How ESPN put its trust in Peyton, Eli Manning with new ‘Monday Night Football’ broadcast

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It’s only in the rare instances that ESPN will flag a new show that hasn’t been solidified. Yet that’s what the network did when it announced in July that its “Manningcast” featuring brothers Peyton and Eli Manning This season there will be a secondary broadcast on “Monday Night Football”.

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Through two matches, the show has been a huge success. Apart from technical issues and other timing changes, the broadcast has been completed. highly positive review. Mannings attracted 800,000 viewers in the first week and more than double that number during week 2 — 1.9 million compared to 11.9 million on the main ESPN broadcast.

But two people with knowledge of the production explained to USA Today Sports how ESPN took a leap of faith in the brothers. People requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the broadcast and its intricacies.


At first, rehearsals did not begin until after the July announcement, and continued throughout the summer. The locations were brainstormed, eventually on shooting Elle from her New Jersey home, and Peyton was arranged in a private memorabilia warehouse in Denver. And the hosts tried.

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ESPN’s Mina Kims and NFL Network’s Kyle Brandt each sat down with Mannings. A person familiar with the rehearsals said that amid their reaction and the officials’ assessment, the decision to do away with the host’s role became clear.

Peyton Manning quest to be ESPN’s primary Monday Night Football analystJohn Gruden’s return to coaching has been well documented. The five-time MVP retired after his second Super Bowl in 2015 and remained in the Denver area, expanding his media presence through his production company “Omaha Productions”.

Manning launched a show called “Peight’s Places” on ESPN+ in 2019—which chronicles important places and people in NFL history through 20 episodes. This led to the creation of “Ely Places” on stage (same idea but on college campuses) and other shows (starring Abby Wambach, Vince Carter, David Ortiz, and Ronda Rousey).

The idea of ​​simultaneous transmission is not a new concept. College football coaches usually gather during playoff semifinals and championships to offer their analysis, for example, and CBS has tried to broadcast it toward kids on Nickelodeon.

Mannings’ offering is something different that can’t possibly be replicated elsewhere in the broadcast space, though that won’t stop other locations from trying.

Their format allows them more freedom than traditional broadcasts, allowing them to control the timing as if on a melee line.

The great broadcaster Bob Costas said, “It’s the business of copying, and often what they’re imitating is the one and only one.” The Ringer Show “Slow News Day.”

Peyton brings the energy, while Eli uses dry humor (and mildly insults his brother) to disarm. Both X’s and O’s can breakdown, but it’s more Peyton’s wheelhouse.

“Can it be done? Yes,” said a skeptical Costas. “Can it be done at the Manning level?”

One reason it may go unattainable is their chemistry, which is hardly lacking during the brothers’ three-hour entertainment session with a few games sprinkled in. Guests attend from afar and include Charles Barkley, who discussed his bets on the game, and Rob Gronkowski, who joked that he hasn’t seen the game movie in years. For those who want the experience of a football game through their television, the main broadcast with Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Griese may be the preferred option.

After a few short rehearsals, Mannings essentially held a dress rehearsal for a Jacksonville Jaguars-New Orleans Saints preseason game on Monday night, Aug. 23. They brought in guests, among them former Colts executive and ESPN analyst Bill Polian, college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit, and ex-NFL player Chris Long without trial.

Manning broadcasts and main broadcasting resources are separate entities in terms of resources. ESPN splits production responsibilities with “Omaha Productions.” The technical side runs through ESPN, while “Omaha” leads the content. Brian Ryder, a veteran ESPN producer who formerly worked on the NFL Draft, leads the Manning-side effort.

While Mannings has enjoyed early success and popularity, the main broadcast still garnered more than five times the number of viewers last week. One of the people said that there are eight more broadcasts to take place in 2021, and in typical Manning fashion, the brothers have focused not on positive attention, but on continual improvement with each show.

From ESPN’s perspective, Manning helps the broadcast network’s overall brand. Before the season, Griese was asked about any competition dynamics and pushed back on the idea.

“I really don’t see it that way.” Griese said on the conference call with journalists. “You know, I’ve known Peyton for a long time. I don’t even know Allie, but I’ve known (Peyton) for a long time, over 25 years — we just got out of college at the same time, in the NFL. competed against each other, and now he lives in Denver and we play golf together. He is a good friend.

“I’ve already texted her back and forth about this, and I’m looking forward to going back and forth with her on a week-to-week basis and tossing her thoughts and having some fun talking about it.” Could be really interesting and fascinating to see where that goes.”

Follow Chris Bambaka on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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