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Eddie Olczyk: I Want Inside The NBA Crew On TNT NHL Show

“We will be keeping an eye on those ESPN games. I think personally it will only help as far as raising the bar and raising the competition level. Yes, we want to be better than those guys for sure.”

Ricky Keeler

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After NBC Sports owned the sole broadcast rights to the NHL for 16 years, two networks (TNT and ESPN) will share the league’s rights beginning this season. The NHL’s 2021-22 season begins on Tuesday night on ESPN. TNT will have a doubleheader Wednesday with the New York Rangers vs. the Washington Capitals (7:30 PM ET) and the Chicago Blackhawks vs. the Colorado Avalanche (10 PM). 

Before the season gets underway, the lead broadcast team of Kenny Albert, Eddie Olczyk, and Keith Jones took some time to answer questions about the upcoming season and want to continue building on what they had established before last season came to an end.

“For the last 16 years as part of the NBC team, I think NBC did such an unbelievable job, said Albert. “We will try to continue the legacy and raise the bar even higher. Turner’s always willing to try new things, they pride themselves on storytelling and educating. Hopefully, we will be able to do all of those things.”

Even though the trio is new to TNT, they aren’t new to each other. That could be critical in terms of separating their broadcasts from the others. 

“The chemistry for the 3 of us took front and center. TNT, to be a part of their big family, it’s going to be very exciting. It’s a new challenge. We know a lot of eyes will be on us. We have a job to do. We are going to entertain. We are going to be ourselves,” said Olczyk

Albert has experience being a part of a network that shared the NHL broadcast rights when he was doing play-by-play for the NHL on FOX from 1995-1999. During that time, FOX and ESPN would split the Stanley Cup Finals. As Albert mentioned, they used to joke at FOX that all the series would end in sweeps. He told BSM that with the league’s TV rights once again split between two different networks, it will feel a lot like those old days. 

“I’m sure we will have a little bit of friendly competition with Boucher and Ray Ferraro and some of the other guys. It can only help raise the bar. The three of us and Brendan [Burke] and Darren [Pang] and the entire studio crew, we are all competitors and we want to be the best. We will be keeping an eye on those ESPN games. I think personally it will only help as far as raising the bar and raising the competition level. Yes, we want to be better than those guys for sure.”

Players are feeling the excitement of the NHL’s new media deals. Keith Jones can relate to that because he was a player when FOX got the rights to the sport.

“I thought that was pretty cool and that it was an opportunity for us to continue to grow the game. I think as players, they all want to take hockey to a new level. They want to compete with the other major sports and they want to make sure that they show just how great of a game they play and how great they are. I think they are going to embrace it even more than they have in the past. Having a couple of networks going head-to-head only makes it more exciting for everyone involved.”

Having the NHL means more opportunities for TNT to use its partnerships with the NBA and All Elite Wrestling for cross-promotion. Eddie Olczyk believes that should be great for the network and the league. He wouldn’t rule out the possibility of maybe the Inside The NBA guys playing a part in some broadcasts.

“I think everyone knows Charles Barkley loves the NHL. He loves the NHL Playoffs. It’s the one question that I’ve probably gotten more since I have become a part of the family. ‘You think Charles will be on the hockey call at any point?’ And I’m like I sure hope so. Maybe we can get Charles and Shaq and Kenny and Ernie over there and have some fun or get them on-site. I don’t know. I would assume it’s going to happen at some point.”

Sports TV News

Nick Wright: The Best Version of First Things First is What We’re Doing Now

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day.”

Ricky Keeler

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Nick Wright has been a co-host on First Things First on FS1 for the last five-and-a-half years. The show has evolved over the years and according to Wright, he has evolved as a broadcaster from the time he got cut from doing play-by-play at WAER in Syracuse to now.

Wright was a guest on The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week and he said that when he first appeared on television, he wanted the audience to think he had all the answers, but the mindset has changed for him and he said the new version of the show that he does with Kevin Wildes and Chris Broussard every weekday is the most successful version of the show.

“When I got on TV, I think the first year maybe, I thought the job was to always have all the answers. To have the facts exactly right, to never be wrong. I’ve now done the show for five-and-a-half years. By a country mile, the most successful version of the show is the one I’m doing right now — this moment — with Wildes and Broussard. It’s the funniest and that’s why.

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day. Now I approach it as our entire goal is to put on a show that people smile while they are watching and have a good time and that has enough meat to it where it is not all empty calories. There’s got to be the information, there’s got to be the analysis, but there’s also got to be a lot of bells and whistles and funny stuff and guys messing with each other and that’s what works. That took me a while to figure out.”

The only time when Wright didn’t think he had to prove how smart he was when he first appeared on TV was when he would appear on The Herd as Cowherd’s guest and he had a goal in mind whenever he would appear on the show.

“Early in our relationship, I was really, really trying to impress you and I wanted to make you laugh. Every time I came on, I was like ‘It’s successful if I made Colin laugh’. I was too stupid to realize I should just be trying to make the audience laugh, too… That was the best version of me at the time. I felt like you knew I was smart, so I wasn’t trying to prove it to you. I could be the best version of myself.”

While Wright knows he is not a traditional broadcaster, he mentioned to Cowherd that there is one skill set he definitely knows he has.

“The point is I’m not a great broadcaster, like a traditional broadcaster. I can’t read off a teleprompter, but there is a specific thing I can do, which is confidently argue, whether it’s 1-on-1 with my wife or in front of a million people.”

Even though Wright got cut from doing play-by-play at Syracuse, he told Cowherd he was doing talk shows at the station still and it led him to where he is today.

“I was fortunate that I was already working on the talk-show staff. Growing up, I thought I wanted to do play-by-play, but what I wanted to do was color commentary. I would watch the NBA on NBC with Bob Costas, Bill Walton, and Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones and what I wanted to do was the color, but I didn’t realize you can’t do that unless you are a former player or a former coach. They aren’t hiring me to do commentary

“I was crushed, but it made me fully pivot to talk shows. Now at WAER, the talk show studio is named after me and my picture is on the wall. I am a Hall of Famer there. Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Nick Wright, those are the three studios there.”

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Sports TV News

Outside the Lines Won’t Return to ESPN Weekend Schedule

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017.

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ESPN has decided to not return Outside the Lines to its weekend lineup, ending the show’s linear television run.

A report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal claims ESPN told OTL staffers that the show wouldn’t return to the network after the Super Bowl.

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017. Outside the Lines was often regarded as the “moral compass” of ESPN, and was often the source of some of the more investigative reporting employed by the network.

Outside the Lines — which was airing at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings — averaged 303,000 viewers in the timeslot. Meanwhile, SportsCenter: AM has seen an average audience of 572,000 in the same window.

The Outside the Lines brand will continue being utilized during the Noon ET SportsCenter, as well as ESPN digital platforms, including the network’s YouTube page.

Jeremy Schaap will continue to host the Outside the Lines segments during SportsCenter, but will also be the host of a new iteration of The Sports Reporters that will air on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Schaap’s father, Dick, was the host of the ESPN Sunday morning program from 1988 until his death in 2001. The show aired on ESPN from 1988 to 2017.

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Sports TV News

CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’

“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”

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An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.

The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.

CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.

“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand

Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.

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