Michael McCarthy

Michael Jordan

Q&A: Last Dance Executive Producer John Dahl on Jordan From UNC to Chicago

  • ESPN Films Executive Producer John Dahl first profiled Jordan at North Carolina in 1982.
  • Jordan ‘has a presence. He's long had that presence,’ Dahl says.

While Michael Jordan’s legacy is well known by sports fans, few have seen it as closely as John Dahl. The vice president and executive producer of ESPN Films has played a key role in the 10-part documentary about Jordan’s Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990’s, but the history between Dahl and Jordan goes back much further. As a young reporter, Dahl covered Jordan while both were students at the University of North Carolina.  Front Office Sports took a deep dive […]

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TV Talent Hunker Down To Wait For A New Sports Broadcast World

  • Kenny Albert of Fox is shooting videos for charity and enjoying rare family dinners with his wife and daughters.
  • ESPN’s Karl Ravech is remotely calling baseball games - 7,000 miles away in South Korea.

Kenny Albert of Fox Sports is shooting videos for charity. And enjoying rare dinners at home with his wife and daughters. After watching the cancellation of his beloved Little League World Series, Karl Ravech has found some normalcy by announcing baseball games. Except he’s calling them from his home studio in Connecticut – nearly 7,000 miles away from the live action in South Korea. Dianna Russini of ESPN put herself into self-quarantine for two weeks. Her saving grace was the […]

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ESPN Moves Fast On McGwire Vs. Sosa Doc To Ride ‘Last Dance’ Wave

  • Within one week of the conclusion of 'The Last Dance,' ESPN Films will have three new sports docs ready to go.
  • Upcoming films will focus on the home run chase of 1998, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, and martial artist Bruce Lee.

Building on the momentum generated by ‘The Last Dance,’ ESPN Films has moved up release dates of three new sports documentaries, including an eagerly-awaited look at the Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa home run chase from the summer of 1998. During an earnings call Tuesday, executives at ESPN’s corporate parent The Walt Disney Co., said they wanted to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the 10-part Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls-focused documentary, which concludes May 17.  Through the first six episodes, “The Last […]

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Q&A: ESPN’s Karl Ravech on Calling Korean Baseball

  • U.S. TV viewers will see plenty of bat flips and cheerleaders during ESPN’s KBO telecasts.
  • ESPN acquired the rights for KBO, which is one of the first leagues globally to return to live action post-coronavirus.

South Korea’s KBO League, the top-tier baseball league in the country, has plenty of things that normally would stand out to the sport’s purists, from players who’ve turned the bat flip into an art form to cheerleaders dancing on dugouts. Now added to that mix are umpires wearing masks and gloves and no fans watching in the stands. U.S. sports fans will get a good look at one of the first leagues globally to return to live action thanks to […]

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Clay Travis Bets Big On Outkick The Coverage’s Future

  • After years of building ‘Outkick the Coverage' by himself, Clay Travis is expanding its editorial, podcast, and video offerings with several new hires.
  • Travis expects the rebound of gambling to play a major role in Outkick’s value, and is seeking “a little bit of everything” as the site expands.

Clay Travis is expanding Outkick the Coverage, the site founded in 2011 by the television and radio personality. The goal for the site, according to the co-star of FS1’s weekday sports betting show “Lock It In,” is to cover everything from college and pro football to gambling and pop culture. “We’ll be doing a little bit of everything. We’ll be doing podcasts more significantly. We’ll be doing Periscopes, Facebook [videos]. We’ll be doing a lot of written content. I think […]

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Cost-Conscious ESPN Looking Internally For MNF Talent

  • With revenue declining, ESPN and parent Disney are asking top on-air talents and executives to take pay cuts.
  • ESPN’s top internal MNF candidates include Louis Riddick, Steve Levy, Dan Orlovsky and Pat McAfee.

The fallout from the coronavirus is changing hiring strategies at the biggest sports media players. At ESPN, that has meant a more cost-conscious approach to “Monday Night Football.” Before the pandemic brought the country to a standstill six weeks ago, ESPN was ready to potentially throw eight-figure annual contracts at high-profile outsiders Tony Romo of CBS Sports and Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning to fill the “MNF” analyst chair.  But that was before live sports evaporated, taking their revenues with […]

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ESPN+ Subscribers Face 15-Month Wait for The Last Dance

  • Cord-cutters are out of luck if they want to watch the Michael Jordan Bulls documentary.
  • Distribution arrangements were made before ESPN+’s debut, meaning ESPN+ subscribers won’t get ‘The Last Dance’ for 15 months.

Sports networks have found a solution that could both satisfy existing customers desperate for live sports and hopefully lure back cord-cutters in the process: can’t-miss programming they won’t find anywhere else.  It’s easier said than done, but that’s the distribution strategy ESPN is taking with its highly acclaimed Michael Jordan documentary, ‘The Last Dance.’ The network is airing an unedited version on ESPN, and an edited version on ESPN2 with more mature language removed, every Sunday night through May 17 […]

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‘College GameDay’ Success Fuels Disney’s Draft Approach on ABC

  • ‘GameDay’ crew bring college football expertise to draft, say coaches Mack Brown, James Franklin and Matt Campbell.
  • Disney leverages broadcast channels and personnel to expand coverage to the widest demographic possible.

Over the last two years, The Walt Disney Company has taken a wall-to-wall coverage approach to the NFL Draft, broadcasting the event across several networks and platforms. But while most of ESPN’s coverage takes the vantage point of the NFL, looking to fulfill hardcore football followers, the inspiration for ABC’s approach comes directly from “College GameDay,” the increasingly popular pregame show. “GameDay’s” broadcast aims to provide an inside-out view of college football, while also speaking to a broader audience than […]

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Q&A: NFL Network’s Charlie Yook On Draft Tech And Cybersecurity Fears

  • ‘All of the key shots we need – the Commissioner, player homes, GM/Coach shots – are functioning,’ Yook says.
  • But security experts warn hackers are “always a threat.”

This post has been corrected to attribute SAP NS2 comments to Chief Information Security Officer Ted Wagner. The NFL’s dress rehearsal for its first Digital Draft experienced technical problems Monday. ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported the mock draft was plagued with bandwidth and communication issues.  Colleague Adam Schefter said the glitches began with the very first pick: LSU quarterback Joe Burrow to the Cincinnati Bengals. “Brutal,” one participant told Schefter.   Coverage of tonight’s first round will air on NFL Network, ABC, […]

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NFL Draft’s Marketing Power Endures as Brands Flock to Attract Fans

  • Disney reports double-digit growth in ad revenue for the event, led by NFL sponsors.
  • Ad inventory remains only for late round coverage as of April 22. More than 100 companies will advertise this year, with nearly 60% doing so for the first time.

As one of the few live sporting events during the coronavirus pandemic for marketers to reach consumers, the NFL and Disney’s ESPN and ABC networks have successfully turned the virtual NFL Draft into a major advertising event, according to media buyers and brands. “The NFL has done a lot in the last couple of years to make the draft a very big event. They partnered with NFL sponsors, but they’ve also opened it up [to other brands],” Gibbs Haljun, total […]

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