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Kenny Albert Believes Hockey Is Easiest Sport To Announce

“Baseball to me is the most challenging if you don’t do it every day because there is so much down time in between pitches and you have to rely even more so on the analyst.”

Ricky Keeler

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On Wednesday night, the NHL on TNT will begin its second season with a doubleheader of action. In Game 2 of the doubleheader, Kenny Albert will be on the call with Eddie Olczyk, Keith Jones, and Jackie Redmond as the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche host the Chicago Blackhawks (9:30 PM ET).

Albert was a guest on the latest episode of The Wormcast: How Sports Media Happens Podcast on Tuesday and he said NHL on TNT in its first year went very well and mentioned how having ex-players ask questions to current players before the game made for better answers.

“I thought year 1 went very, very well. I loved some of the things that Turner decided to do with the pregame crew. Those guys would do the interview with players before the games on the ice for example. Those of us in the booth can ask the same 2-3 questions to a player before the game and you might get the same stock answers. What are the keys tonight? What are the biggest challenges against your opponent? When you have a Wayne Gretzky or a Rick Tocchet or an Anson Carter or a Paul Bissonette asking the questions, the players certainly react to that.”

Going into that first season, Albert mentioned that they wanted to take the great work that NBC did in the prior 15 years and add to it.

“I think the mantra was to take what NBC had done over the decade and a half and move forward and enhance the broadcast. I thought both networks did an outstanding job.”

Albert has one of the unique distinctions of having been a play-by-play announcer for all four major sports (MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA). To the surprise of many, Albert said that hockey is the easiest one to call and if you don’t call baseball everyday, it will be a challenge.

“There are similarities to all 4, but also major differences. To me, hockey is the easiest and most people think it would be the hardest…On the radio, you have to be so descriptive and give the time and score a lot more often no matter what the sport is. Hockey, on radio in particular, you are just calling the game for 60 minutes. Football is the most rhythmic. Baseball to me is the most challenging if you don’t do it every day because there is so much down time in between pitches and you have to rely even more so on the analyst.”

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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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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Sports TV News

ESPN Paying Nearly $45 Billion For Rights Fees Through 2027

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually

Jordan Bondurant

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The last year or two has been evident that the price of rights to airing major college and professional sporting events on television are only going up. But the various networks either with longstanding relationships with leagues and conferences or looking to break into the media rights landscape are willing to pay up. That’s no more evident with Disney, which will be shelling out tens of billions of dollars to have regular season and postseason events air on ESPN.

According to Sportico, which reviewed Disney’s annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ESPN is set to spend $44.9 billion on sports media rights through 2027.

Currently, the network’s largest spending comes for its Monday Night Football package, which is $2.6 billion annually. Additionally, ESPN will pay $1.4 billion through the 2024-25 season for NBA rights.

The Sportico report noted ESPN will generate more than $8.1 billion in affiliate revenue to help offset those costs. The network will soon be entering talks to renew its media rights deal to be the exclusive home for nearly all NCAA Division I championships, as well as engaging in new NBA rights negotiations.

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