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Chris Russo: ESPN Was Not Happy I Told Howard Stern My First Take Salary

“Somebody from ESPN sent a text to my agent with two words: ‘Not helpful.’”

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Chris Russo First Take

Back in June, Howard Stern welcomed Chris Russo to his SiriusXM show. During the interview, the King of All Media got Mad Dog to reveal what his arrangement is with ESPN to make appearances on First Take each week.

Russo told Stern that he gets $10,000 per appearance. This week, he revealed to Jimmy Traina that ESPN was not happy he made the number public.

“I’ll probably get my wrist slapped again,” Russo said on the SI Media Podcast. “Somebody from ESPN sent a text to my agent with two words: ‘Not helpful.’ I never said that before. That will get me in trouble, too, but what the hell? It’s your show, nobody listens.”

In defense of Chris Russo, he and Stern have known each other for a long time. He made a startegic decision about what kind of headlines he was willing to make on the show.

“If you go on with Howard, he puts you on for an hour and 15 minutes, you gotta give him something. I’m not gonna go break down my sex life or anything like that. I gotta give him something that’s meaty, and that is meaty. He loves that stuff. That’s why I did it.”

The current arrangement between Russo and ESPN calls for 40 appearances on First Take. Will there be more appearances after episode 40? He says those discussions have not yet taken place.

Despite regularly ending up in heated arguments with athletes and other younger debators, Chris Russo did not miss a beat when Traina asked if he would want to do more with ESPN in the future.

“Why would I not? I love Stephen A. Outside of the commute, which is difficult, what’s there not to like?”

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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YES Network

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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