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Steve Smith Joins Panthers Preseason TV Crew

The Carolina Panthers announced their 2021 preseason broadcast team will be ex-Panther Steve Smith Sr., Taylor Zarzour, and Kristen Balboni.

MIchael Quirk

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The Carolina Panthers have announced their TV broadcast team for the 2021 preseason, which will now consist of three games in lieu of four. Second-year Panthers sideline reporter Kristen Balboni will be joined by longtime North Carolinian broadcaster Taylor Zarzour and former Panthers legend Steve Smith Sr.

“Steve’s one of the greatest Panthers ever, he’s in our Hall of Honor, and this year, he’s up for the Hall of Fame. So we’re obviously thrilled to have him back in the building,” Panthers Owner David Tepper said. “He’s an important part of this team’s history, and of course, a big presence in the community. So connecting him closer to both areas is very exciting.”

Now an analyst on NFL Network, Smith played 13 seasons in Carolina earning four Pro Bowl nods before being released in March 2014 and playing his final three years for the Baltimore Ravens. A fan favorite in the Queen City, Smith made it known his displeasure with the unceremonious exit, though there has since been a change in both ownership and general managers.

“I’m looking forward to talking about these games from a former player’s perspective and why these games are significant,” Smith Sr. said. “For these young men, this is their chance to make the roster. Breaking that down and giving some substance and texture to why that is important, I think sometimes that lacks in game broadcasts. I feel like this is my opportunity to break that down and explain why this is important, and I’ll try to bring that to the table with my unique spin as an analyst.”

Zarzour has lived in North Carolina since 2004, and Charlotte since 2011. He currently serves as a commentator for ESPN’s college football and college baseball games, as well as a radio voice for golf’s majors. Before that, he spent time with various sports radio stations, including 610 WFNZ in Charlotte.

Balboni has worked for both ESPN and FOX Sports, and is entering her second year as the team reporter, covering the team for the Panthers’ website and other digital properties and hosting a variety of Panthers’ programming, according to a release. The broadcasts can be seen on the team’s flagship station WSOC-TV in Charlotte and across the Carolinas on the team’s network of syndicated affiliates.

Sports TV News

Pat McAfee Feels Good About His College Football MegaCast Debut

“I feel good going into the next one. I feel like we’ve learned from this first one,” he said.

Jordan Bondurant

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The College Football MegaCast featuring Pat McAfee and his daily YouTube show’s cast debuted on ESPN2 over the weekend, and McAfee is looking forward to the next edition.

On his show Monday, McAfee told co-host A.J. Hawk that he felt good about how the show went considering it was uncharted territory to be in.

“We had no idea how successful it would be,” McAfee said. “Like this is the first time we’re being judged in a different fashion. I don’t think we marketed it much, you know, because I don’t think we knew how it was gonna go.”

The alternate feed is being produced for ESPN by Omaha Productions, which is also responsible for the ManningCast which runs alongside the traditional Monday Night Football broadcast.

McAfee said this first show turned out to be a learning experience and that they started off on the right foot.

“I feel good going into the next one. I feel like we’ve learned from this first one,” he said. “We had no idea, it was very much of a roll of the dice. Going into the next one I think we’re gonna try and make it even grander and bigger, and I’m very excited for it.”

As for the style in which they covered the Clemson/N.C. State game, McAfee added that the giveaways and guest interactions added a lot of value.

“I think it’s the right way to watch a game, and to be honest I think it’s keeping us all invested as much and even more,” he said.

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Sports TV News

LA Clippers Sign New Contract with Bally Sports

The multi-year agreement will go into effect this season. Bally will carry 63 of the team’s 2022-23 regular season games.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Los Angeles Clippers will continue its relationship with Bally Sports, completing a new deal over the weekend to keep Bally as the team’s regional sports network.

The multi-year agreement will go into effect this season. Bally will carry 63 of the team’s 2022-23 regular season games. Additionally, 11 games will be carried by KTLA, giving the team some additional viewership reach. The remaining eight games will be broadcast on national television.

Brian Sieman will continue on as the play-by-play broadcaster for games, with Jim Jackson and Mike Fratello swapping the analyst chair. Jamie Maggio and Kristina Pink will be reporting.

According to the Los Angeles Times, all signs pointed to the team and the network hashing out a new contract.

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Sports TV News

ESPN’s NFL Programming Sees Big September Growth

For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

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For ESPN, September has been a really strong month with their NFL programming.

Sunday NFL Countdown is averaging 1.4 million viewers per show thus far in 2022. That up 15% from 2021’s first three shows of the NFL season. The season premiere – Sunday, Sept. 11 – averaged 1.6 million viewers, tying the network’s best Week 1 audience for the show since 2016 and is up 35% year-over-year.

NFL Live experienced large growth too. The episode airing after the first NFL Sunday, on Monday September 12, averaged 664,000 viewers which beat every NFL Live episode last season, including the most-watched episode on 2021 (December 17) which grabbed 635,000 viewers.

Monday Night Countdown is averaging 1.3 million viewers for its two, non-staggered September episodes, which aired in its traditional timeslot (6-8 pm).

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