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DIRECTV, NFL Renew Media Deal

“This renewal will provide fans across all DIRECTV platforms the ability to watch NFL Network’s award-winning coverage of America’s most popular sport while also giving great access to the wildly popular NFL RedZone.”

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Courtesy: DIRECTV

The National Football League has announced a multi-year contract renewal to grant DIRECTV rights to continue carrying NFL Network on its platforms. Additionally, the agreement adds NFL RedZone to all platforms for the first time, marking a transition since the end of DIRECTV’s Red Zone Channel following Google’s $2 billion annual deal to be the home of NFL Sunday Ticket. Previously, two versions of RedZone took place on Sundays – one from NFL Network hosted by Scott Hanson; and the other from DIRECTV hosted by Andrew Siciliano, who continues to work for NFL Media.

“DIRECTV was an initial launch partner of NFL Network over 20 years ago, and we’re thrilled to continue our long-standing partnership which caters to millions of DIRECTV customers who are NFL fans,” said Hans Schroeder, NFL executive vice president of media distribution, in a press release. “This renewal will provide fans across all DIRECTV platforms the ability to watch NFL Network’s award-winning coverage of America’s most popular sport while also giving great access to the wildly popular NFL RedZone.”

DIRECTV, DIRECTV Stream and U-verse subscribers will soon all have access to both NFL Network and NFL RedZone, a considerable benefit for avid football fans consuming content through the satellite television service. Hanson, who signed a contract extension with NFL Media in 2021, will continue to host NFL RedZone.

“With this agreement, DIRECTV continues a long-standing partnership with the NFL and maintains our sports leadership position by delivering the best of sports content to our customers,” Rob Thun, chief content officer of DIRECTV, said in a statement. “This deal strengthens our NFL relationship, as it includes expanded carriage of NFL Network and all the best action from Sunday’s games with NFL RedZone, which is now available to customers across all three DIRECTV platforms.”

A new media rights deal worth approximately $13 billion annually will take command at the start of the 2023 season, along with the launch of NFL Sunday Ticket on YouTube TV. Other aspects of the deal include flex scheduling for ESPN Monday Night Football and Amazon Prime Video Thursday Night Football; the elimination of conference affiliations with CBS and FOX; and changes in playoff game broadcasters.

NFL games were responsible for 88 of the 100 most-watched television shows among programming last year, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. Last season’s Super Bowl was the most-watched NFL championship game of all time, averaging 115.1 million viewers across FOX, FOX Deportes and other digital platforms. The game also holds the distinction for the most-watched television program in American history, underscoring the power of the NFL and its dominance over live and national programming.

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TNT Sports Registers Average of 4 Million Viewers Across NBA Play-In Tournament Doubleheader

As a whole, the two games averaged 4 million viewers across TNT, truTV and the B/R Sports Add-On, which is up 37% from 2023.

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(Illustration) | TNT Sports Logo – Courtesy: Warner Bros. Discovery Studio J – Courtesy: Raeford Dwyer Photography

The Western Conference slate of games within the National Basketball Association Play-In Tournament included plenty of star power and provided many exciting moments concurrent with the implications of the matchups. TNT Sports’ NBA on TNT provided coverage of the contests, the first of which squared the No. 7 New Orleans Pelicans against the No. 8 Los Angeles Lakers. Forward LeBron James and center Anthony Davis led the Lakers to a 110-106 victory in a game that an average of 3.91 million viewers watched across TNT and truTV.

The second game of the night featured the No. 9 Sacramento Kings against the No. 10 Golden State Warriors that measured an average audience size of 4.05 million viewers. Stephen Curry and the Warriors were eliminated after losing the contest 118-94, officially leading to a Friday night game between the Pelicans and Kings with the final conference playoff spot hanging in the balance. That matchup will be broadcast on TNT with tip off scheduled for approximately 9:30 a.m. EST from Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif.

As a whole, the two games averaged 4 million viewers across TNT, truTV and the B/R Sports Add-On, which is up 37% from 2023. The Pelicans-Lakers game – broadcast by play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan, analyst Reggie Miller and reporter Allie LaForce – was the third most-watched play-in game ever and up 74% over last year’s game between the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat.

Additionally, the Kings-Warriors game – broadcast by play-by-play announcer Brian Anderson, analyst Stan Van Gundy and reporter Chris Haynes – was the second most-watched play-in game ever and up 17% over last year when the Minnesota Timberwolves faced the Los Angeles Lakers. TNT was also the most-viewed network in prime-time television on Tuesday night among Persons 18-34, Persons 18-49 and Persons 25-54.

Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch reports that the games rank fourth and sixth on the full season, four of which have included the Los Angeles Lakers. The Warriors have played in three of the six highest-rated NBA games in the season. Both contests also averaged a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49, which tripled the prime time broadcast of FBI on CBS. The only NBA Play-In Tournament game to top Tuesday night’s doubleheader was the Warriors and Lakers matchup in 2021 on ESPN, which averaged a total of 5.62 million viewers and ended in 103-100 Lakers victory.

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Bill Belichick Co-Hosting ‘The Pat McAfee Show Draft Spectacular’ Next Thursday

“It’ll be fun to be in Detroit, be with you guys and get your expertise.”

