Behind the Mic: Shaquille O’Neal Returns to Turner on New Broadcast Deal; ESPN’s MNF Gets Set for 2020 Season With New-Look Booth
Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, Turner Sports brings back a giant-sized personality, ESPN reveals their new Monday Night Football booth, a pair of Longs receive new onscreen duties, and more.
A Basketball Hall of Famer with larger-than-life personality, Shaquille O’Neal has reached a multi-year extension with Turner Sports that will expand the scope of his responsibilities throughout the WarnerMedia portfolio. A 15-time NBA All-Star and four-time NBA Champion, O’Neal will continue in his role as studio analyst for TNT’s Sports Emmy Award-winning Inside the NBA, along with the NBA on TNT Tuesday Night franchise.
“Turner Sports is family to me,” says O’Neal. “I’m looking forward to working alongside my talented colleagues as we create many more Shaq-tastic moments in the years to come.”
He’ll also appear on NBA TV and contribute to NBA.com. His NBA TV airtime will include a new show in development on The Business of Basketball, with more details to be announced at a later date. O’Neal will expand the ever-popular Shaqtin-a-Fool franchise to include new genres and platforms to reach an even broader set of passionate fans.
“Shaq is so critical to our success, and such a huge part of the heart and soul of our coverage,” says Jeff Zucker, Chairman, WarnerMedia News and Sports. “We are lucky to be able to have him as part of our family every single day, and I am personally so thrilled to see that continue for a long time to come.”
O’Neal will also serve as an executive producer for a number of projects with Turner Sports’ Bleacher Report. O’Neal and B/R will create new content that will combine his voice and the brand’s ability to fuse experiences hitting the intersection of sports and culture. O’Neal has also reached a development deal with WarnerMedia entertainment networks as part of the new portfolio-wide agreement.
Laslty, O’Neal’s popular podcast will be distributed through the WarnerMedia Podcast Network beginning early next year.
“Shaquille’s tenacity as a player and loyal teammate made him one of the best to ever do it on the court, and those skills have translated to his contributions as a broadcaster,” says Tara August, Senior Vice President of Talent Services & Special Projects, Turner Sports. “His fun, infectious personality is engaging, entertaining, and beloved by fans. We’re thrilled to extend and deepen our relationship with him for many years to come”…
…ESPN’s 2020 Monday Night Football commentator team will feature Steve Levy on play-by-play with Brian Griese and Louis Riddick as analysts, formulating a trio that boasts more than 45 years of broadcasting experience at ESPN. The telecast will also feature Emmy-winning reporter Lisa Salters returning for her ninth season, and officiating analyst John Parry back for his second season.
ESPN’s new NFL commentating team will begin the season with the Tennessee Titans at the Denver Broncos on Monday, Sept. 14 (10:10 p.m. ET), the second game of ESPN’s annual Week 1 doubleheader. The following two weeks, ESPN’s MNF schedule features the Las Vegas Raiders’ first home game at Allegiant Stadium featuring Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (Week 2) and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and the champion Kansas City Chiefs traveling to NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (Week 3). Multiple appearances by six-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Weeks 8 and 11) are among the highlights throughout the season.
For Levy, Griese, and Riddick, the 2020 MNF opener will be their second consecutive year as a team to call a MNF game. The trio worked together during ESPN’s signature Week 1 doubleheader, broadcastinglast year’s Raiders-Broncos matchup. For Riddick, last season’s opener in the booth commenced a season-long campaign with MNF as a regular on the main set of Monday Night Countdown and a staple on MNF halftime and postgame shows.
In addition, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit, ESPN’s leading college football broadcasting team, will make their NFL debut when they call the first game of the season-opening MNF doubleheader, featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers at the New York Giants (7:15 p.m.).
Lastly, ESPN senior coordinating producer Steve Ackels will add MNF to his production responsibilities, which also includes oversight of live college football games across ESPN networks. Ackels will work with new MNF producer Phil Dean and second-year director Jimmy Platt to lead the MNF production team…
…In advance of the highly anticipated 2020 NFL season, FOX Bet welcomes Pro Football Hall of Famer and Super Bowl Champion Howie Long to the mobile sportsbook roster as a brand ambassador. Long, a signature studio analyst on America’s No. 1 NFL pregame show, FOX NFL Sunday, will contribute sports wagering content and expert insights to the FOX Bet brand and digital platforms.
