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Mark Grace Added To Marquee Sports Network

“During the last 15 years, Grace has contributed as an analyst to FOX Sports, FOX Saturday Baseball and FOX Sports Arizona working as a game broadcaster for the Diamondbacks.”

Brandon Contes

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As their launch date quickly approaches the Marquee Sports Network announced two more additions, headlined by longtime Chicago Cubs first baseman and fan favorite Mark Grace. Grace joins the Cubs new network as a pre and postgame analyst.

“My years as a Cub were very special, and to return to Wrigley, the Cubs and the best fans in sports as part of Marquee Sports Network is something that means a lot to me,” Grace said in the announcement. “I’m thrilled to be back!”

Grace spent 13 of his 16-year MLB career playing for the Cubs. The first baseman retired in 2003 and almost immediately began working as a broadcaster. During the last 15 years, Grace has contributed as an analyst to FOX Sports, FOX Saturday Baseball and FOX Sports Arizona working as a game broadcaster for the Diamondbacks. 

In addition to Grace, Marquee also announced Elise Menaker has joined the new network as a reporter, host and content creator. Menaker has been with the Big Ten Network since 2017 and will continue her role there covering football, basketball and softball as a studio analyst and sideline reporter. 

“With Mark and Elise joining our already stellar lineup of on-air talent, Marquee Sports Network’s roster will be unmatched by any other regional sports network anywhere,” said Mike McCarthy, general manager, Marquee Sports Network. “Mark is one of the most revered players in Cubs history and a polished baseball broadcaster, and Elise brings versatility, energy, an array of TV experience and a familiarity with Chicago, all of which will make her a tremendous asset.”

Grace and Menaker join the already well staffed Marquee which previously announced several former Cubs as network analysts including Ryan Dempster, Mark DeRosa, Lou Piniella, Dan Plesac, Doug Glanville, Jason Hammel, Carlos Peña, and Rick Sutcliffe. Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies will be in the broadcast booth for the Cubs, with Cole Wright previously announced as the network’s studio host. 

“We are excited to bring Mark back home to Wrigley Field to share his knowledge and passion for baseball and the Cubs, and in Elise, we have someone who will instantly bring a fresh and unique sports perspective to the broadcasts,” added Mike Santini, Marquee Sports Network’s SVP of Programming and Production. “We are very fortunate to add them both.”

The Marquee Sports Network is set to debut Feb. 22, but still does not have a carriage deal with Chicago’s largest cable provider Comcast Xfinity.

Sports TV News

3.72 Million Tune In To See LeBron James Break Scoring Record

Jordan Bondurant

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Lakers star LeBron James surpassed the NBA’s all-time scoring record on Tuesday night, and TNT benefitted from the milestone ratings wise.

According to Sports Media Watch, Tuesday night’s game averaged 2.98 million viewers. That figure made it TNT’s biggest regular season audience in over two years.

The broadcast peaked at 3.72 million around 11:45 p.m. when James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the record.

Reporting also indicated that the game was the number one single-network program on TV in key demographics.

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Sports TV News

Disney Makes ESPN Independent Division In Corporate Restructuring

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN

Disney is in the process of reorganizing and restructuring the company, and details have emerged about the company’s plans for ESPN.

Deadline reported on Wednesday that ESPN will be one of three standalone segments comprising Disney. Entertainment and Parks, Experiences & Products are the other two segments.

The reorganization comes amid the exit of former CEO Bob Chapek and the re-entry of CEO Bob Iger. As one of Iger’s first moves back running Disney, he announced a restructuring of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

It was also reported that Jimmy Pitaro will continue as the president of ESPN.

In total, more than 7,000 jobs will be eliminated after the restructuring.

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Sports TV News

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.”

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Thursday Night Football

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.

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