SBD/May 8, 2014/Media

ESPN, NFL Network Could See Draft Ratings Increase Thanks To Storylines, Later Start Date

Schefter will tweet potential trade talk and inside draft room rumblings
The storylines leading into tonight's NFL Draft are "expected to provide a nice viewership bump" for ESPN and NFL Network, according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. The audience figure also will "be aided by the event moving back two weeks from its usual start date." The two nets have again "come together for a gentleman's agreement on the subject of tipping draft picks," which "carries through at least the first two rounds." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said reporter Adam Schefter will "tweet potential trade talk, inside draft room rumblings, and added perspective to complement, not spoil, the broadcast." Deitsch noted each net has "made changes in personnel for live coverage." Meanwhile, Markman said that ESPN will "have subtle changes this year on Days 2 and 3." The coverage will "focus less on big picture topics and more on the pick by pick selections." Asked whether ESPN's Trey Wingo will eventually be the Day One host of the net's Draft coverage, Markman said, "We have never had any discussions about who will replace Chris Berman when he decides he does not want to do this anymore. ... Chris has earned the right to decide when he wants to step away from this. If and when Chris decides he wants to scale back ... Trey would definitely be in the discussion" (SI.com, 5/4). The Chicago Tribune's Ed Sherman on his Twitter feed noted CBS' Jason La Canfora will "tweet out picks again" during the Draft (TWITTER.com, 5/8).

BEHIND THE SCENES: The Giants on Monday confirmed that they will allow a war room camera for NFL Net's coverage, the first time they have allowed this in franchise history. NFL Net will now have a record-high 16 war room cameras, representing half of the league's teams (THE DAILY). In Dallas, Barry Horn reported ESPN will "have reporters with six teams, none of which are the Cowboys." The net's Ed Werder "will be dispatched to Houston where the Texans have the draft’s first pick." NFL Net "will have Desmond Purnell with the Cowboys" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/3).

SPECIAL GUESTS: FSU football coach Jimbo Fisher will be part of NFL Net's weekend draft coverage. He will appear live on the net's "NFL Draft Pre-Show" at 5:30pm ET tomorrow and on NFL.com's Draft Xtra from 8:00-9:00pm. Fisher on Saturday from 3:00-5:00pm will be on NFL Net with Rich Eisen, Charles Davis, Daniel Jeremiah and Mike Mayock (THE DAILY). SPORTING NEWS' Mark Burns reported Draft prospect Michael Sam, who in February came out as gay, has "declined both ESPN/NFL Network's efforts to get a camera w/ him during draft days" (TWITTER.com, 5/6).

HUT, HUT, HYPE! USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes, "Leave it to the NFL to figure out what Americans want -- and give it to us. Our love of everything related to football knows no bounds. I wouldn't be surprised if viewership for the draft easily beats the NBA playoffs on Thursday night. Real live sports don't stand a chance against a desk full of announcers discussing the NFL. What does that say about us? It says we can't live without football, which explains why the NFL is slowly but surely taking over the sports calendar -- nearly all 12 months of it" (USA TODAY, 5/8). In South Carolina, Tim Dominick wrote we are close to Football Non-Events "outnumbering actual events -- such as games." We know all the Draft hype is "about TV," and if you "are a sports fan not the least bit interested in the NFL draft, then there has been no reason to tune in for ESPN’s SportsCenter the past couple of months." What ESPN "does not tell you about its draft coverage is that it is pretty meaningless" (Columbia STATE, 5/3). In Tampa, Gary Shelton writes, "If you back away and look at it from a distance, it's amazing the draft has grown so big. Hope sells, one supposes. Enough that the draft has become a three-day miniseries (and it might go to four) where human bobbleheads chatter incessantly." He asks, "So why do we watch? Other than the fact The Big Bang Theory is a repeat? ... We watch because we like young players on the rise. We watch because, every now and then, Chris Berman stops talking" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 5/8).

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON: In N.Y., Bob Raissman wrote former NFLer Chris Simms has taken a role at Bleacher Report, where "he is the self-proclaimed 'poor man's GM.'" Those who watch him carefully have said that Simms is "as good as any Draft guru currently working on television." His current role will "play well for him if he ever lands in an NFL TV booth, a place he wants to be." Simms is also aware that it is "perceived he is having doors open for him" because his father, Phil Simms, is CBS’ No. 1 NFL analyst. Chris Simms last season "did his first Pac-12 college football broadcast for Fox," and the net "asked him back" for the '14 season. But Simms had "already made up his mind" that college football "is not for him." Simms: "(Working a college football game) is an incredible waste of my knowledge. It’s just not as stimulating to me. The NFL is what I grew up in. It’s what I’ve always known." Simms recently taped "a segment for CBS' NFL Draft show" alongside his father (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/4).

SOCIAL SELECTIONS: Google and the NFLPA are collaborating to offer live, digital press conferences via Google+ Hangouts. Throughout the three-day Draft, 20 draft picks will participate in individual #MyDraftDay Hangouts shortly following their selection (NFLPA). Data from Facebook shows that QB Johnny Manziel was the most- mentioned Draft prospect on Facebook from April 28-May 5. The data is based on an aggregated list of the top 200 prospects. The top five most mentioned prospects were rounded out by WR Sammy Watkins, WR Mike Evans, QB Derek Carr and LB Khalil Mack. Manziel had twice the buzz of any other player (THE DAILY).
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