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Freddy Rolón Elevated to SVP of Programming, Scheduling At ESPN

“The position leaves Rolón in charge of the schedule and content strategy for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, and ESPNEWS”

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Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN announced a promotion within their programming department this week. The network is elevating Freddy Rolón to senior vice president of programming and scheduling. Rolón previously held the vice president of programming and scheduling role.

The position leaves Rolón in charge of the schedule and content strategy for ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, along with his role overseeing ESPN Deportes’ linear and digital business.

“The pause in sports caused by the COVID-19 break brought an unprecedented level of unpredictability due to the ever-changing landscape, thousands of cancelled events, altered or postponed seasons, and more,” said Burke Magnus, President, Programming and Original Content, ESPN. “Throughout that time, one factor remained constant – Freddy’s steady hand. While new to his role in programming and scheduling when the pandemic started, he led with excellence, and his strategic thinking guided us during a very tumultuous period.”

Rolón plays an integral part in ESPN’s appeal to Hispanic fans, working closely with production, audio, and digital areas to maximize the draw of English-language broadcasts.

The executive joined ESPN in 2004 and has spent the better part of this last decade building ESPN Deportes into the entity it is today. Rolón held the position of vice president & general manager at ESPN Deportes from 2016 to 2020. From 2011-2016, he served as vice president of ESPN Deportes programming and business initiatives. That title made Rolón responsible for overseeing all ESPN Deportes programming, from acquisitions and development, all the way to scheduling.

Like plenty of high-ranking ESPN voices before him, Rolón started at ESPN as an intern at the company. Shining in the ESPN International program. Rolón then joined the network as senior manager of marketing for ESPN Deportes upon earning his MBA.

That role led to a stint on the radio side of the network as senior director of marketing and integration of ESPN Radio from 2005 to 2007.

Sports TV News

Monday Night Football Audience Continues Year Over Year Growth

“One factor that ESPN didn’t have last year that is helping them in 2021 is the Manningcast.”

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Courtesy: ESPN

The national NFL audience can’t get enough of ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Year-over-year numbers went up again this week for the network’s premier football property.

The battle between Sean McVay’s Los Angeles Rams and Kyle Shanahan’s San Francisco 49ers was the network’s second-most-watched Week 10 game since 2012, with 12.3 million viewers across all platforms.

Week 10 represented the eighth consecutive week of year-over-year growth (3% increase from 2020 Week 10). The property’s ratings as a whole are up 15% from 2020 and 7% from 2019. 

NFL fans are coming back to support the league in force after a multitude of factors kept them away from their TVs in 2020. The pandemic played a role, as did the limited number of fans attending each game. No one has been able to succinctly nail down why numbers were so down across all sports in 2020. 

One factor that ESPN didn’t have last year that is helping them in 2021 is the Manningcast. Peyton and Eli are a roaring success with their version of Monday Night Football airing on ESPN2.

Ratings were down a bit for the Monday night Manning telecast this week, but they seem to be leveling out at a record-breaking median for ESPN. The brothers notched 1.554 million viewers in their first game where they didn’t interview any active NFL players. The Manningcast has delivered the five most-watched alternate telecasts in ESPN history since the network debuted them in 2014.

Peyton and Eli caught wind of the Manningcast curse and tried to throw it off-kilter, at least for one week. Every active NFL player to appear on the Manningcast has lost their following game.

“If somebody at ESPN said well the Madden curse, players kept doing it no matter what,” Peyton described on The Steam Room podcast. I said that’s because they were getting paid. If you get paid, you don’t care about a curse. Last time I checked, we are not paying anyone to come on the show. Obviously, I hope it is not true. Right now, it is what it is.”

We’ll find out if NFL players are returning to the show when Omaha Productions unveils the next guest list.

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Sports TV News

FOX Adds Darryl Johnston, Mike Pereira To USFL Executive Team

“The league is comprised of eight teams, playing a ten-game schedule that begins in April 2022.”

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Courtesy: USFL

The USFL is making a return and the league just unveiled its executive team for the restart in 2022. FOX Sports is leading the charge for this new league as some of its voices join the leadership group.

The founder of the Spring League, Brian Woods, is the USFL’s president of football operations. 

“I’m extremely passionate about football and the opportunity to work with FOX Sports and to launch the new USFL in 2022,” Woods said in the announcement press release this past June. “We look forward to providing players a new opportunity to compete in a professional football league and giving fans everywhere the best football viewing product possible during what is typically a period devoid of professional football.”

FOX football analyst Daryl Johnston is serving as Executive Vice President of football operations. While former NFL vice president of officiating and FOX Sports’ NFL and college football rules analyst Mike Pereira will act as the new league’s head of officiating. Finally, FOX Sports’ Edward Hartman is taking the role of executive vice president of business operations.

“We are extremely fortunate to have this extraordinary team of experienced executives to guide the new USFL’s development as we move towards launch this spring,” said FOX Sports CEO and executive producer Eric Shanks. He is serving as chairman of the USFL’s board of directors. “I am confident Brian, Daryl, Mike, and Edward have the passion, experience, and commitment we need to get the job done, so come April, we will offer a compelling, high-quality game of professional football that fans will embrace.”

The league is comprised of eight teams, playing a ten-game schedule that begins in April 2022. With the power of FOX Sports behind it, the reincarnated USFL has a chance to survive. FOX is serving as a broadcast partner. 

The XFL got off the ground last spring, but the COVID-19 pandemic crushed any momentum that the league had. FOX and the USFL are hoping for a different result this time around.

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Sports TV News

NFL Sees Major Ratings Growth In Local Markets

NFL ratings are up majorly throughout most local markets this year compared to the 2020 season.

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The NFL is over half way through their regular season, so it is a good time to start comparing this season to the previous year. We have already looked at the NFL on a national level. Viewership is up tremendously over last year. So how are individual markets doing so far this season?

Per the Sports Business Journal, NFL ratings are up significantly throughout most local markets this year compared to the 2020 season. 21 out of 32 teams are up in their local markets from last year, with the Los Angeles Chargers leading the way.

The Pacific and Mountain time zones are leading the charge, as the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Arizona Cardinals are among the 6 highest percentage growth from last year.

Only 11 teams in the league have dropped in viewership, with the worst of those being the Houston Texans at a 17 percent decrease. That is not incredibly surprising considering they are 1-8 so far this year.

Most of the teams in the top 10 are among those who are the most successful this year, with the Carolina Panthers as the exception with a 16% increase despite having a 5-5 record.

It seems that the NFL is keeping fans happy this season and eager to come back week after week. While there are some exceptions from struggling markets, there is plenty for the league to celebrate.

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