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ESPN Signs Insiders Adam Schefter, Adrian Wojnarowski to Multi-Year Extensions

Both insiders will create content for ESPN+ as part of their new agreements with the network.

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Rumblings in the sports media industry that ESPN insiders Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski might leave the network and take their brands to sports betting outlets like Caesars had been gaining volume as each reporter neared the end of their respective contracts.

But neither Schefter or Wojnarowski will be going anywhere else in the near-future. Both reporters have agreed to multi-year extensions with ESPN, the network announced Thursday.

Schefter, who’s been with ESPN since 2009, will continue reporting and breaking news on social media, ESPN.com, and the ESPN app, while appearing across ESPN programming, including NFL Live, SportsCenter, Get Up, and First Take, along with pregame shows Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown.

Additionally, he hosts The Adam Schefter Podcast and will contribute to NFL Draft and Super Bowl coverage.

As part of his new agreement, Schefter will also have new opportunities, such as producing content for ESPN+.

Earlier this month at the BSM Summit, Schefter was honored with the Champion’s Award, which goes to someone in sports media who has made a significant difference for the industry and those involved in it. Schefter’s efforts for helping the family of Jeff Dickerson, who passed away in December, were recognized.

In addition to his work for ESPN — which was preceded by reporting for NFL Network, the Denver Post, and Rocky Mountain News — Schefter has written several books, most recently The Man I Never Met, about his wife’s first husband, who died in the September 11 attacks.

Wojnarowski, who’s been with ESPN since 2017, will continue reporting and breaking news on social media, ESPN.com, and the ESPN app, while appearing across network studio programming, including NBA Countdown, SportsCenter, and NBA Today. He also contributes to NBA Draft coverage, while hosting The Woj Pod.

Creating content for ESPN+ is also part of Wojnarowski’s new agreement with the network.

Prior to joining ESPN, Wojnarowski was an NBA insider for Yahoo Sports and edited the outlet’s basketball site, The Vertical. During his career, he also authored The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball’s Most Improbable Dynasty.

Schefter had been attracting interest from Caesar’s Sportsbook, according to Front Office Sports, aware that the insider’s contract with ESPN was nearing its end.

Sports betting companies have also been trying to present themselves as media companies, not just gambling enterprises, in recent months by hiring former ESPN personalities, like Trey Wingo, Kenny Mayne, and Mike Golic. Adding an established reporter such as Schefter or Wojnarowski would boost the credibility of such efforts.

As Schefter has also invited controversy with recent reporting on domestic violence and sexual misconduct stories, the possibility of taking his brand to a non-news outlet may have had some appeal. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio said Schefter’s interest was an open secret in the industry.

Though ESPN presumably has other talent already in-house that could have taken over Schefter’s insider duties — including Jeff Darlington, Dianna Russini, and Dan Graziano — the network clearly values Schefter’s work and has given him a number of opportunities outside his NFL reporting, such as NBA reporting.

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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