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Monday Night Football Returns To 2 Man Booth

“ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro told the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand that there was no need to add a second analyst to the team because “we’re confident in our booth.”

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ESPN again pursued Peyton Manning for a spot on its Monday Night Football broadcast team after Jason Witten decided to leave TV to return to the Dallas Cowboys, and Manning again said thanks but no thanks. ESPN has decided to stand pat with what it has in 2019.

Play-by-play man Joe Tessitore will be joined in the booth by Booger McFarland, who served as a sideline analyst last year atop the infamous Booger Mobile. There will be no third analyst this season.

ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro told the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand that there was no need to add a second analyst to the team because “we’re confident in our booth.”

Marchand isn’t exactly buying the explanation. He notes that even though Manning said no to MNF, he still is a relationship with the network. He hosted a football-centric addition of Detail for the streaming service in 2018 and in 2019 will be at the center of Peyton’s Places, a travel show exploring the history of the NFL. Those projects could keep Peyton happy until he is ready to make the move to game analyst.

Also hanging over the entire broadcast industry is Tony Romo’s looming free agency. The former Cowboys QB has become a star in just two seasons at CBS and 2019 is the final year on his rookie contract.

Romo is asking for $10 million per year in his next deal. If CBS doesn’t give it to him and Romo hits the open market, there will be no shortage of suitors and ESPN is no stranger to handing out large sums of money for marquee talent.

For this season, Pitaro says he is content with Tessitore and McFarland, but if ESPN and ABC want to get into the Super Bowl rotation, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the company try to make a splash hire for the Monday Night booth in 2020.

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NFL Considers Ending Pro Bowl Amidst Low Ratings

“Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.”

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The NFL is obsessed with TV ratings. It isn’t a surprise that the league may not be willing to tolerate the Pro Bowl underperforming for much longer. 

In 2022, the NFL’s all-star game produced it’s lowest ratings in 16 years. Fewer that 7 million people tuned in to watch the game across ABC, ESPN and DisneyXD. 

“The (Pro Bowl) game doesn’t work,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday after the owners’ meeting in Atlanta. “We need to find another way to celebrate the players.”

There are two proposed alternatives that have been reported. The Washington Post says the league is considering launching a seven-on-seven competition. It would not include tackling or full clocks. The other report comes from Ian Rapport of the NFL Network. He says the league is considering hosting a series of skills competitions over the course of what would be branded an all-star week. The NFL has partnered with DirecTV in the past to present similar events during Super Bowl Week. 

No details have emerged or final decisions made. Mark Maske of The Washington Post reports the future of the Pro Bowl was discussed on Tuesday during the owners’ meetings in Atlanta.

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Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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