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ESPN Adds Andre Iguodala, Austin Rivers and Scott Perry to NBA Coverage

ESPN adds voices from various sectors of the Association to its NBA coverage ahead of the 2023-24 season.

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Rivers-Perry-Iguodala
Andre Iguodala - Courtesy: John Lee | Austin Rivers - Courtesy: Isaiah J. Downing, USA Today | Scott Perry - Courtesy: Robert Sabo, New York Post

A few days after announcing his retirement, ESPN has announced that Andre Iguodala will be joining the network, officially launching his sports media career. The 2015 NBA Finals MVP and four-time NBA champion will appear on studio programming including NBA Today, First Take and SportsCenter. Iguodala will balance these media responsibilities with his work founding a $200 million venture capital fund with business partner Rudy Cline-Thomas.

“I got to know Andre over the past year, and I’m impressed with his willingness to be candid with his own podcast,” ESPN head of event and studio production Dave Roberts said. “This is something that is of mutual interest to both of us, and we’ll just see how it goes.”

The network has also added longtime NBA guard Austin Rivers to NBA coverage, and he will call an NBA game this season alongside his father, Doc Rivers. He has been hosting his podcast, Off Guard with Austin Rivers, where he has given his opinions and insights about the game.

Former New York Knicks general manager Scott Perry is also part of the lineup for studio coverage, contributing his expertise to programming including NBA Today and SportsCenter. Moreover, Las Vegas Aces head coach and two-time WNBA champion Becky Hammon has reached a contract extension with the network, along with former WNBA head coach Stephanie White.

“I think the currency factor is very relevant in the decision because I think that it serves the fan well when you have a coach just off the bench, or you have someone like a Bob Myers who is the architect of four World championships, who just spent recent years looking at the rosters and talking strategy about every one of his past competitors,” Roberts said. “They bring a sense of currency and makes it more relevant to the fan who are watching these games.”

The network will also highlight Hubie Brown’s 50th season in the Association throughout its coverage, a testament to his dedication to the craft and ability to enhance the broadcast utilizing his versatile experience. Brown coached 33 seasons in professional basketball, including 15 in the NBA, and joined ESPN in 2004 as an analyst for the NBA on ABC.

“When you watch a game Hubie’s on, you’re guaranteed to learn something about the game,” Roberts said. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be on the same team as Hubie, and we look forward to watching him in action.”

Following company-wide layoffs, ESPN announced a new lead NBA commentary booth of Mike Breen, Doris Burke and Doc Rivers that will make its regular-season debut Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden when the New York Knicks face the Boston Celtics. Previous analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson were included among the layoffs, breaking up the longtime lead booth that called 15 NBA Finals series together.

In addition to the new voices of the NBA Finals, the network named a primary secondary booth – Ryan Ruocco; JJ Redick and Richard Jefferson – that Roberts previously referred to as a “succession plan.” The trio will call the NBA Sunday Showcase series on ABC, along with other marquee events and games throughout the NBA Playoffs.

ESPN is in the penultimate season of its media rights deal with the NBA and is a property that the network is interested in renewing. Burke Magnus, the entity’s president of content, told Barrett Sports Media in a recent interview that the network considers the Association to be an important property to retain within its broadcast portfolio.

“I think the NBA league office is really forward-thinking and innovative, and it kind of fits perfectly with our worldview,” Magnus said. “I would say it’s really important for us – we’re very focused on it – but at the same time, we have to balance that excitement and enthusiasm with some financial discipline as well.”

The network also revamped its NBA Countdown cast, retaining Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon while adding two-time NBA Executive of the Year Bob Myers and host Malika Andrews to the regular lineup. This team will make its debut ahead of the Knicks-Celtics matchup on Wednesday night and present a doubleheader that concludes with the professional debut of No. 1 overall draft selection and young phenom Victor Wembanyama. He and the San Antonio Spurs will take on the Dallas Mavericks at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST on the opening slate of games.

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NHL Stanley Cup Final Game 4 Averages 3.1 Million Viewers on ESPN Networks

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup.

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ESPN on ABC
Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company

The Stanley Cup Final has extended to another game after the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Florida Panthers on Saturday night to attain its first win of the series. While Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Stuart Skinner seek to keep the Oilers’ season alive on Tuesday night, the Panthers aim to close out the first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history. The Panthers, however, will need to overcome giving up eight unanswered goals to the Oilers in Game 4 in order to achieve that task.

The Game 4 win-or-go-home matchup averaged 3.1 million viewers on ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research, which is up 20% from the comparable game last year. ESPN’s broadcast of the Stanley Cup Final on ABC peaked at 3.52 million viewers and attained a 1.4 rating, the latter of which is up 15% from last year’s Stanley Cup Final Game 4 between the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights televised on TNT, TBS and truTV.

