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Rachel Nichols Gets New Gig at SHOWTIME Basketball, Address ESPN Exit

Rachel Nichols exited ESPN nearly ten months ago and now, ahead of the NBA season, she has landed a new job as a host and producer at Showtime Basketball.

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Rachel Nichols exited ESPN nearly ten months ago and now, ahead of the NBA season, she has landed a new job as a host and producer at Showtime Basketball.

SHOWTIME Basketball is part of the Showtime vertical. Some of the SHOWTIME Basketball projects included Kevin Garnett: Anything Is Possible, Passion Play: Russell Westbrook, Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story, Shut Up and Dribble, Kobe Bryant’s Muse, Basketball County: In the Water and NYC Point Gods.

“We are delighted to welcome Rachel Nichols to the SHOWTIME Basketball family,” said Brian Dailey, Senior Vice President, Sports Programming & Content, Showtime Networks Inc. “Rachel brings unmatched journalistic credibility, great familiarity with our roster and a work ethic that will take us to another level.”

“I’ve been so fortunate to live my dream job alongside some of the best journalists in the business for more than 25 years, and this new development deal with SHOWTIME Sports gives me my most broad playing field yet,” said Nichols. “They’ve asked me to produce, create and host new sports programming across platforms, working alongside Hall of Famers, multiple guys with championship rings and an uber-creative team behind the camera. We’re going to have so much fun.”

Nichols left ESPN in earlier this year after a private conversation was taped and leaked that including her complaining that ESPN chose Maria Taylor to host the NBA Finals pregame show over her.

She also addressed her exit from ESPN in an interview with the All the Smoke podcast.

“Things got complicated later that season. You all know, it was 2020. We had a pandemic. There was the tragic murder of your friend, George Floyd. There were a lot of difficult conversations with this country looking itself in the face and seeing what had to change, what had to be different. And The New York Times did an expose in July of 2020 on racism at ESPN and the lack of opportunities for people of color. And the executives at ESPN said, I think, about what people would expect, ‘We’d like to give people more opportunities, we’re continuing to grow,’ all of those things.”

“Around that same time, I got a phone call asking me would I step aside for Maria to host the NBA Finals and have me go back to being a sideline reporter. They stressed it was my choice, they weren’t telling me to do this, because it was in my contract. But they were putting a lot of pressure on me. I was being told ‘Well, you’re not a team player.’ Which any woman in business knows is code, right? Women are supposed to be kumbaya, and team players, and helpful, and men are aggressive sharks, and all that? I just felt like ‘Hey, I worked so long, decades for this job. I have done everything that was asked. We put on some great shows leading up to the playoffs. And I wanted a chance to do it.”

Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

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The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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