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Broadcasters Pay Tribute To Kobe & Gianna Bryant

Brandon Contes

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The world was saddened and stunned by the tragedy of a California helicopter crash Sunday Jan. 26 that took the lives of Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna and seven others. As news began to circulate, networks and broadcasters displayed much emotion while discussing the tragic deaths. 

While many expected NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to cancel Sunday’s slate of games, the league instead chose to play as scheduled. Knicks play-by-play announcer Mike Breen displayed the uncomfortable nature of having to broadcast a game in the wake of tragedy.

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On NBA TV, Kobe’s former teammate and coach Brian Shaw offered a tearful tribute, reminding fans to think of all the joy the NBA superstar brought them.

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ABC and ESPN, scheduled to air the Pro Bowl, provided a breaking news special report to inform viewers of Bryant’s death. A number of false reports occurred Sunday as media outlets carelessly rushed to be the first to have new information with ABC among those, insinuating all four of Kobe’s daughters may have been in the helicopter. Choosing to stick with the NFL’s All-Star exhibition game on ABC and ESPN after their special report, coverage of Kobe Bryant’s death was available on ESPN 2 where Jay Williams provided one of the most emotion-filled reactions.

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The Pro Bowl itself, called by Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland, turned into a celebration of Bryant. Players offered on-field tributes and fans chanted “Kobe” as his death was announced inside the stadium.

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Late Sunday night, Scott Van Pelt continued ESPN’s emotional coverage of Kobe Bryant.

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On CBS, Jim Nantz began their 3pm ET broadcast of the PGA’s Farmers Insurance Open with the tragic news of Bryant’s death. 

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Soon after Kobe’s death was announced, 710 ESPN Los Angeles went live with weekday afternoon host Steve Mason.

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Mason was joined during the show by his weekday co-host John Ireland, who also serves as the Lakers radio play-by-play voice. Ireland and the Lakers learned of Kobe’s death on their plane ride home from Philadelphia Sunday morning. 

A two-time gold medalist, five-time NBA Champion and the fourth leading scorer in league history, Kobe Bryant displayed other interests upon retirement, including film and music. His film Dear Basketball earned an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018. Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife and mother Vanessa, daughters and sisters Natalia, Bianka and Capri.

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Sports TV News

Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.

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NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.

Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.

Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.

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ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.

Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.

The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.

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Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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