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Maria Taylor Talks About Realities Of ESPN Right Now

“Taylor did mention that there are protocols whenever she goes into the studio at ESPN where only 2 people can be in a conference room and there are 3 computers in between each person as people wear face shields, masks, and gloves.”

Ricky Keeler

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Over the last couple of years, one person that has risen up in popularity in the sports media landscape is ESPN host and sideline reporter, Maria Taylor. This week, she was on the Bill Rhoden On Sports Podcast on the BLEAV Network with Bill Rhoden and Jamal Murphy to talk about her career and covering sports in what has been the new normal. 

During this interview, Taylor talked about what was happening as sports were shutting down and one of the unique programming ideas ESPN had to mesh the NBA and the Women’s Final Four before sports came to a halt back in March.

“It’s been kind of a roller coaster. It came to a screeching haul,” Taylor said. “We had just gotten through the NBA All-Star Game. I was heading home for a couple of days, then I was going to head to Bristol to host the NCAA Women’s Tournament up through the Final Four. We had plans to bring NBA Countdown to New Orleans. We all found out together there weren’t going to be any more games for a while.”

Taylor did mention that there are protocols whenever she goes into the studio at ESPN where only 2 people can be in a conference room and there are 3 computers in between each person as people wear face shields, masks, and gloves. As far as the new normal, there is one thing Taylor likes about it she hopes that will stick around.

“I think it kind of levels the playing field for storytelling. Everyone has access to everyone. I do like seeing athletes or the subjects of our stories in a home setting. It takes some of the glitz and glamour away from the formality and kind of breaks down that wall a little bit. I hope that continues moving forward.”

As a former collegiate athlete at the University of Georgia, Taylor knows first-hand what it means to be a student-athlete and one of the things she appreciates now is that student-athletes are finding their voice and speaking up on issues.

“The student athletes are realizing that their voices are so much bigger than the sport because they are the sport. Being on the sidelines for almost 10 years, its great to finally see that,” She said. “I’ve had so many conversations with players where they felt like their voices have been silenced. To be honest, it was the same way when I was in school. For once, it seems as though the power has been given to the people. It’s not just about whether or not they catch 5 passes for 100 yards, which is in itself pressure packed. They are trying to figure out how do I use my influence when I know this isn’t right on my campus?”

As Taylor continues to work at ESPN, she realizes how important her voice is when it comes to speaking on social injustice and how her speaking up helps people who can’t.

“I recognize the responsibility of if I don’t speak up in meetings or on TV, the production assistant in Bristol is not going to have the opportunities that they deserve. As black women, stop being humble. I’m good at my job. It’s almost like what are you going to do? If you fire me, people would be upset about it at this point. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m going to continue to excel, work hard, be a good teammate, make sure everyone feels good. You can’t feel any type of way about my opinion on how black people are treated because I am speaking the facts. I do believe you kind of ascend to that level of confidence.”

Throughout this interview, you will hear Taylor’s story of becoming a broadcaster and also the work she is doing with LeBron James’ More Than A Vote initiative.

Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

Jordan Bondurant

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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