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NHL Ratings Up 38% in Opening Two Weeks

NHL regular season games are currently averaging 679,000 viewers per national broadcast.

Jordan Bondurant

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Hockey fans are glad the NHL is back, and viewership in the first two weeks of the new season shows that.

Viewership for nine telecasts across ESPN and TNT is averaging 694,000 viewers, which is a 38% increase compared to the first two weeks of the season last year.

A Wednesday night tilt on TNT between the Penguins and Red Wings averaged 699,000 viewers last week. It doubled the viewership of the same early window game in 2022.

ESPN’s coverage of Lightning/Sabres averaged 552,000 viewers, which was up 12% versus last year.

Viewership on The Worldwide Leader was also strong on Tuesday last week with Avalanche/Kraken averaging 513,000 viewers. That figure was up 51% year over year.

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ESPN Announces Coverage Plans for Inaugural Two-Day NBA Draft

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

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Logo for ESPN and the 2024 NBA Draft

The NBA is set to debut a new format for its draft. Instead of doing both rounds in one night, this year will be the first time the league has used a two-day format with night one coming up on Wednesday, June 26 followed by night two on Thursday June 27. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN and ABC.

On Wednesday, ESPN will begin with NBA Today starting at 3 p.m. ET, which will be hosted by Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and CJ McCollum. They will be followed by a Red Carpet Special at 5 p.m. ET with Cassidy Hubbarth, Kendrick Perkins and Richard Jefferson. Coverage of the draft begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

The ESPN team will feature Malika Andrews, Andraya Carter, Jay Bilas and Richard Jefferson. ABC will have Kevin Negandhi hosting alongside Stephen A. Smith and Bob Myers.

ESPN reporters and insiders Monica McNutt, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony are set to appear on both broadcasts.

For Round 2 on Thursday, ESPN will again start with NBA Today at 3 p.m. ET with Christine Williamson, Kendrick Perkins, Austin Rivers and Tim Legler. That will be followed by coverage of the draft beginning at 4 p.m. ET with Malika Andrews, Stephen A. Smith, Bob Myers, Adrian Wojnarowski, Bobby Marks and Jonathan Givony.

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Michael Phelps Joining NBCUniversal Coverage of Olympic Games Paris 2024

“With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

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Michael Phelps
Courtesy: NBC Olympics & Paralympics on X

Michael Phelps, the 23-time Olympic gold medalist who is the most-decorated Olympic athlete of all time, will be joining NBCUniversal for coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 this summer. Phelps returns to the coverage after being part of the broadcast during the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and will provide his commentary and analysis on prime time and daytime shows in Paris on NBC and Peacock.

Additionally, he will join Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines in the broadcast booth for select swimming competition telecasts from the París La Défense Arena, along with correspondent/analyst Elizabeth Beisel and reporter Melissa Stark. Phelps will return to NBC and Peacock on Friday night broadcasting coverage of the U.S. Olympic Trials-Swimming from Indianapolis, Ind. beginning at 8 p.m. EST/PST.

“We are excited to have Michael return to our coverage across both daytime and primetime, and of course, the place where no one knows more about winning – at the pool,” Molly Solomon, executive producer and president of NBC Olympics Production, said in a statement. “With his ability to analyze and entertain, our viewers are in for another gold-medal performance.”

NBC has been televising coverage throughout the week live in prime time leading up to the Olympic games. The swimming trials are averaging 3.2 million viewers in prime time across NBC and Peacock, which is up 20% from the trials for the Olympic Games three years ago. The event is taking place from Lucas Oil Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Colts, and has featured accomplished swimmers such as Katie Ledecky, Gretchen Walsh and Regan Smith. Moreover, the prime time broadcast of the diving competition on Monday and Tuesday from Knoxville, Tenn. is averaging 2.9 million viewers, a 39% rise from three years ago.

The International Olympic Committee granted NBCUniversal the U.S. media rights for the Olympic Games through 2032 for $7.65 billion. NBCUniversal has been the exclusive broadcast home of the Summer Olympic Games in the United States since 1988 when it produced 179.5 hours of broadcast coverage. The company is scheduled to broadcast the Olympic Games from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy in 2026, Los Angeles, Calif. in 2028 and Brisbane, Australia in 2032, along with the 2030 Winter Olympic Games from a location to be determined.

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Report: Stephen A. Smith Offered $18 Million Per Year Contract by ESPN

“Smith has reportedly been seeking some $25 million per year.”

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Stephen A. Smith

Let the negotiations begin. John Ourand of Puck is reporting ESPN has made an initial offer to Stephen A. Smith whose contract ends in a year. Ourand reports the offer was for a 5-year deal worth a total of $90 million, or $18 million per year.

According to reports, Smith’s current deal with ESPN, which was signed in 2019, pays him $8 million per year. Smith hosts the daily morning show First Take, takes part in ESPN and ABC’s NBA coverage and also makes other appearances on the network. Away from ESPN, Smith hosts his podcast, The Stephen A. Smith Show and also owns his own production company, Mr. SAS Productions

The 5-year, $90 million offer matches what Troy Aikman signed on for to do Monday Night Football and would put Smith at the top of the list as far as salaries at ESPN, however he and his representatives with WME might be looking for more, a lot more.

Ourand writes, “Smith has reportedly been seeking some $25 million per year. While $18 million might seem like a ton of dough, I’m told Stephen A. wants McAfee bucks. Indeed, WME’s response to ESPN was to point to Pat McAfee’s deal, which nets close to $30 million per year between his studio show and College GameDay appearances. WME also had the chutzpah to use ESPN’s $700 million deal with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions as a comp.”

Smith was a guest of Jim Rome on The Jim Rome Show recently and addressed some health concerns he had after being diagnosed with COVID-19 a few years ago. He ultimately said, “I’m getting myself in shape, and I’m not satisfied, and because I feel better than I’ve felt in 30 years, I feel like once upon a time when I thought that I had about a couple of years left, man, I think I can do this for another 25-30 years the way that I’m feeling.”

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