ESPN’s Sunday Night Countdown could have a very different look next season, depending on the contractual situations of several .
This could provide opportunities for the names that are reportedly being pursued for analyst positions during the postseason. Those rumblings figure to gain heat now that the 2021 NFL season is officially finished.
Sean Payton might be better suited for a studio analyst role if he intends to return to coaching after a year off. And though Sean McVay told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that he’ll return to the Los Angeles Rams for the 2022 season (his contract runs through 2023), Marchand reports that ESPN definitely wants him as an analyst if he decides to leave coaching after winning Super Bowl LVI. (Pete Carroll was the third name mentioned by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler in a report last month.)
Both Alex Smith and Robert Griffin III earned praise from critics and fans for their work this past season, and could be up for spots on Sunday NFL Countdown.
Marchand reports that Booger McFarland and Brian Griese also have expiring contracts, which could affect additional shows including NFL Primetime and Monday Night Football, along with ESPN/ABC’s college football coverage.
ESPN could also move some talent from NFL Live, which was revitalized with its new regular crew of Laura Rutledge, Marcus Spearks, Dan Orlovsky, and Mina Kimes. But as Marchand points out, that carries considerable risk. If, for example, the network moved Rutledge to replace Ponder on Sunday, that would diminish a successful daily program which has more appeal with viewers.
One name that could add some sizzle to Sunday NFL Countdown is Ryan Clark, whose profile continues to rise at ESPN and warrants a larger role. In a December interview with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch, Clark said he wants to be on a Sunday studio show, which he considers the highest-profile job in his profession.
Clark signed an extension with ESPN a year ago and surely doesn’t want to see a popular personality who appears across network programming (Get Up, SportsCenter, First Take, in addition to NFL Live) go elsewhere. Now, the opportunity appears to be available to give him the Sunday studio role he covets.
Poll Data Shows Tepid Response To Tom Brady Joining FOX
“A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.”
FOX Sports reportedly signed Tom Brady to a 10-year deal worth $375 million to make the seven-time Super Bowl champion the new lead analyst for its top NFL broadcast once his playing career is over.
A recent Harris Poll conducted on behalf of Front Office Sports showed that 1 in 3 Americans are more likely to watch a game with Brady on the microphone.
The poll said 2 in 5 NFL fans have a better opinion of FOX Sports following the deal, with 41% of NFL fans being at least somewhat more likely to watch a game with Brady as an analyst.
Data shows one-third of NFL fans think the deal Brady reportedly agreed to is worth about the same as its reported value.
That reaction could probably be described as “tepid”. That may be exactly what FOX expects and maybe all it wants.
Last week, Domonique Foxworth of ESPN suggested that the paycheck is less about what the network thinks Tom Brady means to viewers and more about showing the NFL that the network values its product.
FOX Not Interested In Joining Streaming Sports Wars
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take?”
The CEO of FOX doesn’t plan on forking over billions of dollars to be people’s last choice for paid streaming services.
Lachlan Murdoch said at a time when more than 80% of American homes already have some kind of paid streaming service, it’s not worthwhile to jump on that train.
Amazon, Netflix and Disney+ typically account for the average streaming presence in a household.
“All this fight that’s going on, sort of gladiatorial kind of bloodshed, is really for that last position, right, in the three to four services that people will take,” Murdoch said at a tech conference earlier this year. “And so the billions of dollars that’s being spent by multiple aspirants is all for that last position. And so we are extraordinarily — I want to say that — we’re happy to be sort of sitting on the sidelines.”
Murdoch told Benjamin Swinburne that when it comes to the NFL, FOX’s media rights are the same as CBS, NBC and ESPN. The main focus for the company remains on keeping games on TV.
“We don’t believe it helps us to put those rights under a streaming service or free on over-the-air. We think it’s very important that those rights remain exclusive to the broadcast environment,” Murdoch said.
FOX does stream games through its app, but it is only the games it is also carrying on its broadcast network or FS1.
NBA Draft To Get Simulcast From ESPN & ABC
“This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.”
ESPN is set for the 2022 NBA Draft coming up on June 23 at 8 p.m. from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The network announced Wednesday the crews that will handle coverage on both ESPN and ABC.
ABC will broadcast the first round in primetime. Kevin Negandhi will host and will be joined by Stephen A. Smith, Chiney Ogwumike and Jalen Rose. Monica McNutt will be reporting and interviewing draftees.
This follows the simulcast model ESPN and ABC have employed for several years with the NFL Draft.
Malika Andrews will host both rounds for ESPN. Jay Bilas, Kendrick Perkins and Adrian Wojnarowski will share the set. Analysts Bobby Marks and Mike Schmitz will contribute.
“We’re thrilled that Malika Andrews will host this year’s ESPN presentation as she brings her well-documented, widespread skillset to our main set,” said David Roberts, head of NBA and Studio Production for ESPN. “The event will showcase the scope and depth of our NBA and college basketball talent roster with accomplished journalists and high-profile personalities across ESPN, ABC and ESPN Radio.”
ESPN will air a pre-draft red carpet show hosted by Cassidy Hubbarth from 5-6 p.m. Perkins and Richard Jefferson will also make appearances.