Long teams up with fellow FOX NFL Sunday mainstay and Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw on the FOX Bet Super 6 app, its free-to-play offering, available nationwide. Together, the duo will bring their unmatched chemistry as they make their FOX Bet Super 6 picks leading into football weekends this fall. In addition, FOX Bet’s sports-first, betting-second approach includes exclusive observations from some of the nation’s most renowned sports commentators and analysts, including the aforementioned Bradshaw, Pro Football Hall of Famer and co-host of FS1’s Skip and Shannon Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe, as well as host of FS1’s The Herd, Colin Cowherd, and host of FOX NFL Kickoff, Charissa Thompson, to name a few…
…Former NFL veteran and All-Pro offensive lineman Kyle Long has been named studio analyst for CBS Sports Network’s That Other Pregame Show (TOPS). Long joins panelists Adam Schein, Amy Trask, and London Fletcher to form the cable Network’s Sunday pregame show team.
Long joins CBS Sports Network after a seven-year NFL playing career with the Chicago Bears, where he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection (2013-15) and one-time All-Pro honoree (2014). He played college football for the University of Oregon and was drafted by the Bears with the 20th overall pick in 2013.
TOPS, in its eighth season, kicks off on Sunday, Sept. 13 and airs on Sundays throughout the season from 8:00 AM-12:00 Noon, ET.
Other regular contributors to That Other Pregame Show include Jonathan Jones, Fantasy Football experts Keith Irizarry and Jeff Ratcliffe, NFL Today studio analysts Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Phil Simms, and Nate Burleson, as well as Insider Jason La Canfora, and NFL on CBS game analysts Tony Romo, Charles Davis, Trent Green, Rich Gannon, James Lofton, Adam Archuleta, Jay Feely, and Tiki Barber…
…ESPN has signed sports betting analyst Doug Kezirian, host of the network’s program Daily Wager, to a new, multiyear contract. As part of the new deal, Kezirian has relocated to Las Vegas and will host Daily Wager from ESPN’s just-opened studio at The LINQ Hotel + Experience when the program returns to the air on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
In addition, ESPN has boosted its sports betting roster with the fulltime additions of analysts/hosts Joe Fortenbaugh and Tyler Fulghum, both of whom also will work from Las Vegas…
…Three-time Manager of the Year Buck Showalter has joined MLB Network’s lineup of on-air personalities as an analyst appearing across its programming. Showalter will make his debut on August 25 on MLB Tonight at 2:00 p.m. EDT alongside host Fran Charles and analyst Bill Ripken. Following Aug. 25, Showalter will be part of MLB Network Showcase presented by Chevrolet featuring the Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros at 1:00 p.m. ET on August 26, which will use an enhanced broadcast format from Statcast powered by Google Cloud. Showalter will be part of MLB Tonight on Friday, August 28, and MLB Network Showcase featuring the Seattle Mariners at the Los Angeles Angels at 4:00 pm ET on Sunday, August 30. Showalter will also be part of MLB Network’s wall-to-wall Trade Deadline coverage on Monday, August 31…
Super Bowl Champion and former NFL Pro Bowl safety Roman Harper has signed a multi-year deal to join SEC Network, filling the fourth chair on SEC Nation. Harper, an all-SEC performer for the Alabama Crimson Tide, joins host Laura Rutledge and analysts Tim Tebow and Nation newcomer Jordan Rodgers behind the desk. Harper will appear regularly on additional SEC Network studio shows, including SEC Now and The Paul Finebaum Show, and made his official debut on SEC Now for the network’s SEC schedule reveal show…
…Six-time NFL Pro Bowler Brandon Marshall has joined First Things First on FS1 alongside Nick Wright, Kevin Wildes, and Jenna Wolfe. One of the most prolific wide receivers in history, Marshall brings an invaluable player’s perspective to the network’s early morning show, airing weekdays at 7:30 AM ET on FS1.
In 2014, Marshall joined Showtime’s Inside the NFL, serving as an on-air analyst. He provided a rare active-player perspective for the show, and will return for his seventh season on-air this fall. In 2016, Marshall was recognized for his exemplary on-air work with a Sports Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst”…
…Five-time Major League Baseball All-Star Adrian “El Titan” Gonzalez joins FOX Deportes’ talent lineup as an MLB game analyst for the 2020 season. The announcement was made by Orlando Silver, Vice President of Production, FOX Deportes. Gonzalez joins fellow San Diego native Adrian Garcia Marquez on the call…
…ACC Network’s The Huddle, its signature football studio show, will return Saturday, Sept. 5 with a new host – Jordan Cornette. The ACC Network personality will host the weekly, two-hour program throughout the fall on its new day and time, Saturdays at 10 a.m. ET.
Cornette joins analysts Eric Mac Lain, EJ Manuel, and Mark Richt to preview and breakdown the ACC’s slate of football games each week. Along with his ACCN analyst and anchor duties, Cornette will also contribute on ESPN Radio.
During ACCN’s inaugural season, Cornette was a regular host for ACCN’s All-ACC throughout the fall, as well as serving as an analyst on men’s college basketball games throughout the 2019-20 season. Additionally, Cornette was onsite in New Orleans hosting ACCN’s coverage surrounding the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship game.