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Monday, May 20, 2024

Scott Van Pelt’s Podcast Reboot Latest in Peyton Manning’s Budding ESPN/Omaha Fiefdom

  • CNN cancels 'King Charles' with Charles Barkley and Gayle King.
  • Good news for NBC: Caitlin Clark wants to play in the Paris Olympics.
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN star Scott Van Pelt is joining forces with Peyton Manning.

Van Pelt will relaunch his SVPod podcast on Manning’s Omaha Audio Network, Front Office Sports has learned. As part of the deal, there will also be a video version of the show on ESPN’s YouTube page. Manning, the two-time Super Bowl champion turned founder of Omaha Productions, will appear on the podcast. The deal is expected to be announced late Monday.

Van Pelt’s podcast with co-host “Stanford” Steve Coughlin has been on hiatus for the past nine months, with the most recent episode airing in July 2023. Van Pelt has juggled an expanded schedule, including his regular midnight SportsCenter, his new role hosting Monday Night Countdown and annually hosting ESPN’s Masters coverage from Augusta National Golf Club. His reborn podcast will air twice a week, featuring guests from various sports as well as an expanded “One Big Thing” segment.

“I’m excited to get back at this,”  Van Pelt tells FOS in a statement. “We’ve been looking forward to the type of partnership that Omaha provides. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside both Peyton and Eli in integrating the ManningCast into SportsCenter with SVP on Monday nights during the NFL season, and I’m elated to expand our partnership with this commitment to Omaha Audio Network. Stanford Steve and I can’t wait to get started.” Manning praised his “long-time friend” in a statement, calling Van Pelt “one of the best in the business.”

There’s several interesting angles to unpack about the deal. First, it’s another step in the growing business partnership between the former NFL superstar and ESPN. From ESPN2’s ManningCast of Monday Night Football to the Places franchise on ESPN+, featuring series from the Manning brothers and sports celebrities like Vince Carter, Ronda Rousey, and Sue Bird, Omaha has become a de-facto creative partner of ESPN. The network just announced a long-term, multi-platform media rights extension with Omaha through 2034. That means you can practically guarantee there will be ManningCast versions of ESPN’s first Super Bowl telecasts after the 2026 and 2030 seasons.

Second, operating your own podcast/YouTube show has become the rage for top personalities like Stephen A. Smith, Pat McAfee, Colin Cowherd and Shannon Sharpe. Owning and operating their own platforms gives them more power and flexibility with their respective networks; just witness McAfee having the cojones to call out ESPN executive Norby Williamson as a “rat” trying to “sabotage” his show. Rather than being reprimanded, McAfee skated away clean, and it was Williamson who recently turned in his retirement papers at ESPN. 

CNN Cancels ‘King Charles’

CNN has mercifully canceled King Charles with Charles Barkley and Gayle King, after only six months. The show was the lowest-rated prime time weeknight series debut for CNN in at least a decade, according to the New York Post, failing to outdraw reruns of Friends and episodes of South Park.

It was a bad fit from the start. Barkley, the longtime star of TNT’s Inside the NBA, is a funny, outrageous, say-anything entertainer. King is a straight-arrow news personality. For some reason, networks keep launching studio shows that try to fuse comedy and sports. It rarely works. Bill Simmons’ late, unlamented Any Given Wednesday was canceled by HBO after less than five months in 2016. Comedian Jay Mohr’s Mohr Sports had a brief run on ESPN in 2001 before getting the ax. Scripted sports-focused series, on the other hand, fare much better. Think Ted Lasso for Apple TV+ or HBO’s Ballers. There’s a lesson there for executives and programmers, if they pay attention.

Mike Drops  

For everybody who likes to proclaim, “announcers don’t matter,” consider CBS’ Verne Lundquist. As the 83-year old Lundquist said goodbye Sunday after calling The Masters for 40 years, he was saluted by colleagues like Jim Nantz and fans on social media. The avuncular Lundquist says his favorite Masters call is still “Maybe…YES SIR!” for Jack Nicklaus birdie putt at the 1986 Masters. Personally, I’m partial to his “In your life have you seen anything like that?” call of Tiger Woods’ miraculous chip-in in 2005. Whichever is your favorite, there’s no doubting what Lundquist added to Masters coverage year after year. He had the best pipes—and timing—in the business. Thanks for the memories, Uncle Verne … Good news for NBC’s hopes that Caitlin Clark will join Team USA at the Paris Olympics. The 22-year-old superstar told the Today show it would “mean everything” to her to play for the women’s national team in France this summer. As we wrote on Friday, Clark could be a one-woman Dream Team when it comes to attracting Olympic TV viewers … Jomboy Media is moving two of its podcasts—Jimmy’s Three Things and Wake N’ Jake—to the Dan Patrick Podcast Network. They will be distributed on iHeart Podcasts.

Michael McCarthy’s “Tuned In” column is at your fingertips every week with the latest insights and ongoings around sports media. If he hears it, you will, too.

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