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ESPN Loses Spelling Bee After 27 Year Relationship

“The competition takes place every summer and first started in 1925.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: E.W. Scripps

The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a new TV home starting in 2022. According to The Hollywood Reporter, E.W. Scripps is moving the annual competition to its ION and Bounce networks.

The event has aired on ESPN or ESPN2 since 1994, but E.W. Scripps wants to get the product off of ESPN channels to allow more access to people who aren’t subscribing to traditional cable television.

The Spelling Bee will be available on their regular ION and Bounce channels; while also streaming online.

“The Scripps National Spelling Bee is a beloved American treasure enjoyed by generations of participants and viewers annually. The time is right to bring the iconic competition back to broadcast television, the media platform accessible for free to nearly every American viewer across the country,” Scripps President and CEO Adam Symson said in a statement. “As the Bee’s viewership expands through the diverse and fast-growing audiences of ION and Bounce, it is better positioned to connect with the next generation of spellers watching along.”

The competition takes place every summer and first started in 1925. The pandemic caused last year’s event to be cancelled for the first time since WWII. The event is a sentimental favorite for ESPN host Kevin Neghandi, who called this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“I’m thrilled to be returning as host of the Scripps National Spelling Bee,” Negandhi said upon his announcement as this year’s host. “Due to my schedule in 2018 and 2019, I missed out on the fun, but it’s great to be back to share the stories about the competitors and what drives them at a young age to be the best in the world. I’m looking forward to teaming up again with the best in the business in Paul Loeffler, Jen Lada, and producers Bryan Jaroch and Steve Ackels, and the rest of our dedicated crew who love the Bee and what it stands for.”

ESPN2 now has some open programming windows to fill in the dog days of summer, with Scripps taking their educational property in-house.

Sports TV News

Matthew Berry Joins NBC Sports

Berry is expected to host a daily podcast and have his own Sunday fantasy football show.

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Matthew Berry

Matthew Berry, the fantasy football expert that helped to elevate the niche to mainstay programming surrounding the football season, is joining NBC Sports.

Berry, who left ESPN less than a month ago, is expected to host a daily podcast and have his own Sunday fantasy football show, sources told The New York Post. The show might go against Fantasy Football Now, his previous show that airs on ESPN2.

The show is also expected to be on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, as well as possibly on some NBC affiliates. Berry could also make appearances on Sunday Night Football.

NBC Sports declined comment.

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Sports TV News

NBC Pushing for Big Ten/NFL Primetime Pairing in Media Rights Deal

“The Big Ten would have exposure in every TV home,” said one source to Front Office Sports. “It would also be a smart idea to follow the model of the most successful sports league in America.” 

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Big Ten media rights negotiations are getting closer to being completed. The results could mean a minimum of $1.25 billion annual distribution for the conference’s soon-to-be sixteen members. One of the bidders in the process, NBC, has an interesting idea to make the Big Ten the “NFL of college football conferences.”

NBC has reportedly pushed the idea of combining Big Ten broadcasts with its existing Notre Dame coverage and would feature the Big Ten in its primetime window. With CBS, ESPN/ABC also bidding on coverage packages, such a series of deals would make the Big Ten the only college football conference that would be seen across all of the American broadcast networks. Something only few entities have done, like the NFL.

NBC is also pushing the allure of having primetime Big Ten football on Saturday night and primetime coverage of Sunday’s only NFL evening game with Sunday Night Football.

“The Big Ten would have exposure in every TV home,” said one source to Front Office Sports. “It would also be a smart idea to follow the model of the most successful sports league in America.” 

The Big Ten’s current media rights deals expire after the 2023 season.

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Sports TV News

ESPN’s College GameDay Adds Peloton Instructor and Sports Reporter Jess Sims

ESPN has announced the newest member of the College GameDay show for this football season and it’s Jess Sims.

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Jess Sims

ESPN has announced the newest member of the College GameDay show for this football season and it’s Jess Sims.

Sims is a very popular Peloton instructor and a sports reporter. According to ESPN, Sims will be joining the show weekly with Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack. The show is entering it’s 36th season.

Sims played college basketball at Liberty College, then worked with the WNBA’s New York Liberty as an in-arena host and sideline reporter for the last two seasons.

“Jess is a rising star who exudes personality and energy.  We’re looking forward to her adding to the excitement surrounding College GameDay each week throughout the season – both during the show and as we engage with students and fans on every campus we visit” said Lee Fitting, ESPN senior vice president, production.

“I am so excited to join the GameDay crew because the show not only celebrates all of the on-field action, but also highlights the passionate communities that surround the games,” said Sims. “This is such a great opportunity to get back to my roots in college sports and I can’t wait to meet incredible athletes and fans and explore these campuses and cities that eat, sleep and breathe their hometown teams.”

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