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ESPN Colleagues Pay Tribute To Mike Breen in 100th NBA Finals Game

“Mike is an icon — the voice of an entire generation when it comes to NBA broadcasting.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Courtesy: AP Photo

The Denver Nuggets finished off the Miami Heat on Monday night to claim their first NBA championship, and with it veteran broadcaster Mike Breen reached the century mark for NBA Finals games called.

Breen, who has been the voice of the NBA Finals on ABC and ESPN since 2006, was recognized by NBA commissioner Adam Silver ahead of the milestone broadcast. A commemorative plaque presented featured photos of Breen with then broadcast partner Hubie Brown for his first Finals call and Breen with Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson this year.

In the closing minutes of Game 5 in Denver Monday, Jackson and Van Gundy offered their quick congratulations to Breen on the air.

Additionally, many of Breen’s ESPN colleagues paid tribute to him ahead of the game.

“I’m so proud of Mike. I’ve known him since 1980, when we would have lunch together at the Fordham Campus Center and talk about our dreams,” said Michael Kay, who hosts The Michael Kay Show on ESPN 98.7 FM in New York. “His was to be the voice of the [New York] Knicks, and he did that while going on to be the voice of the NBA. No one deserves their exalted position more than my best friend. He treats everyone with respect and receives it back, as he should.”

“A toast to excellence at the highest level,” Brown added. “Mike Breen brings leadership, knowledge, and total preparation to every NBA television assignment. I cherish my time by his side every season.”

Reporter Lisa Salters, who was also on the broadcast in Dallas in 2006 when Breen’s run began, also echoed that Breen not only is a top-notch broadcaster but a top-notch friend.

“Mike is an icon — the voice of an entire generation when it comes to NBA broadcasting,” she said. “That’s just a fact. But, he’s also a great leader and friend — it’s a privilege to be on his team.”

Analyst Doris Burke, who has had the opportunity to call games alongside Breen at ESPN, said no one does it better than Mike.

“Mike Breen is the consummate pro and an incredible caretaker of the NBA Finals,” she said. “From the iconic calls, the historic ‘Bang!’ to the closing NBA Finals soliloquy, which puts the series in context, Mike does it all humbly and with incredible passion.”

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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

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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NBA Finals Game 3 Up 2% on ABC and ESPN

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Graphic for the NBA Finals

Game 3 of the NBA Finals series which saw Boston take a three games to none lead in the series was up 2% from last year’s Game 3. The game averaged 11,426,000 viewers and peaked at 13,926,000 at 10:45 p.m. ET.

The game was the top draw in all of television for the night and took the top spot in all of the key demographics. So far through three games, the series is even with the television numbers from 2023.

NBA Countdown, the show which airs right before the game begins, was also up two percent compared to the same show a year ago. NBA Countdown averaged 4,330,000 viewers. Through three games, the show is up five percent from last season’s pregame shows.

The Celtics will look to secure their 18th NBA Championship when the two teams meet again for Game 4 tonight at 8:30 ET. If a Game 5 is necessary, it would be played on Monday, June 17.

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