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Jemele Hill Calls SportsCenter Role ‘Worst Job I Had’

“She never says that she sensed any malicious intent on the part of ESPN, but she does question a number of decisions made in the pre-production process that got SC6 off to a rocky start.”

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Jemele Hill

Jemele Hill was a guest on Jimmy Traina’s Sports Illustrated Media Podcast this week. Traina asked a lot about her past and present relationship at ESPN.

Hill revealed that Colin Kaepernick called her to better understand her side of the story regarding her exit from ESPN. It was something Kaepernick felt like he needed to know before signing the first look deal with Disney last week.

When asked about SC6, the version of SportsCenter hosted by Hill and Michael Smith, Hill said it was not the experience she was expecting.

“Of all the many jobs and roles that I got a chance to have at ESPN, that job is always gonna sit on the side as being the one that was the worst that I had there. Everybody came in well-intentioned. There’s a lot of blame to go around. I certainly accept mine and, I guess, by extension, Mike’s, in the sense that there were definitely things we could’ve personally done better.”

Simply put, Hill says the show was not set up to succeed. She never says that she sensed any malicious intent on the part of ESPN, but she does question a number of decisions made in the pre-production process that got SC6 off to a rocky start.

“If you go back, His and Hers did not end until December, and we were due to be on the air the day after the Super Bowl in February,” Hill said. “Considering the colossal amount of marketing and everything behind it and what they wanted it to be, it made no sense to rush this show on the air. We had less than five rehearsals. We didn’t know what the show was. We weren’t allowed to pick our coordinating producers, which I think was a big mistake.”

ESPN executives used Scott Van Pelt as an example of the success a personality-driven version of SportsCenter could have. Hill points out that Van Pelt was given an extended rehearsal period and was able to handpick his staff. His midnight edition of SportsCenter was not a fair bar to measure SC6 against.

“I think they liked a lot of the things we did on His and Hers,” Hill said in reference to the show she and Smith co-hosted from 2014 to 2017. “The things that made us an attractive fit were not things that necessarily fit SportsCenter.”

Viral videos, sketch comedy, and discussions of movies and music had never been a major part of SportsCenter before. The ad campaign ahead of the debut of SC6 promised that would be the case with Hill and Smith. She says that created a narrative that their version of SportsCenter wouldn’t be about sports.

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.

Jordan Bondurant

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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.”

Jordan Bondurant

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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.

Jordan Bondurant

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NFL

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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