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2021 NCAA Women’s Tournament Achieves New Ratings Highs

The UConn Huskies played a big role in the uptick in viewership. Their Elite Eight matchup against Baylor, which came down to the game’s final play, saw 1.7 million average viewers on ESPN which was a 32% increase from the 2019 UConn Elite Eight game, as noted by SMW.

Kate Constable

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The 2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament delivered on a number of different fronts. Not only did we see nail-biting performances, both in the Final Four and Sunday night’s championship game, but the tournament notched a number of viewership milestones as well, according to Amanda Christovich of Front Office Sports.

The report notes that the first-round game between Tennessee and Middle Tennessee on ABC earned the biggest audience during any women’s first-round game since 2010, according to Sports Media Watch, and the Sweet 16 had 66% more average viewers than it did in 2019. 

The UConn Huskies played a big role in the uptick in viewership. Their Elite Eight matchup against Baylor, which came down to the game’s controversial final play, saw 1.7 million average viewers on ESPN which was a 32% increase from the 2019 UConn Elite Eight game, as noted by SMW.

Prior to that, per FOS, the Huskies Sweet 16 win over Iowa, on ABC, marked a 129% increase from its 2019 Sweet 16 game.

According to Christovich, the ratings followed a pattern of consistent growth for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament in recent years, and, as FOS College previously reported, ESPN’s decision to air the entire 2021 tournament nationally for the first time was “a direct result of the ever-growing popularity of women’s college basketball.”

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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Sports TV News

Return of Bob Iger Puts Pac-12 ‘Not Exactly In A Great Place’

“I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12.”

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The Pac-12 is currently in a media rights negotiation with partners for its next TV deal after the departure of USC and UCLA. The conference has remained committed to the stance that it feels it can match the dollar amount given to the Big 12 from FOX and ESPN. However, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post isn’t so confident.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Marchand said the recent return of Bob Iger as Disney CEO, coupled with recent layoffs from Amazon, could spell bad news for the PAC 12’s quest to match what the Big 12 received.

“Do I still think they can get the same number as the Big 12? I do, but you start thinking about where this is going and that’s not exactly a great place to be if you’re the Pac-12. They might get the number, but the idea that they’ll get a lot more than the Big 12 — which I’ve already said is not gonna happen — I think it’s even more evident it’s not gonna happen. These places aren’t gonna spend big money on the Pac-12…I think there’s some rough waters out in the Pacific.”

Marchand said if the University of California Board of Regents won’t allow UCLA to join the Big Ten as expected, the conference would then set its sights on Washington and Oregon, which would continue to decimate the Pac-12.

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