Peyton Manning and Eli Manning won’t have a permanent third person for their eagerly anticipated “Monday Night Football” MegaCast, sources tell Front Office Sports.
ESPN initially intended to have a regular “host” between the Mannings, but over weeks of rehearsals and phone calls, Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions and ESPN concluded the best approach would be the Mannings themselves commenting on the games.
The wise-cracking brothers have both hosted “Saturday Night Live.” They “shined” so much during rehearsals the decision to keep the spotlight on them was an easy one.
The first so-called “Manning-Cast” will be the Las Vegas Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 13.
“The Mannings are the stars of this show. As brothers they have a natural chemistry. It’s hard to just become a part of that family history,” said a source.
“It’s supposed to be free-wheeling and unstructured. It will be like you’re sitting at the bar watching the game with the Mannings.”
The decision will likely come as a disappointment to the many hosts, anchors and play-by-play announcers inside and outside ESPN who were hoping to land the highly-coveted position. ESPN’s NFL Insider Adam Schefter has been a top candidate, said sources.
Playing the straight man to the Super Bowl-winning Manning brothers could lead to fame and fortune, but ESPN’s not the only one calling the shots here. ESPN is producing the MegaCast in conjunction with Omaha Productions.
Ultimately, “Peyton has veto power,” said another source. ESPN declined to comment.
Besides the enormous appeal of the Super Bowl-winning brothers, industry observers will be closely tracking the “Manning-cast” to gauge the value of alternate sports telecasts in the future.
Under Omaha’s production deal with Disney, the Mannings will call 10 alternate telecasts apiece during the 2021, 2022, and 2023 seasons.
The brothers won’t be on site for games. Instead, they’ll comment from remote locations while hanging out virtually with a rotating guest list of iconic current and former players.
Their MegaCast will air on ESPN2. It could also be potentially distributed across a variety of Disney platforms such as ESPN+.
The alternate telecast is designed to complement ESPN’s traditional “Monday Night Football” broadcast with Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, Brian Griese, Lisa Salters, and John Parry.