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Layoffs Hit NBC Sports Digital Properties

“The layoffs from NBC also spread to some of their regional sports networks.”

Brandon Contes

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The return of Major League Baseball, the NBA and NHL has people hoping better days are on the horizon, but it’s yet to stop the bleeding for the sports media industry. On Monday, NBC Sports was in cost cutting mode with their digital department bearing the brunt of the layoffs.

The layoffs hit a few of their sport-specific “Talk” websites, which followed the format of Mike Florio’s Pro Football Talk platform. Impacted by Monday’s cost-cutting moves were NBC’s Hardball Talk, College Basketball Talk and College Football Talk.

Longtime writer and editor of Hardball Talk Craig Calcaterra announced the site was being erased by NBC Sports, and his time with the company was coming to an end after more than 11 years. Also impacted by the end of Hardball Talk were writers Bill Baer and Nick Stellini. Baer joined the site in 2013, becoming a full-time contributor three years later. Stellini began writing for the platform earlier this year. 

https://twitter.com/Baer_Bill/status/1290366518912573442

College Football Talk also appears to have been eliminated by NBC Sports, with a Monday post coming from John Taylor announcing his exit. 

“CFT is no more. At least, when it comes to NBC Sports,” Taylor wrote, adding he was informed his position as writer and editor was being eliminated after almost 12 years with the site. 

College Basketball Talk saw its last post from Rob Dauster Monday morning. Dauster, who was the managing editor and lead writer for College Basketball Talk, tweeted that he was laid off after a decade with the site. 

The layoffs from NBC also spread to some of their regional sports networks. Michael Jenkins was an anchor with NBC Sports Washington for 16 years, but unfortunately his tenure with the network came to an end Monday. 

Jenkins NBC Sports Washington colleague Sara Perlman also announced she was laid off. Perlman and Jenkins previously worked together on NBC Sports Radio’s The Daily Line, which was cancelled earlier this year when Westwood One decided to stop distributing the brand. 

UPDATE: Kelli Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area has confirmed on Twitter that she was laid off on Monday as well.

The Chicago Tribune reports that layoffs have hit NBC Sports Chicago as well and will also impact the amount of original programming on the network.

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Cris Collinsworth: John Madden Always Found the Funny in Football

“Those were the kind of things that for the generation that didn’t get to hear John on a daily basis, they missed a lot of fun,” he said.

Jordan Bondurant

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It’s been several months since the passing of NFL legend John Madden, but the remembrances of the Super Bowl winning coach and beloved broadcaster continue.

Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth told Bryan Curtis on The Press Box podcast that one thing that he’ll always remember about Madden is his ability to keep things lively on broadcasts.

“John could always find something fun or funny in football. It never detracted from the game,” Collinsworth said. “Like he never would talk about any of that stuff, but if a bird flew on the field or the guy took off his helmet and steam was coming out, or as a former offensive lineman it was ok for him to talk about an offensive lineman’s gut hanging over his belt buckle.”

Cris added that given Madden’s unique personality, newer football fans have missed out.

“Those were the kind of things that for the generation that didn’t get to hear John on a daily basis, they missed a lot of fun,” he said. “They just missed the ability to have a laugh. He was the same way in real life too.”

Collinsworth told a story about how Madden showed up to a party he was hosting and spent an hour talking football with his two sons. That was just true to Madden’s nature.

“My kids are sitting there wide-eyed that John Madden is doing all this stuff, and at the end of it, he gets up, he goes over gives my wife Holly a hug, shakes my hand, he goes, ‘This was a great party. It was just a great party, I gotta go, I had the best time, see ya guys, we’ll see ya.’ That’s it,” Collinsworth said. “He didn’t talk to anybody else, he got engaged with football with my two boys, and that was it. That was the whole thing. I go, ‘He’s the coolest guy in the world right there.’ I love John Madden.”

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Amazon Unveils Theme Music for ‘Thursday Night Football’

“Our goal is to create a new NFL tradition on Thursday nights,” Amazon vice president for global video Marie Donoghue said. “Part of that is creating an iconic theme.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Thursday Night Football

Amazon has released the theme music that will be used for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts set to begin on Prime Video next month.

The score was composed by Pinar Toprak. Toprak has composed scores for films like Captain Marvel and elements for the popular video game FortNite. She told USA Today that her first submission to Amazon was ultimately the music selected.

Toprak also said she tried to pull from other NFL theme music for inspiration, which she hopes will draw a range of emotions out of people when they hear it.

“Excitement, anticipation, power, strength, team, togetherness,” Toprak said. “In the other versions, we have some really fun moments, too. The contrasts between joy and tension and relief mirror the ebbs and flows of a football game.”

“Our goal is to create a new NFL tradition on Thursday nights,” Amazon vice president for global video Marie Donoghue said. “Part of that is creating an iconic theme. You listen to this once, you’re humming the theme. We think it’s really identifiable and will really set the tone in getting our audience excited for that night’s broadcast.”

The theme will make its debut on August 25 during preseason coverage. Amazon’s regular season slate of games begins in Week 2 on September 15.

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Ryen Russillo: ‘Why Would You Talk About Politics On Your Sports Show?’

“Why would you talk about politics on your sports show? Now people could say ‘Hey this is more important. This is more important than sports’.”

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Ryen Russillo joined Barstool’s Pardon My Take podcast in studio, and shared an interesting story about a sign at ESPN Radio that shaped what he talked about during his time with the network.

“When I was first at ESPN, so ’06, there was a sign up in the radio department that said ‘If what you’re talking about is not interesting to an 18-45 year old male, stop talking about it’,” Russillo revealed. “For the old rules, why would you talk about religion on your sports talk show? Why would you talk about politics on your sports show? Now people could say ‘Hey this is more important. This is more important than sports’.

“Well, no shit this stuff is more important than sports. But you know what? They don’t talk about sex trafficking on (CNBC). Because that show’s about money. Those shows are about finances and all this other stuff. Is it as important as all these other horrible things that happened? Of course it isn’t. But that’s not what the job is. So that’s where I think again — this is expanding into a much bigger deal — I’d love to talk about some of this stuff, but I know I can’t win no matter what I do.”

Later in the episode, Russillo discussed how proud he was of his Brandon Marshall interview. Russillo had confirmed former Pro Bowl wide receiver and I Am Athlete co-host Brandon Marshall to appear on his podcast. When the interview time rolled around, Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall appeared on the screen. The former ESPN Radio host asked the linebacker a few questions before ending the interview. The podcast aired both interviews with both Brandon Marshall’s.

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