ESPN announces ‘Pat McAfee Show’ will join afternoon lineup
Pat McAfee’s show is moving to ESPN as part of a new multiyear deal announced Tuesday.
McAfee first joined ESPN as a college football analyst for its Thursday night games in 2019. He returned to the network last year and became part of the “College GameDay” crew as well as hosting some alternate presentations of ESPN games, including the CFP National Championship.
That will continue, but it is McAfee’s show that has created the most buzz. It began on satellite radio in 2016 and picked up steam when it began streaming in 2019. The show has been mainly on YouTube the past three years, but will move to ESPN, the ESPN YouTube Channel and ESPN+ as part of the network’s afternoon lineup beginning in the fall. It will likely air after “First Take” and start at 12 p.m. ET.
McAfee is exiting a four-year deal with FanDuel that the New York Post reported was worth $120 million.
The McAfee show is known for weekly appearances by Aaron Rodgers during the football season, including his announcement of his impending trade to the New York Jets, but also for a frequent use of profanity. McAfee said during ESPN’s presentation to advertisers Tuesday that he wouldn’t swear “nearly as much” but the substance and style of the show would not change despite its new home.
“We ain’t changing a damn thing,” McAfee said. “Every other word is good to go. … We won’t be doing that because it’s the middle of the day, but everything else will be good.”
ESPN also announced a documentary series on Serena Williams and four major matchups for the upcoming college football season.
“In the Arena: Serena Williams” has started production and comes on heels of the 2021 “Man in the Arena: Tom Brady” series. The Brady series was 10 parts and focused on each of the seasons Brady took his team to the Super Bowl.
ESPN has not announced how many parts there will be for the Williams series. Williams won 23 singles titles in grand slam tournaments, but ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said the episodes won’t be dictated by that.
“We’ll combine some things here, but it’s going to be fantastic. I’m probably as excited about that as I am any film that we have in development right now,” Pitaro said.
Williams also appeared on stage during the presentation. The series will be directed by Gotham Chopra and is co-produced by ESPN, Religion of Sports, Brady’s 199 Productions, and Williams’ and Caroline Currier’s Nine Two Six Productions.
The Labor Day weekend game between Florida State and LSU will air on ABC for the second straight season. The night game will be played in Orlando, Florida, on Sept. 3.
Alabama will host Texas on Sept. 9 in a game airing on ESPN. ABC again will have the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma from Dallas on Oct. 7 as well as Notre Dame’s game at Clemson on Nov. 4.
The ESPN presentation was one part of the Walt Disney Company’s entire program for advertisers Tuesday. ESPN and other networks owned by Disney used to have separate programs before the move to a combined presentation a couple of years ago.
Rita Ferro, president of Disney advertising sales and partnerships, noted the move from eight different events to one stemmed from a demand from advertisers to do fewer big events.
The presentation came amid layoffs throughout the Walt Disney Company, including ESPN. Disney CEO Bob Iger announced in February that the company would reduce 7,000 jobs either through attrition or layoffs.
ESPN went through the first of two rounds of reductions last month. There also will be a round of cuts involving on-air talent over the summer done through non-renewal of contracts, buyouts or cuts.
“It has been a tough period, the past few weeks. I think folks are looking forward to getting through this month and regrouping,” Pitaro said. “We’re operating in a world where fewer households are subscribing to traditional television. That puts pressure on the business.”
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