Three months after Pete Bevacqua stepped down as the chairman of NBC Sports to become the new athletic director at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater, the company has decided on its next leader. Rick Cordella, who has been with NBCUniversal since 2006 serving in a variety of different roles, has been promoted to the role of “President, NBC Sports,” and will report directly to Mark Lazarus, the chairman of NBCUniversal Media Group.
Cordella most recently served as the president of programming for NBC Sports and Peacock Sports, a role in which he oversaw strategy for the sustained growth of both platforms. Peacock will be the exclusive home of a game within the NFL Wild Card round on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, marking the first time such an occurrence is taking place. Cordella was an integral member of the founding team for Peacock and served as the chief commercial officer for the over-the-top (OTT) streaming service. Under his leadership, NBC Sports garnered the accolade for the most-streamed Olympics and Super Bowl in history as the platform more than doubled its subscriber count year-over-year (YoY) to 24 million.
The six-time Sports Emmy Award winner began his tenure with the company within its fantasy sports properties, specifically overseeing Rotoworld and a variety of additional websites under its purview. Cordella was also a board member of FanDuel and represented NBC Sports on behalf of its investment in the sportsbook and gambling company. Additionally, he also has experience in digital media and has worked on the launch of several direct-to-consumer and online services, including NBC Sports Gold, ProFootballTalk and NBCSports.com, while also outlining content and editorial strategy.
“Rick has been at the epicenter of NBC Sports for years with a proven track record of growth and innovation across all platforms, particularly our flagship NBC network as well as Peacock, where he helped architect our leadership role in sports and streaming,” Lazarus said in a statement. “Rick will oversee the evolution of our business as we continue to offer the best experiences and content to our viewers, as well as be the best partner to leagues and rights holders.”
NBC is in the second year of a $20 billion media rights contract with the National Football League, primarily centered on its Sunday Night Football property. The lead broadcast booth of Mike Tirico, Cris Collinsworth and Melissa Stark is in its second season working together. NBC also started broadcasting Big Ten Conference football games this fall with its new B1G Ten Saturday property featuring Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge and Kathryn Tappen.
The company recently reacquired the rights for WWE SmackDown, which will air weekly starting in Oct. 2024 on USA Network, and will produce four specials in prime time each year as part of the deal. NBC is paying $7.75 billion to broadcast the Olympic Games through the 2028 festivities in Los Angeles, Calif., and has been working with Major League Baseball to present an exclusive Sunday morning contest on Peacock each week. These properties, plus other aspects of its business, will be under the leadership of Lazarus, Cordella and other executives at the company.
“It’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing,” Cordella told John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. “It’s less about this being the start of a new day and more about how we’re going to keep executing the way we have.”
The CW to Air 2023 Barstool Arizona Bowl
After going streaming-only last year, the 2023 Barstool Arizona Bowl will also air on the CW.
The Barstool Arizona Bowl just secured an additional broadcast home — The CW.
The news broke earlier today on Twitter from the official Barstool Arizona Bowl account. The 2023 Barstool Arizona Bowl will stream once more on Barstool.TV but can also be found on your local CW affiliate.
Fear not, Stoolies — your favorite Barstool personalities won’t be replaced by The CW’s broadcast teams. Pardon My Take’s Jake Marsh confirmed that he will once again assume play-by-play duties, while his bosses Dan “Big Cat” Katz and Dave Portnoy will join him as color commentators. Caleb Pressley and Adam “Rone” Ferrone will act as sideline reporters.
Last year, Barstool ditched a traditional media platform to air their bowl game after reports surfaced that CBS wouldn’t work with Barstool to broadcast the game. Instead, the company streamed the game direct-to-consumer on Barstool.TV, the company’s streaming platform. Ratings were about on par with a streaming-only event, with 1 million total viewers, 500,000 unique viewers, and a high of 130,000 concurrent viewers according to Front Office Sports.
Last year, Ohio defeated Wyoming 30-27. We’ll find out which two teams will play in this year’s Barstool Arizona Bowl following this weekend’s college football slate.
Jeff Kotuby is a nationally-published journalist with bylines on many popular broadcasting and pop culture sites, including The Streamable, eBaum’s World, Twin Galaxies, and more. Jeff grew up in the shadows of New York City and cultivated his love for sports media with the classic broadcasting voices of the area, like Mike & The Mad Dog, Mike “Doc” Emerick, and Michael Kay. You can reach Jeff on Twitter @JeffKotu3y.
