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Game One of Stanley Cup Delivers Poor Ratings

Game One of the Stanley Cup turned up some poor ratings as it aired directly against Game 5 between the Suns and Clippers.

MIchael Quirk

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The NHL is heading to ESPN and TNT in the fall, but before they do, they have one more Stanley Cup champion to crown. All 4-7 games of the Stanley Cup will appear on the NBC family of networks, with games 1-2 already aired on NBCSN, and games 3-7 (the final three if necessary) set for NBC. Despite having a Canadian team in the finals for the first time in a decade, the Game 1 ratings between Montreal and Tampa were down 54 percent from 2019.

According to Sportico, 1.57 million viewers tuned into the game that saw the Lightning win 5-1. The game did have a couple things working against it. For starters, it aired on NBCSN, which will soon be discontinued as a channel, and whose slogan may as well be, “the station that’ll have bartenders asking, ‘what channel is that on?'” Second, and more importantly, the game ran concurrently with Game 5 of Suns and Clippers, where Phoenix missed an opportunity to clinch its first Finals berth since Charles Barkley played in The Valley. That game drew 5.74 million viewers over on ESPN.

The numbers figure to pick up as the series moves along. Tampa is currently up 2-0, and whether they work their way closer to close-out games, or Montreal makes a series out of it when they return home, it figures to garner more eyeballs. Add in that each game moving forward will be on NBC, as well. Game 3 is set for Friday at 8 p.m.

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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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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