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Patriots Drawing Strong TV Numbers

“Ratings overall for the league are up 7% from a pandemic-effected 2020.”

Jordan Bondurant

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The New England Patriots have become one of the NFL’s feel-good stories of the 2021 season. The Pats won their seventh game in a row on Monday night and currently occupy the top seed in the AFC playoff picture with a record of 9-4.

New England has also reemerged as one of the league’s biggest ratings draws, a year after struggling with Cam Newton under center and Tom Brady gone to Tampa.

A Thursday article published on WEEI’s website notes that ratings were down 26% for Patriots games in 2020. Enter 2021, and New England has moved on from the Newton experiment and placed its faith in rookie QB Mac Jones. That move has produced both wins and interest, with Jones’ preseason debut creating a 37% gain over 2019 when Tom Brady suited up for the first time that preseason.

Ratings overall for the league are up 7% from a pandemic-effected 2020. New England has participated in contests that accounted for some of the largest audience draws so far this season. The Patriots’ contest against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football on Oct. 4 drew an audience of 28.5 million, while the 4:25 p.m. game against Dallas two weeks later on Oct. 17 was seen by 23.22 million. WEEI reports the Brady-Bill Belichick reunion game made for the second-most-watched SNF broadcast in NBC history.

Not to be outdone, this past week’s Monday night game against the Bills was seen by 14.97 million and was the most-watched Week 13 MNF game since 2013.

Bostonians and New England fans across America have been given plenty of reason as of late to watch their beloved Patriots, and if the football gods arrange a Bucs/Patriots Super Bowl matchup, the number of people tuning in on Super Bowl Sunday would be astronomical. TV executives would likely welcome that scenario.

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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