CFP National Championship Game Could Rotate Between Partners in New TV Deal
According to Front Office Sports, ESPN and FOX have already made presentations to the CFP.
Ahead of the College Football Playoff (CFP) expansion to 12 teams in the 2024 season, the playoff could look to have the National Championship Game rotate among its media partners every year.
The goal through the process would be to maximize the scope of the media rights fees and cross-promote the game once the existing 12-year, $5.64 billion rights deal with ESPN expires, sources have told Front Office Sports.
Various media outlets have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring rights to the CFP, including ESPN, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, and Warner Bros. Discovery, along with streaming providers Amazon Prime Video and Apple. Michael McCarthy and Amanda Christovich of Front Office Sports reported the news of the prospective structure, along with several media companies that could be involved in the bidding.
Within the report, it is stated that no structure of a deal has been agreed upon at the moment. Last year’s contest between Georgia and TCU averaged 17.2 million viewers on ABC, which made the contest the least-watched National Championship Game since the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) came into existence in 1999. According to Front Office Sports, ESPN and FOX have already made presentations to the CFP, and ESPN could be reportedly willing to forgo part of the CFP to pay for other rights, such as the National Basketball Association.
The discussion surrounding the CFP comes at a time when NASCAR recently announced seven-year media rights deals with CBS, NBC, Warner Bros. Discovery, and Amazon Prime Video worth a combined $7.7 billion. Moreover, the Big Ten inked a seven-year, $8 billion deal with CBS, NBC, and FOX that began this season and is slated to run through 2029.
ESPN will broadcast the National Championship Game on Jan. 8, 2024 at 7:30 PM ET.
Last year, the network presented an alternate broadcast featuring Pat McAfee and members of his program, The Pat McAfee Show, broadcast on ESPN2 while Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe, and Molly McGrath were on the traditional presentation on ESPN.
Andrew Whitworth: Being on Amazon Prime Video Keeps Me Connected to Football
“I just finished this incredibly long football career, but I feel like I’m 18 years old and I just got a fake ID and I can go to a club.”
After 16 seasons in the NFL, Andrew Whitworth is officially retired from playing the game, but he is still very much around the gridiron as a member of Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday Night Football studio broadcast team.
Whitworth is on-site at the games every week behind the desk as an analyst on TNF Tonight where he provides his insight and expertise regarding the action on the field. The four-time Pro Bowler is situated alongside Tony Gonzalez, Richard Sherman, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, along with host Charissa Thompson.
In a recent interview with Yahoo Sports, Whitworth described how he is looking at the game of football in a different light now that he is retired. Within his remarks, he conveyed that he is not sure if he was necessarily a fan of the sport when he was playing, something he acknowledges is ludicrous to state but a legitimate question he has. Rather than viewing the game as a whole, he was more focused on his role as an offensive tackle and being able to effectuate scoring drives by stopping defenses.
“I just finished this incredibly long football career, but I feel like I’m 18 years old and I just got a fake ID and I can go to a club,” Whitworth said. “That’s how I feel watching football now – I just want to consume everything I can.”
Immediately after the final season of his career – which ended with a Super Bowl championship as a member of the Los Angeles Rams – Andrew Whitworth wanted to discover a way to remain involved in the sport. There were options, he shared, to stay within the Rams organization, along with opportunities to work with other teams. His mindset was focused on the art of storytelling though and how to promulgate and discuss a sport that granted him a successful career.
“Being in these stadiums, it keeps you so connected,” Whitworth said. “And every week it seems, I’ve got players asking me, ‘Hey man, you got any thoughts on my game? Things you could help me with?’ For my last five or six years in the NFL, I was kind of a coach-player, mentoring guys. Now, I’m getting to do that a little bit while also covering the games, which has been great.”
Andrew Whitworth outlined a typical week as a member of the Amazon Prime Video Thursday Night Football broadcast, which begins with a production meeting on Monday mornings and subsequent research and film study. In the afternoon he coaches a junior high basketball team for his son and then proceeds to coach his other son’s football team. The film study continues on Tuesday before traveling to the city where the game is taking place that night.
“As soon as I get to that city, I start putting together a tape to talk about and show the producers,” Whitworth said of his Wednesday routine. “We all get together, usually at the hotel, and spend [four to five] hours having dinner and talking about the game.”
Another production meeting takes place on Thursday morning before touring the city and finding enjoyable things to do throughout the day. The crew then arrives to the stadium to do the broadcast that night – in this case, a matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks, which begins with TNF Tonight at 7 PM ET.