Sports fans are very familiar with ESPN’s use of “week” branding with college football “Rivalry Week” around Thanksgiving and college hoops “Championship Week” in early March, but you’d be hard pressed to find another network embrace the same sort of strategy. Until now.
This past month, New Yorkers probably noticed MSG Networks pushing “Rookie Week” on it’s viewers. The reason? Three of their major partners owned a top 3 pick in their respective drafts. Devils (1), Rangers (2), and Knicks (3) fans all had interest in the newest additions to their teams, and MSGN was happy to capitalize. Not only were they able to launch a social media campaign behind “rookie week,” – they sold it to Squarespace.
“We’ve done a branded content series with (Squarespace) around people sort of making it,” MSG Networks SVP of Marketing Kevin Marotta told Front Office Sports. “People who have this sort of hustle and heart, that embodies the spirit of New Yorkers.”
Last year, Marotta’s network launched the inaugural rookie week with three teams (Rangers – 8, Knicks – 9, Islanders – 10) all in the Top 10 and saw a huge spike in digital engagement. Social media metrics jumped 85% over the same week the year prior.
It’s a simple formula, but “week branding” is a practice that clearly works for ESPN and is now useful for MSG Networks.
XFL Signs Exclusive Deal With ESPN
“Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.”
All 43 games in the 2023 XFL season will air on Disney’s sports networks. The entire schedule will be seen on ABC, ESPN, and FX. Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia made the announcement at the 2022 Disney Upfront presentation.
This will be the third iteration of the XFL. The first attempt in 2001 ended after a single season. The 2020 revival was shut down due to Covid. Johnson and Garcia and their partners purchased the brand two years ago for $15 million.
“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content said in a press release. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”
Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.
“The XFL is going to be a league of passion, a league of pride, and a league of culture,” Johnson said at the event, promising that those three principles will drive every decision for the league.
NBA Playoff Ratings Hit 8-Year Highs
“At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.”
More people are watching the NBA Playoffs than have done so in a long time. Through the first two rounds in 2022, the league is enjoying its best postseason ratings in eight years.
The average audience across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 3.71 million people per game. If you take the less widely available NBA TV out of the mix, the NBA is averaging 4.08 million viewers per game.
At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.
The Boston Celtics have been one of the most reliable performers this postseason. They have been involved in two of the three most-watched games. Sunday’s Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks is one of two games this postseason that now rank as the most-watched early round games in a decade. The other was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.
Golden State has also been a hot draw. The Warriors have been involved in four of the seven most-watched playoff games.
With both teams still alive and plenty of star power left in the playoffs, the NBA is poised to deliver one of its most-watched postseasons in years.
Domonique Foxworth: Tom Brady Contract Is About Impressing NFL
“I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”
The shake-up of NFL TV broadcast booths has been one of the top storylines in the league this offseason.
Part of the reasoning is because of the massive sums of money involved. Whether it’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman or Tom Brady, NFL broadcasters have been getting paid. And it doesn’t seem like the spending is going to slow down anytime soon.
Speaking to Bomani Jones on The Right Time, Domonique Foxworth said the NFL just wants to continue to get bigger and bigger even with its broadcast crews.
“These TV partners want to be in good with the league. And I think that’s what this Tom Brady contract comes down to,” Foxworth said. “I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”
Even with some feeling like Brady is uninteresting and likely won’t move the needle as an analyst, it’s the name recognition factor that will set the table for Brady in the booth.
“I do believe that if you turn on an NFL game, and Tom Brady’s talking about it, it feels bigger no matter what he’s saying,” Foxworth said.