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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.”

Ricky Keeler

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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

The NFL Still Considering Multiple Offers For Sunday Ticket

The NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has not bid for the package but has stated it is willing to partner with the new rightsholder for a potential deal.

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Sunday Ticket Negotiations

DirecTV currently has the rights to Sunday Ticket. That deal expires at the end of this upcoming football season. The NFL is expected to make a boatload of cash when they decide which media organization gets the next rights to the package. The only question is… who will that be?

Alex Sherman of CNBC reports that the NFL has had the respective bids of Disney, Apple and Amazon for weeks now. DirecTV has decided not bid for the package. However, they are interested in partnering with the new rightsholder for a potential deal. DirecTV knows that Sunday Ticket is a staple in bars and restaurants and is interested in maintaining those relationships.

Outside of the bar/restaurant industry, success has been limited for the satellite provider with the football package. Fewer than two million subscribers signed up for Sunday Ticket each year which made the package a money-loser for the satellite TV provider.

According to the report, the NFL wants more than $2 billion for the rights and a stake in NFL Media, which is being packaged with Sunday Ticket. Also on the table is the NFL’s mobile rights. The league’s previous mobile agreement with Verizon has ended.

An interesting piece of the negotiations is Sunday Ticket price. According to the report, a buyer would have limited flexibility on pricing. The NFL signed contracts with CBS and Fox and within the framework of those deals, language mandates Sunday Ticket have a premium price. That’s to prevent loss of viewers from the networks that feature local market Sunday afternoon games. So essentially, the price is the price for the consumer.

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Sports TV News

F1 Renews With ESPN For U.S. Media Rights

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

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F1 ESPN

The racing series F1 has decided to stick with ESPN through 2025.

ESPN was reportedly in a three-way bidding battle with Amazon and Comcast. According to the report, F1 told both Amazon and Comcast on Friday that they had decline to accept either one’s offer.

The reported value of the three-year contract is set to pay F1 $75-90M per year for the U.S. media rights. Amazon had offered to pay roughly $100M per year, with the right to sublicense to a linear broadcast network. Comcast’s offer was similar to ESPN’s in terms of value and the structure. They also wanted to put select races on it’s streaming service, Peacock.

Netflix was in on the negotiations, as well. The makers of Drive to Survive, the streaming series that many credit with the sport’s explosion in popularity in recent years, wasn’t close on on their financial offer. Also, it seems F1 executives were not ready to put all of its races on a streaming service just yet.

Currently, F1 receives $5M per year for ESPN to broadcast it’s races. ESPN has grabbed about 1.0 million viewers per race. That makes F1 a more than viable option for the network to invest into again. ESPN will be able to put a small number of races on its ESPN+ streaming service exclusively. The vast majority being on ABC or ESPN.

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Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

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Skip Bayless

Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.

The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.

Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.

“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”

Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.

“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”

Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.

“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”

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