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David Roberts of ESPN: ‘The More Versatile You Are, The More Valuable You Are’

“The last thing we want is talent that’s all the same, which amounts to nothing more than elevator music.”

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David Roberts
Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN is prepared to begin its coverage of the 2024 NBA Playoffs as 16 teams battle to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy as league champions. Various stars from across the Association will participate in the action starting with Round 1 on Friday night, including LeBron James, Jayson Tatum and Nikola Jokić.

Additionally, NBA on ESPN playoffs coverage will mark the postseason debut of the network’s new lead broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analysts Doris Burke and JJ Redick and reporter Lisa Salters. Redick was originally a member of the secondary broadcast team with Ryan Ruocco, Richard Jefferson and Cassidy Hubbarth, but the departure of Doc Rivers from the lead crew to coach the Milwaukee Bucks led to this change.

Earlier in the year, ESPN Head of Event & Studio Production David Roberts referred to the secondary broadcast team as “the potential making of a succession plan.” With the alteration to the broadcast teams in-season though, he remains optimistic that the network will present a strong playoff performance. Redick brings a different perspective to the lead broadcast crew of a player recently removed from NBA game action who has demonstrated a propensity for analytics and explaining their significance to trends within the game. Outside of his broadcasting work, he exhibits versatility in sports media, appearing on various ESPN programs such as First Take, co-hosting both The Old Man and the Three and Mind the Game podcasts and co-founding ThreeFourTwo Productions.

“Hey, it makes us all look good,” Roberts said of Redick’s versatility. “The fact is that the more versatile you are, the more valuable you are, and JJ Redick and Stephen A. Smith are prime examples of that.”

Smith is a featured commentator and executive producer on First Take, but also engages in a variety of projects outside of the morning show. During the NBA season, he appears in studio or on location for NBA Countdown, hosts his own podcast, titled The Stephen A. Smith Show, and operates his media production company, Mr. SAS Productions.

Smith’s contract with ESPN is reportedly due to expire next year, and he has spoken candidly about his worth on numerous occasions. Additionally, he has stated that he wakes up every morning thinking about how he can make his bosses more money and how to get some of it, a sentiment he elaborated on in his best-selling book, “Straight Shooter: A Memoir of Second Chances and First Takes.”

“Stephen A. loves the NBA, and his commitment to covering the NBA is just simply outstanding,” Roberts said. “He’s unafraid to say what needs to be said. He could care less whether someone is ticked off in the process because he also is an outstanding journalist who will back up his opinions with facts. So when you watch Stephen A., you’re watching a multi-versatile individual who can handle just about anything in broadcasting; in fact, I’ll say he can handle anything in broadcasting.”

Roberts proceeded to explain that a majority of ESPN talent are not “cookie cutter” and approach things in their own way. Earlier in the media conference call, he discussed Malika Andrews, who is in her first season hosting NBA Countdown, and how she brings an “exemplary” work ethic to the program. Roberts also divulged that ratings for NBA Countdown are up 7% year-over-year.

Additionally, he spoke about how studio analyst and color commentator Bob Myers always shows up to every meeting prepared and is an innate winner and team player. As long as the talent are doing things that fit their style and the content objectives of ESPN and The Walt Disney Company, Roberts explained, they are allowed to be their authentic selves on the airwaves.

“That’s the type of versatility we’re looking for,” Roberts said, referencing JJ Redick. “The last thing we want is talent that’s all the same, which amounts to nothing more than elevator music.”

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‘NFL Total Access’ Comes to an End After 21 Years on NFL Network

“Today is our last show and while our team is disappointed, we are excited about what’s next for us at NFL Network.”

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‘NFL Total Access’ has been a part of the NFL Network since 2003 and today it is set for its final episode. The news of the show coming to an end came down earlier this month. Many of the current show participants took to social media to post their thoughts including hosts Mike Yam and Kimmi Chex along with analyst Chase Daniel.

“Tonight marks the last ever episode of NFL Total Access,” said Chex. “I was 7 years old when this show aired meaning that I spent my life watching. Co-hosting our flagship program this past season has been the honor of my career. I’m not going anywhere but for now, it’s goodbye TA.”

Yam said, “It’s been an absolute thrill hosting NFL Total Access. Today is our last show and while our team is disappointed, we are excited about what’s next for us at NFL Network. “Thank you” isn’t nearly enough to express the gratitude I have for the team. See you at 7est for 1 more run.”

A report from The Athletic said the show would be replaced “at least in the interim” by Insiders with Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero.

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NBCUniversal Names Olympic Hosts for USA, CNBC and E!; Kathryn Tappen Headlines

“We are excited to have an experienced group of hosts to present the most compelling stories, news, and interviews as we take viewers from event to event throughout the Games.”

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NBC Olympics Logo and photos of Cara Banks, Laura Britt, Trenni Casey, Lindsay Czarniak, Carolyn Manno, and Kathryn Tappen

NBCUniversal announced its hosts for coverage of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 on USA Network, CNBC and E! Cara Banks, Laura Britt and Trenni Casey will all be a part of the coverage on CNBC and E! Lindsay Czarniak, Carolyn Manno and Kathryn Tappen will all take part in the USA Network coverage.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Paris Olympics is Friday, July 26 on NBC, Peacock, and Telemundo.

Coverage on USA Network, CNBC, and E! is expected to include Team USA men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as swimming, gymnastics, and track & field, and more.

“We are excited to have an experienced group of hosts to present the most compelling stories, news, and interviews as we take viewers from event to event throughout the Games,” said Rebecca Chatman, Vice President and Coordinating Producer, NBC Olympics Production in a release.

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Mike Tirico, Danica Patrick Return to Host Indy 500 for NBC Sports

Seven-time NASCAR Series champion Jimmie Johnson will join NBC’s pre-race and race coverage. When his broadcasting duties are completed, Johnson will be flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600.

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Logos for Indy 500, NBC Sports and photos of Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick
Photos Courtesy: NBC Sports

With less than two weeks until the event, NBC Sports has officially announced its team of race and studio commentators for the 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500. For the sixth year in a row, we can expect to see familiar faces such as host Mike Tirico and studio analyst Danica Patrick contributing to pre-race, in-race, and post-race coverage.

The race will air at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 26, on both NBC and Peacock.

Seven-time NASCAR Series champion Jimmie Johnson will join NBC’s pre-race and race coverage. When his broadcasting duties are completed, Johnson will be flying to Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive in the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600.

Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe will call the race for the sixth consecutive year. Marty Snider, Dillon Welch, Dave Burns, and Kevin Lee will serve as pit reporters. Former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and Kim Coon will serve as roaming reporters.

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