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Strong Market For Orsillo

Jason Barrett

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This continues to be a difficult time for NESN play-by-play broadcaster Don Orsillo, who has told friends that his lame-duck status in the booth makes showing up at the ballpark feel “like I’m going to my own funeral.”

But Orsillo has not let his feelings interfere with his work since NESN announced he would not be returning for a 16th season — note his enthusiastic call of David Ortiz’s 500th home run Saturday night. And while the outpouring of support from his fans — more than 60,000 signatures have been collected on an on-line petition — will not alter NESN’s plans, multiple sources say that Orsillo’s prospects of landing another broadcasting job look very promising.

One source in charge of broadcasting with another major-league club pointed to San Diego, where Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Enberg will be entering the last year of his deal next season, as a strong contender for Orsillo’s services. Orsillo’s agent, Brad Blank, said Monday night that he would not identify the teams and networks that have shown interest in Orsillo, but confirmed there are a number of potential landing spots.

Blank said he also has no issue with the Red Sox electing to hire Dave O’Brien, who is regarded as one of the top broadcasters in the business, working for ESPN in addition to his work on radio for the Red Sox the last nine years.

“At the end of a contract, if the terms have been satisfied and they’ve paid what they said they would pay, NESN doesn’t owe anything,’’ Blank said. “That’s how it works.

“If I thought something bad might happen to Don, I might feel differently, but I know he’s going to be fine.’’

O’Brien, like Orsillo a New England native, has been in an awkward position since NESN’s announcement that he would be succeeding Orsillo, the news leaking last month. O’Brien had spoken last summer with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but according to a broadcasting source, no offer was made. Another industry source said that the parameters of a deal were discussed, but there was no written offer.

Regardless of whether O’Brien broached an opportunity with the Dodgers in his talks with the Red Sox, NESN and team sources indicated that they already had decided they wanted to take their broadcasts in a different direction, and viewed O’Brien as an elite talent with the kind of resume that would appeal to advertisers and sponsors.

NESN’s handling of the change, however, has been widely condemned for what has been perceived as insensitivity to Orsillo and an indifference to his popularity with the team’s fan base. The Sox have encountered similar blowback in the past with Sean McDonough, whose dismissal provoked outrage. McDonough’s replacement as the Sox primary TV voice? Orsillo.

While sensitive to how personally disappointed his client is, Blank insists he bears no ill will toward NESN or the Red Sox. “I give NESN and the Red Sox credit for being helpful’’ he said.

Credit to ESPN who originally published this article.

Sports TV News

Ian Rapoport: I Have Never Thought It is Me vs Adam Schefter

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows.”

Jordan Bondurant

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In terms of NFL insiders, Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are the two biggest names out there. And sometimes it can be a race between the two to get the biggest scoops first. Especially now with the NFL coaching carousel in full swing.

This week two teams hired new head coaches – the Broncos traded two first round picks to the Saints to acquire the rights to Sean Payton and the Texans signed DeMeco Ryans.

Rapoport tweeted that Denver had pursued Ryans up until the day they announced the trade for Payton.

Not even 15 minutes later, Schefter appeared to clarify the information out there with the two teams.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Pat McAfee referred to the conflicting information as a “source off.”

Ian said he stood behind what he put out there.

“I know it’s fun to call it a source off or whatever, but for me I reported what I had based on the best information I can get – based on talking to many, many people throughout the course of the last month,” Rapoport said from the Senior Bowl. “And then whatever happens as a result of this I don’t really mind.”

In terms of any sort of rivalry between him and Schefter, Rapoport doesn’t view it as a head-to-head matchup.

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows,” he said. “And everyone can sort of judge for themselves whichever way to go.”

McAfee gave kudos to Rapoport for his reporting on the Ryans situation. He also said it’s a good thing Rapoport doesn’t worry himself too much about what other insiders are doing.

“I think you should feel good about it, but I do like a good source off,” McAfee said. “And I appreciate the fact that you don’t view it as you versus Schefter. But you two are at the top of the game. So that’s a compliment more so than anything.”

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Sports TV News

AEW Considers Launching Streaming Service

“It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.”

Jordan Bondurant

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All Elite Wrestling is looking into launching its own streaming service.

According to reporting from Bloomberg, a source “familiar with management’s thinking” said AEW is looking to strike a deal with broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery.

Since launching in 2019, AEW now puts on two weekly shows on Warner channels TBS and TNT and airs two shows on YouTube.

Last year AEW acquired Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group. As part of that deal, AEW took ownership of RoH’s extensive content library Honor Club. So much like WWE did with WWE Network when it launched in 2014, AEW could launch its streaming service and have all of Ring of Honor’s content in a one-stop shop.

It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.

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Sports TV News

NBC Officially Unveils Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge as New Big Ten Booth

“With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

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It’s officially official: Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge, and Kathryn Tappen will join the Big Ten on NBC booth when the network begins airing the conference’s football package in 2023.

NBC made the announcement Thursday, after weeks of speculation about the moves.

“We are excited to showcase Big Ten Saturday Night on the NBC Sports’ primetime marquee,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood. “When you hear Todd’s voice, you know it’s a big college football game. It has been that way for decades.

“Noah is one of the industry’s rising young play-by-play commentators, who has excelled calling numerous sports across multiple platforms for a wide range of audiences. We are thrilled to pair him in the booth with Todd.

“Kathryn has told the stories of so many memorable Notre Dame Football moments over the last decade in her on-field reporting and interviews,” Flood continued. “With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

Blackledge joins NBC after working as a college football analyst for the network for the past 17 seasons. Previously, he was the an analyst for CBS and ABC, making 2023 his 30th consecutive season covering college football as an analyst.

Eagle is the son of broadcasting legend Ian Eagle, and currently serves as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers. He comes to NBC after calling college football games for FOX Sports in 2022.

Tappen has spent the past nine seasons working NBC’s college football coverage with Notre Dame. Eight of those nine seasons were spent as the network’s sideline reporter before anchoring the studio coverage from South Bend in 2022.

2023 will mark the beginning of a seven-year contract for NBC to air Big Ten football games in primetime. The move is one of the biggest notable expansions in the college football arena for the network since its partnership with Notre Dame began in 1991.

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