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John Buccigross: Calling NHL Games Has Me ‘Pumped’ For ESPN Again

“It’s been a moment that he has been preparing for over the last 15 years since he went to his bosses and asked to call hockey games at the collegiate level.”

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For the first time since 2004, ESPN will be back broadcasting NHL games. Starting on October 12, fans will hear the iconic theme song once again. One of the main voices you will hear as either a play-by-play broadcaster or in the studio is John Buccigross, who hosted NHL 2Nite on ESPN2 from 1998 to 2004. 

It was announced on Thursday that Buccigross will be hosting a show called The Pointwhich will air every Thursdays on ESPN2 and daily during the first week of the season. 

This week, John Buccigross was a guest on The Athletic Hockey Show with Craig Custance and Sean Gentille to talk about the return of the NHL to the Worldwide Leader and he thinks it couldn’t have happened at a better time in his career.

“I’ve been in the biz for 32 years, ESPN for 25. I’m 55 years old and to be this pumped about going to work again, that’s kind of rare, I think for any occupation. For me, my battery is full, so I don’t mind taking those flights and going to games and a chance to do a bunch of play-by-play here at least in the early part of the season. I’m so excited. I can’t believe it is actually happening,” said Buccigross. 

It’s been a moment that he has been preparing for over the last 15 years since he went to his bosses and asked to call hockey games at the collegiate level.

With ESPN now one of the rights holders for the NHL, John Buccigross believes that the excitement won’t just be felt in promos and game coverage. He thinks it will translate to the play on the ice as well.

 “I knew ESPN would give the entire league a little bit of an infusion. I know the players wanted to be on the network. That was part of the optimism…I think you can see some really fun, inspired play once the season starts and they see that TNT/ESPN banner and I think it’s going to translate at least early into some really spirited play.”

When ESPN had the rights, they were the only ones broadcasting NHL games. Now with TNT in the picture, Buccigross believes having a rival will be a good thing for both networks and can push people, especially analysts to be on their A game.

“We haven’t had a rival to compete with in hockey. It’s been a cheap enough product where one network can buy the whole thing. That’s a cool part of it and I think will push both sides and I hope push the analysts in-studio because that’s a tough job and you have to be good in short bits and entertaining and funny and serious.”

As for possible broadcast options during the season, John Buccigross believes that ESPN or even TNT could do something similar to the ManningCast that we’ve seen for Monday Night Football games: 

“I can see TNT maybe one night offering counter-programming showing Charles Barkley watching a game with maybe a writer or someone else (Wayne Gretzky) or a player on an off-night and you can have those three watch a game somewhere else or tape it and show the greatest hits. That can be something ESPN or TNT decides to do. We can do it at ESPN because we have so many outlets. There’s limitless inventory and space for us to do it.” 

The ESPN NHL regular season schedule begins with a doubleheader on October 12 as the Pittsburgh Penguins take on the two-time defending champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 p.m ET, ESPN) followed by the new expansion team, the Seattle Kraken, against the Vegas Golden Knights (10 p.m). 

Sports TV News

Michelle Beadle: I’ve Been Giving Opinions To Walls For 800 Days

“After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”

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Former ESPN personality Michelle Beadle is back and she wants everyone to know it on her new podcast, What Did I Miss? with Michelle Beadle. The first episode dropped this week, and Beadle talked about what she was up to while she was away.

“I have missed a lot, I have kinda been sitting back for 800 days giving my opinions to walls because my friends don’t care about sports and neither does my family. Nobody really cared what I had to say so in between knitting and buying toilet paper I was just mumbling a lot of opinions to the ether,” said Beadle on her time away from sports media.

Michelle Beadle talked about her move to The Athletic, saying “I ended up at The Athletic because when I think of serious journalism I think of The Athletic and myself. To me it was just a match made in heaven. After my last gig I had one rule and that was do what I want with people that I like, no more jerks.”

One of the many things that Beadle discussed had started since she has been away is the alternate Manningcast Monday Night Football telecast, which she had some high praise for.

She also went on to talk about her unread text messages that she has on her phone, and one of them was from her former colleague at ESPN Bob Ley.

