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Levy, Orlovsky, Riddick Favorites For MNF Booth

“The trio has not been promised the job. In fact, Marchand reports that the network’s top college football play-by-play team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit is also under consideration.”

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It appears change is inevitable for the Monday Night Football booth. ESPN has not informed Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland that they are being replaced, but according to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post, the network is making plans for the future and the names of the current broadcast team haven’t come up.

As previously reported, ESPN has its eye on the long term and is courting Saints quarterback Drew Brees to join the MNF team when his playing days are over. NBC and FOX are both also said to be interested in Brees, which might explain why all three of the networks are making their pitches even after Brees signed a new two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

For the short-term though, it appears ESPN is leaning towards SportsCenter host and college football play-by-play man Steve Levy as the favorite to lead the Monday Night booth. He would reportedly be paired with Louis Riddick and Dan Orlovsky.

The trio has not been promised the job. In fact, Marchand reports that the network’s top college football play-by-play team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit is also under consideration.

No matter who ESPN ends up tapping for Monday Night Football in 2020 (if there is a season), it could create a very awkward situation. Imagine agreeing to take over the booth after Drew Brees has been signed. Does the talent volunteering to keep the seat warm go in knowing they are on borrowed time? If it is Orlovsky and Riddick, will they be competing to be the third man in a booth that is already guaranteed to include Brees and Levy in the future?

The answers to those questions are unknown. Again, it is worth repeating that ESPN is merely courting Brees at this point. Nothing has been promised or agreed to, and the duo of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland haven’t even been told that a change is coming.

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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