Chris Berman

Chris Berman Signs Multi-Year Extension with ESPN

ESPN announced today that it has signed a multi-year contract extension with host Chris Berman.  His extension begins in 2013.

One of the original talent hires at the network in 1979, by the time this new deal expires Berman will have worked for ESPN for nearly 40 years.

Berman will continue as the leading voice and face of ESPN’s National Football League studio coverage as host of Sunday NFL CountdownMonday Night Countdown and Monday Night Football halftime, NFL highlight segments on SportsCenter and the NFL Draft. He will also continue to host the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby and ESPN’s U.S. Open golf coverage.

“On the day we commemorate our company’s birthday, it’s fitting we extend our relationship with Chris, arguably the most recognizable face and voice in ESPN’s history.” said ESPN President, “Since arriving in Bristol in 1979, Chris’ passion and enthusiasm, and, of course his signature highlights, have long been his trademarks, earning him a special place among fans for more than three decades.”

“I never could have dreamed that ESPN would be my home as a young man in his 20’s all the way to a not-so-young man in his 60’s.” said Berman,  “It’s always been a privilege to work alongside thousands of colleagues who love the sports we cover and the people who make them so special. It remains an honor to be welcomed into the homes of sports fans far and wide, and I’m thrilled to be able to continue such a marvelous journey.”

Chris Berman and Trent Dilfer to Handle ESPN MNF Opening Nightcap

ESPN announced today that Chrie Berman and Trent Dilfer will be in the booth for the second half of its season-opening NFL double header on September 10th.  The pair will work the telecast featuring the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders with a kick-off set for 10:15p.m. ET.

The new ESPN two-man booth featuring Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will have the opener which will pit the Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens.

Prior to the regular season debut, Berman and Dilfer will also call the Arizona Cardinals-Tennessee Titans MNF preseason game on Aug. 23rd.

“I have worked with Boom for four years now and I’ve never been around someone who loves the NFL more than him,” said Dilfer. “I firmly believe that his passion and mine for the game of football will translate to the audience.”
ESPN has had a number of broadcaster combinations through the years for the second half of these opening NFL double headers.  Here are all the combinations since 2006:
Year Game ESPN Commentators
2006 San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders Brad Nessler, Ron Jaworski and Dick Vermeil
2007 Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers Mike Greenberg, Mike Golic and Mike Ditka
2008 Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders Greenberg, Golic and Ditka
2009 San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders Greenberg, Golic and Steve Young
2010 San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Nessler and Trent Dilfer
2011 Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Nessler and Dilfer
2012 San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders Chris Berman and Dilfer
There will be a lot of debate over ESPN’s decision as we get closer to opening night. And as much as I would rather see someone other than Berman for this game, it is only one game and most viewers watch for the action on the field, not the announcers in the booth.  We who analyze sports media sometimes forget that.

Sports Media Weekly Podcast No. 44- Lisa Horne, FoxSports.com

Sports Media Weekly We’re in the dog days of summer but there is still a lot of news to discuss on this week’s edition of the Sports Media Weekly Podcast.

Our good friend Ken Fang at Fang’s Bites and I talk about the expansion of ESPN’s SportsCenter to ESPNews effective August 30th.  We also talk about the “re-imagining” announced this week for ESPN the Magazine.

Ken had a post this week asking his Twitter and Facebook followers their opinions of ESPN’s Chris Berman.  Ken’s entry was a follow-up to Berman’s recognition this past weekend by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

We finish our news segment talking about the ratings bonanza for NBC’s coverage of the Hall of Fame Game between the Cowboys and Bengals, as well as a look at the complete release of the 2010-2011 NBA schedule.

Our guest this week is Lisa Horne, college football writer for FoxSports.com.  Lisa talks about her four year career at FosSports.com, how this off season has been extremely active in college football, and her picks for the upcoming season.

Berman Re-Signs with ESPN

There was talk of this a few weeks ago.  Today it’s official…

From ESPN PR:

