Some of the many ManningCast season three guests in a Zoom call roasting Peyton Manning. Some of the many ManningCast season three guests in a Zoom call roasting Peyton Manning. (Omaha Productions.)

The ManningCast (or Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli) alternate NFL broadcasts from Omaha Productions and ESPN completed their third season with a broadcast for last Monday’s Wild Card playoff clash between the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That’s now led to an interesting look back from some of those involved. To wrap up the season, Omaha has put out a video featuring a bunch of the season’s guests roasting Peyton Manning while he tries to convince them to instead roast Eli:

This does help show off the level of prominent guests who show up on the ManningCast. It also shows the variety of walks they come from, with everyone from political figures from Arnold Schwarzenegger to actors like Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg to other athletes like Klay Thompson and Caitlin Clark to current players like Patrick Mahomes to football analysts like Mina Kimes appearing this season.

And there are some good lines in that video. Those include Ferrell’s “Eli, Peyton, years ago, I created the character Ron Burgundy, a fumbling, bumbling newscaster, and you guys of course bring it to life every week on the ManningCast” and Jimmy Kimmel’s “It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and by that I mean I will never be back,” plus Lindsey Vonn and Clark roasting Peyton with references to Schwarzenegger’s donkeys. This fits with the humor Omaha’s often gone for in their videos, seen in everything from ManningCast announcements to Peyton’s Places to their ad work.

The show’s also receiving strong reception from the NFL, with league chief media officer Brian Rolapp repeatedly praising it over the past few years and talking about the importance of this in establishing alternate broadcasts. Here’s what he told Sports Video Group’s Kristian Hernández in 2021 on what the then-new Manningcast was already doing for them:

‘It has been great, and alternative telecasts are something that we built into our new media-rights deals to effectively increase reach and bring incremental experiences to certain parts of our fanbase. It’s one of the more successful alternative telecasts that we have, and it has a little bit of everything. If you’re a hardcore football fan, [Eli and Peyton] will talk about a Cover 2 scheme, or they’ll bring in guests that are talking about everyday life. It has been a broader play than anyone expected.’”

On the viewership side, the ManningCast has continued to draw more than a million viewers most weeks, relatively close to what it did in 2022. (It dipped below one million for the Dec. 11 doubleheader, but that broadcasting experiment drew many positive reviews.) And it’s received critical acclaim as well, with season one of the show winning a Sports Emmy for best live series (beating out Sunday Night Football and other established shows) and season two seeing Peyton Manning win the Sports Emmy for outstanding sports personality. And the ManningCast, and the overall deal ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro struck with Manning and Omaha Productions, has worked as a way to get Manning on the network and on Monday Night Football, after him reportedly turning down a more conventional booth role for years before the ManningCast launch.

Overall, the show still seems to be paying off for ESPN, especially as an alternate option to the main feed. As per a source, the average viewer watch time for the ManningCast is 75 minutes, the same as the main feed, but those who watch at least one minute of each have a total average watch time of 102 minutes. So that’s keeping some viewers engaged with some level of Monday Night Football broadcast longer. We’ll see if that continues to be the case for the ManningCast going forward. But it’s had three notable seasons to date.

[Awful Announcing on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.