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Paul Finebaum Not Interested In Leaving ESPN

“It was current DAZN Group chairman John Skipper who brought Finebaum to ESPN.”

Brandon Contes

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Just a few months ago, ESPN’s Paul Finebaum was reported to have outside suitors, most notably the OTT streaming service DAZN. 

During a recent interview with Front Office Sports, Finebaum was asked specifically about the possibility of leaving ESPN for DAZN and the college football analyst said, “I love working at ESPN and have no interest in doing anything else.” 

Finebaum was again asked if he wants to remain with ESPN during the interview, and he offered a more detailed response. 

“Let me think about this question for a second because I’ve asked this question to many, many people I always hate when they give me some political answer. But I will give you something that isn’t political. It’s the honest truth,” Finebaum told Front Office Sports. “I’ve never enjoyed working for this company more. I’ve never been more honored and felt more of a responsibility than over the last (couple of months). What may have appeared in the media in November or December or January and February is fine. I can’t undo whatever reporting went into those things or whatever people were thinking about, But right now, I don’t want to go anywhere.”

It was current DAZN Group chairman John Skipper who brought Finebaum to ESPN. Finebaum’s agent Nick Kahn of CAA previously negotiated huge deals in the $6 million per year range for Skip Bayless and Colin Cowherd to leave ESPN for FS1. FS1’s president at the time, Jamie Horowitz, is now DAZN’s current EVP of content. There were absolutely factors which led to connecting Finebaum and DAZN just a few months ago, but a global pandemic has significantly altered the sports media landscape. 

DAZN, like many sports media companies, has been hit hard by the pandemic. Last month, DAZN was reportedly attempting to secure financial investments or possibly even an outright sale. Whether or not they still have funds to invest in high-profile talent remains to be seen.  

Finebaum still has time left on his contract with ESPN which runs through 2021. A lot can change in the next 18 months, but for now, staying with ESPN seems to be the priority. 

Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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NFL Studio

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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Sports TV News

ESPN Assigns Broadcast Teams for MLB Wild Card Round

In preparation for the postseason, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

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Wild Card
David Berding/Getty Images

There are just a few games left in the MLB season and the postseason begins this weekend with the Wild Card round. In preparation, ESPN has assigned the broadcast teams for the series forthcoming.

Andrew Marchand reports that the team assigned to the presumptive New York Mets Wild Card series will be Karl Ravech, David Cone and Eduardo Perez. The Mets still mathematically can win the NL East but they trail the Braves by two games with three to play.

He also reports that the St. Louis Wild Card series will be called by Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez. The Cleveland series will be broadcast by Boog Sciambi and Doug Glanville while the Toronto series will be called by Dave Flemming, Jessica Mendoza and Tim Kurkjian.

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Sports TV News

Stugotz: ‘Sean McDonough Hates The Aaron Judge Cut-Ins’

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

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College football fans are not being shy with how they feel about Aaron Judge. Whether it is private conversations or social media posts, people are making their disdain for the cut-ins to college football games on ESPN networks when the Yankee slugger comes to bat known. On Monday morning, Stugotz added that it isn’t just fans that are unhappy.

The Dan Le Batard Show discussed the second straight week of cut-ins on Monday morning. Stugotz pointed out that one of ESPN’s primary college football voices sounds just as annoyed as fans are.

“Sean McDonough hates the toss to Aaron Judge,” he said. Hates it!”

Last week, ESPN and ABC cut into games when Judge was sitting on 60 home runs. This week, he was sitting on 61. A 62nd home run would be the most in American League history.

Stugotz added that has to be part of McDonough’s frustration.

“In his defense, what are we cutting in for? I have no idea if [Aaron Judge] is breaking a record, what record he’s breaking, if he’s clean. I have no idea!”

Producer Mike Ryan Ruiz said the fact that Judge is yet to deliver is making the cut-ins more frustrating for fans.

“I think what hurts the whole thing is that Aaron Judge has been terrible during these cut-ins,” Ruiz said. “He’s been God awful during these cut-ins. I haven’t seen a single home runs during one of these cut-ins. There was genuine fury at a watch party I was at. Fury! At Aaron Judge.”

A popular criticism of ESPN has been that this kind of attention would not be paid to Aaron Judge if he was chasing a mark that wasn’t the home run record if he played anywhere other than New York. According to Ryan, the mistake is bigger than that. Why would regular season baseball ever interrupt college football?

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at the interest, if you look at the revenue that it generates for the networks, it makes more sense to have an Aaron Judge at-bat interrupted by an Iowa State field goal attempt than it does the other way around.”

There are four games left in Major League Baseball’s regular season. You can bet college football fans will make plenty of signs for College GameDay if Judge cannot hit number 62 before the playoffs start.

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