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Dallas Cowboys Making Record Third Appearance On Hard Knocks

“America’s Team” is the first franchise to appear on the show three times.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN

America’s Team is showing all its colors this August. The NFL has selected the Dallas Cowboys to be the featured team on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Filming begins at the end of July, right when training camp begins across the NFL. HBO and NFL Films announced Friday that the five-episode season is debuting on Aug. 10 at 10 p.m. ET.

“America, America’s game, and America’s Team had a tough 2020. I feel like this is a perfect happenstance of football, the Cowboys, and hopefully, the country,” Hard Knocks senior coordinating producer Ken Rodgers said in a statement. “I’m sure the Cowboys want to put their difficult season behind them more than anyone.”

This marks the third season that the Cowboys have been the “lucky” team chosen to be on the show. They appeared in 2002 and 2008. No team has ever won a Super Bowl in the same year they were on the show, as Dallas becomes the first franchise to be featured three times.

A little quirk to this year’s show is it’s the only time that the series airs its first episode after a team played a preseason game. Dallas plays the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 5.

“Tens of millions of fans love them, but just as many people love to hate them,” Rodgers said. “Either way, when the Cowboys show up, people watch, which makes them perfect for Hard Knocks. This year, their high-profile status as “America’s Team” is paired with uniquely interesting storylines.”

Cowboys faithful will surely be monitoring the status of quarterback Dak Prescott as he comes back from a broken ankle along with year two of the Mike McCarthy regime. It’s been almost thirty years since the Cowboys won the NFC, let alone carried the Lombardi Trophy back to Texas. They’ll lay the groundwork towards that goal in front of a fleet of HBO cameras. 

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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