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Snapchat Creator: ‘ESPN Will Never Actually Talk To Young Sports Fans’

“ESPN won’t actually do anything about talking to kids and listening to what they want.”

Jordan Bondurant

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It’s often said that the vast majority of sports have the hardest time connecting with younger audiences.

Baseball is one of the prime examples, with many believing the sport has lost significant ground with kids, teenagers and young adults. But one Gen Z content creator believes the NFL and ESPN have a disconnect as well.

Jack Settleman, who is a digital host for MSG Networks and founder of the popular SnapBack Sports Snapchat show, told Morning Consult the biggest thing with ESPN is that there are likely good intentions in terms of wanting to reach and connect with folks his age (26) and younger but they won’t actually follow through.

“ESPN won’t actually do anything about talking to kids and listening to what they want,” Settleman told Morning Consult. “Maybe ESPN will run a couple of studies, but no one on the ESPN social media team is going to be tasked with DM’ing kids asking, What do you like about our content? Do you spend more time on YouTube or Twitch?”

Jack added that there’s a level of screen appeal with talent you see on TV that just misses the mark with younger people.

“No kid cares about some commentator in a suit anymore,” he said. “It’s lifestyle, it’s streetwear brand. No one is conscious of that because it’s older decision-makers. Actually talk to the 23-year-old social media manager or the marketer who understands what the heck kids are doing and what they want.”

In terms of the NFL, Settleman is on pace to take SnapBack Sports to every Monday Night Football game this season. But one of the things he’s learned in going to and working with various home teams is that the experience at the game is sorely lacking.

“A majority of people who don’t go to games, I think, don’t have any interest because they’re not going to get a great experience,” he said. “And it’s not viewed as any form of entertainment, when really that’s what the entire game experience should be.”

“You don’t get the commentary,” he added. He noted particularly that the price of admission poses a hindrance for younger folks to go, and even if you do shell out a couple hundred bucks to get in the gates, it’s likely going to have you seated in some of the worst seats in the stadium. “If a play happens and it’s being challenged, I don’t know if it’s a good call or not unless I go on Twitter,” he said.

Settleman hopes that he can utilize his platform and spotlight some of the great things that come with making it out to games.

“This is about the importance of getting out to live sports,” he said. “I’m a huge believer in the idea that the best content for social media is found at a live sporting event.”

Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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Peter King: Sean McVay Wants to be a Star, ‘Not Just Some Guy on TV’

“I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

Jordan Bondurant

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L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay will remain at his post for the 2023-24 season. The team tweeted that news Friday afternoon, seeming to, at least for now, put the rumors of McVay leaving coaching for a TV job to rest.

ProFootballTalk’s Peter King wrote in Football Morning in America on Monday that McVay understands the kind of position on television he’s looking for may not necessarily be there for him.

“I don’t think that was the only thing about TV that appealed to him, but I don’t think McVay was interested in being Just a Guy on TV,” King wrote. “I do think he had some regret over not taking a two- or three-year hiatus last year and taking one of the big TV jobs. Amazon? Maybe FOX? But if he really wanted to jump after winning the Super Bowl, he would have.”

King noted that McVay has been told to “Do what makes you happy” by folks with the Rams. He also said he believes coaching is what Makes McVay happy. Especially with a chance to shake up his coaching staff and being involved in trying to bring the team back from a 5-12 season in their follow-up campaign to winning the Super Bowl.

“He wants to be challenged, and this staff wasn’t doing it,” King said. “Offensive coordinator Liam Coen may not have been what McVay wanted in an OC—a coach who would challenge him and bring new ideas to him—and that could be why he’s going back to the University of Kentucky as a coordinator.”

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