The idea of ESPN trading for NBC’s lead football announcer Al Michaels seemed farfetched from the start, which is why it was categorized as a “dream” scenario. After initially reporting ESPN’s interest in landing Michaels, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post now says it won’t happen.
“We look forward to Al completing his contract and calling Sunday Night Football games on NBC,” Greg Hughes, an NBC Sports spokesman, told Marchand.
As ESPN looks to revamp their Monday Night Football booth, acquiring Al Michaels was viewed as a way to lure Peyton Manning to the broadcast. Since CBS plucked Tony Romo off the football field and moved him into its top broadcast booth, ESPN has continued its attempts at acquiring Manning. But NBC declining to trade Al Michaels will subsequently end ESPN’s dream scenario.
Yes, NBC has former ESPN MNF announcer Mike Tirico waiting to step in as their play-by-play voice for NFL broadcasts. But NBC has little reason to move on from Michaels right now, who remains under contract for two years, including Super Bowl LVI during his final season.
In addition to landing on trade compensation, Michaels would also have to agree to a deal with ESPN. That final Super Bowl with NBC is likely a game Michaels won’t want to give up, as it could be his last. While ESPN/ABC has reportedly shown interest in re-entering the network rotation for Super Bowl coverage, there’s no guarantee it happens before the 75-year old Michaels retires.
ESPN could still land Manning, although they won’t have Michaels as his broadcast partner, they still have a lot of money to offer. Last week, Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reported ESPN was preparing to offer Manning between $18 and $20 million per year. $20 million per year to call Monday Night Football games has to at least be intriguing, even for a two-time Super Bowl champ that earned $250 million as a player.
ESPN’s current Monday Night Football crew featuring Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland is considered to be the least appealing lead broadcast team in the NFL. Marchand also reports ESPN has considered a replacement booth featuring play-by-play voice Steve Levy alongside analysts Louis Riddick and Brian Griese.
Skip Bayless Says He And Stephen A. Smith ‘Sorted Out’ Their Disagreement
“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”
Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless were locked in a war of words last week following the First Take host’s appearance on JJ Redick’s Old Man and the Three podcast.
The origins of their partnership were discussed and Bayless admitted he did not like the way Smith characterized the state of First Take before he arrived on set. Smith insisted that Bayless simply misunderstood what he meant by saying that he was told the show needed him.
Over the weekend, Skip Bayless says he and Stephen A. Smith got together at the Bayless home in California to talk things out in private.
“He was in LA, he came over, we sat by the pool,” he said on the latest episode of The Skip Bayless Show. “It wasn’t the easiest conversation for a while, but we slowly but surely sorted it out. We got through it, and we have been through so much together.”
Bayless reiterated that he considers Smith a brother. They love each other. That doesn’t mean they are always going to remember events the same way or see eye-to-eye all the time.
“Brothers fight. We have fought before. I’m assuming we will fight again.”
Fighting doesn’t mean the relationship is fractured. In fact, Skip Bayless was adamant that he remains closer to Smith than he is to most people in his life.
“I don’t trust easily because of the way I was raised, but I do trust Stephen Anthony Smith. Trust him with my life. Always have and always will. I trust he will always be there for me, and you better believe I will always be there for him.”
FOX Sports VP: ‘USFL Proves Spring Football As Valuable As Rising Properties’
“We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”
Michael Mulvihill says the USFL accomplished exactly what FOX needed it to. It proved there is a large enough audience for spring football that it has a value on par with some of the hottest properties in sports media right now.
“All we wanted to do is demonstrate that spring football can do viewership at the levels of Premier League, NHL regular season, Formula One or MLS,” the FOX Sports Executive VP said according to Sports Business Journal. “We want to show we belong in that category, and I think that happened.”
While none of those properties are pulling in the kind of media rights money the NFL or major college football is, Mulvihill pointed out that all of them have been in the news for the right reasons.
“You’re talking about properties that have all recently negotiated deals at substantial increases, or with F1, people know it’s about to.”
The USFL had a solid broadcasting footprint with games airing on FOX, NBC, FS1 and USA. Regular season games for the first year of the revived league averaged just under 700,000 viewers.
Mulvihill said fans behaved exactly how he expected them to in the first season of the USFL. Without any team loyalties, he isn’t surprised that people watched less of an average USFL game than they did the NFL or college football.
The USFL Playoffs begin this weekend. Canton, OH will host the league’s first championship game on July 3.
Pelicans Extend Deal With Bally Sports New Orleans
“The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week.”
Sinclair has reached an agreement on a new rights deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. Bally Sports New Orleans will remain the team’s local TV partner.
The deal will also put the team on the new Bally Sports+ streaming service, which had a soft launch earlier this week. The service rolls out in full this fall.
“When we constructed this new agreement with Bally Sports New Orleans the main priority was distribution and the ability to deliver our games directly to our fans,” Dennis Lauscha, President of the New Orleans Pelicans, said in a press release. With the upcoming launch of Bally Sports+, Bally Sports’ direct-to-consumer platform, any Pelicans fan will be able to have access to Bally Sports New Orleans in the team’s local territory. This partnership allows us to continue to deliver unique, compelling Pelicans content across multiple platforms with the highest production quality. We are still working every option with Bally Sports New Orleans to improve the accessibility, ancillary content and distribution of Pelicans programming to all of our fans across Louisiana and the Gulf Coast region.”
Bally Sports New Orleans will carry around 75 regular season games per year. The network will also produce first round playoff and preseason games.
“The New Orleans Pelicans have been a great partner over the years and we look forward to building this relationship into the future,” added Steve Simpson, SVP and GM of Bally Sports New Orleans. “Our ability to deliver Pelicans content to as many local fans as possible, on both linear distribution channels and the all-new Bally Sports+ streaming product this fall, is incredibly exciting as we continue to grow the next generation of Pelicans fans.”
The Pelicans did look at new media partners before re-signing with Bally Sports New Orleans. Karen Brodkin, Executive Vice President of Endeavor, who the team hired to consult the process, noted that the existing relationship and the addition of a proprietary streaming platform for Sinclair made the difference.