ESPN may start covering hockey once again now that they reportedly have a TV rights deal with the NHL.
SportsNet’s Chris Johnston reported on Tuesday that ESPN has reached a 7-year deal with the NHL to become a media partner with the league. The deal would begin next season, which is after the current deal with NBC ends.
ESPN would split the package of NHL games with another partner, according to the report.
ESPN reportedly would receive the rights to broadcast four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022-2028 plus receive streaming rights.
NBC has held the TV rights to the NHL in the U.S. since the league’s lockout in 2004-2005. They pay $200 million annually for the package. However, NBC announced they would be shutting down NBC Sports Network at the end of the year, which signified they were unlikely to keep the full NHL deal. Sports properties that were airing on NBC Sports Network will shift to USA Network, which is another NBC property.
This move is a positive one for the NHL, which has received decreased exposure in the U.S. since losing the ESPN deal. From 1992-2004, ESPN held “National Hockey Night” games that helped the league increase in popularity. Their focus on the sport dwindled once they no longer held TV rights.
There has not been a Super Bowl broadcast on ABC in 15 years, but that drought is set to come to an end following a new agreement between the NFL and ABC/ESPN parent company Walt Disney Co.
John Ourand of Sports Business Journal reported on Friday that Disney and the NFL have reached agreement on a new media rights deal. The deal includes the renewal of “Monday Night Football” and the return of ABC to the Super Bowl rotation.
The new agreement is reportedly worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $2.6 billion, which is a roughly 30 percent increase over the previous rights deal between the two sides.
The NFL has already reached new deals with CBS, NBC and FOX. The league could make a formal announcement on all the new contracts at some point next week.
A recent report indicated that ESPN and the NFL were at odds over money, but the two sides obviously found a middle ground. That was the expected outcome all along.
There has been talk that ESPN will try to hire one of the biggest names in sports broadcasting, but that seems unlikely to happen. Either way, the new agreement sounds like a win for the network if it means getting back into the Super Bowl rotation.
The NFL is hoping to wrap up negotiations for its television rights renewals in the coming weeks, but one of its partners is holding out and refusing to pay what the league wants.
The NFL has asked TV partners for double the price of what they are paying for current deals in this round of negotiations, according to Alex Sherman of CNBC. NBC, CBS, and FOX are willing to approach that asking price, but Disney has pushed back on it.
Disney, which owns ESPN and ABC, currently has the rights to Monday Night Football, as well as highlights packages, branded shows, and streaming rights. Disney also wants to join the Super Bowl rotation and get Monday night doubleheaders, which prompted the NFL to make the same request of them as they did of their other broadcast partners. Disney balked because it is already paying more than the other three networks despite airing fewer live games.
ESPN has been trying to make big moves and expand its live broadcast presence in the NFL. That is going to lead the NFL to ask for more money, and unless the league blinks, Disney probably can’t have it both ways.
ESPN has not been able to find anything close to an elite play-by-play announcer since Mike Tirico left for NBC back in 2016. Is there any scenario in which Jim Nantz could fill that void? Apparently it cannot be ruled out.
Nantz is currently negotiating a new contract with CBS, and Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that ESPN is preparing to swoop in. ESPN and parent company Walt Disney Co. are looking to grow their NFL footprint, and Nantz becoming the face of the network would mesh with that plan.
There has been talk about “Monday Night Football” returning to ABC as well as ESPN/ABC once again carrying Super Bowl broadcasts. There has not been a Super Bowl broadcast on ABC since Al Michaels and John Madden were in the booth back in 2006.
While Nantz and CBS may be at an impasse in contract talks, a network spokesperson told McCarthy that “we expect Jim to be at CBS Sports for many years to come.”
ESPN shares Masters coverage with CBS, and McCarthy notes that ESPN could try to use Nantz’s connections to land weekend coverage of the event. CBS has held the Masters weekend coverage since the 1950s, and Nantz has spoken openly about wanting to become the first broadcaster to call 50 Masters. That’s one of the main reasons there is a strong chance he will remain with CBS.
Nantz currently makes $6.5 million per year from CBS, while his partner Tony Romo signed a 10-year, $180 million deal with the network last year. Nantz is said to be seeking a salary similar to Romo’s, though that is probably unrealistic for a play-by-play announcer. He is certainly due for a raise, however, as Joe Buck makes more than $10 million from FOX and Mike Tirico gets roughly the same amount from NBC.
CBS recently made a move that could signal they are preparing for Nantz to leave. While ESPN would love for that to happen, it still seems like a long shot.
Patrick Mahomes reminded everyone on Sunday night of why he is the reigning Super Bowl MVP, and the Kansas City Chiefs star took note of a certain network not giving him the credit he deserves.
After he threw for 325 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in a 38-24 win over the Buffalo Bills, Mahomes trolled ESPN on Twitter. Someone called his attention to a graphic shown on “Postseason NFL Countdown” that said the Bills had an advantage over the Chiefs at the quarterback position.
Mahomes responded with a yawning emoji.
