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ESPN Reportedly Considering Al Michaels For ‘Monday Night Football’

It’s also entirely possible that Michaels’ representatives are floating this ESPN possibility to create some urgency with Amazon and get the best deal possible.

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Don’t pencil in Al Michaels for Amazon’s Thursday Night Football play-by-play opening quite yet.

The wide belief throughout the sports TV industry is that Michaels will indeed go to Amazon after his contract with NBC expires following Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13. But according to the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand, ESPN is considering taking a run at the legendary broadcaster for its Monday Night Football broadcast.

Amazon and Michaels haven’t apparently reached an agreement yet. Though there are some who wonder if that might get finalized in the next couple of weeks so Michaels can give a proper goodbye at the close of the Super Bowl telecast.

But Amazon hasn’t settled on a potential broadcast partner for Michaels yet, and that choice could influence whether or not this becomes a done deal. Troy Aikman appears to be the favorite for the analyst spot and he’ll reportedly have to decide whether or not to call a game for Amazon and Fox each week or move over exclusively to Amazon.

Or, as Marchand speculates, perhaps he and Michaels will decide to go to ESPN if that becomes an option.

Does this mean that ESPN wants to blow up its current MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick? Marchand has reported that Griese’s contract is up, so the network is surely evaluating whether or not to bring the three-man crew back.

In the process, ESPN also apparently wants to see if there’s any interest from Michaels, though Marchand says no conversations have occurred.

Other options for a Michaels partner, whether it’s with Amazon or ESPN, could be Sean Payton (who is reportedly stepping down as New Orleans Saints coach), Pete Carroll, or Sean McVay. Carroll is still the Seattle Seahawks’ head coach, while McVay is coaching the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday’s NFC Championship game amid a possible Super Bowl run.

(Marchand contradicts reports that Fox would consider Payton as a replacement for Aikman on the network’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team with Joe Buck, reporting that the network is more interested in him as a studio analyst.)

It’s also entirely possible that Michaels’ representatives are floating this ESPN possibility to create some urgency with Amazon and get the best deal possible. Michaels returning to MNF, where he was the play-by-play voice for 20 years with ABC and ESPN, would be the sort of headline-grabbing move that ESPN has long sought for its showcase NFL telecast.

Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

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The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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