Despite holding the television rights to nearly every sport that anyone wants to watch, ESPN apparently is not the cash cow that it once was for parent company Disney, which reportedly is demanding that the all-sports network slash its budget over the next two years.
In Wednesday’s story about Keith Olbermann’s impending departure from the network, the Hollywood Reporter says Disney is forcing ESPN to cut $100 million from its budget next year and a staggering $250 million from its budget in 2017. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that ESPN has lost 3.2 million subscribers in more than a year and that ESPN’s reach in U.S. households has fallen 7.2 percent since 2011. Last month, Bloomberg reported that operating income dropped 2 percent at Disney’s media networks division, which includes ESPN.
Not renewing Olbermann’s contract when it expires at the end of the month is just one sign of the serious cost-cutting at ESPN:
— It didn’t renew Bill Simmons’s contract after he reportedly demanded $6 million per year.
— It reversed course on moving the “Mike & Mike” radio show to the same Times Square studio used for Olbermann’s show after making a very public announcement that the show would be moving from Bristol to the Big Apple. ESPN leases the studio from Disney at a cost of $40 million, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
— Lou Holtz, Bobby Knight, Mark Schlereth, Bram Weinstein: All allowed to retire or walk away or agreed to have their roles drastically reduced. Weinstein reportedly wanted more money than ESPN wanted to pay him.
And that could merely be a taste of what’s to come, especially with ESPN’s NBA costs ballooning from $485 million per year to to $1.47 billion annually starting in 2016-17. The Big Ten’s TV rights are coming up for renewal soon — it’s the only major U.S. sports entity with a looming negotiation — and considering the current economic climate at ESPN, it wouldn’t be surprising if the conference’s games move someplace else after the 2016-17 season, when the current deal ends. The network currently pays the conference $100 million a year to televise college football and basketball games, and that number is sure to significantly increase.
Viewers also likely can expect to see ESPN’s announcers call even more college basketball games from a studio in Bristol instead of live at the stadium, as they did for 47 games last year (to tepid reviews). Those traveling “SportsCenter” extravaganzas you’re seeing this summer also could get cut back.
And if I were working for a Simmons-less Grantland, 538 or the perpetually stalled Undefeated project, I’d also be a little wary.
In the meantime, we’ll all wait and see what ESPN does with radio host Colin Cowherd with his contract expiring later this year. He’ll want more than he’s making now, obviously. Whether ESPN will pay him remains to be seen.
Credit to the Washington Post who originally published this story
Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts
“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”
In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage.
Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.
“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.
“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”
Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion.
“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.”
When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone:
“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.”
AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive
“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”
Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.
While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.
A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.
After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.
The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.
“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”
You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket.
Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.
While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.
Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII
“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”
The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.
Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.
Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.
Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.
Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.