06/27/22: ESPN’s Linda Cohn talks 30 years at ESPN

Medias First Morning Read
Monday June 27, 2022

July sees Hall of Fame sportscaster Linda Cohn celebrate a 30-year milestone at ESPN, where she is – among other roles – the longest-tenured anchor for the network’s signature program SportsCenter. Cohn joined ESPN in 1992 and anchored her first SportsCenter on July 11, 1992 and in 2017, she was inducted into the National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame. More recently, she hosted Title IX at 50 on SiriusXM last week, and is bringing ESPN’s first season back with the NHL to a close as NHL reporter and host of In the Crease.

Cynopsis Sports asked Cohn about the past three decades at the company and what she sees in the industry moving forward.

Cohn on the state of sports: Sports are bigger and more popular than ever. That’s great news for anchors and anyone in the sports business. The challenge the industry faces is that most people get their information and highlights from their phone. Remember when the nightly SportsCenter was must-see TV? The digital explosion, plus the emergence of podcasts and gambling shows, are the biggest changes to the industry. The onset of gambling and popularity of playing fantasy have brought in new sports fans. Now shows are going out of their way to cater to those folks — and I can understand why.

On changes to the industry since publishing her book: I’ve seen plenty of positive changes. Women are now getting the opportunities and jobs men have automatically held in the past. The biggest improvement is seeing women in the analyst role, whether it’s in the booth or in the studio. I’d like to see more women in management roles, with the power to hire.

On a sporting event she always wanted to directly cover but never had the chance: The NFL, and more specifically The Super Bowl.

On ESPN’s return to hockey: ESPN has brought the casual sports fan back to hockey. Especially during the Playoffs, when a hockey game was always on. Whether you’re out at a bar, a restaurant, the airport etc., ESPN is always on. Or if you’re shuffling through channels at home, ESPN is there. If you’re a sports fan, you’re going to want to check it out. Once you do, it’s hard not to get hooked.

I’d like to have an analyst role rinkside in between the benches during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I’d also like to have the opportunity to interview players on a weekly basis during the season to bring out their personalities and hear their stories. It’s important to humanize and create an emotional connection to a player and a team.

On the best advice she ever received in this business: Be accurate. Be you.

PROGRAMMING

Disney emerged as the winner of Formula One rights in the US, with the series getting a pay bump of about 1500%, according to Bloomberg and SBJ. ESPN will now pay between $75 million and $90 million a year for the rights as part of a three-year deal, up from under $5 million a year under its previous deal, with most races set to be shown on ABC or ESPN in addition to ESPN+. Viewership of races on ESPN jumped 56% in 2021 from a year earlier, and another US-based race in Las Vegas will soon be added to the circuit.

Note: After more than 11 years, nearly 3000 issues and more trivia than ever needed, this will be the last week of the Cynopsis Sports edition. Backed by an amazing community, it took less than two years to be ranked as the biggest sports business publication in the world. Moving forward next week, Cynopsis Esports will continue as normal, while sports news will be absorbed into the flagship and tech editions. For all of my readers, thank you for letting me be part of your morning routine. I hope to see you soon and please feel free to reach out with any questions. Chris.

Last week saw the PGA TOUR reveal plans to return to a calendar-year schedule in 2024 that includes eight tournaments with beefed-up purses, revised field sizes for the FedExCup Playoffs, and a fall lineup that will feature up to three no-cut, limited-field international events. “These changes will further strengthen the FedExCup and create a strong, coordinated global schedule,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan wrote, laying out a condensed FedExCup season that will span Jan.-Aug.

The Dew Tour is landing on FUEL TV, announcing plans for the event to run live on the network for the entire 2022 annual summer Dew Tour competition at Lauridsen skatepark in Des Moines, “At the Dew Tour, we are immensely proud of the way our event unites and celebrates skateboarding competition, culture and creators – and to showcase this celebration to the world,” said Courtney Gresik, general manager of Dew Tour. “FUEL TV’s roots run deep in action sports, making them an authentic broadcast partner for the Dew Tour, which shares in that rich history.”

