Will on-air talent move within CT, from ESPN to NBC Sports? – CT Insider

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NBC Sports is headquartered at 1 Blachley Road in Stamford, Conn. 
ESPN is headquartered in Bristol, Conn. 
Mike Tirico is Stamford-based NBC Sports’ play-by-play announcer for Sunday Night Football. Tirico joined NBC Sports in 2016, after a stint at Bristol-based ESPN. 
Maria Taylor is the host of Stamford-based NBC Sports’ Football Night in America. In 2021, Taylor joined NBC Sports, after a stint at Bristol-based ESPN. 
STAMFORD — In the wake of the latest round of layoffs at ESPN, about 20 on-air personalities are now looking for new teams. One option could be NBC Sports, another industry powerhouse headquartered in Connecticut. 
As part of parent company’s Disney’s plan to cut about 7,000 jobs across Bristol-based ESPN and its theme parks screen entertainment divisions, ESPN laid off last Friday a group that included NBA analysts Jeff Van Gundy and Jalen Rose; NFL analyst, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and Greenwich native Steve Young; former “First Take” commentator Max Kellerman; and NFL “Monday Night Countdown” host Suzy Kolber. Stamford-based NBC Sports could be a landing spot for some of them, but others might have to look elsewhere, as sports broadcasters increasingly scrutinize their finances. 
“Talent is talent, period,” Josh Shuart, director of sports management at Sacred Heart University’s Jack Welch College of Business & Technology, said in an email. “Many of those laid off will land on their feet elsewhere. We’ve never seen as many linear and streaming broadcast options in our lifetime. So, for some, this should be a short stint in the unemployment line. I fully expect some of these names to pop up on competitor networks.”  
Headquartered at 1 Blachley Road on Stamford’s east side, NBC Sports ranks as one of the largest employers in the city, with a local workforce of approximately 750 people. It produces programs across a range of leagues and competitions including the NFL, college football, Major League Baseball, professional golf events, NASCAR and English Premier League soccer. Its “Sunday Night Football” has ranked as the No. 1 prime-time show for a record 12 consecutive years
Among the ESPN alumni at NBC Sports are Mike Tirico, who handles play-by-play for “Sunday Night Football,” and Maria Taylor, the host of “Football Night in America,” the lead-in show to Sunday Night Football. Tirico and Taylor, respectively, joined NBC Sports in 2016 and 2021.
NBC Sports declined to comment on the layoffs at ESPN. 
Some experts said that other broadcasters such as Fox Sports might be a better fit for some of those let go by ESPN. 
“Fox needs the 24/7 talk cycle. NBC and CBS are really event driven and so don’t need an endless line of talking heads,” Daniel Durbin, director of the University of Southern California’s Institute of Sports, Media & Society, said in an email. “But Fox has run a much tighter ship than ESPN and has loads of talent to spare. I don’t think they need this talent. So, it’s a buyer’s market. No one is forced to hire any of this talent because of their name value. Fox or any other network can choose whoever might fit in with their current talent… And with all the streaming services and the huge number of former athletes already out there broadcasting online or otherwise, few if any sports broadcasters are worth huge contracts anymore.”
NBC Sports’ demand for new on-air talent, particularly those who have been earning more than $1 million per year, might be affected by recent efforts to reduce costs. It confirmed last December that it had laid off a “very small number” of Stamford-based employees who primarily worked in digitally focused positions. Last September, Bloomberg reported that NBC Sports’ parent company, Comcast, was looking to cut as much as $1 billion from the budget of the TV networks of its NBCUniversal business.
But NBC Sports remains one of the world’s largest sports broadcasters, and it is expanding its coverage of some of the most-popular sports. In college football, the upcoming season marks the start of a seven-year agreement in which the NBC network and Peacock streaming platform will become the exclusive carriers of the Big Ten conference’s Saturday night games. 
“We have an incredible lineup of sports, ‘Sunday Night Football,’ Premier League and soon Big 10,” Comcast President Michael Cavanagh said during an earnings call on April 27. “We believe we have the right strategy for Peacock and one that’s suited to our strengths — premium content with a dual revenue stream, both advertising and subscription fees. And we’re encouraged by our results so far, growing paid subscribers and engagement levels to roughly 20 hours per subscriber per month, fueling strong growth in advertising revenues. We’re investing, but the results we are seeing give us confidence that we are on the right path for Peacock to break even and grow from there.”
Among NBC Sports’ own recent personnel changes, Pete Bevacqua finished last week after a nearly three-year run as chairman, as he moves on to the University of Notre Dame to become its next director of athletics. In the near term, those who reported directly to Bevacqua will report to Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBCUniversal TV & Streaming and Bevacqua’s predecessor as NBC Sports chairman. 
Paul Schott is a business reporter with Hearst Connecticut Media Group, writing about the issues affecting small- and medium-sized businesses and large corporations based in Connecticut. He previously covered education for Greenwich Time and general assignments for the Westport News. Paul welcomes readers’ ideas and suggestions and strives to cultivate a robust dialogue with Hearst Connecticut Media’s audience.


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