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ESPN Adds Commentator Angela Rye as Special Correspondent

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to give culturally relevant stories a voice on this iconic platform.”

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As Black History Month begins, ESPN is adding award-winning commentator Angela Rye to its roster of special correspondents. (Her work will not be limited to the month of February.)

Rye, who was previously a political commentator for CNN, will contribute essays, topical features, and commentaries on sports-related matters of race, culture, and social justice issues across the network’s shows and digital platforms, according to an official announcement. Additionally, she will appear in-studio and produce stories under the ESPN Black History Always banner, which was launched last year.

“Sports plays a critical role in our culture, bringing joy to us all in the midst of unprecedented challenges,” Rye said in ESPN’s announcement. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to give culturally relevant stories a voice on this iconic platform.”

Among the subjects will Rye will cover for ESPN are the impact of Jackie Robinson 75 years after breaking baseball’s color barrier, the 50th anniversary of Title IX, athletes’ role in social justice movements, and those making a difference at HBCUs.

Some of Rye’s features will include topics such as Jackie Robinson’s impact 75 years after he broke the color barrier; a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX; the role athletes play in social justice movements; and difference makers at HBCUs.

In addition to her work for ESPN, Rye will continue appearing on The Breakfast Club syndicated radio show and her podcast On One with Angela Rye. She has provided analysis and commentary for a variety of outlets, including NPR, HBO, NBC, ABC, and CNN. Her production company, 206 Productions, has made several award-winning documentary specials for BET.

“Angela is one of the most talented and distinctive commentators of race and culture working today,” said ESPN senior vice president for NBA and studio production David Roberts.

“Her strong connection and commitment to the Black community will serve this series of vitally important stories on African American athletes making history and a positive difference throughout the year. We are thrilled she decided to join the ESPN family and look forward to collaborating.”

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.

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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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