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Alex Smith Joins ESPN As NFL Analyst

“ESPN will use Smith across all of its NFL programming this season.”

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Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Alex Smith was the subject of a lot of networks’ affections this offseason. The former Comeback Player of the Year auditioned for CBS, FOX, and ESPN. Now that the dust has settled, Smith is joining ESPN.

Smith came back to play for the Washington Football Team last season after suffering a gruesome leg injury in 2018 that caused him to miss the remainder of that season and the entirety of the following season. Rumors swirled that with his college coach, Urban Meyer, taking over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and that team breaking in a rookie QB, that Smith could end up in North Florida for the 2021 season. Those obviously never came to fruition.

ESPN will use Smith across all of its NFL programming this season. Andrew Marchand of The New York Post writes that he isn’t interested in going into broadcasting full-time, so for his rookie year in TV, “Smith will just be dipping his toes in the analyst game as opposed to taking on a full-time role.”

This was not another bidding war victory for Bristol. While the network fought hard to fend off FOX in order to land Robert Griffin III last week, circumstances made it a little easier to get a deal done with Alex Smith.

FOX chose to go with Mark Sanchez to fill its game analyst opening. CBS decided it would not seek to fill the hole left by Rich Gannon’s departure.

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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