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Clippers, Pelicans See Spike In National TV Games

“The Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans will earn a lot more national attention this NBA season.”

Jack Ferris

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In a sports world filled with contradicting opinions, one assertion that’s accepted as universal truth is the following: the 2019 NBA off season was the craziest we’ve ever seen.  Never has the balance of power in any league shifted as dramatically in a two week period as the NBA did in early July.  As a result, there’s huge interest in a number of teams that otherwise were irrelevant to casual basketball fans last year.

The team that tops that list, without question, is the Los Angeles Clippers.  With the blockbuster signings of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers went from a fringe playoff team in the West to a serious title contender – and the NBA’s TV partners have taken notice.  

Monday, in a press release from Warner Media, the Clippers learned they would make 11 appearances on TNT this season, behind only the Warriors and Lakers who have 12 appearances each.  In fact, the NBA on TNT’s opening week will feature two Clippers games, the first coming on Tuesday October 22 against the Lakers and the second two days later in San Francisco in the first regular season Warriors game at the Chase Center.  All in all, the Clippers will play the Warriors, Lakers, Rockets and Blazers twice each on TNT.  On Christmas Day, Kawhi Leonard’s new team will wear their road jerseys at Staples Center tipping off against the Lakers on ABC.  In all, the Clippers will make 15 appearances on ESPN or ABC this season.  

Another team in the West that gained new found popularity this Summer is the Pelicans – who locked up Duke phenom Zion Williamson with the first overall pick of June’s draft.  New Orleans will be featured much more prominently on the national stage this season with 5 TNT games.  In fact, the 2019-2020 NBA on TNT season will tip off in Toronto when the Raptors host the Pelicans on Tuesday October 22.  Zion fans will have plenty of other opportunities to see the rookie play on the national stage with 12 games on ESPN or ABC this season.  

While teams like the Clippers and Pelicans have to be pleased with the national exposure they’ll see this year, there are two teams in the east who must be disappointed with the draw.  The Hornets have a grand total of one nationally televised game on TNT, and none on ESPN or ABC, and the Knicks will appear on TNT twice and ESPN once. 

The Knicks, who still top Forbes’ list of the most valuable NBA franchises, had a tremendously disappointing off season losing both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to the Nets – and it looks like the national exposure followed the All-Stars to Brooklyn.  The Nets will appear on ESPN or ABC five times this year, with TNT broadcasting an additional six games.  

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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