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ESPN Employees Agree To Temporary Pay Cuts

“The temporary pay reductions hope to combat the potential need for unpaid furloughs and layoffs, keeping employees with lower salaries on payroll.”

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact the economy, companies are cutting costs and Disney is no different. Monday afternoon, Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported Disney’s ESPN asked some of its high-profile talent to take a 15% salary reduction for 90 days to limit layoffs.

According to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post some of the names agreeing to a pay cut include Stephen A. Smith, Scott Van Pelt, Dick Vitale, Mike Breen, Mark Jackson and Jay Bilas.

“We are asking about 100 of our commentators to join with our executives and take a temporary salary reduction,” ESPN said in a statement. “These are challenging times, and we are all in this together.”

The 15% pay cut request comes after ESPN executives took salary reductions last month. Executive VPs had their salary reduced by 30%, Senior VPs took a 25% pay cut and VPs lost 20%. The temporary pay reductions hope to combat the potential need for unpaid furloughs and layoffs, keeping employees with lower salaries on payroll. 

Late last year, Stephen A. agreed to a new contract with ESPN worth $8 million annually, making him their highest paid on-air personality. His $8 million salary equates to about $2 million per quarter which means Smith will forfeit approximately $300,000 from the 15% pay cut request.

In addition to ESPN personnel taking a reduced salary for 90 days, The Walt Disney Company has furloughed a significant number of employees from their twelve theme parks, including 43,000 at Florida’s Walt Disney World.

Sports TV News

Amazon Eyeing Troy Aikman For Thursday Night Football

McCarthy’s source describes Michaels and Aikman as Amazon’s “TNF dream team.”

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

If Amazon gets its way, Troy Aikman and Al Michaels will be in the booth for Thursday Night Football next season. The digital giant is set to take over exclusive broadcast rights to the property next season. 

Amazon’s interest in Al Michaels has been known for some time. Michael McCarthy first reported that the company wants to hire Aikman on Tuesday.

Troy Aikman has been Joe Buck’s partner on FOX since 2002. They have been heard on FOX’s America’s Game of the Week package as well as Thursday Night Football. They have also called six Super Bowls together.

McCarthy’s source describes Michaels and Aikman as Amazon’s “TNF dream team.” In order to make it happen, Amazon may have to lure Aikman away from FOX. 

A FOX rep told McCarthy that the network does not comment on “the status of talent contracts.”

The New York Post reports that Michaels is a virtual lock to end up at Amazon. Before the news about Troy Aikman came out, the paper speculated that Cris Collinsworth and Drew Brees are possible candidates to join him.

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Sports TV News

ABC Scores Biggest College Football Weekend Since 2016

“The triple-header started with Michigan’s win over Penn State, which is the most-watched noon game of the season for ABC.”

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Executives at ABC and ESPN are loving their networks’ performance with college football fans this season. What they saw on Saturday must have them jumping for joy. ABC didn’t just have its most-watched Saturday of the season, it had attracted more viewers than any college football weekend since 2016.

The triple-header started with Michigan’s win over Penn State, which is the most-watched noon game of the season for ABC. With an average of more than 5.9 million viewers, it was the most-watched game of the day, peaking at 8.7 million.

Ohio State’s demolition of Purdue picked up more than 4.7 million viewers. It is the network’s most-watched game in the 3:30 window since week 1.

With Notre Dame’s win at Virginia averaging over 3.3 million viewers, the entire triple-header averaged 4.7 million viewers. That is double-digit year-over-year growth compared to both 2020 and 2019 and the best viewership for an ABC triple header since rivalry week of 2016.

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Michelle Beadle: I’ve Been Giving Opinions To Walls For 800 Days

“After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”

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Former ESPN personality Michelle Beadle is back and she wants everyone to know it on her new podcast, What Did I Miss? with Michelle Beadle. The first episode dropped this week, and Beadle talked about what she was up to while she was away.

“I have missed a lot, I have kinda been sitting back for 800 days giving my opinions to walls because my friends don’t care about sports and neither does my family. Nobody really cared what I had to say so in between knitting and buying toilet paper I was just mumbling a lot of opinions to the ether,” said Beadle on her time away from sports media.

Michelle Beadle talked about her move to The Athletic, saying “I ended up at The Athletic because when I think of serious journalism I think of The Athletic and myself. To me it was just a match made in heaven. After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”

One of the many things that Beadle discussed had started since she has been away is the alternate Manningcast Monday Night Football telecast, which she had some high praise for.

She also went on to talk about her unread text messages that she has on her phone, and one of them was from her former colleague at ESPN Bob Ley.

“People from the outside think that Bob Ley is someone who is super serious because he is one of the pillars of SportsCenter. While we worked together on SportsNation I would just tell stories and crack jokes to everyone in the newsroom and all of the sudden Bob Ley who I also thought was super serious joined in on the jokes. I just loved Bob so much.”

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