World News – US – « Monday Night Football » is more than a game for Disney in NFL Rights Scramble


At a crucial time for any TV network that wants to stay in the business of broadcasting NFL football games, ESPN is calling some big guns tonight

Ahead of the kickoff for tonight’s « Monday Night Football », the sports media giant will present an opening segment crafted with help from fellow Disney Brothers Marvel Brother The cut looks like the opening of one of the studio’s superhero blockbusters Viewers will hear Samuel L’s narration Jackson, the actor who plays Nick Fury and has enjoyed a continued presence in popular Marvel films will see the players in tonight’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens portrayed as if they were superhero from one of Marvel’s colorful comics And then they will hear « Heavy Action », the theme that has been an audio feature of the program since its tenure on ABC

Every « Monday Night Football » show this season takes place as the NFL and the TV channels that air its games conduct critical negotiations over rights contracts which, if not renewed, could not determine nothing less than the fate of traditional TV itself Granted, networks are making tweaks and improvements to regular programming all the time, but this season all the changes to Gridiron TV come under a new and intense spotlight.“We’re obviously interested in bringing the full power of The Walt Disney Company into the conversation we have with the NFL,” said Burke Magnus, executive vice president of programming, acquisitions and planning at ESPN, in a statement. interview

ESPN Makes Its Case With The League As Network Continues To Rebuild Its ‘MNF’ Airline For years ESPN viewers knew they would be greeted by Jon Gruden or Mike Tirico The First Is Gone in 2018 to coach the Raiders, while Tirico scrambled for NBC Sports in 2016 In their stead, the network tried Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland and Jason Witten, while not so quietly looking for mind-blowing candidates like Peyton Manning (not interested in the moment) and Tony Romo (his salary demands were too high for Disney)

« You have to have a group that has chemistry together That’s a tall order, » especially when new teams are immediately criticized on social media when trying to find ways to gel, says Stephanie Druley, Executive Vice President of Event and Studio Production at ESPN, in an interview « That’s our goal, and look, we feel like we’ve progressed every year »

New ‘MNF’ squad of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Louis Riddick (above, pictured) and veteran journalist Lisa Salters focus less on football rights than on football matches – even s ‘They’re facing challenges triggered by live streaming sport in the midst of a global pandemic’ There are people who are in charge of this stuff, who are going to handle these things at Disney and ESPN That’s what ‘they do,’ said Riddick, the former NFL security, in an interview on Saturday ‘What we’re responsible for is making sure that we are of a high standard of professionalism and that we talk play – inform people, educate them, entertain them »

ESPN faces more pressure than some of its rivals Its rights contract with the NFL expire after the 2021 season, while the league-NBC, Fox and CBS deals end after 2022 There is speculation that the NFL and the networks could unveil new terms as early as November « The conversations are still at a relatively early stage, but they are progressing rather well, » Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch said recently in a recent investor conference “The NFL asked all broadcasters to think through each package and think about how we would monetize differently the packages that we currently have, or other packages. »

People familiar with parts of the negotiations expect Disney to be ambitious and aggressive Some discussions have looked into whether Disney could move a property like « Monday Night Football » to ABC and even earn a new one. chance to be part of the Super Bowl show’s rotation already enjoyed by its competitors, say two people familiar with some of the discussions Some executives wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney even bid for NBC’s « Sunday Night Football » , according to one of these people

« There is speculation coming from everyone but us, » says Magnus, who declined to comment on any of the scenarios

Billions of dollars are at stake The average cost of a 30-second ad on « Monday Night Football » last season was nearly $ 277,605, according to Standard Media Index, a ad spending ESPN is reportedly spending around $ 1.9 billion a year on NFL rights – a figure most expect to inflate under a new contract Discussions will no doubt involve back and forth over what networks should get in return for the fee hike and how they can help the NFL reach new audiences in a media landscape that is fragmenting around new types of viewing behavior and technology

Every Monday night Disney comes up with a new statement on what it can do with a football property Last week ESPN put together a ‘mega-cast’ for ‘MNF’ with the game airing on ESPN and ABC while a host of popular guests like Charles Barkley and Peyton Manning showed up on ESPN2 “We kind of wanted it to look like a Zoom pop-in,” Druley says “We’ve got the bandwidth and the plates -forms to set up different types of shows You can really experiment and see what you like, what fans like « 

Rivals are also trying to show off ViacomCBS intends to air an NFL show later this season on Nickelodeon, in an effort to spark new interest in the sport from some of the younger audiences in television, and agreed to a massive $ 17 million a year contract to stop Tony Romo from going elsewhere NBC has added new, high-tech camera technology to ‘Sunday Night Football’ and is giving Tirico temporary assignments to announce Sunday to help Al Michaels reduce travel amid the coronavirus pandemic

ESPN must have done a lot in recent years to convince the NFL of its intentions Executives freely admit that the network’s relationship with the league has deteriorated The quality of « MNF » matches was not the best, and ESPN may have been distracted by ratings from other leagues like the NBA ESPN regularly creates new programs and formats for other leagues, but under Jimmy Pitaro, who was named ESPN president in 2018, the network worked on a « reset » with the NFL, Magnus says, and put a new emphasis on many aspects of how it showcases the league

After being forced to share NFL draft coverage with Fox in 2018 – an emotional blow to many longtime ESPN employees – ESPN pushed back: Its 2019 broadcast of the event from Nashville involved a separate, brighter production designed for ABC ESPN’s 2020 Project, a massive 2020 virtual venture torn apart by a pandemic, has offered relief to fans whose sport has been scuttled by the coronavirus The studio show « NFL Live Got a new lead host, Laura Rutledge, in 2020, along with a new analyst Mina Kimes ESPN’s morning program, « Get Up, » has maintained a consistent focus on the NFL since the program was retooled during of its first year of broadcasting

“The working relationship with the NFL is much better today than it was a few years ago,” says Magnus “We finally made the NFL the priority it should have been, and we do fun things, doing creative things to reach different audiences and develop different audiences »

Television executives know that at a time when more and more viewers are migrating to streaming video favorites, a robust NFL component-less programming schedule is a doomsday scenario « It really fuels conversations and content for us all year round, and therefore, yes, it is of crucial importance « , says Magnus » It is at the heart of our offer « 

New ‘MNF’ Trio Don’t Get Cold Levy, who has worked at ESPN for nearly three decades, and Griese, a former NFL quarterback, called college games together And the three worked on an ‘MNF’ game last season But they all admit they met at an unusual time Advertisers and team can’t hold in-person meetings There are more restrictions when it comes to visiting the teams « There are even smaller things », explains Levy « We can’t go to the game all three We have to go in separate cars »

Advertisers think their job is to draw attention to the game, not to themselves « We’re going to cover the game and document how the game is won and all the storylines that go with it, but we also want to have fun « , says Griese » Remember, this is entertainment « 

It’s definitely for the fans at home But for Walt Disney, ESPN and the NFL, « Monday Night Football » will be something entirely different until a new contract is signed

Monday Night Football, NFL, Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, ESPN

World News – United States – « Monday Night Football » is more than a game for Disney in NFL Rights Scramble


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