Seen on Screen: ESPN’s NFL Live To Relaunch With New Team in August; NBA, Formula 1 Brace for Return to Play

Seen on Screen provides a roundup of the current sports programming landscape as networks deal with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. In this week’s edition, major networks like NBC Sports, Fox Sports, and ESPN are combating the silence of no live sports with previously-released, taped, or archival content. Many networks have also continued producing live studio content – often with on-air talent located remotely.

ESPN will relaunch NFL Live, the year-round weekday NFL news and information show, in August with new host Laura Rutledge and a consistent roster of daily analysts that features Marcus Spears, Dan Orlovsky, Keyshawn Johnson, and Mina Kimes, who moves into a new NFL analyst role.

NFL analyst Ryan Clark will join NFL Live on Fridays. In addition, ESPN NFL reporters, insiders and news-breakers Jeff Darlington, Dan Graziano, Kimberley A. Martin, Chris Mortensen, Louis Riddick, Dianna Russini, Adam Schefter, and others will continue to contribute to the weekday show.

Rutledge joined the company as an SEC Network reporter in 2014 and has consistently expanded her portfolio of responsibilities across ESPN and SEC Network over the past six years, most recently joining Get Up as a permanent contributor last fall. Rutledge has hosted SEC Network’s Saturday college football pregame show, SEC Nation, the past three years – a role she will continue doing in addition to hosting NFL Live. Rutledge has also contributed to live-event programming for college football, basketball, gymnastics, baseball, and softball and been a mainstay in ESPN’s championship event coverage, including the College Football Playoff.

In addition to Rutledge, NFL Live will now feature a consistent panel of analysts throughout the week.

Spears, who has signed a new multi-year ESPN extension, will now appear daily on NFL Live as he moves into a pro football-centric analyst role. The eight-year NFL defensive end originally joined SEC Network in 2014 and has worked with Rutledge for years on both SEC Nation and Get Up. Spears debuted on NFL Live last fall in addition to traveling to SEC Nation and appearing regularly on Get Up, SportsCenter, First Take, and other shows.

Orlovsky, who played 12 NFL seasons at quarterback, will now appear daily on NFL Live, while continuing to call a weekly college football game for ESPN and ABC. Orlovsky, who joined the company in 2018 and began appearing on NFL Live a year ago, has worked consistently with both Rutledge and Spears on Get Up. He and Spears also developed a great rapport working together the past year on NFL Live.

Kimes, who has been widely praised for her NFL feature writing and football analysis on ESPN Digital and Audio platforms the past six years, moves into a new NFL analyst role. She will appear on NFL Live while continuing to host The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny football podcast. She will also continue to write for ESPN.com and contribute to programs like Around the Horn and Highly Questionable. During the NFL offseason, Kimes will continue to be a contributor to the ESPN Daily podcast which she launched as the host in October 2019.

Johnson, who has signed a new multi-year extension, will continue to have a host role on ESPN Radio while also making regular appearances as an analyst on NFL Live. A Super Bowl champion and 11-year NFL wide receiver, Johnson was a member of ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night Countdown pregame shows from 2007-2015. The past four years, he has served as a Los Angeles-based analyst in addition to co-hosting the Mornings with Keyshawn, LZ, and Travis radio show on ESPN LA 710.

Spears, Orlovsky, Kimes, and Johnson will all continue to appear on Get Up, SportsCenter, First Take, and more in addition to NFL Live

…ESPN and ABC will combine to televise 20 live NBA seeding games from Walt Disney World Resort starting Friday, July 31. The opening stretch will include 10 live game telecasts in ESPN’s first four days of the season resuming. As part of its seeding games slate, ESPN will carry three conclusive NBA games on Friday, August 14, which is the last night of the regular season before the NBA Playoffs begin.

ESPN’s coverage resumes on July 31, when the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum take on the first place Milwaukee Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo at 6:30 p.m. ET. In addition, the Houston Rockets and James Harden will battle the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic at 9 p.m. on ESPN.

The Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James will square off with the Defending NBA Champion Toronto Raptors on Sunday, August 1, at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

The NBA on ABC resumes on Sunday, August 2, with two blockbuster matchups. The Bucks will collide with the Rockets in prime time at 8:30 p.m., while the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard battle the Celtics at 3:30 p.m. in a special matinee broadcast. All NBA games on ESPN and ABC are also available to stream via the ESPN App.

Click here for the full schedule of seeding games…

…Turner Sports, in its 36th consecutive year of NBA coverage, will tip off the league’s comeback with a blockbuster NBA on TNT doubleheader, Thursday, July 30. In the NBA’s first regular season game since March, the New Orleans Pelicans and rookie standout Zion Williamson will take on the Utah Jazz and Donovan Mitchell at 6:30 p.m. ET. Two of the Western Conference’s top teams will follow – the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James and Anthony Davis vs. the LA Clippers with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – at 9 p.m.

