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NBC Cites Ted Lasso Among Reasons For Keeping Premier League Rights

NBC has reportedly said that the success of the show has been a major reason why they had such high interest in retaining the leagues rights going forward.

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NBC agreed yesterday on a six year extension to retain the rights to the Premier League, but it may not be for the reason that you might think. Back in 2013 NBC debuted a commercial for the Premier League with a fictional coach for the Tottenham Spurs named Ted Lasso.

This character has come a long way since its creation for the promotion. It has turned into its own TV series and gained some pretty notable traction on Apple TV.

The show’s second season just concluded. According to the network, Ted Lasso has really increase the level of interest that the actual product of the Premier League has received in the United States.

NBC has reportedly said that the success of the show has been a major reason why they had such high interest in retaining the Premier League rights going forward.

There were many other potential suitors for the rights of the Premier League. ESPN and CBS were very serious in their interest and drove up the asking price for the rights to over $2 Billion when the projected price tag only sat at $1.5 Billion.

Overall it made sense for NBC to continue their deal with the soccer league, they have done a great job with promoting and growing the sport in the United States where soccer is certainly not as big as it is overseas. Part of this is due to the marketing team and products like Ted Lasso that were created for the deal.

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Former Fox Sports Exec David Hill: ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Is ‘Unlistenable’

“I think ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ is a disgrace. The broadcast feed is almost unlistenable.”

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ESPN Press Room

Former Fox Sports president David Hill is not a fan of ESPN’s current Monday Night Football broadcast crew, which he expressed bluntly in a conversation with the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand.

In the latest edition of his premium “Sports Clicker” newsletter (subscribe here), Marchand talked to the former Fox executive about his newest endeavor. Hill was contacted by Greg Norman about working on a new golf league. The challenge is to innovate the way golf is covered on television and attract an audience much younger than the average 65-year-old who watches the sport.

The only sport that isn’t struggling with how to present itself on TV and streaming these days is the NFL in Hill’s view. Having overseen Fox Sports when the network got into the NFL business, he has some clear thoughts on the current product. And he’s not a fan of what ESPN is doing with Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and Louis Riddick on its showcase NFL broadcast.

“I think ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ is a disgrace,” Hill told Marchand. “The broadcast feed is almost unlistenable. I think that’s why they decided to use the Mannings.”

Though he didn’t go into specifics, Hill is a fan of the “ManningCast.” It’s likely that he believes the alternate broadcast does a better job of attracting viewers more interested in video games and consuming their sports digitally.

Hill also praised CBS analyst Tony Romo, NBC broadcaster Cris Collinsworth, and Fox announcer Troy Aikman. His thoughts on Aikman probably shouldn’t be a surprise, though the Hall of Fame quarterback joined Fox Sports’ NFL coverage after Hill had moved on to an executive role for 21st Century Fox.

There’s no way of knowing if ESPN executives hold the same opinion toward the current Monday Night Football team. But that will surely be revealed by whether or not the network decides to bring the crew back for a third season.

Marchand reports that Griese’s contract is nearing its end, so a decision will obviously have to be made if the MNF trio is to return. So that could create an opening for Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, and Sean McVay, the three coaches reportedly attracting interest from TV networks.

ESPN previously talked to McVay about the MNF position in 2020. Of course, he has a chance to reach the pinnacle of the coaching profession if the Los Angeles Rams win the Super Bowl. But maybe he’d want to go out on a high note.

Curiously, Riddick has not interviewed for either the Bears, Giants, or Vikings general manager openings after talking to the Lions, Texans, and Jaguars last year. But if that changes and Riddick moves to a team’s front office, ESPN would have to replace two broadcasters in its three-man booth.

Maybe ESPN will consult Hill on its future direction for the MNF booth. OK, probably not. But Hill certainly appears willing to consult.

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Tony Stewart Joins Fox Sports Booth For Busch Clash, Daytona 500

“Tony brings Hall-of-Fame credentials and one of the most informative and entertaining voices in motor sports,”

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart will hop in the FOX Sports booth as a guest analyst next month for the Busch Light Clash and the season-opening Daytona 500 alongside Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer. 

“To call the very first Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum AND the Daytona 500 is an opportunity you don’t pass up,” Stewart said in a FOX Sports release. “The size and scope of both these races is massive, and it’s an honor to be a part of them with FOX. Anytime you get to talk racing with Clint and Mike, you’re going to have a good time.”

Stewart, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, won three championships as a driver and last competed in the Cup Series in 2016. He also helped form the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) last summer, in which he ran all six races. 

Former NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon had been in the booth since 2016, but was named Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports last summer. So Stewart will take his spot for the time being.

FOX has not yet announced a full-time replacement for Gordon. 

Stewart is not totally green to the booth as he and Bowyer did get some reps together last season when they joined Adam Alexander for the season-opening NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona.

“Tony brings Hall-of-Fame credentials and one of the most informative and entertaining voices in motor sports,” said Brad Zager, FOX Sports President of Production & Operations and Executive Producer.

“There is an obvious chemistry between Smoke and Clint, and there is no one better than Mike at bringing a broadcast all together.”

The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will air Sunday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. ET on Fox. The 64th annual Daytona 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Fox Reportedly Looking At Sean Payton As Possible Troy Aikman Replacement

Aikman is being targeted by Amazon for its Thursday Night Football game broadcasts.

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Following an ESPN report that TV networks are showing interest in current NFL coaches Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, and Sean McVay as potential broadcasters, some more specific information is coming to light.

Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy reports that Fox Sports is looking at Payton as a possible replacement for Troy Aikman on its No. 1 NFL broadcast team alongside play-by-play announcer Joe Buck.

Aikman is being targeted by Amazon for its Thursday Night Football game broadcasts. In December, he acknowledged that his representatives have had discussions with Amazon regarding the position. It’s believed that Al Michaels will be the play-by-play man for that crew.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Payton still has three years (and nearly $30 million) remaining on his contract as head coach of the New Orleans Saints. But he hasn’t yet committed to returning for the 2022 season.

Rapoport’s sources told him that Payton, 58, could take a year off from coaching, recharge, then return to lead another team. (Maybe the Dallas Cowboys?) Others, such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, have temporarily gone into broadcasting before coaching again. But if Fox wanted to add Payton to its top NFL broadcast team, it’s highly likely that the network would want more than a one-season commitment for the job.

The interest in Payton as Buck’s broadcast partner seems a bit surprising. Greg Olsen was highly regarded in his first full season in the booth and it’s believed that he’s viewed as a possible top analyst for the network in the future.

But networks are also in the business of making headlines these days, as the pursuit of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees has demonstrated. Philip Rivers is another former NFL quarterback who many believe has a strong broadcasting future. Hiring Sean Payton from the sidelines would get attention, while promoting Olsen wouldn’t draw the same intrigue.

As McCarthy points out, Fox has shown interest in Payton before, checking in with him while he was suspended for the 2012 NFL season for his involvement in the Saints’ “Bountygate” scandal. And if Fox hired him as its top NFL analyst, the network could offer money similar to what he makes as a head coach. Payton reportedly earns a $9.8 million annual salary on his current contract, while Fox is believed to pay Aikman $8 million per season.

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