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Sports TV News

Aaron Rodgers Trade Demand Raises Questions For NFL TV Partners

Aaron Rodgers’ uncertain future in Green Bay could cause a flurry of flexed out Packer games on national broadcasts this fall.

MIchael Quirk

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Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

While Aaron Rodgers’s tenuous relationship with the Green Bay Packers has caused the team’s fans and front office to buy TUMS and melatonin in bulk, there are others who could find themselves affected: TV networks. Always one of the largest draws in the sport, Green Bay is scheduled to play 11 of its 17 games in national windows in 2021.

Five of the games will be on FOX, split between Thursday Night Football and the Sunday 1:00 and 4:25 time slots. Those Sunday matchups allow for easy interchanging of games in the case that Jordan Love or Blake Bortles finds their way under center. Mike Mulvihill, the VP and head of strategy and analytics for FOX Sports, said that while the reigning league MVP playing in Green Bay this year is ideal, they have flexibility around it.

“There’s no question that our preferred outcome…is that the reigning MVP is back at Lambeau Field and quarterbacking the Packers for the entire season,” Mulvihill said, per Sportico. “We really have a lot of flexibility to move things around, to address events as they happen.”

CBS is in the same boat as FOX regarding its early and late window agility. NBC’s Sunday Night Football will feature three Packer games, with two available to be switched out. In such a case, both CBS and FOX can keep one game off-limits similar to an expansion draft, and then NBC can choose from the remaining.

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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