TNT will present a total of 18 games, highlighted by Tuesday doubleheaders and Thursday tripleheaders throughout the remainder of the regular season, in addition to a tripleheader on Saturday, Aug. 8, that will mark the end of an eight-game, three-day stretch on the network.

Under the competitive format for the restart, the 22 participating teams will be the eight teams in each conference with the highest current winning percentages and the six teams that are currently within six games of the eighth seed in either conference. The restart will begin with each participating team playing eight “seeding games,” as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups.

TNT will also televise more than 40 NBA Playoff games – the most of any network – including first and second round action and the exclusive presentation of the 2020 NBA Western Conference Finals…

…NBA TV will televise 14 regular season games, including the Milwaukee Bucks, LA Clippers, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans and defending champion Toronto Raptors, as the NBA returns to action in Orlando. The network will tip off its live “seeding games” schedule with the Portland Trail Blazers and Damian Lillard facing the Memphis Grizzlies and rookie star Ja Morant on Friday, July 31, at 4 p.m. ET.

Under the competitive format for the restart, the 22 participating teams will be the eight teams in each conference with the highest current winning percentages and the six teams that are currently within six games of the eighth seed in either conference. The restart will begin with each participating team playing eight “seeding games,” as selected from its remaining regular-season matchups.

NBA TV is available directly to consumers through NBA.com and the NBA App. The channel’s programming offerings include live NBA game telecasts, original programming, and an extensive list of on-demand video content.

Click here for the full NBA TV schedule…

…NBA TV will showcase each of the 22 NBA teams headed to Orlando for the league’s season comeback via the Team Restart series, beginning with the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, July 1, at 9 p.m. ET.

A different team will be spotlighted each day with a 30-minute episode recapping their season to-date, with highlights of the top moments, various features and one of NBA TV’s stable of analysts – including Candace Parker, Steve Smith, Channing Frye, Dennis Scott, Brendan Haywood, Greg Anthony, Caron Butler, and Sam Mitchell – providing three keys for the playoff push. Episodes will be hosted by Matt Winer, Allie LaForce, Jared Greenberg, Kristen Ledlow, Stephanie Ready, Chris Miles, or Casey Stern.

In addition to their “Restart” episode at 9 p.m., each featured team will have several marquee 2019-20 season wins showcased between 6 p.m.-1 a.m.

NBA.com will have corresponding coverage for each team throughout the series. The site’s content will include an article on each team’s 2019-20 season to date, video highlights, a film study breakdown by John Schuhmann, and a mini podcast hosted by Sekou Smith…

…After a delay of nearly four months, the 2020 season of the FIA Formula One World Championship will launch this week with the first of two consecutive weekends of racing in Austria.

ESPN begins its third consecutive year of coverage with expanded offerings, a new availability for Spanish-speaking fans, and a continuation of commercial-free race telecasts.

The Formula 1 Rolex Austrian Grand Prix from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. will air Sunday, July 5, at 9:05 a.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The Grand Prix Sunday pre-race show (formerly On the Grid, now expanded to one hour) will precede the race at 8 a.m. on ESPN. Live coverage of the weekend’s three practice sessions and qualifying also will air on ESPN or ESPN2.

On the heels of double-digit television viewership growth in the United States over the past two seasons, ESPN and Formula 1 forged a new agreement last fall that will keep the Championship on ESPN and ABC through 2022. F1 returned to the ESPN networks in 2018.

As an additional element of the new deal, ESPN Deportes is now the exclusive Spanish-language home for all Formula 1 races in the U.S. Spanish-language coverage of F1 races, qualifying and practice sessions will be made available to fans on the ESPN Deportes television network and other ESPN platforms all season.

Once again in 2020, the race telecasts will be presented commercial-free with sponsorship from Mothers Polish, which signed a new, three-year agreement with ESPN. The expanded new deal also includes presenting sponsorship of practice and qualifying telecasts.

ESPN is again teaming with Sky Sports and Formula 1 to bring Sky Sports’ award-winning presentation of Formula 1 racing to American viewers. Sky’s Welcome to the Weekend program, which will air on ESPN2 for both Austria events leading into the weekend’s first practice session, returns this year with a race preview, driver interviews and commentary and analysis from the Sky team. The Austrian edition of the program airs on Friday, July 3, at 4:30 a.m. with replays available on the ESPN App.

After the Formula 1 Rolex Austrian Grand Prix, Formula 1 will return to the Red Bull Ring for the Formula 1 Pirelli Styrian Prix July 10-12.