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Ron Franklin, Longtime ESPN Broadcaster, Passes Away at 79

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Ron Franklin was a prominent voice for a generation of fans growing up watching college football and basketball on ESPN. The veteran broadcaster passed away on Tuesday at the age of 79.

The sad news was first revealed by Mike Barnes, communication consultant and former sports director at Austin’s KVUE.

Franklin is best known for his work with ESPN, where he called games and anchored studio shows from 1987 to 2011. In addition to college football and basketball, he also called tennis, college baseball, and Olympic sports during his tenure at the network.

Before joining ESPN, Franklin was a sports director for news stations in New Mexico, Tulsa, and Houston in the 1960s and 1970s. From 1971 to 1982, he was the play-by-play broadcaster for the Houston Oilers. Franklin then moved on to call University of Texas football and men’s basketball from 1983 to 1988.

Fran Fraschilla, Franklin’s longtime broadcast partner on college basketball, shared the news on Twitter upon learning of it.

Unfortunately, Franklin didn’t avoid controversy during his time at ESPN. In 2005, he was reprimanded by producers after a condescending remark to sideline reporter Holly Rowe in which he called her “sweetheart.” Five years later, he called reporter Jeannine Edwards “sweet baby” during a production meeting. When she objected, Franklin followed up with a profane insult.

Franklin was pulled from the radio broadcast of the Fiesta Bowl after the incident and fired by ESPN soon thereafter a colleague reported him to management. He sued the network for wrongful termination, a case that was eventually settled out of court.

Plenty of other colleagues, friends, and fan expressed their condolences for Franklin on social media after hearing of his passing, including Dick Vitale and former NFL coach Wade Phillips.

“He’s going to be missed. I just think of all the great times we had working together,” former broadcast partner Mike Gottfried told AL.com. “I just knew the guy came prepared, he worked hard, he studied and his voice was so dominant, and so good that everybody knew he was. He loved the game, he loved the coaches, he loved the players.”

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XFL Signs Exclusive Deal With ESPN

“Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.”

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All 43 games in the 2023 XFL season will air on Disney’s sports networks. The entire schedule will be seen on ABC, ESPN, and FX. Dwayne Johnson and Dani Garcia made the announcement at the 2022 Disney Upfront presentation.

This will be the third iteration of the XFL. The first attempt in 2001 ended after a single season. The 2020 revival was shut down due to Covid. Johnson and Garcia and their partners purchased the brand two years ago for $15 million.

“The XFL will tap into sports fans’ deep love of football by emphasizing competitive action while dedicating itself to innovation and entertainment,” Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman of ESPN and Sports Content said in a press release. “You can see a great path to success when you combine the reach and influence of ESPN and Disney with the collective vision of XFL leadership led by Dany, Dwayne and Gerry.”

Games will return in 2023. The season opening slate will be played February 18.

“The XFL is going to be a league of passion, a league of pride, and a league of culture,” Johnson said at the event, promising that those three principles will drive every decision for the league.

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NBA Playoff Ratings Hit 8-Year Highs

“At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.”

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More people are watching the NBA Playoffs than have done so in a long time. Through the first two rounds in 2022, the league is enjoying its best postseason ratings in eight years.

The average audience across TNT, ESPN, ABC and NBA TV is 3.71 million people per game. If you take the less widely available NBA TV out of the mix, the NBA is averaging 4.08 million viewers per game.

At 3.71 million, the average audience for games this postseason is up 14% from last year. It is up 4% from 2019, the last time the playoffs started on time.

The Boston Celtics have been one of the most reliable performers this postseason. They have been involved in two of the three most-watched games. Sunday’s Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks is one of two games this postseason that now rank as the most-watched early round games in a decade. The other was Game 1 between the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies.

Golden State has also been a hot draw. The Warriors have been involved in four of the seven most-watched playoff games.

With both teams still alive and plenty of star power left in the playoffs, the NBA is poised to deliver one of its most-watched postseasons in years.

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Domonique Foxworth: Tom Brady Contract Is About Impressing NFL

“I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

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The shake-up of NFL TV broadcast booths has been one of the top storylines in the league this offseason.

Part of the reasoning is because of the massive sums of money involved. Whether it’s Joe Buck and Troy Aikman or Tom Brady, NFL broadcasters have been getting paid. And it doesn’t seem like the spending is going to slow down anytime soon.

Speaking to Bomani Jones on The Right Time, Domonique Foxworth said the NFL just wants to continue to get bigger and bigger even with its broadcast crews.

“These TV partners want to be in good with the league. And I think that’s what this Tom Brady contract comes down to,” Foxworth said. “I think that’s why the booths look the way they look. It’s because the league wants their games to feel big, and it’s worth it to them.”

Even with some feeling like Brady is uninteresting and likely won’t move the needle as an analyst, it’s the name recognition factor that will set the table for Brady in the booth.

“I do believe that if you turn on an NFL game, and Tom Brady’s talking about it, it feels bigger no matter what he’s saying,” Foxworth said.

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