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Viewers Wonder About Future Of NBC Sports

Richard Deitsch fielded plenty of questions surrounding NBC Sports in his weekly mailbag.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: NBC

This is a murky time for NBC and its future in the sports broadcasting business. The company is shuttering its NBC Sports channel at the end of the year. Pair that with a loss of NHL broadcast rights, and NBC is left with the Olympics, Sunday Night Football, and the Premier League.

The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch fielded a mailbag this week, with NBC getting a lot of interest in terms of what their plan is moving forward.

“One of a ton of questions on NBCUniversal given the NHL’s move to ESPN and Turner,” Deitsch said in response to a reader. “First, I think NBCUniversal will spend significant money to retain the Premier League. Does that mean they will get it? No. But I think they will go for it. Keep in mind NBCUniversal ponied up big money for the WWE partnership to provide inventory for Peacock. The PL has the same value for Peacock. It’s a way to make their streaming service much more valuable. The question is the price.”

That is the next box to check for NBC, which obtained rights to the Premier League in a historic six-year deal back in 2015. The company was adamant about having a longer runway to develop the product during negotiations. Now, all that development has led into a rapidly changing media environment. NBC has the rights until the end of the 2021-22 season.

Another property that could be on its way out of the NBC coffers is IndyCar. NBC has exclusively broadcasted the racing promotion since 2019, but Jordan Bianchi thinks the relationship has run its course.

“IndyCar and NBC Sports definitely appear headed for a split,” Bianchi said in the mailbag. “Ending a relationship that first began on a part-time basis in 2008 then became exclusive in 2019. CBS Sports is now considered the leader to obtain IndyCar’s television rights, as Sports Business Journal first reported earlier this month. Should this deal come to fruition, it remains to be seen on which platform — CBS, CBS Sports or Paramount+ — the majority of IndyCar races will be aired.”

There are plenty of balls to juggle for NBC as more and more sharks appear ready to snatch up their valuable sports properties.

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Chris Fallica Leaving ESPN for FOX

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Jordan Bondurant

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A prominent sports betting voice featured on ESPN’s College GameDay will be heading to rival FOX and their Big Noon Kickoff show starting in 2023. According to Awful Announcing, Chris Fallica, affectionately known as “The Bear”, will make his last appearance on GameDay will be this weekend.

Fallica has been with ESPN since 1995. Since 2013, Fallica had been featured on GameDay making betting picks with his patented “Bear’s Board”.

Neither FOX or ESPN would comment on the situation, but in the Awful Announcing report it’s believed that there will be a send-off of some sort for Fallica on Saturday.

Fallica joins Tom Rinaldi as the second former GameDay voice to jump over to FOX and be featured on Big Noon Kickoff.

Both shows have experienced incredible viewership growth this season. For GameDay, there have been several weeks this season that have seen some of the largest audiences in the show’s history.

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Tim Brando Believes Executives Look For Familiarity, Not Great Voices For Announcers

“Executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio. As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Tim Brando has seen the broadcasting industry has evolved in a lot of ways through the years, but one thing that’s remained constant is how infrequently some of the announcing gigs with major networks open up to younger voices.

That’s mainly because you have veteran talent already occupying those positions with no plans for the immediate future to step aside.

On a recent edition of The Sports Talkers Podcast, FOX Sports broadcaster and host Tim Brando spoke to Stephen Strom about the reality that many broadcasters face.

“Yeah there are a lot more jobs, but there are fewer great jobs,” Brando said. “A lot of guys are getting jobs, but it’s like a dead end.”

But in terms of hiring younger talent for network jobs, he thinks it’s become more about adding faces to broadcast booths rather than voices.

“There’s a tendency I think now in our business to hire more visible and perhaps more popular talent because they’ve been in the studio,” he said. “But they’re not ready to be in the booth. Not everybody can do both well.”

Tim added that there’s a nuance to calling play-by-play versus working studio coverage. Brando said that perhaps it has a lot more to do with young broadcasters bypassing getting their start in radio and going right into TV.

“It seems to me that in some circles anyway in our business, executives are going more for people they think they audience knows from having been in the studio,” he said. “As opposed to man that’s a great voice, that guy really gets it, and his judgement is fantastic.”

Brando did mention some of the younger voices at FOX who have risen to the bigger opportunities in the booth, and how they ultimately worked their way up. He said he’s had the chance to offer advice to a few of them and act as a mentor in a way, because that’s how it was for him breaking into the industry.

“I believe in pouring into the young broadcasters out there, I really do,” he said. “Because Curt Gowdy poured into me. I think there’s a responsibility and a level of accountability for the generation before to help those that are coming up that you really respect.”

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MLB Network Airing 38 Hours of Winter Meetings Coverage

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Jordan Bondurant

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The annual winter meetings for MLB are set to take place in-person for the first time since 2019 next week, and MLB Network is ready to bring viewers all the coverage possible from San Diego.

The network is devoting 38 hours of live programming on-site, with shows like MLB Tonight, Hot Stove, High Heat, MLB Now and Intentional Talk emanating from the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Coverage will begin on Sunday at 7 p.m. with MLB Tonight leading into the announcement of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee’s election results for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Fans tuning in to MLB Network can expect to see Greg Amsinger, Fran Charles, Brian Kenny, Stephen Nelson, Alanna Rizzo, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, Lauren Shehadi and Matt Vasgersian hosting their respective shows throughout the week. Sean Casey, Mark DeRosa, Al Leiter, Cameron Maybin, Kevin Millar, Dan O’Dowd, Steve Phillips and Harold Reynolds will contribute coverage as analysts.

MLB Network will also carry coverage of the inaugural draft lottery from the winter meetings on Tuesday, December 6 at 8:30 p.m.

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