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NFL Says It Did Not Tell Networks How To Cover Return of Deshaun Watson

“Watson was suspended 11 games by the NFL for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Beleaguered quarterback Deshaun Watson made his 2022 season debut as a member of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, taking on the team that drafted him – the Houston Texans.

Watson was suspended 11 games by the NFL for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy. Deshaun had faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and was subject to a grand jury which never pressed criminal charges against the former Clemson star.

But none of the NFL’s media partners, including the league-owned NFL Network, really went deep into the sexual misconduct allegations. A New York Times article on the media coverage indicated that for the most part Watson’s alleged predatory behavior being the reason for his suspension was glossed over.

ESPN dedicated eight minutes of Sunday NFL Countdown to the timeline of events that led to Watson’s suspension, and commentator Sam Ponder spoke about the situation describing it as “He said, they all said.”

The Times reported that NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the paper that the league offered “no direction” on how to report on Watson’s return to the field.

Even though Watson is back playing, there are still terms and conditions that he must meet in order to remain active.

But it’s believed that the story has been played out, even though Watson currently faces additional civil lawsuits for misconduct by accusers. The assumption is that league media partners will continue to focus less on the past actions of Watson off the field and focus more on how he’s contributing to a Browns team that’s currently 5-7 and facing dwindling postseason chances.

Sports TV News

3.72 Million Tune In To See LeBron James Break Scoring Record

Jordan Bondurant

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Lakers star LeBron James surpassed the NBA’s all-time scoring record on Tuesday night, and TNT benefitted from the milestone ratings wise.

According to Sports Media Watch, Tuesday night’s game averaged 2.98 million viewers. That figure made it TNT’s biggest regular season audience in over two years.

The broadcast peaked at 3.72 million around 11:45 p.m. when James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the record.

Reporting also indicated that the game was the number one single-network program on TV in key demographics.

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Sports TV News

Disney Makes ESPN Independent Division In Corporate Restructuring

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN

Disney is in the process of reorganizing and restructuring the company, and details have emerged about the company’s plans for ESPN.

Deadline reported on Wednesday that ESPN will be one of three standalone segments comprising Disney. Entertainment and Parks, Experiences & Products are the other two segments.

The reorganization comes amid the exit of former CEO Bob Chapek and the re-entry of CEO Bob Iger. As one of Iger’s first moves back running Disney, he announced a restructuring of Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution.

It was also reported that Jimmy Pitaro will continue as the president of ESPN.

In total, more than 7,000 jobs will be eliminated after the restructuring.

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Sports TV News

Roger Goodell: ‘Wouldn’t Surprise Me’ To See Thursday Night Football Move to Flex Scheduling

“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon.”

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Thursday Night Football

In 2023, Monday Night Football will join Sunday Night Football in having the ability to flex NFL games into its window. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday Night Football could someday join that elite club.

During his “State of the League” speech Wednesday, Goodell said Thursday Night Football having the ability to flex matchups “wouldn’t at all surprise me”.

“Not today, but it’ll certainly be something that’s on our horizon,” the NFL Commissioner said.

ESPN bargained for the ability to move higher profile games into Monday Night Football during its negotiations with the league for the next television contract that begins this upcoming season.

NBC has long held the ability to shift a select number of games from earlier windows into the Sunday Night Football primetime slot.

Amazon Prime Video just completed the first of an 11-year contract that sees the streaming platform spend nearly $1 billion per year on the Thursday Night Football package.

One of the largest storylines of Amazon’s debut season with the NFL was the near-constant ridicule from play-by-play announcer Al Michaels over the lackluster TNF schedule. Michaels made headlines over several weeks for his candor on the lack of interesting matchups, going as far as to joke that if the schedule didn’t improve he would retire.

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