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Rams, Cardinals Deliver Biggest Monday Night Football Audience Of 2021

The franchise is now averaging 13,389,000 viewers season-to-date, up 11% from 2020 and 6% from 2019.

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Monday Night Football on ESPN has been extremely successful to date this year, and this past week’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams was no exception.

The game delivered nearly 15.9 million viewers across ESPN Networks (ESPN, ABC, ESPN Deportes), as the franchise continues to drive a successful 2021 campaign.

The 15,895,000 viewers on ESPN and ABC represent MNF’s best audience since the season opener this season and its second best audience in 27 games, dating back to Week 3 of the 2020 season.

The game was the best Week 14 numbers since 2014, and the second best in the ESPN era (2006 – present).  The audience represents an increase of 23% and 35% from 2020 respectively. Similar to Week 14, Monday Night Football aired nationally on both ESPN and ABC twice in December of 2020, and this season’s Rams-Cardinals game topped both of those audiences.

In back-to-back weeks, ESPN’s Monday Night Football has delivered two of its three largest audiences. Week 13’s New England-Buffalo matchup delivered 15 million viewers. 

The franchise is now averaging 13,389,000 viewers season-to-date, up 11% from 2020 and 6% from 2019.

The broadcast was the most-watched telecast of the night among key demos: Men 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 as well as persons 18-34, 18-49 and 25-54 on ESPN.

We will see if ESPN can continue to build on these solid ratings this season with a matchup next week between the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.

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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