Disney Makes Big Play to Stay in NFL’s TV-Football Game

Variety | 4/22/2019 | Brian Steinberg
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Robin Roberts is moving this week from mornings on ABC to primetime. And while the shift is temporary, the business machinations behind it are likely to continue.

Roberts, best known for her regular appearances on “Good Morning America,” will serve this Thursday as an important presence during two nights of ABC’s coverage of the NFL Draft, an annual highlight for pigskin fans that will also be broadcast on ABC’s sister, ESPN. Both networks are part of the Walt Disney Company, which looks to be making its best play for NFL football as discussions about broadcast rights for the sport are nearing a new round.

Roberts - Interview - Event - ESPN - Connecticut

“It’s going to be different,” says Roberts in an interview while preparing for the event near ESPN’s Connecticut headquarters. ABC will deliver her coverage on a night its viewers expect soapy fare like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19,” but the host vows audiences will not be disappointed. “We are really going to give you storytelling,” she says, about dozens of “young men and their families” and their first steps into big-league sports. “You are still going to get the draft picks. That’s still the focus,” she says, but ABC’s coverage will tilt more toward entertainment, with country singer Luke Bryan and radio personality Bobby Bones on hand. ESPN’s coverage will lean toward sports die-hards, with more attention being paid to what Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president of content, calls “X’s and O’s coverage.”

“This is an event that has continued to grow,” says Schell, in an interview at ESPN’s New York offices. “We can figure out how to crate two complimentary broadcasts here that showcase the same event in slightly different ways.”

ABC - ESPN - Draft - Bid - Parent

Throwing both ABC and ESPN at the Draft isn’t just a bid by parent company Walt Disney to bring more viewers to an off-season football mainstay. The...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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