With exactly one year until Opening Ceremonies, NBC is wasting no time in promoting it’s coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In a press release Monday night, NBC braced it’s viewers for an intense two day promotional blitz across all of it’s platforms Tuesday and Wednesday. The coverage began on TODAY with Mike Tirico live from Tokyo.
15 Olympic athletes, including Shaun White and the USWNT’s Ali Krieger, have peppered NBC Universal programs in both New York and Los Angeles this week. Access, Talk Stoop, CNBC: Make It, NY Live, Stay Tuned and a number of other shows have welcomed track and field, gymnastics and even shooting stars on their airwaves – with all conversations pointed toward July 2020.
With late July being notoriously slow in the sports world, it’s not the worst idea in the world to remind casual fans that this time next year we’ll have the Olympics to fall back on. It’s hard to imagine this 48 hour push will have any kind of impact on the ratings a year from now, but if nothing else it’s decent content in an otherwise dry portion of the calendar.
It’s certainly NBC Universal’s right to push the Olympics on us. Back in 2014 they locked up every edition of the most famous international athletic competition through 2032 for $7.7B.
John Buccigross To Host New ESPN NHL Show The Point
“The Point will join ESPN+’s long-running NHL post-game show In the Crease in complementing NHL game coverage for ESPN.”
With ESPN back in business with the NHL, the network has decided to ramp up its hockey coverage.
A new NHL studio show is set to debut on October 7th. The Point will air regularly on Thursdays at 3 p.m. on ESPN2 with the show airing Tuesday to Friday during the opening week of the NHL on ESPN.
John Buccigross will be the host. He is also set to do play-by-play for games this upcoming season.
Buccigross is no stranger to NHL coverage, as he was the primary host of NHL 2Night, ESPN2’s program dedicated to hockey highlights and news from 1998-2004.
“If NHL 2Night had a child it would be The Point,” said Buccigross of the new show. “Like any good parent, our goal is to make this hockey kid even better than its parents. Stoked to get going!”
The Point will join ESPN+’s long-running NHL post-game show In the Crease in complementing NHL game coverage for ESPN.
“In John Buccigross, we have the perfect host,” said executive producer Andy Tennant. “He has credibility with every hockey fan, and his knowledge and passion for the sport, along with his skills in this role give us the foundation for everything we’re doing.”
Sunday Night Baseball Completes Season With Growing Audience
“The return of fans and a normal 162-game schedule seemingly did a lot to help MLB ratings on ESPN.”
ESPN celebrated a banner season for Sunday Night Baseball this week. Their marquee MLB offering was a big winner in the ratings all season long. According to Nielsen, Sunday Night Baseball posted 20% ratings growth compared to last season, averaging 1,456,000 viewers across 24 telecasts.
The 32nd season in the property’s run brought a lot of growth in one key demographic: women 18-34.
That section of the ratings increased by 43% compared to the same 2020 figure. Overall, 18-34 numbers increased by 25%, and men 18-34 went up by 17%.
Sunday Night Baseball produced double-digit gains compared to the full-length 2019 edition as well. Women 18-34 increased by 19%, Men 18-34 went up 11%, and the entire 18-34 population increased by 13%.
The return of fans and a normal 162-game schedule seemingly did a lot to help the ratings for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. The shortened 2020 season ran into criticism over legitimacy after a 60-game run with a few of the teams facing COVID-19 outbreaks. The lack of fans in the stands turned off viewers as well. It’s not as easy to adequately produce a three-hour baseball broadcast with no fan shots for a producer to work with.
ESPN also broke ground by airing their first all-women national broadcast in network history with analyst Jessica Mendoza and Baltimore Orioles announcer Melanie Newman this past Wednesday.
“I knew I had a full season with the Orioles, we were going to bounce back and forth with TV and radio, and it was going to be a great time. So when these other opportunities started coming along, it was really cool,” Newman said to the Associated Press. “It just makes it all the more fun when you don’t expect it, and you don’t set yourself up for those type of situations.”
ESPN is pushing their baseball properties to new heights as they get set to air the American League Wild Card Game on Oct. 5.
First Take Ratings Falling After Max Kellerman’s Exit
First Take numbers have dropped dramatically since the departure of Kellerman from the show.
Stephen A. Smith appeared on the latest Sports Illustrated Media Podcast to give his insight on why he wanted to part ways with Max Kellerman on ESPN’s First Take.
On the podcast, Smith said that there was no bad blood with Kellerman following the breakup, and even plugged and wished Kellerman the best on his 2 new shows, Keyshawn, JWill and Max on ESPN Radio and This Just In on ESPN2.
“I thought it ran its course. Even though we were number one, numbers were dipping,” said Smith “Chemistry was an issue and you know, we needed to be better. I wasn’t pointing the finger at him. I was saying we did not work as a pair.”
“We just weren’t working anymore because the audience was telling us that we had essentially just flatlined. We were the same, we weren’t fresh together. And so a result of that I told the bosses how I felt.” added Smith.
However Stephen A. Smith and ESPN aren’t seeing an instant improvement. First Take numbers have dropped dramatically since the departure of Kellerman from the show. The early ratings numbers of the rebranded show have First Take behind Get Up, NFL Live, Around The Horn and PTI.
It is still too early to render a verdict on whether or not Stephen A. Smith was right or wrong in wanting to move on from Max Kellerman. It also is likely too early to say that the approach that was once described as “Stephen A. vs the world” is the right move for First Take. What is fair to say is that a new co-host everyday makes it hard for First Take to establish a new identity.
How long ESPN will continue the experiment and how they make changes in marketing the show remains to be seen.
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