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Bill Belichick
Courtesy: Adam Glanzman, Getty Images

Former New England Patriots general manager and head coach Bill Belichick will join The Pat McAfee Show for its Draft Spectacular simulcast taking place next Thursday. The fifth annual edition of the broadcast will take place live from the NFL Draft in Detroit, Mich. and feature Belichick, appearing on the show to provide his insights and analysis surrounding the draft selections.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Belichick said. “Draft day; draft weekend is always an exciting time for everybody – for the teams that are building their teams and for the fans and for everybody involved in it – so it’s a great event and I’m looking forward to seeing it from the other side. It’ll be fun to be in Detroit, be with you guys and get your expertise.”

Earlier on Wednesday, ESPN reporters Don Van Natta Jr., Seth Wickersham and Jeremy Fowler released an article detailing how Belichick was unable to land a head coaching job after he and the Patriots officially parted ways. Belichick is third on the all-time wins list among NFL head coaches and helped the Patriots attain six Super Bowl championships over his 24-year tenure with the organization. The report also divulged that Belichick is expected to sign a deal with Omaha Productions to provide analysis and is interested in potentially coaching either the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles or New York Giants.

Within his interview with The Pat McAfee Show on Wednesday, Belichick discussed how teams go about preparing for the NFL Draft and the strategy behind the process. Ahead of the broadcast next week, he is watching film to get ready for the broadcast, which will air live on ESPN+, the ESPN App, YouTube and TikTok next Thursday starting at 8 p.m. EST.

Coverage of the 2024 NFL Draft on ESPN and ABC will include several network hosts, analysts, reporters and insiders including Mike Greenberg, Rece Davis, Laura Rutledge, Kirk Herbstreit, Adam Schefter, Mel Kiper Jr., Molly McGrath and Field Yates. Former Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban will also make his debut on College GameDay on ESPN and the ABC broadcast of the NFL Draft. ESPN and ABC will present NFL Draft broadcasts on Thursday at 8 p.m. EST and Friday at 7 p.m. EST, which will span the first three rounds of the event. The final four rounds taking place on Saturday will include the ABC broadcast team on ESPN.

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Pat McAfee to Caitlin Clark: “Can’t Wait to See Where Women’s Basketball Goes”

“I feel like I always had super big goals and dreams and aspirations, but at the same time, this is a place that women’s basketball has really never been before, so no, I never really imagined it on this magnitude.”

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Caitlin Clark
Courtesy: Indiana Fever on X

The 2024 WNBA Draft on ESPN attained record levels of viewership, amassing an average audience of 2.45 million viewers for this edition of the event. Iowa guard Caitlin Clark was selected No. 1 overall by the Indiana Fever, a selection that will see her team with last year’s first-overall pick Aliyah Boston to try and lead the organization to a league championship. Following an opening press conference from Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. on Wednesday morning, Clark made an in-studio appearance on The Pat McAfee Show on ESPN where they discussed her time on the Iowa Hawkeyes and her transition from the NCAA to the WNBA.

Clark, the all-time scoring leader for NCAA Division I Basketball, led Iowa to a second-consecutive National Championship Game. Viewership for the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament broke several records, including averaging 18.1 million viewers during the championship game between Iowa and South Carolina. Clark responded to a question about whether the outcome playing out was how she envisioned her college career and transition to the WNBA concluding.

“I feel like I always had super big goals and dreams and aspirations, but at the same time, this is a place that women’s basketball has really never been before, so no, I never really imagined it on this magnitude,” Clark said. “But also I’ve always been a supporter of women’s basketball; it’s always been something I’ve loved ever since a young age.”

Clark explained that she was hoping the Indiana Fever would win the WNBA Draft Lottery to gain the first overall selection in the WNBA Draft. She is excited to remain in the midwest and learn from her teammates, coaches and alumni, including Hall of Fame forward and former league MVP Tamika Catchings. Through it all, she will try to remain grounded and focus on making meaningful contributions to the Fever and league as a whole.

“I think where the magnitude of everything’s gone, I feel like I’ve tried to stay right in the middle,” Clark said. “One of the best pieces of advice that somebody gave me is like, ‘At the level you feel all the praise, that’s the same level you’ll feel all the hate,’ so I try to stay right in the middle. It doesn’t really bother me – I think it’s just what comes with it, and growing up, my mom always said, ‘People want to see you fail.’ That’s just kind of how our world is, which is really sad, but at the same time, I don’t think about that type of stuff.”

Show host Pat McAfee expressed that women’s college basketball has been phenomenal to watch over the last several years with the talent and storylines therein. In discussing the growth of the game, he wanted to know whether Clark perceived there to be an onus on her to bring women’s basketball to another level. Viewership of the WNBA last season reached over 36 million viewers across all national networks and was up 21% year-over-year. Moreover, the WNBA Finals on ESPN between the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty averaged 728,000 viewers, marking the most-watched edition of the league championship in 20 years.

“I don’t feel like any pressure to take it to a place it’s never been before,” Clark responded. “I think that’s just going to happen with the way we’re on TV more; with the way people are following from the college game to the WNBA.”

At the conclusion of the interview, McAfee hit a long-distance shot from the stage of his set to give away four season tickets to the Indiana Fever. The team plays its first game on Tuesday, May 14 against the Connecticut Sun, which will be televised on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. EST. Thirty-six of the 40 Indiana Fever games will be broadcast by a national television platform, including eight on linear channels owned by The Walt Disney Company (ESPN, ABC, ESPN2).

“Caitlin, I just want to let you know we’ve all been incredibly lucky to kind of watch this all take place,” McAfee said. “Can’t wait to see what you do at the W, can’t wait to see where women’s basketball goes, and thank you for getting somebody like me into the sport because it is an awesome, awesome sport, and the future is only bright, especially in this city.”

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