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CFL Hopes For Growth With ESPN

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The CFL would love to take its new broadcasting agreement with ESPN and turn it into something even bigger down the road.

That is the reason why the league entered into an exclusive, multi-year deal with “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” late last month. One ESPN platform or another will carry every CFL game this season.

“What we are looking at is something that gives us great exposure, and what we hope for after a four- or five-year period is that we’ll be able to really build an audience with ESPN and build a U.S. audience,” CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said earlier this month.

Last year the network aired six games on ESPN2 and another package of contests on ESPN3, its digital network. Cohon said the ESPN2 matches drew approximately 300,000 viewers south of the border, and the network was happy with the results.

“The ESPN2 games did adequate in the spots we programmed them,” Gregg Morriss, ESPN’s manager of programming and acquisitions, told the Sun.

“It was more kind of an experiment to see how they would do, and they met those expectations. Now, with a little more consistency and having more ability to do more games, working directly with the league, we see some upside there.”

Cohon is shooting for the stars. ESPN was part of a new broadcasting deal with Major League Soccer in May. Three networks, including ESPN, are reportedly paying a combined $90 million per season for the MLS broadcasting rights.

“I’m not saying that we can get to an MLS-style deal, but if you look at Major League Soccer, they had similar sized audiences,” Cohon said.

“Over time, five years from now or six years from now, it would be great if this league was announcing a major deal in the U.S. with some revenues for the league.”

The current deal with ESPN is only just the beginning, as Cohon said it is netting the league only six figures. The fact every game can be seen on one network is likely the best news for the CFL, which ESPN aired often during its early days.

“We’ve had a fairly long history with the league, kind of stretching back to our inception in the early ’80s. There’s some familiarity there,” Morriss said. “And certainly the growth of the appetite for football in the U.S. is, as it’s stretched to a year-round proposition, this is really quality content for us to program in the off-season for the NFL — especially in the summer. But we also think there’s some appeal to it into the fall, and having digital networks now to be able to distribute all the games is certainly helpful in that regard.”

Morriss said the number of people watching the CFL on the digital platform of ESPN3 is not huge, but they are engaged.

“It’s not the largest audience, but they’re staying and they’re watching a lot,” Morriss said. “Now we’re just trying to find a way to get more people in that door. Once they’re in there, I think they’ll stay.”

OPPORTUNITY LOST

ESPN was going to show one CFL game on its main network this summer, but it has decided to push it back to ESPN3.

The contest was going to be Hamilton’s second home game at brand new Tim Hortons Field, on July 31 against Winnipeg, but the park isn’t ready yet, so the game is moving to McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium.

“Originally this game was scheduled to be on ESPN to showcase Hamilton’s new stadium,” ESPN said in a statement.

“But since the game has been moved to Ron Joyce Stadium, it will now be carried on ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3. ESPN will explore opportunities to feature Hamilton’s new stadium on one of its linear TV networks later on in the season.”

For more on this story visit the Welland Tribune where it was originally published

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Kirk Herbstriet Wants To Be Held To Same Standard For NFL As College Football

“Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.”

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The NFL schedule was released last week, and Thursday Night Football has a lot of interesting matchups for its first year on Amazon Prime. It is also a new broadcast booth with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit on the call. 

With Herbstreit now adding Thursday Night Football to College Gameday, he has already started preparing for the upcoming season. Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.

“I’m just trying to lay a foundation,” said Herbstreit. 

Herbstreit told McAfee that whenever anyone asks him to talk about a college team, he can quickly tell them what the DNA of that team is. Now he wants to bring that level of preparation to his NFL broadcasts. He will look at a different matchup every week this summer to get a more detailed idea of what each team is about: 

As for his connection with Al Michaels, Herbstreit mentioned he has gone out to dinner with him a couple of times and he wants to make going out to eat with his broadcast partner a frequent deal.

“Hung out with him 2-3 times. Had a chance just to get to know him. When you go into a new deal, I love like Wednesday night dinner, I want to make a staple and just hang out and get to know him and hopefully he will get to know me. When you do that, it allows you to have natural chemistry.”

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Andrew Mason To Succeed John Clayton At 104.3 The Fan

“Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.”

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John Clayton passed away earlier this year. That left 104.3 The Fan without a lead Broncos writer for the 2022 season. On Monday, the station announced that it had hired a successor in Andrew Mason.

Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.

“Mase’s work speaks for itself as one of the market’s most respected analysts when it comes to writing about and discussing the Broncos,” Raj Sharan, The Fan’s program director, said in a press release. “Replacing someone of the legendary stature of John Clayton was not something we took lightly, and we believe Mase is the perfect person to pick up that mantle and bring tremendous credibility and content to our rapidly growing digital platforms.”

Andrew Mason has a lot of credibility with Broncos fans. He has covered the team for 19 years. He has also written a book called Tales from the Denver Broncos Sideline.

The Fan won’t be his first foray into Denver radio either. Mason has previously been a host on Mile High Sports Radio and the defunct KDSP- AM.

“I’m thrilled to join The Fan team and add what I can to the efforts of building Denver’s premier online destination for Denver fans,” said Mason. “Being tasked with replacing a legend like John Clayton is a responsibility I take very seriously, and I’m honored The Fan has entrusted me with this opportunity.”

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Gregg Giannotti: ‘Drew Brees Isn’t Used To Not Succeeding’

“He’s succeeded at everything he’s ever done and then he gets into the booth and they kick him out after one year. It’s a tough spot.”

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What does the future hold for Drew Brees? Andrew Marchand reports that he is set to leave NBC. Brees himself says nothing is decided yet.

On Monday morning, Boomer & Gio discussed why the former quarterback is in this position just one year after making his broadcasting debut. Gregg Giannotti noted that if Brees was brought to NBC with the idea that he would eventually be the top game analyst, the criticism he faced last year and the network’s decision to stick with Cris Collinsworth in the Sunday Night Football booth were likely unexpected blows to his ego.

“That’s a tough spot, man, for him,” Gio said. “The guy’s been beloved his whole career. He did go through a little bit of it when people were all over his ass for saying the wrong thing one time, but here he goes. He’s succeeded at everything he’s ever done and then he gets into the booth and they kick him out after one year. It’s a tough spot.”

Boomer Esiason added that the criticism Drew Brees received for his work in the broadcast booth did not apply to his work on Football Night in America or the Sunday Night Football halftime show.

“He was good in the studio,” Boomer Esiason said. “I saw him in the studio and I liked him.”

Brees prefers calling games to work in the studio. According to Marchand’s report, that is what is at the heart of his potential exit from NBC.

The color commentator role may come with more prestige, but it isn’t easy. Esiason has experience with both positions. He calls games on the radio for Westwood One and has been a staple of CBS’s The NFL Today since 2002.

“Some guys are not meant to be game analysts, that’s all.”

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