Although the game elicited year-over-year gains, viewership is down 33% from the last Stanley Cup Final Game 4 on ABC, which was a matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022. Moreover, the rating declined by a full share from the 2.4 share the matchup garnered last year. The fourth game of this year’s series is down from Game 2, which averaged 3.56 million viewers with a 1.9 rating, along with the 3.35 million viewers and 1.8 rating for the third game, according to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch.

Through its first four games, the Stanley Cup Final is averaging 3.3 million total viewers, which is up 11% from last year’s matchup in this regard. An average of 1.2 million viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic are watching the Stanley Cup Final, a 25% year-over-year increase as well. Viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic equated to an average of 1.1 million for Game 4, representative of a 20% year-over-year increase.

The Stanley Cup Finals on ESPN platforms have averaged 1.6 million total viewers and 633,000 viewers within the Persons 18-49 demographic, a year-over-year increase of 38% and 28% in those categories, respectively. The Walt Disney Company (ESPN/ABC) is nearing the conclusion of its third season of NHL broadcasts since reacquiring broadcast rights to the league and will have four more seasons to go on its current seven-year media rights deal.

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Tom Brady Makes FOX Sports Broadcast Booth Debut

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?”

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Screengrab from the UFL Championship game on FOX with Curt Menefee, Tom Brady and Joel Klatt
Screengrab: UFL Championship Game on FOX

If Spring Football gave us anything, it gave us this. Let the record show that the first time Tom Brady analyzed a pro football game from a broadcasting booth as an employee of FOX Sports, it was with teams from Birmingham and San Antonio, with the game being played in St. Louis.

That may someday be a trivia question hardly anyone will be able to answer. For now, it just marks the debut of Brady’s time as a football analyst as part of his 10-year $375 million deal he signed with FOX. Brady was not officially on the call of the UFL Championship game, but he did join play-by-play man Curt Menefee and analyst Joel Klatt in the second quarter on Sunday when the Birmingham Stallions beat the San Antonio Brahmas 25-0 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis

“We bring in a little instant offense,” Menefee said. “You know him, you love him. Tom Brady, legendary quarterback, just had his number retired.”

“I can’t go down there on the field anymore, what are you talking about?” Brady quipped.

“He is joining us here at FOX sports as I am sure you have heard as an analyst this fall, can’t wait to see him,” Menefee said before asking Brady for his take on what he had seen in the UFL game. “So far, what are your impressions in this early going Championship game, sometimes teams can be a little bit tight, it looks like it may be right here.”

“They’re all a little different when you get into these games,” Brady said. “There’s a lot of defense out there right now. You see the defense out there playing with a lot of energy but someone’s gotta get the ball down the field and try and open this field up a little bit. It’s a lot of horizontal passes and the defense is swarming and trying to punch the ball out. ‘Make them defend every blade of grass,’ that’s what we used to say.’

At the conclusion of the game, Brady was on the field to present the championship game MVP award which went to Birmingham quarterback Adrian Martinez who played for both Nebraska and Kansas State and was the league’s regular season MVP.

Brady is set to work with Kevin Burkhardt this fall on the FOX No. 1 broadcast team. The pair will call the top game for FOX each week starting with the September 8 game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns.

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Monumental Sports Network No Longer Available on Fubo

“We urge our fans to consider accessing other pay TV providers or subscribing to Monumental Sports Network directly.”

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Photo of a studio at Monumental Sports Network
Courtesy: Monumental Sports Network

Fubo subscribers in the Washington, D.C. area will no longer be able to watch Monumental Sports Network, the regional service that airs Wahington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics games in addition to other sports coverage.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment explained in a press release that after lengthy negotiations, Fubo has refused several offers to keep the independent local network available to its users. “This means that D.C. sports fans who are Fubo subscribers do not have access to live games for the Mystics, Capitals, Wizards, and other local teams such as the Washington Spirit and area HBCUs, colleges, and high schools,” the company said in its release.

“Throughout the process, we negotiated in good faith to keep our local independent network available to Fubo’s subscribers, including offering Fubo market-rate terms that other larger distributors have accepted,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately, Fubo did not appear motivated to come to a deal and refused several generous offers.

“Moving forward, our highly-rated WNBA content, including Wednesday’s Mystics-Fever game, will no longer be available on Fubo, which is unfortunate given the unprecedented interest that women’s sports are experiencing. This outcome seems at odds with Fubo’s claim to be the leading sports-focused live TV platform and clearly signals a total lack of interest in local women’s sports at a time when the rest of the world has declared their importance.  Would Fubo ever consider taking away Monumental from its fans if our NHL and NBA teams were in season?

“Unlike Fubo, we remain committed to women’s sports and serving D.C. sports fans. We urge our fans to consider accessing other pay TV providers or subscribing to Monumental Sports Network directly at monumentalsportsnetwork.com.”

WUSA9, the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C. said they reached out to Fubo and received the following from a spokesperson:

“Fubo has been engaged in good faith negotiations with Monumental Sports Network but we were unable to reach a deal. As a result, the network left Fubo on June 15, 2024.”

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