Josh Allen certainly had a fantastic 2020 season. The Bills star deserves to be in the MVP conversation, but who would take him over Mahomes in a playoff game? That’s just silly.
Even though they are the defending Super Bowl champions, the Chiefs may feel they are not getting the respect they deserve. Between Mahomes’ tweet and what Tyreek Hill said after Sunday’s game, it sounds like Kansas City should be plenty motivated heading into a showdown with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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Philip Rivers appeared to have his post-NFL career sorted out, but it sounds like another very notable option is available to him.
The veteran NFL quarterback has attracted the interest of ESPN, according to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post. While the network initially wants to gauge Rivers’ interest in an NFL analyst role, they would be open to putting him in the broadcast booth for games if he had an interest in that.
For now, ESPN is prepared to stick with the team of Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, and Brian Griese for “Monday Night Football,” feeling that the trio will continue to build chemistry the more they work together.
It’s not really clear if Rivers would be interested in any of this. He already has a job lined up post-retirement that he seems very passionate about. Still, ESPN will do its due diligence, even if they get turned down.
Adam Schefter is one of the most well known sports reporters in the world, which is why countless people have been duped by social media accounts from people who are posing as the ESPN insider. Now, even Schefter’s own employer has fallen for a fake Schefter tweet.
On Monday, a fake Schefter Twitter account “reported” that the Miami Dolphins have fired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. The tweet came from one of those accounts that uses the same avatar as Schefter, which makes it confusing. The account was not verified, however, and had a handle that read @TuaNeedsHelp.
Unfortunately for ESPN, someone at the company missed those important details. That led to ESPN publishing a story about Gailey being fired and attributing it to Schefter. The false report was also shared on the air during “SportsCenter.”
Several major outlets picked up on the story before ESPN realized the error. They then published a follow-up correcting it, which was shared by the real Schefter.
“The story has been removed from ESPN.com, and replaced with this correction. The story was also mentioned on the 1 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter,” the correction read. “No ESPN reporters reported on Gailey or the Dolphins, or were involved in the error, which was made internally. ESPN regrets the error.”
This certainly isn’t the first time we have seen NFL news circulate because of a fake tweet. You can see another fairly recent example here.
What makes this particular incident so unusual is that ESPN was duped by an account posing as its own reporter. Welcome to 2021.
The relationship between Dan Le Batard and ESPN has semingly been strained for quite some time, and the two sides are now parting ways.
ESPN and Le Batard released a joint statement on Thursday announcing that they have “mutually agreed” to go in different directions. Outkick had reported earlier in the day that ESPN and Le Batard were negotiating a buyout agreement.
The final episode of “The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz” on ESPN Radio and “Highly Questionable” on ESPN will air on Jan. 4. You can read the full statement below:
Le Batard’s radio show was simulcast on ESPNews but got moved to ESPN+ about a month ago. The show also had been cut down to two hours nationally. Reports since April hinted that ESPN was looking to downsize the show and the two sides could be headed for a split.
Le Batard, who reportedly makes around $3 million per year, also pulled a bold move last month after ESPN laid off one of his producers. Le Batard felt horribly about the decision and hired the producer back as a personal assistant, even giving him a raise.
Le Batard found himself in hot water last summer when he openly challenged ESPN’s no-politics policy and ripped Donald Trump. There had been rumblings that ESPN wanted him to focus more on sports rather than pop culture after former president John Skipper left. That difference of views may have contributed to the mutual parting of ways.
ESPN is trying to navigate amid uncertain circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and the company announced on Thursday that it is laying off hundreds of employees.
In an internal memo obtained by Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro announced that 300 employees have been laid off. ESPN is also eliminating 200 job positions that were previously open, resulting in a reduced workforce of 500. That reduction is the largest in company history.
Here’s the full memo:
The layoffs are all impacting behind-the-scenes staffers, according to McCarthy.
There was also a chance ESPN was going to ask some of its top talent to take pay cuts, though it’s unclear if that has happened. The network lost another one of its top on-air personalities last month, as Keith Olbermann announced he was let out of his contract to launch a political show on YouTube.
“Sunday Night Football” could have a new television home if ESPN gets its way.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN and Disney are prepared to pay at least $1 billion to secure the rights to the NFL’s weekly Sunday night game. The network would likely place that game on ABC. The rights are currently held by NBC, which will compete to keep them.
There are multiple reasons ESPN wants to add a second NFL package in addition to “Monday Night Football.” The network wants a spot in the Super Bowl rotation, which it does not have currently. In addition, Disney executives have argued to the NFL that they pay $2 billion per year for the inferior Monday night schedule and no Super Bowl, while NBC’s Sunday night package gets them a Super Bowl broadcast and a better and more flexible schedule for just $950 million. It is important to note, however, that ESPN’s deal grants them a near-monopoly on NFL highlights.
If NBC were to lose the Sunday night game, they could still bid on Monday or Thursday games.
The current “Monday Night Football” deal runs through 2021, while the league’s other TV packages expire after the 2022 season. Renegotiations are already underway, and it looks like the cost for these packages is primed to go way up.