Seven weeks remain in an improbable Premier League season. If you are Rebecca Lowe, who very ably hosts NBCSN’s Premier League coverage, there is no better place to be these days than the network’s studio in Stamford, Conn.
But Lowe will have to watch the season’s final weeks from home. She is eight and a half months pregnant, and after Sunday’s eagerly awaited Manchester Derby between United and City, she will begin her maternity leave.
“The season is so long, and if you’re female and you want to have a baby, there’s never a good time,” she said. “The season is 10 months long. Of all the seasons in the Premier League, it’s typical that this is arguably been the best one and I won’t be there for the end.”
The baby, her first, is a boy. Lowe’s husband, Paul Buckle, who has two children from a previous marriage, coaches Sacramento Republic F.C. in the United Soccer League and will return to their home in Connecticut as often as possible.
“My mom is coming over next week,” Lowe said.
Since being hired in 2013 from ESPN UK, Lowe has become the defining face of the Premier League at the NBC Sports Group, part of the extensive British influence imported by the network. The coverage has been a critical and viewing success — an average of 530,000 viewers for each match window this season on NBCSN, NBC and USA, up 9 percent from last year at this time.
Last August, as NBC was about to start the final season of its current three-year deal, it retained the Premier League rights for another six years for $1 billion. Lowe signed a similarly long contract.
“My husband and I had a Plan A, if we kept the rights, and a Plan B if we didn’t,” she said. “We brought our lives to the U.S. and to NBC. We want to make this our life, and it would have been harder if we didn’t get the rights.”
Thirty-eight weeks of exposure on television have raised Lowe’s profile in the United States, but as a homebody who works outside Manhattan, she says she does not feel widely recognized.
In her absence this spring, Arlo White, the network’s lead play-by-play voice, will fill in for Lowe in the studio for two weeks. Steve Bower will fill in for five.
“It’s impossible to replace her,” said Pierre Moossa, coordinating producer of NBC Sports Group’s Premier League coverage. “She’s really the glue on the set with the announcers. She gets the best out of them. She has a great sense of story, and no one knows the material as well.”
To continue reading visit the NY Times where this article was originally published
Jason Barrett is the owner and operator of Barrett Sports Media. Prior to launching BSM he served as a sports radio programmer, launching brands such as 95.7 The Game in San Francisco and 101 ESPN in St. Louis. He has also produced national shows for ESPN Radio including GameNight and the Dan Patrick Show. You can find him on Twitter @SportsRadioPD or reach him by email at JBarrett@sportsradiopd.com.
Roger Goodell: ‘Wouldn’t Surprise Me’ To See Thursday Night Football Move to Flex Scheduling
“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon.”
In 2023, Monday Night Football will join Sunday Night Football in having the ability to flex NFL games into its window. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday Night Football could someday join that elite club.
During his “State of the League” speech Wednesday, Goodell said Thursday Night Football having the ability to flex matchups “wouldn’t at all surprise me”.
“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon,” the NFL Commissioner said.
ESPN bargained for the ability to move higher profile games into Monday Night Football during its negotiations with the league for the next television contract that begins this upcoming season.
NBC has long held the ability to shift a select number of games from earlier windows into the Sunday Night Football primetime slot.
Amazon Prime Video just completed the first of an 11-year contract that sees the streaming platform spend nearly $1 billion per year on the Thursday Night Football package.
One of the largest storylines of Amazon’s debut season with the NFL was the near-constant ridicule from play-by-play announcer Al Michaels over the lackluster TNF schedule. Michaels made headlines over several weeks for his candor on the lack of interesting matchups, going as far as to joke that if the schedule didn’t improve he would retire.
Michael Irvin Removed From NFL Network Super Bowl Coverage
“I came into the lobby and I talked to somebody. I talked to this girl. I don’t know her, and I talked to her for about 45 seconds.”
A complaint from a female to NFL Network has caused the network to remove Michael Irvin from its Super Bowl coverage.
NFL Network did not comment on the nature of the complaint or the allegation of any impropriety by Irvin, simply stating Irvin would not be a participant in coverage of the event from Arizona.
“Michael Irvin will not be a part of NFL Network’s Super Bowl LVII week coverage,” said NFL Media Vice President of Communications Alex Riethmiller in a statement.
Irvin claimed the interaction happened during a brief moment Sunday after having dinner and drinks with former Cowboy defensive back Michael Brooks.
“This all happened in a 45-second conversation in the lobby,” Irvin told The Dallas Morning News. “When I got back after going out … I came into the lobby and I talked to somebody. I talked to this girl. I don’t know her, and I talked to her for about 45 seconds. We shook hands. Then, I left…That’s all I know.”
Irvin, 56, admitted he didn’t recall the conversation between him and the female but called the interaction “just a friendly conversation”. He defended himself by saying “There was definitely nothing physical”.
The report from The Dallas Morning News added that Glendale police officials do not know about any incident regarding Irvin.
A report from Front Office Sports claims ESPN executives are “poised to pull the plug” on Irvin’s scheduled appearance on First Take from Radio Row Friday.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer has been with NFL Network since 2009, and in August of last year signed an extension to remain with the cable channel.
Pro Bowl Lowest Rated Since 2006
While the numbers decreased, the Pro Bowl was still the second-highest rated All-Star Game for the major professional sports leagues.
The NFL completely revamped its Pro Bowl format for the 2022 season, and the changes did not garner more viewers.
An average of 6.28 million viewers tuned into the event across ABC, ESPN, and DisneyXD Sunday for the first 7-on-7 event. That number is a decrease of 6% compared to last year and is the lowest-rated Pro Bowl since the 2006 event saw just 5.96 million viewers. That figure excludes the 2021 Pro Bowl, which was a “virtual” event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the numbers decreased, the Pro Bowl was still the second-highest-rated All-Star Game for the major professional sports leagues, with the MLB All-Star Game seeing an average viewership of 7.51 million. The 6.28 million who watched the Pro Bowl is a virtual tie with last season’s NBA All-Star Game.
The Pro Bowl Skills Challenge — now produced by Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions — did see a large increase in viewership compared to last year. More than 1 million viewers tuned into the Thursday night primetime event, which is the second-best figure on record. That audience is a 23% increase compared to last year’s event.