“People from the outside think that Bob Ley is someone who is super serious because he is one of the pillars of SportsCenter. While we worked together on SportsNation I would just tell stories and crack jokes to everyone in the newsroom and all of the sudden Bob Ley who I also thought was super serious joined in on the jokes. I just loved Bob so much.”

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Sports TV News

NBC Will Air Winter Olympics After Super Bowl 56

“We want to be able to maximize the the coverage of the Olympics while it’s going on and especially when we’re in full live events.”

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For the past 46 years, the Super Bowl has been followed by a series lead-out. NBC has some different plans for this year’s event, however. Super Bowl 56 will be followed by the Winter Olympics.

The Super Bowl takes place on February 13th, right in the middle of the Winter Olympics which run from the 4th to the 20th. This year will be the first time that a network has aired both at the same time, and it gives NBC a prime opportunity to cash in on the Super Bowl audience for their coverage of the Olympic games.

“We have the benefit and the luxury of being right in the middle of the Olympics and we have a commitment to air live Olympics,” said Frances Berwick, chairman, entertainment networks, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming.

“I think the fortunate position that we’re in is to have the benefit of those 18 days of the Olympics plus the Super Bowl as these immense promotional platforms to promote our new shows, too,” said Berwick “So we’re in a really unique situation in that regard.” he added.

Networks usually use the Super Bowl as an opportunity to market a new show, and it has worked to varying degrees of success over the years. The last time NBC has had a Super Bowl was in 2018, where the show This Is Us averaged a whopping 27 million viewers.

The last time a network followed the Super Bowl with another sporting event was in 1976, when CBS aired the Phoenix Open golf tournament after Super Bowl X.

“We want to be able to maximize the coverage of the Olympics while it’s going on and especially when we’re in full live events,” Berwick added.

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Sports TV News

John Canzano: ESPN Did Not Like My Criticism

“Canzano closes his Monday column by encouraging George Kliavkoff, the new commissioner of the PAC-12, to hire TV producers to advise the league’s next television contracts.”

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John Canzano wrote a second piece in the Oregonian on Monday about ESPN. This one was addressing the network’s reaction to his Sunday column about the poor visual quality of the network’s coverage of PAC-12 football.

In Sunday’s piece, Canzano cited sources that told him the network is cutting costs in its PAC-12 coverage. It is using fewer cameras and an outdated broadcast truck. He referred to the network’s coverage of Oregon’s win over Washington State as “a fuzzy, low-budget disappointment.”

“An ESPN spokesperson read my column and wrote in bold to tell me, ‘The notion that we are doing Pac-12 games on the cheap is patently false,'” he wrote on Monday.

According to John Canzano, ESPN says it had seven cameras at the game, not six as he had previously reported. The network also acknowledges that there have been technical issues on some PAC-12 games this season, but characterized them as “some isolated technical issues…that we are actively working to fix.”

Bill Rice also spoke with Canzano. He was a camera operator at the game. He is clear in his diagnosis of the problem. ESPN is using outdated equipment.

“All of that gear that we were using is old and wore out. It’s their ‘E’ show. That truck is a long way from home. That’s ESPN’s ‘E-level’ show.

“You know… A.. B… C… D… E.”

Rice also said that the broadcast truck ESPN uses for games on the West Coast is a relic. He says it is from the 20th century, which would mean that the network is relying on technology that is more than two decades old to broadcast games in HD.

John Canzano did some digging and did find some answers regarding the truck and the equipment inside the stadium.

The Oregonian/OregonLive obtained the information sheet that was distributed to crew working for ESPN in front of the Oregon-WSU game. The truck itself was built in 2012, but the key equipment inside was manufactured 10-25 years years ago. The document verifies there were, in fact, six “hard” cameras at the game and a seventh handheld camera present. It also lists the names of crew working the game. I researched them and they’re all highly qualified and experienced television production experts.”

Canzano closes his Monday column by encouraging George Kliavkoff, the new commissioner of the PAC-12, to hire TV producers to advise the league’s next television contracts.

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