Six-time National Sportscaster of the Year Chris Berman, who joined ESPN in October 1979 – less than a month after the network launched – has signed an extension to remain with ESPN. One of the preeminent sports commentators of his generation, Berman will continue as the leading voice and face of ESPN’s National Football League studio coverage as host of Sunday NFL Countdown, Monday Night Countdown and Monday Night Football halftime, and NFL highlight segments on SportsCenter. He will also continue his play-by-play duties for the Major League Baseball Home Run Derby and his familiar host role for ESPN’s U.S. Open golf coverage, among other responsibilities.
Berman’s extension ensures that he will remain a fixture on ESPN’s NFL Sundays. His 25 years as host of Sunday NFL Countdown (formerly NFL Gameday) – which pre-dates ESPN’s first NFL television contract – is by far the longest streak ever among all weekly pro football studio show hosts. Berman is also a fan favorite for his signature calls on NFL highlights, for which he earned widespread acclaim as host of the classic NFL PrimeTime from 1987-2005.
“Chris has contributed so much to our company’s success in reaching sports fans for more than three decades, and we are thrilled that one of the most important figures in our history will remain a vital part of ESPN’s future,” said ESPN President George Bodenheimer.‪‪
Added ESPN Executive Vice President, Content John Skipper:‪‪ “Chris will continue to be the face and voice of ESPN, delivering sports news, expert storytelling and, of course, his signature highlights with the same passion, energy and enthusiasm that has resonated with fans since he first arrived in Bristol in 1979.”
Said Berman: “Home is where the heart is, and I am thrilled to be staying home at ESPN for years to come. It’s been a privilege to work alongside my colleagues and an honor to be welcomed into the homes of sports fans for over 30 years. In fact, since this all began in 1979, that means we’ve been together for parts of five decades. I can’t wait to continue the journey.”
This week Berman will also occupy his familiar host position on ESPN’s main set at the 2010 NFL Draft – Thursday, April 22 (7:30-11 p.m. ET) and Friday, April 23 (6-10:30 p.m., ESPN/ESPN2). Berman has covered the Draft for 30 years and hosted ESPN’s annual telecast since 1987.

Tracking the Home Run Derby

homerun2Ray Frager made mention of this yesterday and ESPN expanded upon it today.  The WWL plans to add another technological element to its coverage of Monday’s Home Run Derby in St. Louis.

The “Ball Track” technology is designed to greatly enhance the viewer and on-air talents’ ability to judge the details of a home run.  The system relies on a graphical representation to show the track of the ball in flight, the distance the ball travels to its ultimate landing spot, and project whether the ball will, in fact, reach the seats.  All this information will be available in real time.

You can see an example of the technology here (minus the distance information).

“We have wanted for many years to know the distance the ball traveled at the moment that it does impact wherever it might.” said Jed Drake, Senior Vice President and Executive Producer, Event Production for ESPN,  “We had a problem with that because we weren’t able to immediately tell people the distances the ball had traveled.  With this system we will not only be able to tell everybody the distance it travels but we’ll be able to show the arc as well.  It’s a system that was made for this event.”

Drake says the graphical display of the ball’s flight path utilizes the same technology employed by ESPN and other networks in their coverage of the ball flight in golf.

The driving engine in this cutting edge technology is the use of Doppler Radar, which is more commonly associated with weather forecasting.  Apparently it can do much more.

“Our accuracy will be within a foot.” said ESPN Vice President of Emerging Technology Anthony Bailey, “We can predict a home run prior to it happening.”

The new home run tracking system looks like the only new wrinkle ESPN plans to bring to this year’s Derby.  Drake said that in covering the Derby live for 12 straight years there is little that can be done in providing unique views of the action.  He said this year he expects a more conservative cut among the 20 cameras at ESPN’s disposal.

“At this stage we’ve truly maxed out on unique (camera) positions.” said Drake, “In the past we have looked to vary the coverage in an effort to keep it fresh.  But I think sometimes we’ve gone a little to far afield in that.  So I think we’re gonna pull back the reigns a little bit.”

Chris Berman will again anchor the coverage of the Derby from St. Louis.  He’ll be joined by Joe Morgan, Steve Phillips, and Erin Andrews.

The Greatest Highlight Flim-Flam

So I’m watching Sportscenter this morning when the latest segment of “The Greatest Highlight” with Chris Berman comes on.  Listening to the segment made me take notice.  It’s not what Berman said that got me in an uproar, but the fact that he had said it AGAIN!

Let me explain.  In his set-up to introducing the highlight of Mike Eruzione’s game winning goal in the 1980 Olympics against the Soviets, Berman referenced the 1960 Squaw Valley team that also took home the gold.  It then dawned on me that was the same lead-in he used during the earlier editions of this segment.  ESPN just re-played the Berman-led highlight as the clip advanced through this “tournament”.   They did the same for the 2007 Boise State football “Statue of Liberty” highlight.

A lot of people have slammed the WWL for the creation of these made-for-ESPN debates.  I have no problem with ESPN developing “Who’s Now” or “The Greatest Highlight”.  I didn’t particularly like how they were presented(Berman included), but the concept is fine.  Fans do talk about this stuff.

If ESPN is going to promote “The Greatest Highlight” with Chris Berman, then Chris Berman should tape fresh content as the “tournament” played out.  To reuse his original description of the highlights cheapens the segment.  If Berman couldn’t provide fresh content for the piece, then take it out of his hands!

If ESPN wants us to embrace the concept of “The Greatest Highlight”, then it should at least do its part to produce fresh segments of the series.

I guess they do think we all are THAT stupid.