Monday, September 26, 2022

Monday Night Mannings has been a huge success for ESPN

ESPN’s quest for Peyton Manning to be part of “Monday Night Football” has paid off… though in an unorthodox way that no one could have predicted.

Not only has the Hall of Fame quarterback found a stage where he doesn’t have to worry about jockeying for time in the three-man booth, but he’s also able to bring his brother along for the ride.

Manningcast – or as ESPN calls it “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Ally” – has garnered rave reviews with plenty of viewers. The five Manningcasts average 1.59 million viewers on ESPN2. Most recently, the November 1 game between the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs averaged 1.96 million, the largest viewership ever recorded for ESPN’s alternate broadcast.

“Interestingly, they’re doing it on their own terms,” ​​said Neil Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports, who now runs his own sports television consulting company. “Many thought they would be good analysts, but it’s probably turned out to be better than some people expected.”

The first half of the season has been Mannings’ debut in the best story broadcast for the NFL on TV. Games averaged 16.4 million TV and digital viewers, the highest average since 2015 through Week 9 and up 9% from the previous year. This is also an increase of 2% over 2019.

It was expected that viewership would pick up after last season was played amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which presented a strange sight in empty stadiums, and changing viewing habits of many. The first half of the season also took place in the middle of a presidential campaign, when watching some cable news channels.

“The response from teammates, fans and the league has been really good,” said Eli Manning. “The show is fun because I am doing what I love. I spent my whole childhood watching football with Peyton, so we’ve done some practice on it.

“We’re trying to educate the fans when we can, but mostly we’re trying to entertain them and enjoy the game.”

Manningcast is a partnership between ESPN and Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions. This is his first deal of three years to do 10 games per season. It starts again this week when the Los Angeles Rams visit the San Francisco 49ers with a November 22 game between the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While some want to see it extended to the full season, the current setup benefits all parties. ESPN president Jimmy Pittaro got his goal of Peyton Manning to be part of “Monday Night Football” while getting both Mannings to do it without going to stadiums. Allie makes it to Peyton from a facility closer to her home in New Jersey and her location in Denver.

Both Mannings have also proven themselves to rapidly adjust to the flow of sports on television. After having a hard time getting in and out of the break during the September 13 opener between Baltimore and Las Vegas, flow has improved significantly.

There was a possibility that there must have been a third person to serve as host, but the rapprochement between the two brothers has eliminated any need for this.

“You can’t fake chemistry. Siblings in general have a chemistry that isn’t easily replicated. Hall of Fame football knowledge and knack for entertainment,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN’s senior vice president of programming Mixed with, has been a great recipe.” “They are so authentic and relatable to fans. You never know when they’re coming or what facial expressions are coming next.”

The show was a success from the opening week, especially the fourth quarter and overtime segments between Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and Mannings when they were breaking up the action.

Pilson said that when skilled guests like Wilson engage in conversation, it improves the flow of the broadcast.

“Most of the time I want to hear more game analysis,” Pilson said. “When you have guests relevant to the game, it works well.”

There have been some rough patches, like Eli Manning flashing two middle fingers during a game against the Cowboys when he was trying to show what Philadelphia fans thought of him. Marshawn Lynch also had a profanity-filled segment during Seattle’s October 25 game against New Orleans.

“I had to remind Allie that this show is live, so Allie learned her lesson,” Peyton Manning said during that game. “Marshan, I probably… should have handled that. We’re sorry for that. Anyway, let’s get back to some football here.”

While many networks are trying to figure out the right opportunity for alternative broadcasts, the “Monday Night Football” space benefits ESPN for a number of reasons. Most viewers flip between the main broadcast on ESPN and Mannings on ESPN 2, and in almost all cases, those channels are next to each other on cable or satellite systems.

When CBS made its kid-centric broadcast on Nickelodeon during last season’s NFL playoff game, the channels were far from over.

With five Manning games remaining, Fitting said the focus remained the same as Peyton and Allie were on the practice field – improving every week.

“We said from the start that the show had to evolve every week,” Fitting said. “Omaha, and we at ESPN, spend a short period of time reflecting, but only under the lens of how we get better. A lot of energy is spent on future shows and improving those shows.”


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