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ESPN Kicking Tires On NHL Television Rights

“ESPN hasn’t aired a live NHL game since 2004.”

Brandon Contes

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Nobody cares about hockey – except the networks willing to pay hundreds of millions in rights fees to televise the sport. According to Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports, ESPN is interested in reacquiring NHL TV rights. 

In 2011, NBC and the NHL signed a 10-year contract worth $200 million annually, and even with a pandemic ravaging the sports industry of income and ratings, the league is still expecting a more lucrative deal. With their current contract set to expire after the 2020-21 season, an NBC Sports spokesperson told Front Office Sports they are interested in retaining those rights. 

The NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman might look to split their broadcast rights, something the NFL, MLB and NBA all do. And according to the report from Front Office Sports, the NHL likely has the suitors to maximize rights fees, with ESPN, FOX Sports and CBS Sports having potential interest in adding professional hockey to their catalog. Even tech giants such as Amazon could provide a possible landing spot for a portion of the NHL’s broadcast rights. 

ESPN hasn’t aired a live NHL game since 2004. The 2004-05 season was erased by a lockout, and ESPN balked at picking up its option the next year. But The Worldwide Leader in Sports still employs Barry Melrose, Linda Cohn, Steve Levy and John Buccigross as the faces of its NHL coverage, who likely wouldn’t mind the acquisition of game rights. 

Since moving to a partnership with NBC Sports, the network has done plenty to help grow the NHL. The Winter Classic, Hockey Week in America and nationally televising every Stanley Cup playoff game has seen the NHL regain some popularity in the U.S. But that popularization is also what has other networks interested in acquiring NHL broadcast rights. 

Although NBC has been a great partner and advocate for the NHL, it’s unrealistic to expect that will buy them additional loyalty from the league. The NHL will, and should, have a business first mentality, looking to capitalize on the demand for live sports content.

Sports TV News

Curt Menefee to Call Two Seahawks Preseason Games

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26.

Jordan Bondurant

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Curt Menefee

The 2022 NFL preseason is going to kick off in earnest later this week, and the Seattle Seahawks have revealed their broadcast crews for two of the team’s three preseason contests.

FOX NFL studio host Curt Menefee will be on the TV play-by-play for the preseason opener on August 13 and the finale on August 26. He’ll be joined in the booth by former Seahawk Michael Robinson. The games will air locally on KING 5, the city’s NBC affiliate.

Additionally for the TV broadcasts, Paul Silvi and Ray Roberts will host the pre and postgame shows, with former Seahawk Michael Bennett working as an analyst.

On the radio, Steve Raible and Dave Wyman will call all three games. Jen Mueller will be the sideline reporter. Michael Bumpus will be the studio host and will be joined by former players Jordan Babineaux, Paul Moyer, Roberts, Marcus Trufant and Robert Turbin.

Radio broadcasts air on Seattle Sports 710 AM and KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM and are distributed across Washington on the Seahawks Radio Network.

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Sports TV News

After Losing Out On Big Ten Rights, ESPN Turns Focus to NCAA Championships

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024.

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After reportedly losing out on the Big Ten’s television rights, ESPN is reportedly turning to securing the NCAA Championship rights from hitting the open market.

According to Front Office Sports, ESPN’s contract for 29 NCAA Championships ends in 2024. Those 29 championships include everything from Women’s basketball to ice hockey, wrestling, softball, and baseball. The network pays a reported $34 million for the rights to broadcast those championship events.

However, according to a study commissioned by the NCAA reveals that the women’s basketball tournament could be worth anywhere from $81 million to $112 million per year by its lonesome. The NCAA is reportedly considering selling the women’s basketball tournament rights as a standalone product in the next negotiation.

Sources told Front Office Sports ESPN remains interested in striking deals with the Pac-12 and Big 12 media rights, as well as renewing a deal for the College Football Playoff.

The news comes after Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reported ESPN declined a final offer from the Big Ten for a portion of the conference’s media rights. The reported deal was seven years and $380 million per year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Announces The Return of Stephen A. Smith to First Take

ESPN announced Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th.

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Stephen A. Smith

First Take has been without it’s anchor since the day after the NBA Draft in June. That’s when the ESPN personality took some time off to undergo shoulder surgery and to rehabilitate. However, it appears the wait for his return is almost over.

ESPN announced with a tweet that Smith will be returning to First Take on Monday, August 15th. They also teased a guest appearance from Michael Irvin.

This comes a day after Smith tweeted that the countdown was on for his return and we are one week away from the event.

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