Fans will be able to watch ESPN’s “ManningCast” for one additional year than originally planned. According to the network’s NFL insider Adam Schefter, ESPN and Omaha Productions expanded their agreement for Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli through the 2024 season.
Peyton and Eli Manning’s initial deal with ESPN was a three-year agreement that ran through the 2023 season. The success of the “ManningCast” ensured that it would come back for the next two seasons and now a third is being added.
(The contract extension also staves off other potential suitors like Amazon, which had expressed interest.)
The alternate Monday Night Football broadcast with Peyton and Eli and a rotating cast of guests, aired on ESPN2 and ESPN+ this past NFL regular season for 10 games and immediately became popular with fans on social media and sports media observers.
The insight from both Manning brothers on playing quarterback in the NFL, sharing the thinking that goes into various situations, and providing analysis on decision-making by signal-callers and coaches provided an in-depth alternative from the quick-bite, 15-second commentary often heard on regular NFL telecasts.
More importantly, the “ManningCast” brought more fun and irreverence to its coverage with guests from the NFL, college football, and entertainment. Sometimes, that led to moments not usually seen on primetime TV, such as uttering curse words or using obscene gestures, that gave viewers the sense that most anything could happen. Such as Eli Manning comparing himself to Shakira, when explaining Dak Prescott’s warm-up exercises for his hips.
But the “ManningCast” production had plenty of bumps in its first season, notably going into commercial breaks abruptly while cutting off guests speaking. The delay on audio for guests speaking with Peyton and Eli on Zoom also made for a difficult listening experience at times. And sometimes, the Manning brothers and their guests were so engaged in a conversation that they weren’t closely following what was happening in the game.
Not everyone liked the “ManningCast.” Diehards wanting traditional play-by-play and analysis still have the regular MNF telecast on ESPN. (Whether or not Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick return for a third season has yet to be determined.) Some grumps who just don’t like fun seemed to deliberately go against popular opinion and either criticize or ignore it.
Yet innovation in sports broadcasting isn’t always successful. And this was more than a different camera view or new technology used during a telecast. This was an entirely different sort of broadcast, one that banked on the likability of Peyton and Eli and creating the impression of watching a game with friends. Being well-received is a major victory for ESPN. It’s no surprise the network wants it to continue.
UPDATE: The official announcement from ESPN also says that the agreement with Omaha Productions includes alternate telecasts for UFC, college football, and golf. Hosts for each event will be named later.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at email@example.com.
ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years
“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”
The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.
The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.
Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.
NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.
That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.
NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.
Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.
ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.
The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.
At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.
AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS
53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.
The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.
53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.
CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.
With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.