Don’t expect to see a concrete replacement for Maria Taylor on ESPN’s College Gameday this fall. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports the network will use a cast of talent to fulfill Taylor’s open hosting duties.
Jen Lada and Gene Wojciechowski feature more prominently this season but will remain in their essayist roles. Those stories are being expanded for the pair after Tom Rinaldi jumped over to Fox Sports and Taylor left ESPN for NBC.
“There are no immediate plans to replace that role,” ESPN told Front Office Sports in a statement. “We look forward to kicking off the 35th season of College GameDay with our talented crew, including Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack, Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica, and reporters Jen Lada and Gene Wojciechowski.”
Wojciechowski has been with the network for almost a decade. The veteran journalist started at ESPN in 2012 and puts together feature packages regularly for College Gameday. Lada has been a part of the show since 2016 while also appearing on ESPN Radio, Outside the Lines, E:60, and SC Featured.
ESPN has already announced Holly Rowe as Taylor’s sideline replacement on Saturday Night Football.
“When they told me, I just started crying because I’ve been obsessed with college football my entire life,” Rowe said about the opportunity. “It’s a dream come true, and I’m thankful to my bosses for this opportunity. I’m starting my 26th season covering games on ABC and ESPN, and it’s been long years filled with hard work. I’m excited to join what’s been established as the best team in college football with Chris (Fowler) and Kirk (Herbstreit), and I hope to be the world’s best teammate to them.
College Gameday starts the 2021 season with a trip to the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff on Aug. 28.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.