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Fred Gaudelli: John Madden Still Guides NBC Broadcasts

“Madden seemed to have the perfect personality for the job.  He had a fantastic work ethic matched with an encouraging spirit that Gaudelli greatly appreciated.”

Will Dundon

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The recent death of John Madden impacted many in the sports industry.  Madden, who passed away last Tuesday, was a beloved coach and commentator that influenced multiple generations of players, fans, and people in general.

Fred Gaudelli, Executive Producer of NBC’s Sunday Night Football, grew close to John over the years and shared some of his memories of him with Richard Deitsch of The Athletic.

“John understood how television worked, why it worked, why it didn’t work, and when it didn’t work,” Gaudelli said. “He got TV on a level like a Dick Ebersol level. Al (Michaels) has the same quality. They just know what the audience needs and they know when they need it. Not that they’re perfect. I mean, no one’s perfect. But in those big moments, they’re not somewhere else when there’s something in front of the audience. If I made a decision differently in the game that took us away from something, which invariably I did, he would hit that talk-back button and say, ‘Hey, can we get back to the game?’ I mean, even to this day, if I feel like I’ve been on a topic too long that’s away from the game, I feel his voice coming through that talk-back.”

As Gaudelli explains, Madden seemed to always know what the audience needed.  Not only did he know how to give the audience a great product, but he also knew how to relate to them.  This probably had a great deal to do with his love for people and good conversation.

“If you wanted to have a conversation with him and he had the time, he would have the conversation,” Gaudelli continued. “He traveled through the 48 continental states of America, and he didn’t drive through them. He stopped. He chatted people up. I remember one time we were driving from Houston to Canton. I don’t remember if we were driving through Alabama or Georgia, but somebody was selling boiled peanuts on the side of the road. We stopped the bus. We got off. I’d never had boiled peanuts before, and they were awesome. But he’s chatting the guy up about being a peanut farmer, the whole nine yards. He just had that kind of curiosity. I think that’s what made the bus a great vehicle for him, literally and figuratively, because he got to experience people.”

Madden seemed to have the perfect personality for the job.  He had a fantastic work ethic matched with an encouraging spirit that Gaudelli greatly appreciated.

“Blessed is a word that comes to mind because John opened my eyes to a lot of things that they may not have been open to from a television standpoint as well as a life standpoint if we had not worked together,” Gaudelli said. “I just felt inspired by his preparation and that he was expecting me to be better than I thought I might be. That’s the professional end. On the personal end of it, it’s hard to have a better friend than John Madden. He was always there for you — always had great advice, didn’t push it on you unless you were asking. He was also one the most fun guys you could ever hang out with. My career and life are multiple times better for having him in my life, and I’m really going to miss him.”

Sports TV News

FOX Will Use Chris Fallica On Belmont Stakes Coverage

“While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.”

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The Bear will be more than just a college football presence when he moves to FOX. Chris Fallica wrapped his final duties for ESPN last week and is now headed to a new network and will tackle some new responsibilities.

Fallica’s new role at FOX will involve plenty of sports gambling content. Richard Deitsch of The Athletic reports that content will include horse racing.

“One Fox Sports source said look for him to appear on the Belmont Stakes coverage,” Deitsch wrote in his weekly media column.

Starting in 2023, horse racing’s Triple Crown will not be seen all in one place. While the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby remain at NBC, The Belmont Stakes is moving to FOX as part of the network’s deal with the New York Racing Association.

How the network intends to use Chris Fallica on the broadcast is not clear. Given that he is coming to the network to contribute to gambling conversations, it is likely he would either be making picks or at least reviewing odds right up to the start of the race.

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Sports TV News

NBCUniversal CEO Expects Disney To Buy Company’s Hulu Stake

“Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal.”

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The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of Hulu. The other 33% is owned by NBCUniversal. The latter company doesn’t expect that to be the case forever.

“It’s worth a lot of money,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said at an investor conference earlier this week, “and I think there’s no indication that anything else is going to happen than Disney writing us a big check.”

Hulu is primarily a platform for movies and television shows. It is a major part of Disney’s deal with the NHL though. The streaming giant is part of the package of 103 games that are exclusive to ESPN and ABC. Hulu is also a live TV provider for many. The company’s Hulu Plus Live TV package had over 4 million subscribers as of the summer of 2022.

Shell noted that live sports coverage is helping make the stake in Hulu a luxury for NBCUniversal. He credits sports and content migrated from Hulu as the reason Peacock has grown to 18 million paid subscriptions since September.

Deadline reports that if Disney does want to acquire NBCUniversal’s stake in Hulu, “the price could fluctuate but will be in the tens of billions of dollars.”

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Sports TV News

Greg Olsen Believes He and Kevin Burkhardt Can Handle Games ‘On Any Stage’

“Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

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Greg Olsen

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen are on tap to call Super Bowl LVII in February, and Olsen told Front Office Sports he has the confidence to announce the game with no hesitations.

“If you’re asking me, I think Kevin and I have shown that we can handle a game on any stage – on any day. We just did it on Thanksgiving. We’ll do it again around Christmas. And obviously throughout the [NFL] Playoffs,” said Olsen. “So whatever decision they make. Obviously, the bosses get paid a lot to make hard decisions. You have to obviously do what your bosses decide. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

“But as of now, I anticipate Kevin and I, the two of us, with Erin and Tom down on the sidelines, the four of us, broadcasting the Super Bowl in February in Arizona. Until I’m told otherwise, that’s how we’re proceeding.”

Olsen also told FOS he has negotiated a new contract with FOX Sports, but declined to share details. He is slated to be replaced on the top broadcast crew once Tom Brady ends his playing career. Brady will then begin a 10-year, $375 million contract to serve as the network’s top NFL game analyst and brand ambassador.

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