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Peter Nelson Announces Exit From HBO Sports

“According to Boxing Scene, Nelson’s departure won’t be immediate, with the HBO Sports president planning to leave his post within the next 30 – 60 days.”

Brandon Contes

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President of HBO Sports Peter Nelson is leaving the network, as first reported by Awful Announcing. 

The sports media blog further states Nelson is leaving on his own terms and is not part of a round of layoffs which were also announced Monday. HBO is cutting between 150-175 employees, part of nearly 800 staffers who will be laid off by parent company WarnerMedia. 

For Nelson’s departure, Awful Announcing points to HBO’s declining focus on their HBO Sports brand in recent years. HBO no longer offers live sports, having dropped boxing from its portfolio nearly two years ago. Its two biggest remaining sports labels are Hard Knocks and Real Sports. The former will premiere a new season Tuesday, Aug. 11. 

Just two months ago, Nelson negotiated a multiyear extension for Hard Knocks to continue on HBO. Last week, Nelson was also prominently quoted in the HBO Sports press release announcing the premiere date of their upcoming Craig Carton documentary in the fall. According to Boxing Scene, Nelson’s departure won’t be immediate, with the HBO Sports president planning to leave his post within the next 30 – 60 days. 

Nelson joined HBO Sports in 2011, later promoted to his current position at the end of 2015. Having been an integral part of HBO Sports for nearly a decade, Nelson’s most public moment with the network may have been earlier this year, when he entered a feud with Barstool president Dave Portnoy.

As Barstool attempted to negotiate a new deal for their popular Call Her Daddy podcast, Nelson reportedly intervened, making outrageous demands for the show’s now former co-host and his girlfriend, Sofia Franklyn. Franklyn ultimately left the company, while her co-host Alexandra Cooper stayed.

A replacement for Nelson at HBO Sports was not announced, but that decision will likely depend on how much the network plans to invest in future sports programming.

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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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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