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Fred Gaudelli: John Madden Still Guides NBC Broadcasts

“Madden seemed to have the perfect personality for the job.  He had a fantastic work ethic matched with an encouraging spirit that Gaudelli greatly appreciated.”

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The recent death of John Madden impacted many in the sports industry.  Madden, who passed away last Tuesday, was a beloved coach and commentator that influenced multiple generations of players, fans, and people in general.

Fred Gaudelli, Executive Producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, grew close to John over the years and shared some of his memories of him with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.

“John understood how television worked, why it worked, why it didn’t work, and when it didn’t work,” Gaudelli said. “He got TV on a level like a Dick Ebersol level. Al (Michaels) has the same quality. They just know what the audience needs and they know when they need it. Not that they’re perfect. I mean, no one’s perfect. But in those big moments, they’re not somewhere else when there’s something in front of the audience. If I made a decision differently in the game that took us away from something, which invariably I did, he would hit that talk-back button and say, ‘Hey, can we get back to the game?’ I mean, even to this day, if I feel like I’ve been on a topic too long that’s away from the game, I feel his voice coming through that talk-back.”

As Gaudelli explains, Madden seemed to always know what the audience needed.  Not only did he know how to give the audience a great product, but he also knew how to relate to them.  This probably had a great deal to do with his love for people and good conversation.

“If you wanted to have a conversation with him and he had the time, he would have the conversation,” Gaudelli continued. “He traveled through the 48 continental states of America, and he didn’t drive through them. He stopped. He chatted people up. I remember one time we were driving from Houston to Canton. I don’t remember if we were driving through Alabama or Georgia, but somebody was selling boiled peanuts on the side of the road. We stopped the bus. We got off. I’d never had boiled peanuts before, and they were awesome. But he’s chatting the guy up about being a peanut farmer, the whole nine yards. He just had that kind of curiosity. I think that’s what made the bus a great vehicle for him, literally and figuratively, because he got to experience people.”

Madden seemed to have the perfect personality for the job.  He had a fantastic work ethic matched with an encouraging spirit that Gaudelli greatly appreciated.

“Blessed is a word that comes to mind because John opened my eyes to a lot of things that they may not have been open to from a television standpoint as well as a life standpoint if we had not worked together,” Gaudelli said. “I just felt inspired by his preparation and that he was expecting me to be better than I thought I might be. That’s the professional end. On the personal end of it, it’s hard to have a better friend than John Madden. He was always there for you — always had great advice, didn’t push it on you unless you were asking. He was also one the most fun guys you could ever hang out with. My career and life are multiple times better for having him in my life, and I’m really going to miss him.”

Sports TV News

Former Hulu Exec Michael Schneider Hired To Run Bally Sports+

“Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.”

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Sinclair Broadcast Group and Diamond Sports Group have tapped Michael Schneider as the chief operating officer and general manager of Bally Sports+ when it launches this year.

Schneider will oversee the direct-to-consumer platform that will also be the hub for Bally Sports live programming.

Schneider previously was VP of brand and content marketing at Hulu, where he had involvement in various marketing efforts for Hulu + Live TV.

“Throughout his career, Michael has successfully launched and developed DTC streaming and service platforms and created immersive engagement experiences,” said Sinclair COO and president of broadcast Rob Weisbord. “He is a terrific addition to the team as we build out the Bally Sports+ offering, its exclusive content and passionate fan community.”

Even before Hulu, Schneider had a hand in streaming. He was a founding member of the PlayStation Vue launch team.

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Marquee Sports Network Weighs Streaming Options Outside of Bally Sports+

“Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.”

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As Sinclair Broadcast Group prepares to launch Bally Sports+, its direct-to-consumer platform that will be home to Bally Sports live events, the Chicago Cubs are weighing their options for Marquee Sports Network, which the team co-owns with Sinclair.

Despite being under the Sinclair umbrella, Marquee is its own free-standing RSN from the rest of the Bally Sports networks across the country.

Marquee is readily available on a number of cable providers, but the only thing that’s really missing is its own standalone streaming platform for games. Marquee GM Mike McCarthy said to Sports Business Journal there’s no rush, but the network is hopeful they can have something in time for the 2023 season.

“We’re always interested in being on the cutting edge with the ultimate deliverable to our consumer,” McCarthy said. “But there isn’t any contractual clock ticking to make us feel that way. It’s how we’ve approached things from the beginning. Between our two ownership groups, there’s a lot of aggression to get it right. And I think you’ll see something along those lines shortly.”

The TV ratings will always be of top interest for MLB, especially regional ratings. But as the league has worked to embrace more streaming options for games, striking deals with Apple and Peacock for rights this season, it’s all about providing what the fans and viewers want.

“We now have the ability to do so much more, to properly tell the story of a 162-game season,” said Crane Kenney, Chicago Cubs president of business operations. Kenney was instrumental in the launch of Marquee. “We love baseball, we love the game, and we love the opportunity we have to share it with our fans in really deep ways.”

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Sports TV News

Laura Rutledge Celebrates Chemistry Of NFL Live

“It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

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Laura Rutledge is very happy with where NFL Live is as the current lineup gets set to enter its third season together. She told The Big Lead that there is genuine chemistry between herself, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Dan Orlovsky and that is why she doesn’t feel the need to emulate any of sports television’s many debate shows.

“You don’t want to see people yelling at each other all the time and I’m really proud of the chemistry that we have struck and just letting that breathe on air and having so much fun. It is truly the absolute joy of my life to get their opinions and to sit with them every single day and hear what they have to say.”

The 2022 NFL season will have a very different feel for ESPN. The addition of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman for Monday Night Football adds new expectations to the network.

Rutledge said that the attention on the network means that she and her colleagues have to raise their respective games, but that shouldn’t be hard. There is always material to work with in this league.

“We’ve seen this offseason, we saw the previous offseason, how the NFL news cycle never stops. It’s funny because the news cycle becomes such a big piece of the story, but we’re like, we can’t wait for the games,” she said.

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