Add another name to ESPN’s list of on-air talent facing contract renewals in the weeks and months to come.
Outkick’s Bobby Burack reports that Dan Orlovsky’s contract is set to expire in the next few months. And apparently, the NFL and college football analyst’s possible availability was a popular topic among media, agents, and executives in Los Angeles during Super Bowl week.
ESPN presumably wants to re-sign Orlovsky and keep the crew for what’s become a popular NFL Live show together. The network’s reboot of the show with Laura Rutledge, Marcus Spears, Mina Kimes, and Orlovsky not only resonates with TV viewers, but also engages with fans on social media with clips of behind-the-scenes and off-air frivolity in addition to highlights from the show.
In addition to NFL Live, Orlovsky appears regularly on Get Up, First Take, and calls college football games. He’s regarded highly by network executives as well as powerful on-air figures like Stephen A. Smith.
But if ESPN lets Orlovsky go to free agency, other networks — notably Amazon — have interest in hiring him. He could fill either a top game analyst role or a prominent studio analyst position at another network. Though it’s difficult to imagine he would be as valuable across so many platforms as he is with ESPN.
Two years ago, there were also reports that Orlovsky had attracted interest from NFL teams about joining their coaching staffs. That outcome seems unlikely here, considering that Orlovsky moved his family (with four children) to Connecticut when he was hired by ESPN (after contributing to NFL Network’s Good Morning Football based on analysis he was posting online).
Part of the reason Orlovsky wanted to go to ESPN was because he had the opportunity to call college football games in addition to his NFL studio analysis. That’s not an option he would have at other networks. Of course, a generous offer could compel him to look past that.
The report of Orlovsky’s contract expiring soon follows up on news (via the New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand) that ESPN has several other deals running out, including those for Randy Moss, Tim Hasselbeck, Booger McFarland, and Brian Griese. (Sunday NFL Countdown host Samantha Ponder is also nearing free agency.)
Yet of all the names mentioned here, it seems most likely that Orlovsky would be the one ESPN brings back, if it comes to that.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at email@example.com.
ABC Scores Most Watched NBA Saturday Primetime Game In 4 Years
“The game drew 3.7 million viewers.”
The Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night. While the game’s controversial finish left LeBron James and Patrick Beverly upset, executives at the Walt Disney Company had nothing but smiles thanks to the performance of ABC.
The game drew 3.7 million viewers. That means the Celtics’ win is the most-watched game in the ABC Saturday night prime-time window in the last four years. A February 2019 game between the Lakers and Golden State Warriors drew 4.1 million.
Boston also delivered the highest-rated game of the NBA season so far outside of the league’s stacked Christmas Day slate.
NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC is experiencing a nice uptick in viewership this season. Through the weekend, the Saturday night games are averaging over 3.4 million viewers according to an ESPN press release.
That number represents a 16% jump from last season. The edition of NBA Countdown that airs before the Saturday night game is having a good season as well. It’s average audience is up 3% to just under 1.5 million.
NHL Ratings on ESPN, TNT Down in 2nd Year
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season.
Viewership totals from ESPN and TNT show NHL ratings have declined heading into the All-Star break, but there are some extenuating circumstances for the nearly 22% drop.
So far this season, games on ESPN and TNT are averaging 373,000 viewers, which is down from 478,000 last season. However, both channels have increased their linear television schedule, doubling from 27 games to 54.
ESPN has aired 18 games with an average of 402,000 viewers. In the same time period last year, the worldwide leader had only aired seven contests, but garnered 622,000 per game. None of ESPN’s games last season had aired on weekends, while the network has broadcast six games on Sunday this year alone. The 12 games ESPN has aired that weren’t on Sunday have averaged 491,000 viewers.
The 2023 NHL All-Star Game will air on ABC Saturday, and the network is hoping for a lift from last season. In 2022, ratings fell 38% from the previous All-Star Game on NBC, and hit the lowest total since 2009. The NHL Skills challenge saw its largest audience in a decade after airing on ESPN in primetime on a Friday evening. Nearly 1.1 million watched the skills challenge, a 30% increase compared to 2020.
At this time last season, TNT had aired 20 games. Through 36 games this season, the network has seen an average of 359,000 viewers. The network is helped by the 2023 Winter Classic, which took place at Fenway Park on Monday, January 2nd. The afternoon contest saw an audience of 1.78 million, up 31% compared to the previous year.
AFC Championship Game Delivers New Viewership High For CBS
53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI.
The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals drew a massive audience for CBS.
53.1 million viewers tuned in to see the Chiefs’ controversial victory over the Bengals, making it the most-watched television program since Super Bowl LVI. Additionally, the event is the most-watched NFL Conference Championship Game since 2017.
CBS claims the game peaked with 59.3 million viewers and was also the most-streamed live sporting event in the history of Paramount+.
With an audience of 53.1 million, CBS concludes its NFL playoff coverage averaging 40.798 million viewers for each game. That leads all networks thus far. The 2022 NFL season was the most-watched regular season on CBS in the past seven seasons.