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ACC Network Launch To Stream Across 4 Networks

“When the switch is flipped this evening, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPNEWS will carry a simulcast of the first 10 minutes of the ACC Network.”

Jack Ferris

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Thursday marks the long awaited launch of the ACC Network, making the ACC the fourth of the power 5 conferences to have a network all their own. It’s also the 2nd conference network, with apologies to the Longhorn Network, owned by ESPN.  If that piece of information is news to you, it will become crystal clear if you’re watching an ESPN family network this evening at 7 pm ET.  

When the switch is flipped this evening, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPNEWS will carry a simulcast of the first 10 minutes of the ACC Network.  The network will launch with a two hour special of their flagship program – All ACC.  As you can imagine, the show will be packed with some star power.  In a press release this week, ESPN announced Dabo Swinney, Mike Krzyzweski, Muffet McGraw, Deshaun Watson and ACC Commissioner John Swofford are just a handful of names that will appear in the program.  The release did not detail whether or not those names will be crammed into the first 10 minutes of the show.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen a number of new networks launch – but this kind of exposure is unprecedented.  To the average sports fan, it may just be brushed off as ESPN’s way to remind us all that there’s a new platform – and you should try your best to find it.  However, those that have been keeping tabs on the distribution struggles the ACC Network has had this summer could see it as a battle tactic aimed at Comcast and Dish.

As of Thursday morning, those two giants have yet to strike a deal with the new network, leaving the ACCN out of 31 million homes tonight.  While we can’t claim to fully understand the reasoning behind flooding the ACCN’s launch across four other networks, it makes sense if executives are trying to target ACC fans who might have Comcast or Dish.  They would see the network, get the network taken from them, and immediately flood their provider with phone calls and social media jabs inquiring why they can’t watch their shiny new channel.  

It’s a bold move, and maybe one only ESPN/Disney could make given their vast family of networks.  

The ACC Network’s first football game is next Thursday when Clemson hosts Georgia Tech – 5 business days worth of negotiating after tonight’s launch blitz.  

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.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

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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