ESPN revealed matchups for this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge, with games running Nov. 28-30. Play begins with Minnesota/Virginia Tech and Pitt/Northwestern on opening day, with later days seeing 12 other games that include Maryland/Lousiville, VirginiaMichigan, Ohio State/Duke, North Carolina/Indiana and Michigan State/Notre Dame. Times and networks (ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU) will be announced at a later date.

ESPN is also adding the exclusive broadcast of the Cardinals/Braves game to its July 6 programming schedule at 7p. Michael Kay and Alex Rodriguez will provide commentary on site. The duo also stars in KayRod Cast – an alternate presentation for select Sunday Night Baseball games on ESPN2.

Stadium reported historic numbers for its coverage of the NBA Draft, reporting that the “Inside The Association: Draft Special Presented by AT&T and Safelite” on Twitter scored 4.45 million views on Thursday night, up from 2021 when Stadium delivered 1.2 million views to tank as the highest amount of views Stadium has delivered via the Twitter platform.

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SPONSORSHIP & PROMOTION

The Rugby League World Cup locked in CoinEx as its Official Cryptocurrency Trading Platform Partner. The RLWC2021 will run Oct. 15-Nov 19 this year. “Crypto companies have recently established themselves in the sports sponsorship market and I am pleased that we have been able to introduce this innovative sector to the Rugby League World Cup,” said Jon Dutton, RLWC2021’s Chief Executive. “CoinEx is a global company, and their trading platform has a focus on being secure, stable, professional and compliant which aligns with RLWC2021’s value of authenticity.

The University of Oklahoma Athletics Department is expanding its relationship with longtime multimedia rightsholder LEARFIELD for the next 10 years. The new deal kicks in on July 1 and will encompass the traditional comprehensive elements LEARFIELD has managed on behalf of OU Athletics since 1994, as well as an assortment of touchpoints for Sooners fans, including significant digital content, in-venue investments and customized original content via the LEARFIELD Studios team.

DIGITAL, DATA & TECH

Fanatics is reportedly in talks to acquire German sports betting company Tipico, per CNBC. Tipico currently holds betting licenses in Colorado and New Jersey. Meanwhile, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency approved sports Fanatics for a sports wagering facility operator license, its first betting license.

ESPORTS

Epic’s Fortnite Chapter 3 Season 3 FNCS will kick off in July offering players a shot at the $3 million prize pool and bringing in a a new point format that rewards more aggressive plays. Season 3 matches can be seen both on the official Fortnite Twitch channel as well as on the Fortnite YouTube channel with play starting July 6.

INDUSTRY & ROSTER MOVES

The NBA, WNBA and NWSL released statements against the Supreme Court’s decision re: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
* NBA/WNBA: The NBA and WNBA believe that women should be able to make their own decisions concerning their health and future, and we believe that freedom should be protected. We will continue to advocate for gender and health equity, including ensuring our employees have access to reproductive health care, regardless of their location.
* NWSL: The Supreme Court’s ruling today denies individuals in this country the full liberty and equality that is the cornerstone of a just society. Reproductive rights are human rights. Until every individual has the same freedoms as their neighbor, our work is not done. We will continue to make our voices heard. The NWSL is more than just a soccer league; we are a collective who will stand up every day for what is right.

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ON THIS DAY in
1984: The Supreme Court ends the NCAA’s hold on college football telecasts.

IN THE KNOW
Who was elected as the first commissioner of baseball? (Email [email protected] with your answer and be sure to include your name, company and city).

Answer to Our Last Sports Trivia Question:
“Squatch” was once a mascot for what NBA team? Answer: The Seattle Supersonics. Kudos: Sean Walker-Omnicom MedaGroup/NY; Michael Ritz-Lenox Advisors/NY; C.J. Bottitta-Big Picture Productions/Apex; Synda Kollman-Charter Marketing Group/Boca Raton; Andy Pittman-TAMU/College Station; Roger Furman-Sports Marketing Communications/Greentown; David Hauptman/Denver; David Westberg-SAG•AFTRA Credit Union/Burbank; Tom Moore-Kalt Productions/LA

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