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ESPN Could Overhaul Monday Night Football Broadcast

Jason Barrett

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ESPN wants Peyton Manning and is open to making wholesale changes in the Monday Night Football booth according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post.

After losing high profile color analyst Jon Gruden to the Oakland Raiders, the network is seeking star power in the analyst role. Peyton Manning would provide that and more which is why he’s said to be the network’s preferred choice. FOX Sports has also expressed an interest in Manning, but he has yet to commit to making a move into the booth. Insiders say the former quarterback would like to gain an ownership stake in a team, and run a franchise’s football operations like John Elway has with the Denver Broncos.

Although Manning hasn’t shown a burning desire to move into sports television, that isn’t stopping ESPN from making an aggressive play to try and change his mind. The network is said to be willing to make a huge investment to make a splash in the Monday Night booth as it attempts to replace Gruden, the network’s previously highest-paid employee at over $6.5 million per year.

The other situation that ESPN has to resolve is who will call the action going forward. Sean McDonough has spent the past two seasons calling Monday Night Football games, but sources say network executives felt he lacked chemistry with Gruden, and his remarks about NFL officiating have not been well received.

Should ESPN elect to change play by play announcers, three internal options are considered high atop the list – Joe Tessitore, Steve Levy and Dave Pasch. Bob Wischusen is another internal candidate who could receive consideration. External options include CBS’ Ian Eagle and Fox’s Kevin Burkhardt, although both men recently signed new deals with their respective networks.

If Manning chooses to stay away from the bright lights of Monday Night, ESPN will consider holding auditions for internal candidates. Matt Hasselbeck, Randy Moss and Charles Woodson are all expected to receive a look under that scenario, although none reportedly have the inside track on landing the position. The one external option listed in Marchand’s report is Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner who works for the NFL Network and Westwood One.

One interesting issue could be whether Manning views FOX’s new Thursday Night package more favorable than ESPN’s Monday Night deal. Although both games air on weeknights, the Monday Night game would likely require Manning’s time on weekends for preparation. That said, Monday Night is still considered the bigger attraction than Thursday Night.

Sports TV News

Netflix CEO: ‘We’re Not Anti-Sports, We’re Just Pro-Profit’

“He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.”

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Netflix will not join Apple and Amazon in the rush to gobble up live sports rights. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the streaming giant’s disinterest at the UBS Global Technology, Media & Telecom Conference on Wednesday.

He characterized expensive media rights as a “loss leader” in the streaming world and noted that Netflix doesn’t view sports as a necessity to grow.

“We’re not anti-sports,” Sarandos said according to Deadline. “We’re just pro-profit. We have yet to figure out how to do it. But I’m very confident we can get twice as big as we are without sports.” 

Questions about the interest the company has in carrying live sports have come up several times in the past. Sarandon made similar comments last year when asked about it.

Reed Hastings, Sarandos’s co-CEO at Netflix, has a slightly different view. In 2021, he indicated that Netflix could be interested in F1 rights someday thanks to the success of its documentary series Drive to Survive, but that would be a special case. Any league interested in doing business with Netflix, he said, would have to allow Netflix to control all of its content.

Ted Sarandos echoed that sentiment in his most recent comments. He said that the company does not see a way to profit by “renting big-league sports.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Sued for Patent Infringement Over NFL Scheduling

“Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.”

Jordan Bondurant

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An analytics company is suing FOX over claims that the network developed a mapping tool using their patented technology to create a season slate of NFL games.

Recentive Analytics filed suit against FOX in a Delaware federal court on November 29 according to Yahoo Sports.

The lawsuit claims FOX used access to Recentive’s predictive analytics tools to develop a resource of their own that would create optimal schedules for its 1 and 4 p.m. NFLwindows.

The company is seeking a declaration that FOX infringed on two of its patents. Recentive is also suing for damages and wants an injunction keeping FOX from using Recentive tech and preventing the network from “selling, offering for sale, marketing or using any internal network and mapping analytics tool for the scheduling and regionalization of events covered by the patents.”

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Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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