What’s new: TNF Flex Scheduling, Greenberg, Bally Sports Update and more
Thursday Night Football could flex matchups starting next season. Plus: An ESPN Personality Returns to Get Up After Medical Procedure; A Bally Sports update on the San Diego Padres situation; and more news in the sports media industry.
NFL owners vote on Thursday Night Football inflection
A report by Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand and Ben Fischer revealed that the NFL plans to hold an owners vote on whether to allow flexible scheduling for Thursday Night Football. The vote, if passed, would address the occasional poor quality of Thursday night’s matchups, which fans — and even Amazon broadcaster Al Michaels — have complained about. The vote will specifically allow the NFL to reschedule Sunday afternoon games in Weeks 14-17 to Thursday evening with 15 days’ notice and schedule teams twice for a Thursday night game after a Sunday, with one permitted game per season currently.
While Ourand and Fischer note that resolutions that are brought to a full vote usually come with a high level of expectation that they will be adopted, that vote will have coaches at the meeting. A rarity for most decisions, NFL coaches have long complained about Thursday night’s setup in terms of reduced prep time and short recovery windows for players. If passed, it would add to the already increased flex scheduling practice in the NFL, after additional flexing was also approved for Monday Night Football earlier this year. (Ourand & Fischer 3.23)
Mike Greenberg returns to Get Up after surgery
After a week-long absence to recover from heart surgery, Mike Greenberg returned to ESPN’s morning show Get Up. The ESPN personality, who also hosts NBA Countdown, has been well documenting his recovery over the past week through his wife Stacy’s Twitter account. Greenberg had to undergo cardiac ablation to fix a heart rhythm problem and restore a typical heartbeat. (Terrible Announcement 3.27)
Bally Sports Padres update
After Diamond Sports failed to make a scheduled rights fee payment, Diamond Sports is a week away from losing local media rights to the San Diego Padres should they fail to complete the payment. A report by Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand said top MLB and DirecTV executives met just a day later to discuss an alternative regional sports plan if they manage to retake many of their local media rights. According to the report, MLB is trying to get distributors to broadcast teams’ live games for this season at little or no cost. The long-term plan would then be to reclaim each team’s local rights as the bankruptcy settlement unfolds in the years to come, and then when enough teams’ rights are regained, return to the negotiating table to seek better distribution action. Diamond Sports has until March 29 at 11:59 p.m. to complete the payment to the Padres. (Ourand 3.27)
Plus: Clemens becomes Opening Day guest analyst, Trotter leaves NFL Network, Apple prepares to take over the rights to the British Premier League and Coates retires
Roger Clemens will be a guest analyst at ESPN’s Opening Night MLB booth on March 30th. … Jim Trotter announced on his Twitter page that his contract with the NFL Network was not renewed after five years with the organization. … According to a Bloomberg report, Apple is seriously considering a major deal for the domestic rights of the British Premier League and Football League. … Philadelphia Flyers broadcaster Steve Coates is retiring at the end of the season after 43 years with the team. Coates is expected to remain active for the organization such as at fan and team events. (ESPN 3.27, Trotter/Twitter 3.27, Bloomberg 3.23, Dire Announcement 3.26)