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Dianna Russini Returning To ESPN On November 14

“Russini figures to pick up right where she left off from last season’s coverage.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN

NFL fans wondering when ESPN’s Dianna Russini would return to her coverage of the league got an answer over the weekend. Russini has been on maternity leave since the summer but is back on the NFL beat starting on Nov. 14.

Russini and her husband celebrated the birth of their first child this year, and she has been documenting the journey on her Substack, The Diary of NFL Insider Dianna Russini.

Russini broke the news on the site and revealed some wise words her friend and fellow ESPN reporter, Jeff Darlington, told her.

“Someone in the business texted me when Michael was about 7 weeks old,” Russini wrote. “Saying, ‘You ever coming back to work or you just milking this thing?’ The anxiety started to creep in. I texted Jeff [Darlington] that maybe I made a mistake taking my full paid maternity leave. My head was telling me at the time my reputation as a hard-working reporter was tarnishing by the day. Jeff responded immediately from a plane as he headed home from a game: ‘The sh*t I did at work yesterday is 1,000 times less important to the world than the shit you did with Michael yesterday. Stop.’ I smiled. He was right. So after three months of recovering from labor, raising my baby, learning all about motherhood, I’m so excited to share that I am returning to television on November 14.”

Russini figures to pick up right where she left off from last season’s coverage. She is a regular contributor to Sunday NFL Countdown, Fantasy Football Now, SportsCenter, Get Up, and ESPN Radio.

The reporter also signed a fresh contract with ESPN while on maternity leave.

“It’s such a special time to be covering the NFL,” Russini said in a press release. “There’s no better place to be doing it than at ESPN. I’m thrilled to be part of such a talented team—and I’m excited about the years to come.”

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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