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Rece Davis: GameDay Is Missing ‘Spontaneity’

“He and the rest of the cast are not doing a completely different show, but the on-site fans have become such an important part of College GameDay that it is hard not to notice they are missing.”

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ESPN’s flagship college football show is going golfing this week. College GameDay will broadcast live from Augusta National Golf Club this Saturday, which is also the second-to-last day of action at The Masters. Host Rece Davis was on a conference call with reporters earlier this week and was asked to reflect on the season for the show so far.

The obvious difference for College GameDay amidst the Covid-19 pandemic is there are no crowds. Davis says it makes for a big difference in the energy of the show.

“I think the number one thing that we’ve all noticed is that when you have normal situations in the crowd, you get instantaneous feedback, good and bad,” Davis said. “Whatever you say, if you say something good about your host rival or something they don’t like and you get booed, and if you say their teams good, then you get cheers. There’s a certain adrenaline and rush it goes along with it, and I think there’s a great energy that comes from having a show in a setting like that when you’re surrounded by, in some cases you know 25,000 people, you know, depending on the venue.”

Davis wanted to make it clear that he thinks the nuts and bolts of the show still work. He and the rest of the cast are not doing a completely different show, but the on-site fans have become such an important part of College GameDay that it is hard not to notice they are missing.

“You also don’t have the spontaneity of being able to you say something they boo and kind of react to and have a little fun with it and then move on. That part’s gone. But I think the discussion and the interaction. And the chemistry has been the same, you just miss that little bit of instantaneous energy.”

Davis said his first thought when the idea of doing College GameDay from Augusta National was presented to him was “that would be awesome”. He says The Masters and college football make for a good fit.

“It was very exciting to be able to do something different, especially this year and maybe be able to give people a little look at two great events. Obviously, the Masters stands alone, and then a college football Saturday, which we, you know, hold great reverence for as well and be able to connect those two things and do it from Augusta National is something that was very exciting.”

Kirk Herbstreit, who has been a part of College GameDay since before ESPN began taking the show around the country, says that he has never seen this kind of excitement for a broadcast before.

“I can tell you this, whenever we announced that GameDay was going to be at Augusta, I’ve never received more texts from people around the country than I did when we announced that location,” he told reporters.

Sports TV News

Notre Dame Expects Next Media Rights Deal to be Worth $60 Million Annually

Notre Dame is reportedly seeking $75 million per year, while Sports Business Journal figures the school would get closer to $60 million.

Jordan Bondurant

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Chris Coduto

There are still a few more seasons until Notre Dame starts the process of hammering out a new media rights deal, but it’s believed the FBS independent could have its next partner shelling out more than double what NBC is currently paying.

NBC, which appears to be a front-runner alongside CBS to be one of the key rights partners in the Big Ten’s new contract, currently pays $25 million each year for rights to Fighting Irish football according to Front Office Sports.

Notre Dame is reportedly seeking $75 million per year, while Sports Business Journal figures the school would get closer to $60 million.

Viewership for Fighting Irish games was reportedly down 48% year-over-year for the 2021 season, averaging 2.5 million viewers. The year before that, the pandemic season in 2020, viewership for Notre Dame was its best since 2005.

Notre Dame remains an independent in football, but is in the ACC for its other programs. The Fighting Irish do play some ACC schools in football. With NBC and the Big Ten apparently becoming new partners, it’s believed that Notre Dame would then have more Big Ten opponents in football.

The current contract between the school and NBC ends in 2025.

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Robert Griffin III Replaces Randy Moss on Monday Night Countdown

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program.

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Robert Griffin III
David Becker, Getty Images

With Monday Night Countdown set to lead into Thursday’s preseason matchup with the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks, ESPN announced their lineup for the show.

The network announced the addition of Robert Griffin III to the pre-game program. Robert Griffin III will join Booger McFarland and Steve Young as the show’s main analysts.

They will be partnered with Suzy Kolber who returns for her sixth year as the show’s host and news breaker Adam Schefter.

It was reported in July that analyst Randy Moss would not be returning to the show, opting instead to focus solely on Sunday Night Countdown.

The first regular season action featuring Monday Night Countdown will be on Monday, September 12 when the Seahawks play the Denver Broncos.

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Leafs Nation Network, the Toronto Maple Leafs Channel, Is Going Off the Air

“Thank you for your viewership. As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

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The Toronto Maple Leafs launched Leafs TV, a team-specific specialty channel in 2001 and rebranded it as Leafs Nation Network in 2017. However, after nearly twenty-one years on the air, it will fade to black at the end of August.

“Thank you for your viewership,” the channel told viewers who have tuned in recently. “As of Sept. 1, Leafs Nation Network TV services will no longer be on air.”

The news was confirmed to the Sun. Staff said they had been informed of the news a few weeks ago however few jobs are expected to be lost, of any, as many of the LNN duties will be moved to the digital format.

Leafs TV was part of the sale of the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise sale in 2011 to Bell-Rogers communications (worth $1.32 billion). With that sale, Leafs TV began to become a “redundant” channel focusing mainly on classic games and interviews once Rogers made a 2014 deal to become the dominant NHL network, grabbing the majority of live programming.

“Leafs TV was a big bargaining chip at the time of the (Rogers-Bell sale), but they’ve come to see that (lack of game broadcast presence) doesn’t work,” a source told the Sun.

A statement from MLSE on Tuesday read in part: “With new and increasing opportunities to share content on its digital platforms, subscribers to the Leafs Nation Network were informed earlier this month that the channel would cease being broadcast on Sept. 1. Maple Leafs game day and practice coverage will continue to be shared across the team’s digital platforms, combined with exciting new content on the team’s social and digital channels. The team will continue to produce live Marlies home games with details being shared in the weeks ahead about where those broadcasts will be made available.”

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