s evolved. I think the data was very clear: it doesn’t show a higher injury rate. But we recognize shorter weeks. We went through this with COVID, too.”

When the idea of flex scheduling is revisited in May, it will require the support of 24 team owners in order to become a reality. 

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Eric Shanks Got Approval From Alex Rodriguez Before FOX Hired Derek Jeter

“Why wouldn’t we reach out?”

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Derek Jeter is going to work a very limited schedule for FOX next season. Still, before he came on board, FOX Sports CEO Eric Shanks wanted the support of Jeter’s former Yankees teammate and on-again/off-again friend Alex Rodriguez.

Andrew Marchand is reporting that Shanks reached out to ARod personally. Rodriguez gave his approval to the network.

“Why wouldn’t we reach out?” a Fox Sports spokesman said when The New York Post reached out for confirmation.

While Derek Jeter is now part of the FOX family, fans shouldn’t expect to see him every time baseball is on the network. He is only scheduled to work “marquee events”. This season, those include the London series, the All-Star Game, and the World Series.

He will be at the desk alongside Kevin Burkhardt, David Ortíz, and Rodriguez.

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