Those holding out hope for an expedited release of ESPN’s upcoming Chicago Bulls documentary are probably out of luck.
In an interview this week with Front Row, Burke Magnus, the executive vice president of programming acquisitions and scheduling for the network, indicated that an early release for “The Last Dance” is unlikely.
“Overall, any original content project that we can conceivably move up, we are obviously considering that, including films,” said Magnus. “I know some have asked about ‘The Last Dance’ and the reality is that the production of that film has not yet been completed, so we are limited there at the moment. Obviously, you can’t air it until it’s done.”
Rumors of an early release for the documentary, which is set to give an in-depth look at the 1997-98 Bulls season, began swirling in recent days amid the coronavirus pandemic. Notably, ESPN began advertising the documentary as “coming soon” instead of the June 2020 release date previously announced.
ESPN is looking to make some major upgrades to its NFL broadcasting before next season, but the chances of Al Michaels being a part of those changes looks very slim.
Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported last week that ESPN executives have dreams of hiring Michaels away from NBC and pairing him with Peyton Manning on “Monday Night Football.” Since Michaels is still under contract with NBC, the only way ESPN would be able to hire him is by offering NBC some sort of compensation. According to a new report from Marchand, NBC is not interested in a trade for its legendary play-by-play man.
ESPN reportedly approached NBC with the idea of talking about a trade package for Michaels, but NBC declined.
“We look forward to Al completing his contract and calling ‘Sunday Night Football’ games on NBC,” NBC Sports spokesman Greg Hughes told the New York Post.
Michaels, 75, is under contract with NBC through 2022. There’s a good chance Mike Tirico will take over as the lead man on the “Sunday Night Football” broadcast once Michaels’ contract expires, and Tirico could even call some games beginning next season. It’s possible that ESPN could convince NBC to talk trade at some point before then, and Michaels may also choose to sign with ESPN if he becomes a “free agent” in two years and does not want to retire.
While the idea of a trade involving a play-by-play broadcaster seems unusual, it is not unprecedented. When John Madden left ABC’s “Monday Night Football” for NBC in 2006, Michaels informed ABC parent company ESPN that he wanted out of his deal. ESPN released Michaels from his contract, but NBC had to send the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to ESPN as part of the deal. Oswald was the precursor to the creation of Mickey Mouse, and the rights to the character were then owned by NBC’s parent company Universal. The Disney family wanted Oswald back, so the rabbit was included as part of a deal for Michaels.
Manning has turned ESPN down twice in the past, but Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy says the network is now prepared to top the Romo deal and offer Manning $18-$20 million.
Manning has an existing relationship with ESPN, hosting “Peyton’s Places” for ESPN+, which could help their efforts to sign him. Manning reportedly had more interest in potentially running or owning a team, but this type of money might persuade him to go into broadcasting.
Not only would Manning likely improve the quality of the MNF telecast, but he would also help bring more credibility for ESPN’s product. That’s a big factor considering ESPN’s contract with the league is ending after 2021, and the network is hoping to position itself for potentially more attractive games, and perhaps a Super Bowl.
Rivers is 38 and was the No. 4 pick in the 2004 draft. He loves football, has tons of passion, and is well known by football fans. He might not be able to bring the humor and predictive powers as Tony Romo, but Rivers would likely match Tony’s passion.
ESPN was unable to lure Tony Romo away from CBS, but that does not mean the higher-ups in Bristol are giving up on trying to make a huge addition to their “Monday Night Football” broadcast. ESPN still has a plan — a very big and potentially unrealistic one.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, ESPN executives have dreams of hiring Al Michaels away from NBC and pairing him with Peyton Manning. It goes without saying that a duo of Michaels and Manning would excite fans and rival the CBS pairing of Romo and Jim Nantz, but Michaels is under contract with NBC through 2022. One way that ESPN could explore working around that would be a … trade?
As Marchand notes, Michaels has been involved in one broadcaster trade already. When John Madden left ABC’s “Monday Night Football” for NBC in 2006, Michaels informed ABC parent company ESPN that he wanted out of his deal. ESPN released Michaels from his contract, but NBC had to send the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to ESPN as part of the deal. Oswald was the precursor to the creation of Mickey Mouse, and the rights to the character were then owned by NBC’s parent company Universal. The Disney family wanted Oswald back, so the rabbit was included as part of a deal for Michaels.
You can’t make this stuff up, and the odds of it being recreated in some way seem incredibly slim. However, NBC may already have a future plan in place for when Michaels leaves or retires, as Mike Tirico is expected to take on a bigger role in the near future and could even call some NFL games for NBC in 2020.
Disney/ESPN has plenty of incentive to spend huge in pursuit of Michaels and Manning, as the network wants to add more NFL games going forward and potentially an ABC/ESPN Super Bowl. Having Michaels and Manning would obviously help their upcoming negotiations, as Marchand noted.
