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Wall Street Urges ESPN to Drop Monday Night Football

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The NFL is ripping off ESPN according to Wall Street analysts. Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News has a new report out citing a number of sources that say the return ESPN is seeing on its investment in the NFL warrants some serious action.

Independent research firm MoffettNathanson suggests that ESPN should get out of the Monday Night Football business when the contract expires in 2021 and instead pursue reacquiring the Sunday Night package. NBC’s Sunday Night Football package is priced lower and is consistently one of TV’s highest rated shows. NBC’s contract expires in 2022.

James Andrew Miller, who wrote the ESPN memoir Those Guys Have All the Fun, says the right move for ESPN may be to forget about live NFL rights and focus instead on investing in cheaper highlight packages. McCarthy says considering the decline in ratings, Miller’s idea makes sense.

Why pay through the nose for a Monday night package, asked Miller, when today’s “Monday Night Football” is a pale shadow of ABC’s old version with John Madden and Al Michaels? Much less the original Monday night crew of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford?

ESPN currently pays $1.9 billion per year for the TV rights to Monday Night Football. Jimmy Pitaro views his primary job as president of ESPN as preserving and rehabbing the network’s relationship with the NFL. Both Turner and Amazon have expressed interest in bidding for Monday Night Football in the future. That will likely drive the price higher in the next round of bidding. It is absolutely fair to value professional football as a commodity, but at some point ESPN may have to face facts and realize that this is a relationship that is only working for one side.

Sunday Night Football is the package the NFL gives its star treatment. If ESPN is already paying a higher price, it makes sense that staying in business with the NFL would require that it gets the best package of games.

Sports TV News

ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years

“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”

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The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.

The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.

Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.

NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.

That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.

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Sports TV News

NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.

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Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.

So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.

ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.

The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.

At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.

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Sports TV News

AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.

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The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.

53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.

CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.

With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.

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