Fox isn’t the only network tinkering with its NFL Sunday pre-game coverage recipe. Awful Announcing has learned that ESPN will be debuting a new Sunday edition of NFL Insiders which will replace the first hour of Sunday NFL Countdown. The move is part of a soon-to-be announced multi-year extension for Trey Wingo, whose role with the network will expand.
Wingo’s new deal guarantees the longterm Bristol veteran will enter a third decade of employment at ESPN having joined ESPN in 1997.
The new Sunday Morning NFL Insiders show will partner the popular host with Adam Schefter, Chris Mortensen and Louis Riddick for one hour leading into a shortened Sunday NFL Countdown.
The new Sunday edition of NFL Insiders will debut on September 13th and will air regularly at 10am ET. ESPN’s pre-game coverage will also see some additional retooling too as the now two hour Sunday NFL Countdown will be moving to a more fluid “whip-around” type format. Schefter and Mortensen will continue to be involved in Countdown in addition to their new roles on Insiders. It’s believed that Matthew Berry will get a much more prominent role on Countdown as ESPN’s fantasy expert as well.
ESPN’s retention of Wingo is significant as the network has had many high profile talent departures over the past few months. Wingo hosts a lot of the network’s core NFL programming in NFL Live and NFL Primetime as well as serving as a host for the NFL Draft in later rounds. Many including myself prefer Wingo as a host for NFL studio shows and the draft to Chris Berman, who can be polarizing with his unique bombastic on air presence. Berman is believed to be one of ESPN’s highest paid employees and as ESPN becomes more focused on tightening their talent budgets, the securing of Wingo could potentially give the network added flexibility as needed in future discussions with Berman and other NFL studio talent.
This is also a significant bump in visibility for Schefter, Mortensen, and Riddick and provides a very strong frontline of talent focused more on delivery of news and information opposed to the more analysis focused talent of Countdown. Berry’s increased role on Countdown also makes a lot of sense given fantasy football is getting the added boost of the
overfunded ultra aggressive user acquisition push growing daily fantasy market. With DraftKings’ partnership with ESPN, I imagine a good amount of Berry’s added visibility may begin to focus on daily fantasy football opposed to traditional fantasy football.
ESPN’s retention of Wingo was very much needed (I also like Riddick’s elevation as he was a star during the NFL Draft this year) and some of these adjustments are in line with changing viewer habits. Hardcore NFL fans will now have more exposure to familiar personalities and differing content formats before Sunday’s games, which is a good thing.