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Disney Rolling out ‘Manningcast’-Style Alternative Broadcasts for UFC, Golf, and College Football

Ben Bowman

In today’s earnings call, Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that the “Manningcast” phenomenon is about to extend to other sports, specifically UFC, golf, and college football games. This means you’re likely to see alternate commentators with different graphics. College football could have “homers” who actively root for one side or the other - that’s unheard of on national broadcasts.

Today, Disney announced it is extending its agreement with Peyton Manning’s Omaha productions company through the 2024 NFL season.

Speaking to Sports Business Daily, Manning said, “We were real happy that ESPN kind of wanted to do something different. Eli and I thought they were joking, like, ‘Wait a minute, you’re going to pay us to watch football with my brother from our house? This sounds like a lot of fun and a pretty good deal.’ We get to be home on the weekends with our kids and coach their sports and still stay close to the game of football, talking about it in a fun way. We had some great guests on this year, all people that love football.”

While the Manningcast thrilled some fans, the numbers didn’t always back up the hype. The Manningcast edition of the Cardinals-Rams playoff game only accounted for 6.1 percent of the game’s televised audience — most fans watched the flagship ESPN broadcast. The alternate broadcast never reached the 2 million viewer mark.

As sports literally account for 95% of the top-rated TV shows every year, services that offer sports have an incentive to monetize those games as aggressively as possible. A quirky, secondary broadcast offers that option, even if the viewership is smaller.

Presumably, people watching the Manningcast are football die-hards, willing to listen to Peyton and Eli talk at length about “Cover 2” defense. The technical issues are also rampant, as the guests frequently have audio/internet problems, and the cross-talk is drowned out because of the delay. After this first year’s experiment, it would make sense for Disney to invest a bit more in their remote production capabilities. Perhaps after the pandemic, Peyton and Eli can be in the same room with a guest.

Regardless of what is to come, more choice for sports fans is always a good thing. After all, many fans would rather endure a root canal than have to listen to Joe Buck or Cris Collinsworth.

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