Feb 15, 2022 - Sports

Eli Manning on what's next for ESPN's ManningCast

Photo: Sara Fischer

Eli Manning says he and his older brother Peyton are both committed to the next three seasons of ESPN's hit alternate broadcast, ManningCast, despite speculation that Peyton may be considering other career opportunities.

  • "I have talked to him about this," the younger brother said in an interview with Axios. In extending for another year, "that shows that we are enjoying this; we're committed to it; and hopefully, we'll continue to do it for a while."

Why it matters: The ManningCast was a ratings hit for ESPN last season, and the show’s success has inspired other networks to consider alternate broadcasts to live games.

  • On Wednesday, ESPN said it extended its contract with Peyton Manning’s production firm, Omaha Productions, to add a fourth year of the ManningCast on ESPN2 through to the 2024 season.
  • As a part of the deal, Omaha Productions will also produce alternate broadcasts for golf, UFC and college football.
  • Manning says he and his brother won’t be hosting any alternate broadcasts for other sports. "We’re staying with just football," he said.
  • Peyton Manning also had been the subject of speculation that he could be part of a group eyeing a purchase of the Denver Broncos, which he won a Super Bowl with and are currently for sale.

Details: The brothers plan to host around 10 "Manningcast" games next season, following a successful season of 10 shows last year.

  • The broadcasts feature Eli and Peyton commenting on live Monday Night Football Games — for which ESPN has exclusive broadcast rights — talking over each other in a playful manner from their basements. Their man caves are often the subject of playful tweets from fans.
  • To prepare for the shows, the ManningCast team has a meeting early in the week to talk about potential guests and try to figure out how to get in touch with them and what to ask them, Manning said. The duo often brings on other professional football players, like Aaron Rogers, as well as celebrities, like Snoop Dogg.

Manning said he’ll often call local beat reporters with expertise on a hometown team, in addition to watching film and talking to producers ahead of games.

  • "A lot of times, I'll talk to the beat writer for the team and get someone who's been there the whole time, (who) kind of knows some scoop, and I'll have some questions for them,” he said. He'll also reach out to quarterbacks, coordinators or head coaches if he has a relationship with them.
  • "There is a little reporting to it," he admitted. “But they know it's in a safe place. I'm not going to reveal anything that shouldn't be revealed."

Be smart: The Mannings aren’t the first pro football players to move into media and they most certainly won’t be the last. But playing for the New York Giants did give Eli a leg up, he conceded.

  • "I think in New York — it's different than other places," he said.
  • "It's not like you have one or two papers; you have, like, seven papers, and they're all competing against each other … You kind of know ways to give the same answer five different ways. And so, you just get a lot of practice with the media, and I think you just become comfortable, on camera."
  • Many pro footballers from major media markets like Dallas and New York go on to have successful broadcasting careers, including Tony Romo, Deion Sanders, Jason Witten, Michael Strahan, Frank Gifford and many others.

Yes, but: The brothers didn't get into professional broadcasting full-time because of all the travel and time spent away from family.

  • "It's just because you're gone all weekend," Manning said. "This allows me to have dinner with my family on Monday nights and then go downstairs and call a game."
  • Ten games also give the brothers some time off while also working on ways to develop fresh material. "You know, it's like having a bye week in the football season. You kind of look forward to that bye week."

The big picture: Facing declining TV ratings, sports networks have tried to experiment with “multicast” formats.

  • ESPN had already been experimenting with a "MegaCast"-like show for the College Football Playoff National Championship. The NBA inked a deal with the Amazon-owned Twitch to livestream minor league games.

Bottom line: "You've got to keep up the younger generation," Manning said. "How they watch football is very different."

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