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ESPN Signs Insiders Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski to Multi-Year Extensions

Both insiders will create content for ESPN+ as part of their new agreements with the network.

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Rumblings in the sports media industry that ESPN insiders Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski might leave the network and take their brands to sports betting outlets like Caesars had been gaining volume as each reporter neared the end of their respective contracts.

But neither Schefter or Wojnarowski will be going anywhere else in the near-future. Both reporters have agreed to multi-year extensions with ESPN, the network announced Thursday.

Schefter, who’s been with ESPN since 2009, will continue reporting and breaking news on social media, ESPN.com, and the ESPN app, while appearing across ESPN programming, including NFL Live, SportsCenter, Get Up, and First Take, along with pregame shows Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.

Additionally, he hosts The Adam Schefter Podcast and will contribute to NFL Draft and Super Bowl coverage.

As part of his new agreement, Schefter will also have new opportunities, such as producing content for ESPN+.

Earlier this month at the BSM Summit, Schefter was honored with the Champion’s Award, which goes to someone in sports media who has made a significant difference for the industry and those involved in it. Schefter’s efforts for helping the family of Jeff Dickerson, who passed away in December, were recognized.

In addition to his work for ESPN — which was preceded by reporting for NFL Network, the Denver Post, and Rocky Mountain News — Schefter has written several books, most recently The Man I Never Met, about his wife’s first husband, who died in the September 11 attacks.

Wojnarowski, who’s been with ESPN since 2017, will continue reporting and breaking news on social media, ESPN.com, and the ESPN app, while appearing across network studio programming, including NBA Countdown, SportsCenter, and NBA Today. He also contributes to NBA Draft coverage, while hosting The Woj Pod.

Creating content for ESPN+ is also part of Wojnarowski’s new agreement with the network.

Prior to joining ESPN, Wojnarowski was an NBA insider for Yahoo Sports and edited the outlet’s basketball site, The Vertical. During his career, he also authored The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty.

Schefter had been attracting interest from Caesar’s Sportsbook, according to Front Office Sports, aware that the insider’s contract with ESPN was nearing its end.

Sports betting companies have also been trying to present themselves as media companies, not just gambling enterprises, in recent months by hiring former ESPN personalities, like Trey Wingo, Kenny Mayne, and Mike Golic. Adding an established reporter such as Schefter or Wojnarowski would boost the credibility of such efforts.

As Schefter has also invited controversy with recent reporting on domestic violence and sexual misconduct stories, the possibility of taking his brand to a non-news outlet may have had some appeal. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said Schefter’s interest was an open secret in the industry.

Though ESPN presumably has other talent already in-house that could have taken over Schefter’s insider duties — including Jeff Darlington, Dianna Russini, and Dan Graziano — the network clearly values Schefter’s work and has given him a number of opportunities outside his NFL reporting, such as NBA reporting.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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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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Sports TV News

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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