How big of a priority was overhauling the Monday Night Football booth for ESPN? So big that the boss handled it himself. According to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic, negotiations between ESPN and Troy Aikman were led by none other than ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro.
According to Deitsch’s sources, negotiations were kept relatively quiet. Pitaro wanted to “keep the circle small” in order to avoid complications. This resulted in many ESPN staffers finding out that a deal was done with Troy Aikman when they read about it in the New York Post.
Jimmy Pitaro saw someone he thought could improve his product. Disney executives trusted him to step in, eliminate distractions and get a deal done. Could that be a window into how ESPN gets big money deals done in the future?
We will know for sure as rights deals come up for renewal. The first one on the table is the Big Ten, which will draw plenty of competition for ESPN and FOX. Deitsch points out that the NBA will soon be looking to negotiate its next deal too. How much would Pitaro be willing to shell out to keep what ESPN currently has if a third rights package comes on the table?
Kevin Negandhi: I’m the Same on SportsCenter As I Am In Real Life
“I’ve always just tried to find that blend where I can be respectful for the audience and have a good time and have fun delivering highlights.”
Kevin Negandhi has been one of the hosts of the 6:00 PM ET SportsCenter on ESPN over the last few years. Even in this prominent role, Negandhi takes great pride in making sure the viewer is being entertained and getting an escape from the real world, at least for an hour.
Negandhi was a guest on The Adam Schein Podcast this week and Schein asked him how he would describe his broadcast style. He wanted to make it clear that if you met him on the street, he is the same person that you see on ESPN.
“I’m the person that you would meet casually, I’m the same person on TV. I’ve always said that I represent not just my family, not just where I’m from, I represent the passion of the great area and region that is Philadelphia. When you see me on TV, I feel like I’m letting you into a conversation I would normally have with you if we were talking about something. You are here for an escape, let’s talk about it because I got in the business because I passionately love sports. It was my connection with my family growing up. Connection with my family still to this day. It’s kind of like get in with us.”
Whenever Negandhi is hosting SportsCenter, he told Schein he tries to find a good mix of giving the highlights and the news while also understanding that the viewer is looking to be entertained as well.
“I’ve always just tried to find that blend where I can be respectful for the audience and have a good time and have fun delivering highlights and delivering the news and making sure you are entertained but at the same time understanding that I’m having fun with you while you are watching us as an escape.”
One other broadcaster that stands out for not being just a broadcaster according to Negandhi is Scott Van Pelt because Van Pelt is comfortable being himself and doesn’t have a filter.
“Scott Van Pelt really stands out to me because when you watch Scott, there is no filter with Scott. He’s not a broadcaster. Scott is Scott and he is comfortable in his skin.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at RickJKeeler@gmail.com.
MLS Season Pass Debuts on Apple TV
The first MLS season begins on Saturday, February 25th, with Nashville SC taking on New York City FC. All matches will be available for free during the first week of the season.
MLS Season Pass on Apple TV debuted to much fanfare for Major League Soccer fans Wednesday.
Fans from around the world will be able to watch every MLS contest as the launch of the service begins the streaming platform’s 10-year, $2.5 billion media rights contract with the American soccer league.
With the debut of the service, most MLS games will now take place on Saturdays and select Wednesdays with 7:30 PM local start times.
MLS Season Pass will feature several prominent soccer voices, including analysts Taylor Twellman and Cobi Jones, play-by-play man Max Bretos, and studio host Liam McHugh.
The MLS season begins on Saturday, February 25th, with Nashville SC taking on New York City FC. All matches will be available for free during the first week of the season.
The streaming service will cost $14.99 per month or $99 per season, with existing AppleTV+ subscribers being offered the package at a discounted price of $12.99 per month or $79 for the season.
MLS Season Pass launches on a wide range of viewing platforms. Not only is the service available on televisions, smartphones, and tablets, but it can also be viewed on smart TVs, computers, and video game consoles.
MLB Network Dropped By YouTube TV
“MLB Network has offered terms consistent with what close to 300 other U.S. providers have agreed to for distribution.”
After contract negotiations stalled, YouTube TV dropped MLB Network from its channel lineup.
“We apologize for the news and will continue conversations with the MLB to advocate on your behalf, in the hope of restoring their content on YouTube TV,” an email to YouTube TV subscribers said.
MLB Network was previously included in YouTube TV’s $64.99 per month plan before being dropped Tuesday.
Spring Training for MLB franchises begins on February 24th.
“With Spring Training about to start, we regret that YouTube TV has been unwilling to negotiate a fair carriage agreement,” an MLB Network spokesperson told Barrett Sports Media. “MLB Network has offered terms consistent with what close to 300 other U.S. providers have agreed to for distribution.
“With the great demand and value for live baseball content, Major League Baseball’s commitment to MLB Network now and in the future is stronger than ever before, and we remain open and committed to reaching an agreement with YouTube TV as soon as possible.”
YouTube TV has gone through several carriage disputes in the past, with most — like those with NBCUniversal and Disney — being resolved after short disruptions to subscribers.
Viewers affected by the decision from YouTube TV can go to findlmbnetwork.com to see alternative options.