Stan Van Gundy is expected to be in as a game analyst on CBS/Turner’s NCAA Tournament coverage and Reggie Miller is out, The Post has learned.
Miller made the decision to give up the tournament, which allows him a little more of a break in his NBA commitments.
Background: Miller had worked with Kevin Harlan and Dan Bonner in years past. Van Gundy is expected to slide in with Harlan and Bonner, but nothing is set in stone.
The tournament is one of the hardest jobs, if not the hardest, for top sportscasters to prepare for because you only find out on Sunday night the eight teams whose games you will call on Thursday or Friday. The announcers have rarely watched many of the lower-profile teams or haven’t seen them at all during the season. You then call six games over two days.
New look/old look: The tourney will have a bit of a new look this year after Jay Wright joined CBS/Turner. It is also the last season for Jim Nantz as the voice of the Final Four. Next year, Ian Eagle will take over as the CBS/Turner’s No. 1 NCAA game-caller.
ESPN’s big moves
In naming Burke Magnus as the president of content, ESPN chairman Jimmy Pitaro in some ways is replacing the position that executive vice president Connor Schell relinquished when he left at the end of 2020. However, Magnus’ title is bigger, his power is larger and ESPN’s manifest destiny is greater.
The new Disney setup under Bob Iger has made it so ESPN will report its own breakout financials.
Pitaro is still the most important executive at ESPN, but the future of the company will largely depend on Magnus and Rosalyn Durant, who becomes ESPN’s executive vice president, programming and acquisitions.
While Pitaro and Magnus will be involved, Durant will be the one figuring out what makes the most sense with the NBA and future rights deals.
ESPN has been the Yankees of sports media. In this setup, Pitaro is Hal Steinbrenner, Magnus is a Randy Levine/Brian Cashman hybrid and Durant is Aaron Boone.
It’s amazing the social media relevance “First Take” has achieved. Throwaway lines from Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim about the NHL were treated as ESPN treason. With Michael Kay on the show as a guest debater, Qerim asked which New York team would be the next to win a championship. Kay said the Rangers. Qerim replied, “They don’t count.” No disrespect to the Rangers, she added. Smith chimed in that he doesn’t know anything about hockey except the puck is black and he apparently is buddies with Gary Bettman. If I’m ESPN, Smith and Qerim, I’d be pretty happy that any little thing you say becomes a big deal. Yes, it was a little insulting to hockey fans, but Smith is the center of the show and they were looking for the answer to be one of the NBA, MLB or NFL teams.
…WFAN’s Nets broadcast with Chris Carrino and Tim Capstraw is art. Carrino is so precise on all the calls, and Capstraw fills in all the analysis. But what makes it stand out even more is during the flow of the game, they find a way to somehow mention baseball’s new pitch clock and old Buck Williams stories. If young broadcasters want to hear how a game should be called, they should tune in.
…SNY’s spring training games sound way better than those on YES Network because SNY has its announcers on-site. YES is saving a few shekels, but there is a feeling missing when you are not live. By not being on-site, it also hurts you during the regular season because there is a flow to covering the game.
A few years ago, a very top TV executive said to me about cord-cutting and streaming: “We are just going to make less.” That’s the reality of the situation.
This brings me to MSG Networks’ forthcoming MSG+, which will cost $30 per month and then will offer the capability to purchase individual games for $10. It feels priced not to succeed or, at least, designed to keep people paying for cable.
Right now, cable subscribers pay 12 months a year for MSGN, but why would anyone who chose the streaming package do that? From the end of the NBA and NHL regular season in mid-April until the next season starts in October, there is nothing to pay for. That’s nearly six months. MSG+ is offering a yearly rate of $310. Why wouldn’t people just turn it on and off for $180? Or will people just turn back to cable?
One point that is lost in this conversation: Who is not getting these games who wants them? There are definitely some folks. But at $30 per month?
(MSG does have a dispute with Comcast, so a Comcast user could be one potential subscriber. Beyond that, the market is pretty full.)
The move to offer streaming needs to be done, but in an effort to try to make as much money as cable networks once did, some of these plans feel as if they may not make much, if any, money. At least in the near term.
It is complicated because of relationships with cable subscribers, but if the pricing doesn’t feel fair — and $30 per month seems too steep — then I’m not sure where the audience will come from.