Kevin Harlan stopped by Scott & BR on Wednesday to talk about the broadcasting industry with his Westwood One colleague Scott Kaplan. Kaplan was not afraid to immediately put Harlan on the spot, asking the radio voice of Monday Night Football if he has heard the rumors that ESPN was interested in getting him and Kurt Warner out of the radio booth and on to the television broadcast.
“Well, it was around a little bit,” Harlan said. He then clarified that ALL he ever heard were rumors. “I was never approached by ESPN. No one ever told me that.”
As for who he thinks should get the job, Harlan said that he never doubted ESPN was going to promote from within for the play-by-play chair. It is the smartest move for the World Wide Leader.
“They have developed so many great, young play-by-play guys that are now in the throws of their career,” Harlan said. “And they will hire someone that will be great in that position.”
The conversation also turned to the financial courtship of some high profile broadcasters and analysts, starting with Tony Romo, who Harlan referred to as “a once-in-a-generation type guy.”
Harlan said that TV networks view the contribution of Tony Romo similar to that of a television star that gets paid millions per episode. ESPN and FOX may have made strong offers, but Harlan said CBS was never going to let Romo go anywhere, because the investment in the former Cowboys quarterback’s broadcasting career began before he even retired. Harlan said he had never seen a network make a commitment to developing a future talent like CBS made to Romo.
“They may have done a practice game in preseason [with other guys], but nothing like they did with Romo. They flew to Texas to have him do simulated games off a screen. The crew, the director, the producers, and Nantz, they all flew down to Texas. They all met. They did hours and hours of practice, walk-throughs of all the things the machines in the trucks do. (Romo) is like a cultivated, homegrown, CBS-branded guy.”
So what effect will those big numbers have on broadcaster negotiations in the future? Harlan told Kaplan that it’s not hard to imagine anyone sitting opposite from Tony Romo, Drew Brees, or anyone else with an eight-figure salary will not be satisfied.
“You can bet that is going to be the standard, and there’s gonna be play-by-play guys that say ‘If he’s worth that…well, I think I’m pretty important too.'”
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.