Manning has yet to show a legitimate interest in broadcasting, but that hasn’t stopped the massive offers from flowing in. If ESPN can somehow offer him an opportunity to work alongside Michaels, Manning may have to reconsider.
ESPN was the other major player in the Tony Romo sweepstakes, but now that their main target has re-signed with CBS, they’ll have to look elsewhere if they want to retool their “Monday Night Football” telecast.
According to Andrew Marchand of the New York Post, the network is likely to ask Peyton Manning if he would be interested in taking over the “MNF” commentator role. Manning has been listed as a potential analyst option ever since he retired, but he has been reluctant to take the plunge. However, he has a relationship with ESPN through his work for ESPN+, which could make a difference.
Now that his brother Eli has retired, Peyton may be more open to it, and he’d probably have a hard time turning down the money Romo got, too. It may ultimately depend on how desperate ESPN is to get Manning into the fold.
Josina Anderson has quickly climbed up the ladder to become one of the most respected reporters in football since ESPN hired her nearly a decade ago, but she could be headed for a breakup with the network.
Anderson’s contract with ESPN is set to expire this summer, and Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that the two sides may decide to part ways. No decision has been made yet, but ESPN typically extends its top talent well before contracts expire if they plan on keeping them around. The fact that Anderson only has a few months remaining on her deal and has not signed a new contract with ESPN could be telling.
Anderson has close connections with some of the NFL’s biggest stars, and she frequently provides scoops about them. While ESPN will always remain at the top of the NFL reporting world as long as they have Adam Schefter, losing Anderson would be a big blow.
Antonio Brown granted Anderson an interview recently that aired on Saturday, and she asked the free agent receiver some very difficult questions about the sexual misconduct allegations against him. You can see that portion of the interview at the 4:09 mark below:
Tony Romo has distinguished himself as a TV analyst for CBS and is setting himself up to become the most desired color commentator in sports.
Romo will be a TV free agent after his 3-year deal with CBS expires following this season. ESPN is looking to improve its “Monday Night Football” broadcast and is prepared to offer Romo a monster deal. According to Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy, ESPN is going to offer Romo a multi-year deal worth between $10-$14 million annually.
Those figures would blow away what Romo has earned on his current CBS deal and make Romo the highest-paid sports analyst ever.
Romo is said to be making about $4 million currently through CBS. Troy Aikman makes reportedly $7.5 million from FOX, while Jon Gruden was making $6.5 million at ESPN before leaving for the Raiders. Before them, John Madden made around $8 million per season when he was with FOX.
Though ESPN covets Romo as an analyst, it’s no sure thing that he leaves for them. CBS reportedly has the right to match any contract offer. CBS was first to sign Romo, believe in him as a broadcaster, and they paired him with Jim Nantz and added him to their No. 1 team. In other words, they’ve done right by him, so he might feel like it’s best to continue where he has been successful.
The SEC on CBS has been an institution for years, but it appears that will be coming to an end in 2023.
According to John Ourand of Sports Business Daily, CBS bid $300 million per season in an attempt to renew its TV contract with the SEC, but bowed out when the bidding went beyond that. In a statement, CBS said it would instead “aggressively focus on other important strategic priorities moving forward.”
The network was outbid by ESPN/ABC, who are reportedly paying north of $330 million per season for the rights to SEC football. One of their major selling points was the ability to be more flexible in terms of scheduling as opposed to CBS’ exclusive window for the week’s best game, meaning that multiple games can be shown on broadcast TV and the best ones can be flexed into primetime.
CBS has carried the SEC since 1996, and has been the exclusive home of the title game since 2001. This marks a big change for college football broadcasting, and adds to ESPN’s hefty portfolio of properties in the sport.
Barstool Sports has continued to steadily grow its media empire since founder Dave Portnoy sold a majority stake of the company nearly three years ago, and it may only be a matter of time before there is such a thing as the Barstool Sports Bowl.
According to a report from Sports Business Journal, Barstool Sports was in the running to sponsor a college bowl game in Mobile, Ala., this year. A deal was actually agreed upon, but Lending Tree ended up securing the sponsorship in part because of “pressure” from the NCAA and ESPN.
Portnoy confirmed the report on Tuesday morning. Not surprisingly, he mocked ESPN for being afraid to “feed the company that is eventually going to eat you.”
This is true. @espn killed it because they are scared of us. Honestly I would have killed it if I was them to. No need to feed the company that is eventually going to eat you. Just a matter of time till we get a bowl game though. https://t.co/ljzq2uWgNa
ESPN and Barstool have a complicated history, and Portnoy has taken advantage of that by doing what he does best — parlaying a feud into financial gain. ESPN had actually partnered with Barstool two years ago for a TV show, but the agreement was cancelled due to backlash. The deal may have fallen through in large part because of the way Samantha Ponder unloaded on ESPN for working with Barstool.
Barstool is always looking for ways to grow its brand, and that has included sponsoring a NASCAR driver this past season. They’re very good at getting what they want, so we may see the Barstool Sports Bowl before long.