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Sports TV News

Fred Gaudelli Explains How NBC Landed Tom Brady vs Pats

The network had been targeting the matchup for months.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: Digital Trends

The NFL puts together marquee matchups every year that their broadcast partners crave, but one stood above the rest this time for NBC. The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch spoke with NBC’s Fred Gaudelli about how the network bagged the white whale on the 2021 NFL schedule: Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ first trip back to play the Patriots.

The league’s broadcast partners lobby for the matchups they most want to broadcast every year. Gaudelli, executive producer of “Sunday Night Football,” had his eyes on the reunion game for months.

“I told [NBCUniversal Chairman] Mark [Lazarus] and [NBC Sports Chairman] Pete [Bevacqua] that we really needed to make this our No. 1 game because it’s going to be the biggest story that week and transcend sports,” Gaudelli told Deitsch. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime game. I mean, (Brady) can only play them the first time one time.”

Gaudelli knew NBC had to put an extra touch on the pitch to separate themselves from the pack. They seized that opportunity with a PowerPoint presentation given to the NFL’s senior vice president of broadcasting and media operations Howard Katz.

“The slides showed what we could do to amplify it and give it even greater exposure,” Gaudelli said to Deitsch. “It wasn’t that formal a presentation. We had a two-pronged approach. I took Howard through it and Pete took Hans Schroeder through it. And then they presented it to Roger [Goodell].”

Katz must’ve been pleased with the presentation because there will be NBC production trucks in Foxboro when Brady steps back into Gillette Stadium.

“Let me put it this way: In the history of ‘Sunday Night Football,’ I think the only other game that would have had the national interest that this game is going to have is the first Sunday night game we ever did, which was the Manning Bowl,” Gaudelli recalled to Deitsch on the September 2006 game. “It was the first time Eli and Peyton were ever going to play against each other at any level of football. Before we even started the call I said to Howard, ‘Do we have the game?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’”

Sports TV News

Al Michaels: Condensed Prep Time For Thursday Night Football ‘A Downside’

“It’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us.”

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There were bound to be unexpected hiccups and unintended consequences as Al Michaels moved to Thursday Night Football with Amazon Prime Video.

He told The Boston Globe Thursday that one of the downsides of the week’s schedule is less prep time with the teams playing in the game.

“When we go to see the teams, it’s not that they don’t want to be with us, but they’re condensed too, so there’s less time to give to us,” Michaels said. “And all the time I’ve been doing this, I’ve built some great relationships with coaches and players and GMs and owners and you name it, and I don’t get that much time to spend with them anymore. That’s a downside part of it for me. Some of the best stories you get come from those relationships.”

Michaels has raised eyebrows this season while not being shy about his disdain for some poor matchups early in the schedule. However, he now understands that there are quality games as the season approaches its close.

“The schedule was a little leaky with the Carolina-Atlanta game and a couple of other games that we’ve had, but now we’re positioned for a nice run down the stretch,” said Michaels.

The 78-year-old was also asked how he remains energetic and passionate for the job he’s held for so long.

The games are exciting. I love sports. You don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s no script. And unscripted television is the greatest.”

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Sports TV News

Jimmy Pitaro: Reaching Younger Audience A Priority for ESPN

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience. As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

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Many in the media industry have voice concern that millennials and Gen Z aren’t consuming traditional media outlets like previous generations. ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro said it’s a priority for the network.

“The thing that keeps me up at night is how do we reach the younger audience,” Pitaro said, quoted by Morning Consult sports business reporter Mark J. Burns. “As an industry in general, we need to figure out how to be more relevant to younger people.”

Pitaro made the comments at Sports Business Journal’s Media Innovators conference Wednesday. It is a continuation of comments he has made in recent years.

In 2018, Pitaro said at ESPN’s upfront “I think we are doing a fantastic job serving the sports fanatic,” said Pitaro. “What about the casual sports customer? Are we doing all we can to serve him or her?”.

In 2019, Pitaro said it was “all hands on deck” to reach a younger audience and women. “We have to be open and go to where our customers are,” he said in regards to reaching younger viewers on social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

Earlier this year, Pitaro added that ESPN won’t be leaving linear television anytime soon.

“What I will tell you is that as I sit here right now, that business is still incredible,” Pitaro said. “We serve the sports fan anyway and at any time. I know there are a lot of people that still want ESPN in that traditional ecosystem.”

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Sports TV News

Don Mattingly Joining Blue Jays Staff After YES Network Courtship

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

Jordan Bondurant

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YES Network

The New York Yankees regional sports network can take Don Mattingly off its talent wish list. Mattingly was announced Wednesday as a bench coach for the Toronto Blue Jays starting in 2023.

The former Dodgers and Marlins manager had been mentioned as a someone YES Network was interested in potentially hiring to be an analyst.

But Mattingly told Andrew Marchand of The New York Post this week that he had another opportunity in the works but wouldn’t elaborate.

YES also has been considering luring Yankees legend and Hall of Famer Derek Jeter into broadcasting. But no formal talks have taken place.

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