A few readers checked in this past week asking the same simple question: Why is the Patriots-Bears game on “Monday Night Football” being simulcast locally on NBC10 rather than Channel 5, Boston’s ABC affiliate where ESPN/ABC games usually air in this market?
Again, simple question, right? Which is why I’m stumped as to why asking for a simple explanation brought vague yet complicated answers from ESPN and the local stations involved.
A spokesperson at Channel 5 explained that, similar to the way syndicated programming is acquired by a station, “Monday Night Football” games can be picked up by any station with which ESPN negotiates.
An ESPN contact confirmed that what Channel 5 said “isn’t incorrect,” explaining that ESPN has conversations with each of the major affiliates in the market in the offseason, not just with the ABC station. Numerous factors influence both sides, the ESPN contact explained, and then an agreement is reached.
I’m sure that’s all true. But it still doesn’t answer the why. No one at ESPN or Channel 5 would even begin to discuss what those numerous factors might be. NBC10′s spokesperson did not immediately return requests for details on how it ended up with the game, but it must be thrilled to have it.
It is unusual for an ESPN/ABC broadcast not to simulcast on Channel 5 when it has the opportunity; in fact, if there are recent precedents, I haven’t found them. And a prime-time Patriots game is certain to do vastly better in the Nielsen ratings than anything else on TV Monday night, with a reasonable expectation of drawing 60 to 65 percent of the audience share, the percentage of televisions in use at a given moment.
Channel 5 will primarily have “Bachelor in Paradise” airing opposite the Patriots-Bears game on NBC10. When I asked a Channel 5 spokesperson whether the station had a preference to air that program rather than the Patriots game — I don’t know, maybe there’s the most important rose ceremony ever or something this week — it brought a one-word reply: “No.”
I’m not sure I’m convinced; it seems like Channel 5 at the very least is trying to avoid blowback for not having the game. But at least that response wasn’t vague.
The write stuff
Beasley Media’s decision to fire “Toucher and Rich” producer Mike Lockhart in a round of company-wide layoffs was ridiculous. So is at least one of the parameters in bringing him back.
Lockhart will return to the show Monday, with his full salary being paid by cohost Rich Shertenlieb, but Beasley found a way to wring more demands out of the show’s talent before signing off on the deal. A particularly absurd one is the requirement that Shertenlieb and cohost Fred Toucher now have to contribute four articles to the station’s website every day. Hilariously, they found a loophole around that assignment, posting clickbait-style articles — if you’d call them articles, since they’re usually a single line of text — such as posting a picture of two closed hands and the question, “What hand is the ball in? You’ve probably been WRONG all along. CLICK HERE!”
Wonder if anyone in corporate at Beasley has clicked on one of the “articles”?
Hill above them all
Greg Hill, host of WEEI’s eponymous morning drive program, was named Major Market Personality of the Year at the prestigious NAB Marconi Radio Awards Wednesday night in New York. Finalists were selected by a task force of broadcasters and winners were voted on by the Marconi Awards’ selection academy. Sports station of the year went to WXYT-FM in Detroit.
House warming to new gig
Eddie House is getting a lot of open looks on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics coverage this season. House, the former Celtics sharpshooter and member of the 2008 champs, is scheduled to work all 70 NBCSN broadcasts as a studio analyst. That’s a rapid ascent to a regular spot in the lineup given that he just joined the broadcasts last December in a limited role, but he proved sharp, genuinely funny, and was very well received by the audience. Kendrick Perkins, who is busy at ESPN with its NBA programming and assorted debate shows, will still do some games but hasn’t finalized the details. Sean Grande will move over from The Sports Hub’s radio broadcasts to the television side for approximately 20-25 games, with Mike Gorman traveling less in his 42d season as the team’s TV voice. Pretty much everything else is status quo, with Brian Scalabrine, Abby Chin, Amina Smith, and Chris Forsberg back in familiar roles.
Don Orsillo had been a baseball play-by-play voice on TBS’s postseason broadcasts in three of the previous four years (2018, 2020-21) and called a few regular-season games this year, but the network left him on the bench once the postseason came around, opting instead for Bob Costas. That was a mistake. Costas is a legend, but he was much too verbose while calling the Yankees-Guardians series, often overwhelming partner Ron Darling, an analyst always worth the listen. Orsillo and Darling would have been a superb pairing, though TBS’s top tandem through the years remains Orsillo and Dennis Eckersley, who worked together during the Houston-Cleveland ALDS in ‘18 . . . Pretty amusing to go to the YouTube TV home screen for NBC Sports Boston’s “Postgame Live” Patriots program and notice that the thumbnail photo features a past cast for the show that included Jerod Mayo and Troy Brown. Who knew there was a “Postgame Live” coaching tree? . . . I liked ESPN’s previous “Monday Night Football” team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese, and especially Louis Riddick. But there is no doubt that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman have brought a big-event feel back to “MNF” in their first season at ESPN after jumping over from Fox. Patriots games are going to be anticipated around here no matter what, but Buck and Aikman will make the lights seem a little brighter come Monday night.