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Michelle Beadle: ‘NBA Countdown Has Not Been Able to Marinate’

“That position and that show has never been allowed to marinate and it’s sort of why you continue to see change.”

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Michelle Beadle
Courtesy: Scott Evans, ESPN Images

Former NBA Countdown host Michelle Beadle has watched what ESPN has done from afar, especially during its layoffs of behind-the-scenes and on-air talent. The network reportedly is shaking up its lead NBA commentary booth going into next season, a move that left play-by-play announcer Mike Breen “sad and stunned.”

Beadle recently spoke with Andrew Cohen of Front Office Sports to describe how its NBA studio coverage compares to TNT, which features Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny “The Jet” Smith on the Emmy Award-winning studio program, Inside the NBA.

“That position and that show has never been allowed to marinate and it’s sort of why you continue to see change,” Beadle said of NBA Countdown. “It’s unfortunate, and it’s why TNT dominates because they’re allowed to marinate for decades and the product gets better with year after year.”

Beadle hosted the show from 2016 to 2019 before Maria Taylor and Rachel Nichols split the role and she was bought out by the network. NBA Countdown was again revamped prior to the 2021-22 season with Mike Greenberg as host and featuring analysts Stephen A. Smith, Michael Wilbon and Jalen Rose. Rose was part of ESPN’s talent layoffs, and his position is expected to be replaced on the program – perhaps by Kendrick Perkins or J.J. Redick. She made the comments while announcing her new basketball podcast, Beadle Royale, on Amazon’s Wondery network, which was divulged to the public earlier today.

The ESPN layoffs, however, have dampened the mood surrounding some of its programming for select talent. Previous reports described an apprehensive environment at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol ahead of the moves, shifting company morale as the network looks for a strategic partner to purchase an equity stake in the brand. The “Worldwide Leader” is also in the process of preparing a direct-to-consumer product launch under the project name “Flagship.”

“It sucks when layoffs happen,” Beadle said. “It’s a tough conversation that people try to have. I know everyone thinks they understand why these things happen, but I don’t think anybody truly gets it.”

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UFC 300 Projected to Surpass 1 Million Pay-Per-View Buys

“For 300, we’re building the greatest card ever assembled.”

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Graphic for UFC 300

As Dana White and the rest of the UFC community get set for Saturday night’s UFC 300, they are already announcing some major milestones. White said the event is now projected to eclipse the 1 million pay-per-view number, which according to Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern would be the first time that has happened since before the pandemic.

White also said the expected gate for the event is $16.5 million, which would make it the third highest in UFC history and the highest for any card that does not include Connor McGregor.

UFC 300 will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. ESPN+ or Disney bundle subscribers are eligible to purchase the event which is $69.99 up until the event starts and then moves to $79.99

“For 300, we’re building the greatest card ever assembled,” UFC CEO Dana White told Jim Rome. “Every one of th fights on this card could be a main event on a Fight Night or a pay-per-view.”

The featured match on the card has UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Alex Pereira fighting former champion Jamahal Hill.

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MLB Network Records 626,000 Viewers for Jackson Holliday Debut

The matchup was the second most-watched regular season game in MLB Network history.

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MLB Network Logo
MLB Network Logo – Courtesy: MLB Network

MLB Network served as the national television home for the debut of Baltimore Orioles infielder Jackson Holliday, the top-ranked prospect in the minor leagues, as he took the field to face the Boston Red Sox. Although Holliday did not end up recording a hit in the game, there was considerable interest surrounding the game that translated into viewership. The matchup was the second most-watched regular season game in MLB Network history with an average of 626,000 viewers. The 20-year-old infielder recorded his first career RBI on a groundout en route to a 7-5 Orioles victory. John Ourand of Puck News was first to report the viewership figure, which was representative of an out-of-market measurement.

The presentation of the Orioles vs. Red Sox game came a day before the MLB Network Showcase broadcast from Fenway Park featuring the regular-season debut of play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian. Holliday did not collect a hit in this contest, but the game extended into extra innings where the Orioles scored six runs in the top of the 10th inning to secure a 9-4 victory. 

MLB Network will present a rematch of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) on Friday night when the Texas Rangers visit the Houston Astros from Minute Maid Park at 8 p.m. EST. Preceding that game broadcast will be the season premiere of Off Base at 4 p.m. EST, followed by Intentional Talk from 5 to 6 p.m. and MLB Tonight until the start of the game broadcast at 8 p.m. MLB Network will also premiere MLB Tonight: Clubhouse Edition, a non-traditional game telecast series entering its fourth season, on Jackie Robinson Day, Monday, April 15, when the Atlanta Braves face the Houston Astros at 8 p.m. EST.

For the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), the regional sports network that serves as the television home of both the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, Holliday’s debut drew an average of 114,000 viewers in the Baltimore designated market area. The metric is 27% higher than the average audience for MASN season-to-date. The team is returning home to Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday night to begin a six-game homestand with matchups against the Milwaukee Brewers and Minnesota Twins.

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Connor Onion to Make MLB Broadcasting Debut Saturday

“Just wanted to take some time to say thank you to some of you on here that have watched, listened and supported. Can’t wait to have some fun on Saturday. Hope you can come hang with me, AJ and Ken.”

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Photo of Connor Onion and a logo of MLB on FS1
Courtesy: Connon Onion X Account

Congratulations go out to Big Ten Network and ESPN broadcaster Connor Onion who will be making his MLB broadcasting debut on Saturday when he calls the Rangers-Astros game which will be carried by FS1 at 4 p.m. Onion posted a video announcing the assignment on his X account as he was walking through the airport to head to Houston.

“Good morning, I am off to Houston today,” he said. “Got an exciting opportunity to make my Major League Baseball broadcasting debut calling Rangers-Astros Saturday afternoon for FOX with AJ Pierzynski and Ken Rosenthal. This is obviously something I have been thinking about for a long, long time but wouldn’t have happened without so many people from my first job in Quad Cities to school at Ball State and Southern Illinois after that. So much help and so much support along the way. Just wanted to take some time to say thank you to some of you on here that have watched, listened and supported. Can’t wait to have some fun on Saturday. Hope you can come hang with me, AJ and Ken.”

Onion debuted for the Big 10 Network in 2021 and has called college football, basketball, baseball and volleyball for the network. He has also done college football, basketball and baseball for ESPN.

Many may recall the women’s volleyball match between Nebraska and Omaha which took place in front of over 92,000 at Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium last August. Onion was on the call for that match and was profiled by The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch.

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